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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.
>> Hi, I'm Ben Long and this week, on the practicing photographer, we're going to look at an interesting way of getting very compelling wildlife photos. I'm sitting here right now with Carolyn Wright, an attorney who specializes in photographer's rights issues and copyright. But, Carolyn is also a fantastic wildlife photographer. Carolyn, I'm, we're looking at some of your images here. These wolves are incredible, and there's kind of a trick to how you got them. You aren't actually off in the wilderness with a bunch of wild wolves around you. >> No, I mean, first of all, once you're in the wilderness, you need to make sure that you're safe because, you're, you're entering into the wildlife domain.
And you also don't want to, impact their environment. I mean, a lot of animals will run away or leave their young, or if you're in that area. So, one, one way to do this is, especially with wolves, because if you go to Yellowstone, you're not supposed to get within like a 1,000 yards of a wolf, is to go to wolf refuges As we all know, unfortunately, wolves are being killed and they need to be protected and there are plenty of wolf refugees around the United States.
One in particular, this one I shot, the one we're looking at with the wolves on the ice lake, was shot in, in Indiana wolf refuge called Wolf Park. And it's a great place to photograph wolves. The wolves are very well taken care of there. They're happy, they're, they're protected and, and then, as a photographer, you can pay a little bit of money and go in and spend the day with the wolves and see how they interact with each other and, and, and just have a, a great time getting some great shots of wolves.
>> These are fantastic shots. How, how big an area is this refuge? >> Oh, it's huge, it's lots of acres, they give the wolves a lot of room to roam. But while they're being photographed, you're in a smaller area, probably the size of a football field. And the wolves are used to, to humans. And so this the other shot of, with this close-up shot of the wolf, I was probably only a few feet away. In fact some of the wolves that are a little tamer. I actually got to kneel down and one of them licked me on the cheek.
>> Wow. >> Which is a little scary because that wolf could crush my head. >> Right. >> In just a minute. But it was just wonderful access to these beautiful animals. >> So, are there designated areas in the park where you photograph, that, that you kind of stand a better chance of seeing a wolf or are you just freely moving? >> Well your in this area with the guides and they're making sure that your safety is, utmost important, and so they have the wolves in that area, and the wolves kind of wander around. They're, they're quite sociable.
And so they're interacting, the wolves are interacting with each other, or they're walking around. they, they also, the guides there, will, will take the wolves to different areas so that you get different sort of background shots of the wolves. >> Is this just you and the guides or is this a, a group of photographers? >> when, I've been there, yes, it's a, a group, a small group of photographers so that they can control the situation. >> Now, you've also shot in some bird refuges. >> yes. For example, the Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
They have a, a bird rehab center. So they, they teach the students how to rehab birds and, you know, the birds have been injured. >> These aren't drunk birds, these are birds that have been hurt somehow and need to be nursed back to health. And that will never go back into the wild. >> Well, if they can rehab the birds, then we don't get to photograph them. But for those birds, unfortunately, who have been injured so much or may have other diseases or neurological problems. For example, this photograph of this eagle at sunset.
This is a bald eagle who will never be able to be released back into the wild, because of a neurological problem. And therefore, they charge a little money to photograph the birds, but then you get some great bird shots of kestrels and eagles and owls and all, all, all different types of birds. It's a wonderful opportunity, and you are also helping to support this great organization that is rehabbing birds. >> Right. How, how long is that particular, or is the typical outing that you are doing? >> They will, will have a shoot in the morning and then take a break, and then take another shoot, and they'll bring out different birds at different times.
So that you get a, an opportunity to photograph the birds. It depends on how many photographers are there as to how many birds they might, might have, out at one time. But they, they try to put the birds into natural-looking places. Like, shooting the kestrel in the, the evergreen tree or the bard owl on the ground and they will do a great job of hiding the so that you can't see that they're maybe tied down. because the, some of the birds might try to get away while they're being rehabbed.
>> So, it sounds like the guides actually have a little bit of an eye for photography, they know what you might be looking for. >> They do an excellent job of setting up some wonderful, beautiful scenes for you for to have the photographic opportunities that it, it just, you just can't get that kind of opportunity in the wild. >> Yeah. Do these change seasonally? Do you get different animals at different times, or? >> Yes, in general you get different birds. They try to offer different birds, but because you only get to photograph the birds that can't be re-released to the wild.
Then it's birds that are, are still in captivity. >> Okay. If I wanted to find something like this in my area, what kind of things might I do a Google search for? How do I, how do I locate something like this? >> I'd look for the words refuge or photographic opportunities at a, a rehab center. In fact, where I live at Lake Tahoe, there's a wildlife center that rehabs animals for release and as a volunteer there, I've actually gone through the training to help the, help the animals. We get to bring our cameras and get to take pictures there. >> That's great, that's very exciting.
It also sounds like with the kind of access that you're getting here, you're not using extravagantly long lenses? >> No, you could actually use very short lenses an 80 to 200 lens would be perfect for this. >> A very typical lens, so you're not having to invest in a, in a really expensive piece of glass to be able to pull this off which is not something you get in the wild. Exactly and, and you don't have to hike for miles and miles to find the animals, either. >> Right, well that's great, Carolyn. Thank you very much. If you're interested in this type of shooting, do a little research. See what you can find in your area. Searching on the terms that Carolyn mentioned.
And also this volunteer opportunity is great. This is not just a chance to get some cool images. It's a chance to get to work with a really cool organization.
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