The Practicing Photographer

Wildlife and staying present


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

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Video: Wildlife and staying present

If you're like me, you probably sometimes find yourself frustrated for a photographic subject matter. Maybe because where you live you feel like oh, it's it's all boring. I've seen it too many times. Or you go somewhere new and you shoot something and you go I've taken that picture already. In those cases, you might want to consider going in an entirely different direction. And this week on The Practicing Photographer, I'm going to talk about wildlife photography. If you've never done it before, it might be something you want to try just to get yourself seeing in a different way, even if you think I'm not that interested in that kind of shooting.
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  1. 4m 47s
    1. Shooting a slow-shutter zoom-and-spin shot for light effect NEW
      4m 47s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 11h 46m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 56s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s
    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
      5m 50s
    85. Getting inspired through the work of others
      11m 22s
    86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
      4m 21s
    87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
      3m 3s
    88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
      5m 38s
    89. Shooting stills from a drone
      6m 57s
    90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
      8m 0s
    91. Understanding lens profile correction
      5m 33s
    92. Working with models
      2m 40s
    93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
      10m 32s
    94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
      6m 18s
    95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
      3m 24s
    96. Tips for shooting panoramas
      7m 16s
    97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
      4m 44s
    98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
      5m 35s
    99. Evaluating camera-strap options
      4m 42s
    100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
      3m 31s
    101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
      3m 26s
    102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
      8m 32s
    103. Stitching together stacks of stars
      8m 59s
    104. Understanding how to clean sensor dust
      10m 27s
    105. Dry sensor cleaning
      6m 23s
    106. Cleaning the sensor with moisture
      7m 32s
    107. Composing in the center
      2m 48s
    108. Working with an electronic shutter control
      2m 50s
    109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
      2m 56s
    110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
      7m 8s
    111. Don't be predictable in your framing
      10m 21s
    112. Shooting with ND filter and flash to balance subject and background exposure
      2m 42s
    113. Understanding when to go low contrast
      3m 15s
    114. Reasons for shooting images alone
      4m 5s
    115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
      14m 4s
    116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
      5m 2s
    117. Understanding options for tripod heads
      7m 23s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
11h 52m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Jul 30, 2015

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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.

Ben Long

Wildlife and staying present

If you're like me, you probably sometimes find yourself frustrated for a photographic subject matter. Maybe because where you live you feel like oh, it's it's all boring. I've seen it too many times. Or you go somewhere new and you shoot something and you go I've taken that picture already. In those cases, you might want to consider going in an entirely different direction. And this week on The Practicing Photographer, I'm going to talk about wildlife photography. If you've never done it before, it might be something you want to try just to get yourself seeing in a different way, even if you think I'm not that interested in that kind of shooting.

It's worth trying anyway because it's a different skill set, or it's a way of working a different part of the skill set you already have. Now, I'm not a big wildlife shooter, I have had the opportunity to shoot in some really great locations. So I have gotten to dabble in it. I'm going to give you just a few tips, if you decide that this is something you want to try. Now, first of all, you might be thinking, where am I going to find wildlife? In the US here, there's a fantastic array of wildlife to be had. In your own backyard, you've probably got a lot of birds that you could shoot. But even moving farther afield than that, there are wildlife preserves all over this country.

I'm here in southwestern Oklahoma near a fantastic wildlife preserve that offers prairie dogs and buffalo and longhorn cattle. So there's probably something near you that would give you a chance to get out and at least work the skill set of a wildlife shooter. Now, gear-wise You're most likely going to want a very long lens. Now if your idea of wildlife shooting is to shoot bugs and insects and things like that, you're into a macro photography realm. But if we're talking in, about going out into a landscape and shooting the large and small animals that live there, you're going to need a longer lens. If you've watched my Specialty Lenses course, then you've had some exposure to what it's like working with a, a very long lens.

And you've seen that long lenses not only give you a longer reach. Which can be important both for keeping you away from an animal, so that you don't disturb it. And so that it doesn't massively devour you. But also, because a longer lens lets you manipulate the relationship between the foreground and the background. And that's a tremendous compositional power. You need that power sometimes to isolate your subject, to bring more focus to that animal that's in the foreground. It's also a way of experimenting with representing the sense of space that the animal is in and that you are shooting in giving the viewer a better idea of the actual environment that you're in.

Once you're out doing, once you're out shooting an animal, it's really just basic photo 101. It's probably most of the stuff you already know. You need to think about depth of field, you need to think about motion stopping power with your shutter speed, you need to understand the relationship between ISO, shutter speed and aperture, and you need good basic composition skills. You're going to want to play with camera position and focal length to control depth of field and space, as I already mentioned. But I'd like to talk about something that's not quite so technical. That hive experience when I've been out shooting. Again, this wildlife preserve in, in Oklahoma, we just passed through it the other day and did a little bit of shooting.

We found a prairie dog town, and if you've never seen prairie dogs in person, all I can say is they're just really cute. I mean it's ridiculous. And we were there and there were lots of baby prairie dogs, and they were wrestling each other and jumping on each other. And you stand there and you're just kind of flabbergasted by it. And your impulse when you're shooting is just wow, this is great! All I gotta do is take a picture of this. And I found myself just sticking cute, little prairie dogs in the middle of the frame and just shooting them. Over and over and I have more prairie dog pictures that I'll ever need now. Just prairie dogs in the middle of the frame.

I was distracted there by my experience of the moment that I was actually having. that experience was distracting me from the photographic work that I should have been doing. Yes, that's really adorable when you're standing there. Just taking a snap shot of it and showing it to somebody else. Particularly in this day and age where we have all seen spectacular wildlife photographs taken by extremely experienced wildlife photographers, you can't compete with that. So, you've got to be careful when you're there. You've got to be sure that you do the work of the photographer. Same situation happens if you find yourself in a somewhat menacing or more dramatic situation as we did later with some buffalo.

The buffalo were just right around our car and it's, and they're huge. They were taller than the car were. It's an inherently dramatic situation and you may find yourself just sticking things in the middle of the frame and shooting. Where it changed for me was with the prairie dogs. I, at some point realized wait a minute I'm not doing the work I'm supposed to be doing. I need to be thinking about how to shoot these animals. And my first thought was I need to get really low on the ground. I need to get down to their level. And even then, how many pictures of prairie dogs do you need where they're sitting up adorably chewing on something? I started to then work about this isn't just about the prairie dogs, it's about the environment that they're in.

There were beautiful wildflowers everywhere. There were buffalo in the distance wallowing in the dust. There were birds flying overhead. I then switch to trying to think more entire realm that I was in, and think more thoughtfully about how to capture that stuff. Same thing with the buffalo. We were on a road we didn't want to get out of the car. And we weren't really shooting buffalo in their natural environment. So I switched over to thinking more about this is moment that I need to document. It's not just about a big buffalo. That's not going to be that interesting to someone. I need to maybe try to think about, there were buffalo here and cars on the road and, and just trying to more thoughtfully record that moment.

This is a practice you need where, wherever you are when you're shooting. You don't want your photography to take you out of the moment. You want to be experiencing things both for yourself and to make your photographs better, but it's really easy to forget that when you're shooting wildlife, because you're so excited that the animal is there. So, if you're stuck, or if you're interested in wildlife photography, I would encourage you to get out and try it. Start in your own backyard. Get yourself a nice long lens. Try working the birds that pass through your backyard. Try working the cats that are in the neighborhood, the dogs that are in the neighborhood. There's probably a wildlife preserve near you that you can get to easily.

And what you're really going to want to focus on there is the thoughtful representation of the environment and the animals that are there, don't get sucked into just the drama and the excitement of the animals. Try to do your job as a photographer, and really work to get those good shots.

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