Animal Photography

Pet and Wildlife Photography

parrot.jpgTrying to photograph animals is great fun, but challenging While it may only have been ten minutes, it felt like an eternity when trying to get a good shot of this vocal and precocious parrot. Every time I had him in focus and thought I had the perfect shot lined up, he would hide his head under his feathers, preen, or turn his back on me.

Finally, with the unintended help of a very young boy who was also following his every move, I managed to get my shot. The parrot had been squawking loudly, intermittently, and, in exasperation, the little boy blurted out “shut up, my mother tells me to shut up all the time”! The bird peered over at him and that’s when I got my photo. “Thanks”, I muttered. He looked up and very matter of factly said – “he was too loud”! Here’s where you can read more on improving pet photography.

The shot was taken on my digital Nikon 70s, even though I had my mid 1980’s Nikon FG with me at the time. I chose digital that day for speed of shooting. In the time it takes to advance film one frame, I swear I can fire off two with digital. As with bracketing your shots if you were shooting with film, the more shots you take, the better your chances of getting “the one”.

I put my camera on auto mode for the day as I knew there wouldn’t be time to make too many adjustments for each individual shot. Once again, a plus point for using digital. I was playing tourist at The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, FL and the place was pretty crowded. I set the camera to allow me manual focus with the aid of a built in diopter. I have an inherent distrust of auto focus on any lens because I figure it knows nothing of what my subject matter really is! I also opted to use the JPEG Normal setting. While I was sacrificing resolution, it allowed for more photos. I now wish I’d selected the JPEG Fine setting on the camera instead. I still would have been able to take all that I wanted and spent less time tweaking them in the digital darkroom.

Another choice for using digital here was that I knew the colors of this magnificent bird would be captured. Had I used the Kodak 200 ASA film, the results would be excellent as well. It’s a lot easier to tweak the color with digital, whereby each film type has it’s own hue > cool to warm, and anywhere in between. I’ve wondered what the difference in detail might be? I still think film would win. There’s that little things called the pixel, that digital can never get beyond, although I still fantasize about having had a digital Hasseleblad with me that day and take that very same shot!

I also developed a new found admiration for what wildlife photographers had to know in order to get that one shoot that says it all. I was lucky – I was in an aviary, and while these birds were not captive, their food source was there and they had gotten quite used to humans, so you could seek out an interesting shot in little time. Additionally, the sunshine was splendid and I was able to get several keepers that day.

Contributed by Eileen Hennessy

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