White Tail Deer

Mild Wildlife

I did a little wildlife photography today. Not because I set out to do so, but because I had my camera with me at the moment wildlife presented the opportunity. Even so, they are not ground-breaking images, but they are notable for my personal catalog. I find wildlife photography challenging, and not in a good way, especially mammals and birds. I envy the tight, clear images produced by professionals. I seldom seem to have such good fortune. Of course, good equipment is helpful, but good wildlife photography is more than just having a long, bright zoom. Most of it is opportunity. The longest zoom will do you no good if there are no birds to photograph.

Part of opportunity is being ready when it arrives. Today, for example, I happened to have my camera with me when the deer and the hawk suddenly showed up where I could see them. But that serendipity is tough to rely on when you need it to pay the bills. So, wildlife photographers stack the odds in their favor. They go to where they know the wildlife will be. Not just to the woods, but to the spot in the woods where the animal is known to feed or den, often getting suggestions from the local residents. They also do anything they can to get closer. A super telephoto is a great help, but getting closer is better. This means blinds, or perhaps setting out a feeding station. Finally, its patience. Hour after hour of waiting and searching for that one great picture. The one that goes on the business card or into the photo contest. Thomas Edison famously said genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Wildlife photography, to paraphrase, is one percent fortune, ninety-nine percent preparation. But a good zoom still helps.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk. Cropped. 6400 ISO, which is what I happened to have the camera set on when I grabbed it, so it shows more grain than I would like.

Both images were taken with Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR, full out to 300mm, then cropped. Post-processing was mostly cropping, basic contrast and some saturation; plus I tweaked the white-balance temperature to a warmer cast, especially for the deer.