Wildlife Photography Tips Part Two

It has taken a little longer than I wanted, but I finally got around to writing this second article on photographing wildlife. The writer in me is still struggling to get out, wants to keep hiding and do more interesting stuff like taking photographs rather than write about it. Let’s get started and see where it leads. If you would like to read the previous part, please see this link.

PLWLT-Part-II-Photo-01-600lb-Black-Bear-Copyright-Robert-J-Andersen

1) Do you have what it takes?

Wildlife photography can be so rewarding and so frustrating at the same time. It can be a challenge of patience and persistence and all those wonderful photos you see from wildlife photographers around the world took time and effort to get. What a photographer usually shows you on their website or portfolio is the best of their work, a hundred or so photos, sometimes more. What you don’t see is the amount of time it took them to get those photos or what they had to go through or just how many attempts were involved before they got what they were happy with. The featured photo of this article is of a huge wet 500lb black bear taken in New Hampshire, where I live. Let’s talk about that photo for a bit as it relates to this topic of “do you have what it takes”. I have lived in northern NH for five years and it is a place known to have many black bears, yet they are the ghost of the woods, the animal that hardly ever shows itself to you and a male that got to be this big is very aware and cautious. So I have been trying and trying for years to get really good black bear stuff, success in Yellowstone but not at home. It was a little frustrating to say the least, but I kept plugging away, got some keepers but nothing spectacular. Then this year (2014), things fell in place and all of a sudden I got a couple of beauties, photos that make my heart pound faster and take my breath away, the kind of photos that drive me through this crazy passion of getting great wildlife photos. This black bear (photo above and below) is as big as they get for a black bear and a rare opportunity here in New Hampshire, so all my years of hoping and trying finally paid off.

Huge 600lb Male Black Bear

The two top photos are the same bear; just slight angle changes and lens selection make a huge difference in how he is portrayed. The front angle shows his true size, while the first photo is more about that power in his walk. At any rate, for me to experience such a huge bear up close and personal is an opportunity I cannot afford to mess up on, I may never see a bear like this again. I sat for many, many, many hours, just waiting and hoping and then this guy walks in, more bear than I ever expected but so happy to see him.

When I say “do you have what it takes”, I mean the following (also my tips for this section):

  • Wildlife photography can be a slog at times; it can be un-rewarding in that you may not get recognition because wildlife photography is so competitive.
  • Maybe not all wildlife photographers will admit it, because they just show all their best photos and some are shy about sharing the effort or missed opportunities it took to get those photos. But let me tell you, some photos just take a long time to come your way and you have to be willing to try and try and try again.
  • Its 20min before it is too dark too shoot, you see some elk in beautiful cottonwood trees, you start to approach and there is a running creek in front of you. If you go back and around, it will be too late. Are you willing to just go for broke and walk across that creek, shoes and all?
  • Are you willing to sit behind a blind for hours in the hope that the animal you are stalking will walk by, and if it doesn’t do it all again.
  • I would say, don’t do it for money, you may not make any. Do it for the love of wildlife and then if money comes your way, awesome!
  • A lot of wildlife is more active in the mornings and evenings, getting up and to your location before/at sunrise is a must.
  • Sometimes you have to learn to be a hunter and how they stalk and get close to their animals. A hunter with a camera and not a gun.
  • Sometimes the photos you see as awe inspiring and magical, others don’t. Don’t let it get to you; you are doing this for you and not for them.
  • You have to be ready at all times; you may only have seconds to get that magical photo.
  • In the Katmai Grizzly bear photo further down the article, we spent 5 days in non stop rain/drizzle, got cold in July. The magic of what we saw and captured overrides all that, in retrospect having the rain was lucky because otherwise we would have been dealing with harsh sunlight and big insects. It was a mixture (perfect blend) of pleasure and pain!
  • You probably can gather from the above bullet points that I am rather intense when it comes to trying to get the shot. I think passion and intensity are requirements that help you and increase your photographic success.

Elk in Creek Area of Grand Tetons

This photo above is the one where I did cross the creek in my shoes, I photographed several smaller bulls in the cottonwoods, when I spotted this grand monarch elk (the leader of the bachelor group), who was definitely the boss. Unfortunately, this was shot at 5000 ISO, so the image has a little more noise than I would normally want. My ISO limit for the D4/D4s is around 2500-3200 in extreme conditions. For me, the magic is seeing and capturing such a grand champion, my only regret, not seeing them earlier and having the possibility of more time and better light to photograph them in.

2) The Pro in All Us Amateurs

There are varying definitions for the term “Professional Photographer”, but I think the most accurate one is the one that says a pro is someone who earns 100% of his / her income from photography. Becoming a true professional is not so easy and for wildlife photography that statement is especially true, it’s a very competitive field out there. Mike Read wrote about this in his “wildlife photography as a career” article as well. Would I like to be the next Moose Peterson or Thomas Mangelsen? Sure, I would and maybe one day if I am lucky it could happen, but that’s not why I do wildlife photography. I do wildlife photography because nature and wildlife inspires me, I marvel at the range of creatures out there and their behavior and interactions. I would be happy if one of my photographs influenced just one person and changed their view on bears being human killing machines and we must shoot them all. I take and share wildlife photographs so others may get to see the beauty of nature that is out there and hopefully that they may also like the photographs I take.

You need to have a reason to be a wildlife photographer, a passion that drives you to get better and better. You don’t have to be a pro to take great wildlife photos. In fact, there are many great photographers out there who are not pros. You are going to take crappy photos, don’t sweat it, learn from your mistakes and keep improving, it takes time. So if we stick with the notion a professional wildlife photographer is someone who earns 100% of their income from photography, then I say to you, worry about the money later and experience wildlife first. The money may eventually come your way and maybe one day you will call yourself a pro, but if you don’t start with that outlook you will always have many wonderful wildlife experiences to take with you to the grave or share with your family and friends.

Snarling Black Panther

I am not a pro by definition, I have a day job as part of my family business and it will probably stay that way for a while. As an amateur, I don’t want you to get dis-heartened or discouraged when you see some photos out there that are mind boggling. I bet you didn’t know that most of those trophy deer photos jumping fences in perfect light and composition were staged specifically to be on the front of hunting magazines. Sometimes you are going to see amazing photos like a snow leopard running down a mountain side taken with a 400mm or less lens and wonder how do I get a photo like this. The answer is complex and maybe you never will because finding a truly wild snow leopard is very hard as they are on the brink of extinction and considered an endangered species. In the example of the snow leopard I was talking about, the photographer was actually in a helicopter following a trained animal down the mountain. There are photos out there taken with everything perfect that had help from professional animal handlers and then there are photographs out there taken by wildlife enthusiasts and pro’s alike that are truly wild. At the end of the day I am highlighting it, because when first setting out on the path of getting great wildlife photos you sometimes try to copy or imitate and image you have seen or that you really liked. Now that you understand a little about some of the competition you are up against, it may help you evaluate you own photographs more realistically. I believe to succeed, you have to be happy with your own evaluation of your photographs and their quality. Your competition is yourself and your quest for ever improving images, get out there and get into it and maybe one day, the pro in you arrives.

The tips here are:

  • If you do it for love, passion and personal achievement, money hardly matters
  • Being a pro does not necessarily define success, you define who and what you are, your photos will speak for you.

3) Timing and Persistence

Sometimes photos happen in bursts, you try for several years but don’t really get the kind of photos you want of a particular subject, then one year many great shots happen of that subject. You have to put yourself in the position to maximize your ability to get the shot, sometimes its just the right time and things happen for you and at other times its through outright persistence and you make it happen.

Loons Feeding Baby Fish

The shot above is not my signature shot from following those loons for two months, but its extremely cute. The two parents proudly looking on, while the 2 day day old baby swallows a fish almost the same size as its body. Timing and persistence pay off, the persistence here is being out on the pond in my canoe every day for two months and following the loons religiously. The timing is knowing there will be a lot of feeding going on with the baby so young as they try to fatten it up and the opportunity to get such photos increases. You will get quite a few opportunities of feeding and interaction shots when you shadow them during this critical feeding phase, but if you want natural behavior you have to keep your distance and respect the wildlife you are photographing.

The tips here are:

  • Get out there again and again and again.
  • If you don’t get that magical photo this year, try again next year.
  • If the photo you got is not good enough, pick it to pieces and try understand why you messed up.
  • Understand when the subject is most active and put yourself there, ready to capture the moments.
  • Use the photos  you mess up on or just miss as inspiration to do better next time.

4) Every Second Counts

This D800 image below is a perfect sample of how every second counts. The male bear was trying to court this female and following her like a bad smell, she was being a typical female bear and playing hard to get:

Large Nale Black bear with his Sow

He laid down in frustration near her and they managed to put their eyes in the same plane for just a few seconds. All up I had the bears for a total 9 frames in this position before the moment was gone. I got lucky because I had been shooting the male walking and was at 4.5 F-stop, I didn’t have time to think or adjust my F-stop as this moment happened but somehow managed to get two sets of eyes sharp at F/4.5. Interaction shots in wildlife always tell more story and have usually have more power than a single subject photo, they are also much harder to get. When I say every second counts, I mean be ready, don’t let your mind wonder off somewhere while activity is going on in front of you. If you lose your focus, you may miss the opportunity, because in those nine frames above only three frames had both eyes open and sharp. Three frames to get the shot, a shot you may never see or get the opportunity to get again, every second truly counts when you are trying to get the photos of your dreams. On a side note, I got this D800 at full frame, so I am going to use the resolution of the D800 to turn this into a panoramic type crop.

The tips here are:

  • Every second and moment does count.
  • You have to be ready and predicting possibilities.
  • If you want interaction, then you have to be trying to shoot it from the beginning. IE: it’s no good if I had my 600mm prime lens attached, it would have been too close and they would not have fit in the frame. I set out to try and get interaction and chose the 200-400mm so I could adjust focal length to suit a moment if it happened.
  • I used auto ISO feature here, which eliminated one set of variables (camera settings) that I might need to set or fumble with, this helped me concentrate on getting the shot.
  • Follow the subjects through the viewfinder, track them, have the trigger finger ready, predict the moment and fire off those shots. If you saw it 1st and fired it may be too late. There was a moment the two bears (male and female) mouthed each other, a display of courtship. It happened during a fairly innocent approach by the male bear, a total of 11 frames at the D4s (11fps speed), so I had just a little over a second to capture it. Timing is critical.

5) There is no Tomorrow

This subject will be short and to the point. Have you ever been out driving with someone (e.g. spouse / friend) and as you drove you caught something in the corner of your eye and thought to yourself “we should take a photo of that” but then kept driving and said  “we’ll come back and get that later”. Well, later hardly ever happens and there is no tomorrow when it comes to photography, tomorrow is another day with different opportunities than what you saw today. This scenario still happens every now and then to my wife and I, and we know that when we pass on the opportunity it is gone. It not so bad that you let the moments pass, but my suggestion would be to actually stop every now and then, take the time to capture the moment, it may last a lifetime. Just be aware that what you see today and what happens tomorrow are two different things, you make the choice.

Bull Moose Feeding in Pond

Let me illustrate the “there is no tomorrow point” with the above photo. At the time we took this moose photo we were living in Portsmouth NH and it was a five hour drive to Millinocket Maine where we were photographing the moose. On this particular day when we took to the water in our canoe, we found eleven moose feeding in the same spot of the pond. We were so happy, we had so many to choose from and two of them were big boys with beautiful racks. Anyway, to cut the long story short, after we finished photographing that day, we decided we would come back for the next five weekends to try and meet up with at least one or two of them, right! (remember eleven on the pond). We did come back every weekend for the next five weeks (5 hour drive) and not a single moose out of the eleven were back in that pond.

My tips here are:

  • Don’t assume the animal or subject will be there tomorrow or we’ll get it tomorrow because who knows what tomorrow will bring.
  • If something caught your eye and inspired youtoday’, then it probably was worth taking the time to photograph.
  • Photography is not a chore, you don’t have to get every shot, just don’t regret it later if you pass by a chance.

6) Blinds, Locations, Animal Behavior

There are many different types of blinds, I don’t just mean the hunting type like a little camo tent you sit in and photograph out of, you can also use the environment to blind your approach from the animal.

Grizzly (Brown bear) Katmai National Park

In this photograph, I neither needed a blind or to hide myself, but yet the bear is extremely comfortable with my presence and continues to behave normally. This is because of the location where I photographed the bear, Katmai National Park, which is a very unique and special place where you can walk amongst the grizzlies without fear of your life. So there are places on this earth where animals behave differently and don’t see humans as a threat and there are places where animals are much hunted (shot at) on a regular basis and behave totally different. So depending on where you go to photograph and what type of animal you photograph you may need to hide yourself and your approach to the animal to get within that critical shooting distance (usually closer than you think) where photographs reveal all their detail and sharpness. Sometimes you will need to consider camouflage as a tool to hide you and your camera or to use the environment to the same effect. It’s really up to you when to decide such tactics are needed and again it depends on the animal and the situation and / or location.

Some types of blinds natural and man made are:

  • A hunting blind like a small camouflage tent with small opening for gun or camera (a hunter’s blind)
  • A bush or tree to hide behind while photographing.
  • Placing a tree or other natural object in direct line between you and the subjects eyes, if you cant see the subject, they probably cant see you. Use this kind of blind to slowly approach a subject and get closer.
  • Using the landscape, hills and bumps to block the animal from seeing you or your approach.
  • Your vehicle is a perfect blind, stay in the car rather than approach the animal, in many instances animals (like moose etc.) are comfortable while you are in the car, but open that door and get out and they run.
  • While a canoe is not a blind, animals like moose will often tolerate your presence for a long time in a canoe and continue to eat the watery vegetation in front of you, but run away when seeing you on foot.
  • Camo clothing and camo cloths for your tripod and camera. Take a 9×13 square foot camo cloth and throw it over you and your whole tripod.
  • Any kind of obstruction that hides you can be used as a blind.

So we established there are place where animals don’t seem to fear humans and behave quite naturally even if you are standing out in the open. Some examples of such places and subjects are:

  • Grizzly (coastal brown bear) – Hallow Bay Katmai NP, Alaska; McNeil River, Alaska
  • Moose - Grand Tetons NP, Wyoming; Baxter SP, Maine
  • Black Bear – Yellowstone NP, Wyoming; Vince Shute Wildlife Sanctuary, Minnesota
  • Mountain Goats – Glacier NP, Montana
  • Big Horn Sheep – Yellowstone NP, Glacier NP

These are just a few examples of many, but for those examples the animals are so used to the presence of humans every day that they essentially ignore them and carry on. Photographing in places like those listed increases your chances of success and allow you to get closer than normal. Then there are local places like here in New Hampshire where moose are hunted and behave quite differently (fight or flight). Each situation requires its own unique approach, if I am photographing moose here in New Hampshire, I am essentially behaving like a hunter wearing camouflage clothing from top to bottom, sneaking through the woods and making a silent approach.

Another example would be trying to photograph moose you might bump into along the road here in Maine and New Hampshire where moose will often hang next to the roads to lick the salt that has gathered from salting during winter. Many people here make the mistake of jumping out of the car and walking towards the moose only to wonder why they run off and hide. Had they just pulled over and used their car for a blind, they could have sat and photographed for much longer and the moose would most likely have stayed and behaved fairly natural.

One reason to consider a blind or camouflage is to capture natural behavior and interaction. By being hidden from the animals view, you might just get to see the intimate side of their relationships and courtship and they will tend to behave much more natural without constantly worrying who that human is and what are they up to.

Anyway, that was just a brief intro to that side of photography, all I want to do is open your eyes to options and methods and then you decide if they have any value to you.

Bull Moose in Foliage

I am going to close this article with one of my favorite moose photos above, taken here where I live in New Hampshire. This was not a blind situation, but rather fight or flight and the moose decided to do both. First, it retreated and then when I kept taking photographs, it got annoyed and charged us. We made a hasty retreat and got out of the danger zone. Moose can be a bit like that, especially during the rutting period when this photo was taken. Remember to be careful out there, know your animal, respect its personal space and enjoy the world of wildlife photography!

Regards,
Robert Andersen

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Gladys
    June 18, 2014 at 4:55 am

    Thank you so much for great article. As an aside, you wrote Baxter NP, Maine when Baxter is actually a state park.

    • June 18, 2014 at 5:13 am

      Hey Gladys

      Thanks, and thanks for the correction on Baxter, I fixed it in the article. I have been there many times and know its a state park, but somehow I messed it up when writing.

      Rob

  2. 3
    ) Mike B
    June 18, 2014 at 5:14 am

    A wonderfully entertaining and informative read Robert, lots to think about, if only I could get a Moose in my backyard here in the UK, but I did manage to get some Mule Deer (I think) on our recent ski road trip around Colorado (on Rte 13) using the car as a blind.

    A very helpful article especially as I have started to branch out into bird photography here in my countryside back garden, all I need now is a decent zoom and some patience.

    • June 18, 2014 at 5:55 am

      Thank You Mike

      You wouldn’t believe it, but I usually cant sit still for more than 5 minutes, but when it come to photography I can sit and wait for hours. My wife and I started with basic gear to begin with and just kept upgrading over the years, it takes time and is part of the process.

      Enjoy your photography, that’s what its about.

      Rob

      • 6
        ) Mike B
        June 18, 2014 at 7:11 am

        That’s my plan, will have to work on the patience.

        What a coincidence that we have also the review of the Tamron 150-600mm zoom along with your article, happy days.

        Mike B

  3. 5
    ) Vladimir Naumoff
    June 18, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Thanks for highlighting all the points. Great reading! Well done!

  4. Avatar of Mike Banks
    7
    ) Mike Banks
    June 18, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Robert, this is a stunning article with great insight and advice. I’m not a wildlife photographer…more of a stealth street photographer in the manor of Bresson. Unlike many street photographers who will walk up on a subject and ask permission, I like the urban blind situation as I feel for what I’m trying to do gives me more of a natural feel to my photographs when people are unaware they are being photographed. But that is just me. I’m not shy, and if I think asking permission will get me what I am looking for, I will.

    My professional work is medical and criminal forensic photography so when not working I consider my other passions as my hobby. Although I do make money from my street and flora photography and have been for years I don’t consider them to be my pro work at all.

    I understand your definition of professional photographer as well as your need to keep the family business going in order to provide for your family, however, I have never agreed with that definition. In my, not so humble opinion, professionalism comes from consistency and acumen of craft. We know there are many great photographers out there among the “amateur” population; the people who don’t make any money from photography and who consistently make great photographs. To me, they are as professional as any who make their living through photography. Furthermore, in the past, some of the greatest photographers never made a great deal of money from this art while they were alive.

    You sir are a true professional. You are persistent in your quest to obtain the very best of your art whether or not you earn all your money from your pictures.

    Thank you for sharing with us here at Photography Life.

    • June 18, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Wow

      THANKS !!! – appreciate it and you are welcome

    • 21
      ) Murray Foote
      June 20, 2014 at 2:58 am

      I completely agree with you Mike and you save me the trouble of making a similar post.

      I’d also like to point out that according to the latin root of the word, an amateur photographer is a lover of photography. There is no reason why an amateur photographer can’t aspire to be better than most commercial photographers.

      • Avatar of Mike Banks
        22
        ) Mike Banks
        June 20, 2014 at 7:37 am

        Murray

        Here, we have a perfect agreement.

        I have friends who fit this definition and I am envious of their landscape and wildlife photographs and their skill in post processing. Here in Richmond, Virginia, we have a wonderful wild aviary. Eagles, hawks, gulls, osprey, heron, egret, and of course the garden variety of ducks and geese that are everywhere. I’ve literally spend tens of thousands of dollars on very expensive lenses but would not venture to put one of my BIF or still life bird photos against any of the afore mentioned friends work. Of course they have all said at one time or another they could never photograph an autopsy or surgery so we all have our place in this world we call photography.

  5. 8
    ) Sally
    June 18, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Thank you so much for such an informative article. I enjoy nature and wildlife and keep trying to get that “one” shot of a lifetime. Your tips will inspire me to keep trying. I have only myself to impress!

    • June 18, 2014 at 11:32 am

      That’s it ! – you got it and when you do, you will feel oh so good and no one will be able to take it away from you.

      Rob

  6. 9
    ) Deb M
    June 18, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Thank you so much for your article! I am a wildlife enthusiast photographer who is still new to the craft, and your article is so inspiring! I get so excited when I take a photograph and it’s just right. Even when it’s NOT just right, I get excited because I got that bird in flight and I can see it’s feathers! WOW. How exhilarating! I love it. But I was getting a little disheartened when some of my photos weren’t as great as I thought once I took them home and looked at them. (I have however, this week learned to not be bummed, and even have some laughs over a photo I took that looks like a “zombie duck” lol )
    But your encouraging words have made it all great again. I love how photography just takes me away!

    Thanks for taking the time to write this article, it was just what we all (budding and enthusiast photographers) needed to hear. :)

    • June 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Hey Deb

      Don’t get bummed, I know its hard, I have wanted to get bummed out several times, but then magic happens and you get the photo you have already seen in your mind. When you get that, and feel better than ever you will set new standards and new highs, occasionally you’ll hit a bump in the road, but no sweat, you can handle it and will only get better.

      Rob

  7. 14
    ) Mickey Jetpur
    June 18, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for the lovely inspiring article and beautiful wildlife photos. I am recovering from my 2nd knee replacement and am so hopeful that I will be able to hike into the woods and photograph wildlife. I have had to be content with taking pictures from my car as I could not walk very far from it. I am so excited and reading your article has given me the strength and motivation to try and get back into photographing wildlife and nature as soon as I can! I grew up hunting in India, so I have a natural eye and respect for wildlife. Loved your reference on “blinds”! Yes! I am looking forward to sneaking through the woods!

    • June 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks and I hope your recovery goes well, if you get the chance to get out there and into it, that would be awesome, if not there is also wildlife photography that can be done without so much walking. Have Fun!!

      Rob

  8. 15
    ) Lois Bryan
    June 18, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    great advice – great article!!!!!!!!!

  9. 17
    ) Oscar
    June 18, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    Another great article, Rob. Frankly, much of what you outlined are things that I knew, but it is quite helpful to see it documented as you have and especially framed with such amazing photographs. I kept on changing my favorite of the set each time I saw the next one…so they’re all my favorites. However, that is definitely a monster black bear. Congratulations on having your persistence and patience pay off.

    Thanks again for sharing your insight…and for the candor you expressed in your article.

    • June 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      G’Day Oscar

      Glad I could re-affirm the basics, but they are such important points, follow them and they will lead to good photo opportunities. I only know how to express things as honestly as I can, the hope is always the honesty doesn’t offend. I am glad I was able to attach true stories to the images that enhance the information in the article, there are also some of my favorite photos in there. Hopefully the next article will go into more detail.

      Regards
      Rob

  10. 19
    ) Anand
    June 19, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Great article and wonder tips. And the photos were a treat to look at. Thanks a ton!

  11. Avatar of Anondo Stangl
    20
    ) Anondo Stangl
    June 19, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Thanks for another excellent photographylife article.
    As a hobbyist wildlife photographer your advice is extremely helpful. I would like to make the best of the many “misses” I get, particularly when shooting birds in flight but sometimes it is not clear to me what the cause of unsharpness was in retrospect. Sometimes it is clearly camera motion or subject motion if shutter speed isn’t fast enough but other times I don’t know.
    How does one determine if unsharpness arises from poor focus (particularly with a bird against sky where there is nothing else to show the true plane of focus), atmospheric conditions (heat shimmer), or limitations of the lens or camera?
    I shoot with a D600, usually with the Nikkor 300 f4 + 1.4 TC, BTW.
    An article on how to analyze photos and how to learn from them would be great!
    Thanks,
    PAS

    • June 20, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Thanks

      I’ll see what I can do about your suggestions, I have a few misses where I kept the raw files, so I might be able to do something there.

      Regards
      Rob

  12. 24
    ) Ian
    June 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Great article, but I would absolutely edit what you said about the Katami National Park.

    These are wild animals. You can walk among them, but you should absolutely not treat it as a “no danger” situation as you have written it. Wild animals are unpredictable, and humans are not good at recognizing how our behavior can cause them to panic or attack.

    • June 23, 2014 at 6:34 am

      Hello Ian

      I don’t know if you have been to Hallow Bay or Kukak Bay, but it is a very special place where bears acted as they did hundreds of years ago before they were hunted and chased by humans.

      Of course all wild animals are wild and can be dangerous and you cannot be at the above places without a personal guide. But you can walk amongst the bears there, in fact the sow’s brought their 6month old cubs to us and then proceeded to graze in front of us. This is because in general humans are not a food source for the bears, so unless there is a history of threat from us, they have no reason to treat us as a threat.

      Regards
      Rob

      • 26
        ) Ian
        June 23, 2014 at 7:40 pm

        Rob -

        I have not been there and I do believe you in what you say, but, sadly, your advice seems to indicate that there is not danger in the article. Timothy Treadwell famously was a bit of an idiot with the bears, but he was killed by a Kukak Bay grizzly.

        The lesson is preach that these are not field trips to the zoo in the wild and people will take proper care (which is what your comment does). The article, however, does not, hence my suggestion.

        That said, I love the photos and hope to travel to Alaska to enjoy its natural splendor at some time.

        • June 24, 2014 at 6:57 am

          Ian

          I will consider your advice, Timothy Treadwell got killed because he didn’t think he had to follow any kind of bear protocol and put his campsite in a bear travel path and was even aware himself of the risk of his campsite. Towards the end of his trips to Alaska Tim didn’t even bother to carry any kind of defensive tool like bear spray.

          I think if you get to go there and walk amongst the grizzlies, you will see things differently. It really is a life changing event, it was for us and we have great respect for wildlife and their capabilities and dangers. In Yellowstone we behave totally differently and understand all too well that a close encounter with a grizzly and cubs may result in injury or death.

          Regards
          Rob

  13. 28
    ) Iksas
    June 30, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Finally part II. Good article. Everything that written is so 100% true. And wild animals are wild animals, respect their private space and do photos not disturbing them and enjoy being in nature .

    Will wait for part III :)

  14. 29
    ) James
    July 1, 2014 at 8:35 am

    I Live in South Africa so have access to an abundance of wildlife. I sometime photograph birds but my Budget does not allow for a 600mm lens. I have a D800 and D3s that I bought used but I love both for their own abilities. I have a 300f2.8 that I use with a TC 1.4 and this is my “longest” lens. The IQ with the TC is still very good. I am considering buying a 200-400 for the zoom flexibility and I see you use this lens. However, I have heard so many negative talk on this lens that I am not sure if I should get it or not. Talk is that it is not a great lens for longer distances?? I can get a used lens checked and confirmed by Nikon to be in great condition. it is the Vr1 model? I would value your opinion.

    • July 1, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Hey

      Lens selection can be a subjective matter depending on who you talk to – but the 200-400mm is an outstanding lens, its not a prime but it sure does give quality results. I think for wildlife a zoom like the 200-400mm is essential.

      Hope this helps :)

      Rob

    • 33
      ) sceptical 1
      July 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Hi James,

      This is an incredible lens and probably my favorite all time wildlife lens. It is remarkably sharp for a zoom ( similar to a prime) and it handles fairly well given its size. I had a 500mm prime and thought this was very close in sharpness, is obviously more flexible and lighter.
      I have been going lighter and purchased the new 80-400G (it is reviewed on Photography Life) and I love it also, but it is slower. Note that this lens provides better detail / contrast than the 200-400 thanks to its nano-crystal lens coating. This lens is much lighter than the 200-400 and much less rugged. It also needs a 3rd party (Kirk) tripod collar.
      I would definitely consider it.
      Regardless, you can’t go wrong.

  15. 32
    ) Rajesh Dharmaraj
    July 6, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Thank you Andersen, for the valuable and very useful tips in wildlife photography. It will help a lot to beginners.

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