I have photographed many different types
of animals and birds, most of them in the wild. Of the two, birds are
by far the more difficult to take.
Wildlife photography demands the greatest
amount of patience. Since there is no way you can ask wild animals to
do what you want, you must be familiar with their natural habits and
work around them. I was once in the Florida Everglades waiting to
photograph some interesting birds in flight. My camera and 400-mm lens
were mounted on a tripod. First I had to wait about four hours for a
bird to appear.
Then I focused the camera and took one
not very interesting picture of the great white heron. The shot I
wanted to get was of the bird as it started to fly away; instead it sat
there for almost two hours. I became hypnotized as I waited with the
cable release in my hand. Suddenly the heron did take off and I was
able to get a picture, but only one. Fortunately, it was a good
picture, so my expedition was not in vain.
Anyone serious about wildlife photography
will need a long telephoto lens with a focal length of between 200 and
500 millimeters. Such a lens allows you to get a good-sized image of
the subject from a respectable distance.
For pictures of wildlife one need not, of
course, travel farther than the local zoo. As more and more zoos are
abandoning the iron-cage concept and setting up natural habitats, quite
natural-looking photographs can be made without a lot of elaborate
Animal behavior is unpredictable, and
frequent failures should be expected, but this makes an outstanding
photograph all the more rewarding. With pets the task is somewhat
easier, but only if the pet is yours or a friend's, and wouldn't take
off and hide under the bed as soon as it sees a stranger. This is truer
of cats than dogs. In any case, keep the camera and yourself, too, as
inconspicuous as possible.