Should You Always Isolate Your Subject?

Photo by Steve Berardi

Photo by Steve Berardi

One of the things we’re commonly taught about photographing wildlife is to always isolate your subject by making the background completely out of focus (like in the photo on the right).

This helps the viewer immediately focus on the subject, but should that always be your goal?

When you choose not to isolate your subject against it’s background, you can reveal much more about your subject (such as it’s habitat, size, what it might be doing at the moment, etc).

Here are a few examples to help illustrate what I mean: [Read more...]

Ethics of Wildlife Photography

Photo by Steve Berardi

Photo by Steve Berardi

One of the very first articles we published here on PhotoNaturalist was about the ethics of baiting owls to get a good photograph. It’s a great article written by my father, Vic Berardi (if you’re new to PN, I highly recommend reading it, as it represents one of our core beliefs here at PN). In the post, my father makes the point that any photo that was captured as a result of baiting an animal isn’t really a “natural” photograph—it’s an illusion of the wilderness.

Sadly, baiting owls is still a problem. And, it looks like we have a new form of baiting to worry about: smartphone apps. Yes, there really does seem to be an “app for everything” these days.

Apparently, there are a few apps that mimic birdsongs which attract birds—allowing you to get a closer shot of them. Of course, using recorded birdsongs to attract birds is nothing new—but, with the growing popularity of smartphones and the ease of using apps, these birdsong apps are causing problems in a few nature reserves. [Read more...]

How to Keep Your Camera Ready For Action

Photo by Steve Berardi

It’s probably happened to you before: you’re hiking down this trail, and all of a sudden you notice a bird or any kind of wildlife that doesn’t seem to mind your presence. You’re presented with a perfect photo opportunity, but then you remember, “Oh wait, my camera is tucked all the way into my backpack! And, worse: I think my wide-angle lens is on there!”

By the time you get out your camera, put on a longer lens and find the right exposure, that bird or dragonfly is probably in another zip code.

That’s why it’s a good idea to always keep your camera ready for action as you’re hiking down a trail. Always keep it by your side and ready to photograph a distant subject that may only be there for a second or two. Here are a few tips for making your camera ready to go: [Read more...]

What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Rough-legged Hawk / Photo by Vic Berardi

Rough-legged Hawk / Photo by Vic Berardi

This is a photo of a Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus). It breeds in the arctic and migrates southward down into the far southern areas of western Canada and throughout much of the United States where it spends most of the winter. Its journey southward and back again is long and arduous. This particular photo was taken in southern Wisconsin in early March.

Before we get into what’s wrong with this photo, let’s discuss a few good things about it.

At first glance, this is exactly the type of photograph that gets the most attention on forums, listservs and social networks. It might even be a photo that could potentially win a photo contest. Why? Because it captures a dramatic scene that instantly makes the observer feel some kind of emotion. [Read more...]

6 Tips For Photographing Shorebirds

Sanderling / Photo by Steve Berardi

Sanderling / Photo by Steve Berardi

We’ve talked a lot about photographing birds here on PN: how to photograph them in flight, how to photograph perched birds, and even a few tips for photographing hummingbirds. But, we haven’t talked a whole lot about shorebirds specifically, so I thought it’d be good to share a few tips for photographing these types of birds:

#1 – Get down low to the ground

The single most important thing to do when photographing shorebirds is to get down to their level. This usually means lying down on the ground, so it’s helpful to bring a towel or something to lie down on. Photographing the birds at their eye level does two things: it makes the image more intimate and it usually results in a better background (because from this low angle, the background will usually be farther away). [Read more...]

How To Photograph Birds In Bad Light

Photo by Vic Berardi

Photo by Vic Berardi

You’ve probably said it yourself and you’ve heard it said many times, “I decided to stay home today because the lighting was so awful.”

If you’re like many beginning bird photographers, then you check the weather forecast hoping it calls for sunny blue skies. But, then you get depressed when the forecast calls for “mostly cloudy skies” and a chance for rain or snow. You begin to wonder why you have all that expensive camera equipment!

But don’t fret too hard about it! Yes, it’s true that deep blue skies can be great for photographing birds in flight, but it’s actually cloudy skies that create the lighting situations for the most dynamic or dramatic photos, especially those of perched birds. [Read more...]