Many photographers take only close ups of wildlife: portraits or headshots. It is exciting to see those big antlers or those sharp whiskers and beautiful eyes, but you should also take an image of the animal in its environment. Whether it’s peeking out from behind a tree in the forest or checking you out from an open location in a field, the animal looks wild and at home.
Even though the photograph below shows the environment, you still want to make the animal stand out from the background – like a Sports Illustrated football player running down the sidelines with fans, other players, coaches and referees behind him. He stands out from the crowd, literally.
How do sports photographers do it? The same way wildlife photographers do it.
When you are taking a full-body shot of a lineman, or a deer, you want to make sure the whole body is in sharp focus. You aim for the eyes and set the aperture to f8.0 or f9.0 or maybe higher to make sure that from the tip of the snout to the eyes, ears, and antlers, as well as the rest of the body to the tail, is in focus.
When the animal is large or long you can still make that attracting shot of him in the environment at f5.6 or f4.0 (or even f2.8 if you’ve got the lens to do it.) When the animal is farther away, a smaller f-stop will put him in focus and soften the focus on the area around him, making him “pop out.”
The WON welcomes outdoor photographer Sue Jarrett to its lineup of all-star photographers. A graduate of Newcomb College of Tulane University and Hallmark Institute of Photography, Sue’s theme is “Weddings & Wildlife” because, “Brides and bears have a lot in common. I photographed my first wedding at the age of 16 and worked for 13 years as a photojournalist at several different newspapers. About 12 years ago I became interested in photographing wildlife and started taking classes and attending workshops. Many of my photo locations are in Tennessee in the Smokies and in Florida. In the past two years trips to Kenya, Tanzania and Alaska have added wonderful images to my portfolio.” Check out Sue’s website here.