Wednesday, December 9, 2009
When your telephoto isn't long enough
I'm not a wildlife photographer, and even less a bird photographer. I tend to photograph critters as I run across them. In other words I never sit in a hide for weeks on end and wait for something elusive to walk in front of me.
Which makes me eminently qualified to make the next statement. Sometimes no matter how long your longest telephoto lens is it just doesn't seem to be long enough. The animal is always really small in the frame. Even when you have a 400mm lens with a 1.4x converter on a crop-sensor digital camera. That's a whopping 896mm in the ol' 35mm film parlance!
So you end up shooting a lot of environmental portraits and composition becomes all important. With a lot of animal close-ups you tend to find the subject smack bang in the middle of the frame. With environmental portraits you tend to stick the animal at one of the thirds. In this case I've put the brolgas on the bottom third.
You also need to wait for the animal to walk in front of an interesting background. I waited about twenty minutes or so until the birds walked in front of this amazing looking tree with just enough shadow behind them to make them really stand out.
The birds were walking and foraging - not a particularly interesting thing to photograph - so I had to wait for something a bit more exciting. All of a sudden they both stood up and started calling. Great opportunity. They were probably shouting 'hey stupid travel photographer, you'd better figure out a way to get closer to us or get a much longer lens!'