I started taking photography seriously in 2008 and enrolled in a black & white film class at my local junior college, which I found fun but challenging. One month into the class there was a family emergency and I was unable to start my photography journey again until 2010, when I enrolled in the beginning black and white film course at my local college once more. Since then, I have moved forward with enthusiasm and a thirst for all types of photography knowledge and experience and have developed a real love of the challenge of photography. The majority of the photos I took for the first four years were landscapes, buildings, objects, etc., things that did not move. It was challenge enough just to get the correct exposure, focus, and composition (which is still challenging at times). I became interested in 2012 in photographing wildlife and set up a trip to South Africa in 2013, my first experience in photographing animals in the wild. My goal for that trip was to obtain good portrait shots for the most part: I did experience taking a few shots of an animal in motion but, in general, they were not very good. I realized awhile later on that I liked the challenge of taking photos of wildlife and I started to put more effort into learning this type of photography. I am no expert and still often resort to a “pray and spray” approach at times, but I do know a lot more today than I did upon starting out. Learning to photograph animals in action takes effort, time and patience and, at some point, will result in successful action shots.
Nikon D800, 1/250 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400. Nikon 70-200. 0EV, matrix metering.
This lion looked so majestic with his great mane of hair. The very wide open aperture allowed for a nice blurred background, something I was learning how to do at the time. At this point, I had no real idea of how to take a motion shot of an animal and was happy just to get a good shot of a wild animal at all.
Click for an enlargement
I began my journey in wildlife action-oriented photography by going to a Wildlife Refuge about 60 miles from my home to take photos of birds in flight. I soon realized that my Nikon 70-200 simply did not have enough distance reach as the images were too small and the photos simply were not turning out as I envisioned (I also needed more experience in the field so it wasn’t just the lens!). My search for a wildlife lens began and after a period of time I had collected three such lenses, two of them Nikon lenses and one a Tamron lens. The Tamron lens is a 150-600mm; the two Nikon lenses are an 80-400mm and a 200-500mm. I also quickly realized that my Really Right Stuff B-55 tripod Ballhead was not designed for following moving wildlife around meadows! So, more gear to buy: I picked up an Induro sidekick for the ballhead and that increased the stability of my lens greatly. While I have used the Tamron lens hand-held, I could only do that for a very short period of time and actually have only used it hand-held once, when hiking through the woods to follow a moving moose and calf.
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