Learn with Calumet: Wildlife Photography. Part 3

#11 Mammal portraits


Shooting portraits of mammals can be extremely difficult, especially in the wild, as you not only have to concentrate on framing the shot, but you must ensure you stay quiet so that you don’t scare them away. The best way to do this is to ensure you wear rustle free clothes, approach from downwind and avoid breaking the skyline. We recommend using a 100-400mm lens, keeping the ISO between 200 to 800 and the aperture between 4 and 5.6. To give your portrait more depth, try composing the shot so that your subject appears off-centre and is facing into the frame.

Suggested camera settings: 

Mode: Aperture Priority       Aperture: f/4-5.6

Shutter speed: Auto              ISO: 200-800                      Lens: 100-400mm


#12 Flock of birds in flight 


To shoot flocks of birds in flight we recommend using a high ISO to get a sharp image. We’d recommend a 70-300mm lens and manually setting a single AF point otherwise the camera will likely struggle to focus on a single subject. We also recommend shooting in short bursts using the continuous drive setting on your camera. – A good place to find flocks of birds, especially ducks, are in wetland areas at the start or the end of the day, which is when they tend to be most active.

Suggested camera settings: 

Mode: Aperture Priority       Aperture: f/2.8-4

Shutter speed: Auto              ISO: 400-1,600                      Lens: 70-300mm


#3 garden birds


To shoot garden birds we would recommend a 150-600mm lens, set up in a hide and positioned near a feeding station. We’d also recommend preparing the shot by choosing where you’d like your backdrop, setting up an artificial perch in front of it, and placing a feeder nearby. – Ensure that the feeder is topped up regularly and includes a variety of food to attract different types of birds.

Suggested camera settings: 

Mode: Aperture Priority       Aperture: f/4

Shutter speed: Auto              ISO: Auto                     Lens: 150-600mm


#14 urban wildlife


Photographing animals in built up areas can be just as challenging as shooting them in the wild, although they may be more approachable depending on how much human contact they have had. We’d recommend using a 100-400mm lens with an ISO of 400 and an aperture setting of between 2.8 and 8. – Rather than zooming in to isolate the subject, try showing it in context with the man-made environment.

Suggested camera settings: 

Mode: Aperture Priority       Aperture: f/2.8-8

Shutter speed: Auto              ISO: 400                      Lens: 100-400mm


#15 Animal eye close-up


When shooting animal eye close-ups ensure you are in the shade to reduce contrast, it will also make it easier to balance the exposure. When you are shooting close to an animal make sure you have your camera on silent shooting so that you don’t startle them. We’d recommend using a 70-200mm lens, setting the ISO somewhere between 70-200, and keeping the aperture between 8 and 11. – To get eye close-ups you will need to be reasonably close to the animal so it’s easier to try this technique with captive ones that are used to human interaction.

Suggested camera settings: 

Mode: Aperture Priority       Aperture: f/8-11

Shutter speed: Auto              ISO: 200-400                      Lens: 70-200mm

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