How to get the sharpest wildlife photos possible
In the summer of 2010, I spent two weeks in Newfoundland photographing a cute little bird called the Atlantic Puffin. Over the years I've photographed a wide variety of animals, but this trip to Newfoundland, Canada, pushed the boundaries...high winds, difficult light and tiny little birds much smaller than I realized. I found myself using every strategy in the book in hopes of coming home with sharp, high quality images of these clumsy, fun little birds. I hope these tips will help you with your next photography adventure.
Fill the Frame (if you can!)
My next challenge was to get as close to these little critters as possible without harming their environment, scaring them or changing their behavior. As a wildlife photographer it's important to be respectful and remember you are the guest. What's the saying, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints." It's important to me to live that.
When I'm on a photo shoot with an intended target (in this case, the Atlantic Puffin) I always spend the first day getting to know the subject...their behaviors, their comfort level with me at 100 yards, at 75 yards, etc. I sit, wait and watch. I spend this time mostly observing and taking test shots; learning the light and the compositions I like best. You'd be amazing at how much you can learn just watching for a short time.
Knowing your subject will help you approach safely for them, and for you. You'll find with some observation and patience, you can get within range for quality photography. Always be respectful of this space, as you can never fully predict a wild animal's behavior.
The other method I like to use is the placement of a blind, a couple days prior to the shoot. This allows your subject(s) to get used to it, then you can sneak in under the cover of darkness and sit in wait. Often times this will put you right in the middle of the action!
Read the full article, get great tips, see photo examples and a couple videos of Stephen's location experience in Newfoundland at http://www.apertureacademy.com/how-to-tack-sharp-wildlife.php.