Wildlife doesn’t pose, and it doesn’t wait for you. To become a successful wildlife photographer, you need to be prepared, have some knowledge of animal behavior, be prepared and anticipate what may happen next. (These rules also apply to candid photography of people too!)
The other axiom I say to myself often is: the more often you go out, the luckier you get. Put another way, if you stay home, you won’t get the shot, for sure!
Bird photography gets really fun when you are trying to capture unique behavior. This Reddish Egret I observed on Sanibel Island, Florida had some cool moves. I was amused by the head tilt that began his feeding dance. In this image, it looks like he is given the duck some attitude.
I drove three hours roundtrip last evening to Sanibel Island, hoping to observe and photograph some birds during low tide at the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. It seems you never find what you expect to find — the white pelicans or the roseate spoonbills — but lucky for me, I met a big bird that was new to me: the Reddish Egret.
The medium-sized heron is not too common, categorized as “Nearly Threatened,” and this bird wore a transmitter on his back. Some naturalist is keeping track of his movements. I enjoyed watching the unique way the Reddish Egret fishes by wading in shallow water and using his wings to shade the prey right before spearing it. With my 600mm Tamron lens, I had a close look and spent about a half hour tracking it as it moved about in the shallows. Of course, I had to use a tripod to steady the heavy lens.
Today I was inspired by a quote from National Geographic photographer Paolo Pellegrin. Reflecting on a photo he shot of two girls swimming in the Dead Sea, he said what he likes about this image is, “the girls could have been swimming there 2,000 years ago. I am always interested in a picture that speaks of a particular moment but also transcends it.”
I realized that timelessness is what attracts me to many scenes that I shoot. When I travel, I am attracted to markets, fishermen and farmers at work, and this is especially true in less developed regions that don’t resemble my home in the United States. Here are a few such images that I shot in China in 2005. While China is changing at a rapid place, there are scenes that portray a way of life that may not have changed for generations.