Thursday, August 23, 2007

Oh Deer!

My favorite subject to photograph is wildlife. I have always had a connection to animals and photographing them is just a natural extension for me. On a recent trip to Glendalough State Park in NW Minnesota, I came across a corn field with a resident heard of roughly 30 white tail deer. It was about one hour before sunset and the light was wonderful.


I found a place to park my car and used a line of trees that was adjacent to the corn field to provide some cover for me as I moved. It also helped that I was moving down wind of where the deer were feeding as deer have a very acute sense of smell. I attempted to quietly approach the deer without snapping twigs or making too much noise. Even with my near silent approach, some of the deer got a little spooked and left the field for a nearby wooded area. This left me with about 10-12 white-tailed deer remaining.


I spent the better part of 40 minutes standing with my 100-400mm Image Stabilized zoom lens held up to my eye. This served a couple of purposes, one was to be ready for any shot that might present itself and the other is that it covered-up my face. The deer couldn't quite recognize me as a human being, but were curious about the clicking sound. So we did an elaborate dance of me moving slightly closer and them responding by raising their tails and being on alert. The deer would gather closer together and then one of them would approach closer to me to see if they could determine if I was a threat to them. After doing this slow acceptance dance back and forth, they seemed to accept my presence.


The light was really fading fast and I determined that I would just start walking into the field parallel with the deer. When they stopped and seemed a little anxious I would freeze (still with the camera held up to my eye) and they relaxed and continued eating. I was able to approach within fifty or sixty feet, which was a nice distance for my 400mm zoom lens. This allowed me to get some wonderful images of this deer family which consisted of a young buck, doe and two fawns.


Understanding the behavior of the animal you are photographing is important to being able to capture wildlife images. I have learned that it requires an incredible amount of patience as well as a non-threatening posture and avoiding direct eye contact. If you are able to practice these methods, I think you will find that your success rate with wildlife images will increase.

Equipment used:

Canon EOS 20D

Canon 100-400mm Image Stabilized zoom lens


Settings:

f5.6-f7.1

iso 400-800

shutter speeds: 1/60 - 1/500


If you are interested in seeing other wildlife images, please visit my website: http://www.frozenshutter.com/