Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips 13 "Bigger Than Life"

I was recently “Post Processing”(PP) some of my images from my latest desert trip. Rating, developing, and culling as I went, when I noticed I have to be much better at throwing away the unusable images. But upon further inspection, some of the images I was marking as “throwaways” should have been “takeaways”.

So why was that? The first time through, they struck me as the perfect subjects for the digital garbage bin, but on second thought, they were usable in many other ways. Take for example the shot I captured of this coyote (below).

I had taken this with the Sigma 150-600 Sport while traveling down Hwy 395 through Bridgeport, CA. I spotted him working the fields at least 400 yards out. I love watching animal behavior as much as I enjoy the capturing part with the camera and lens. So I pulled the car and trailer off to a safe spot and rolled the window down. My driving partner was my 150-600 sport in the passenger’s seat, and he was nicely resting with the Nikon D810 attached to the base.

This, of course was not the ideal working conditions…no tripod, hand-held out the window, and the dog was a fifth of a mile away. But what the heck, he was fun to watch and I can always use the practice with my timing.

After bringing the photos home, close-up scrutiny dictated that these were too soft to use. But were they really unusable? I thought so at first, but then I began playing with the image and actually looking at the whole, or Big Picture, view. The scene was wide open and I had my long telephoto to aid in eliminating the scene and bringing forth the real subject. That’s when it dawned on me that I was enjoying the subject, not because it filled the viewfinder, but with how the vast landscape gave scale to the vigilant hunter of the open fields. That is, by the way, the title of this capture, “Lone Hunter”.

Maybe I was on to something. I pulled the image into the ON1 Photo software and began isolating the subject, yet retaining its value as only part of a greater expanse. I am happy with the pleasing result of the final image, but even more pleasing is the notion that sharpness and always filling the frame are not the most technically important part of any image. Sometimes it is the smallness of the subject that proves to be its largest benefit.

So when you are out on your next sojourn into the field, or even your back yard, think about the “Big Picture” which in reality may be the smallest part of the scene.

Take your time and enjoy your shooting.

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