Wildlife and Nature Photography Tips 19 - Sometimes a Pain in the Butt


If you have spent any reasonable amount of time shooting wildlife, you have found that humans are the "scariest" critters in the forest. Every wild animal endeavors to make your capture of them the most challenging thing on your holiday.

Crawling on your hands and knees to get close to that frog perched along the shoreline, just to have him launch to freedom as to depress the shutter button is an "UGH" moment for sure. What about the time when you sat by the bush in the front yard, in the heat of the day, waiting for the swallowtail that had been visiting you for the past week to decide whether is is worth his while to show. All of a sudden, he is there with speed, grace, and a flash of wings. Beads of sweat rolling down your brow behind your glasses and onto your neck. You wait, and he keeps landing on all of the flowers just out of view. When he finally presents himself, all you see is the top of his wings with the huge blossom blocking the view. "Why doesn't he face me?", you silently scream in your mind. And then he is gone.

Now I know these are precious moments shared by you and the fauna you are after, but they are much more the norm than the exception. You can rest assured by the fact that we all have had many of these experiences. You come back to your digital darkroom and hopefully sift through the images as if they are flecks of gold to be left in the bottom of the pan after a day of slopping water over river bank sand. As you sift, your finger gets tired of pressing the "Delete" key and you soften a bit and begin to accept lesser attractive images.

So here's the deal. If you glance at the above image of the cottontail, you will see just what I saw...a beautiful shot. But the rabbit didn't follow the game plan and decided to throw me a curve instead. A last second crouching down, was all he needed to put him out of my view.

So what did I do? I sat my butt down and waited my turn.

Did he move from grass bunch to grass bunch? Yes he did.

Did I get loads of wonderful images? No, I did not. But what I did get were shots that were not captured with the perfect "unobstructed" view. Instead, I was able to capture more intimate shots of what the world may look like from the bunny's point of view. See below.

These shots, I feel, have a better story than the picture perfect shot of the Cottontail profile - which I was also able to obtain with some more patience.(see below)

Not far from the rabbit was a doe browsing on leaves from a nearby shrub. The opening photo (lead article photo above), capturing her with a mouthful of leaves was somewhat satisfying, but the following shots, with her bum to the camera were more endearing to me than the more familiar head shot. Don't ask me why, but I kept these two images because they reveal a part of deer behavior we seldom push the button on the camera for - when the are not facing for a portrait.

So next time you find your subject being a "pain in the butt", continue to take photos, you may enjoy the results, Continue to be patient, shoot the moment, and don't get frustrated. And of course, as always, happy shooting.

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