How to Photograph Wildlife the Right Way

By Lori Janeson

Taking pictures of wildlife is a bit trickier than taking photos of the stunning landscape around Lake Winnipeg. The landscape may not move, but animals do.

If you’d like to take better wildlife, whether it’s birds or moose, follow these tips to get better photos.

Tip 1: Practice Before You Head Out

Practice taking backyard photos with the camera you intend to use to shoot wildlife. Try taking photos of birds from a variety of distances and in various lighting. Adjust your camera settings and learn to create the best possible shots when you’re calm and relaxed. Practice changing settings until you can do it without looking at your camera.

Tip 2: Cultivate Patience

When it comes to photographing wildlife, remember that you’re not in control of the situation. The bird, moose or other wild animal is. Much of the time, you’ll be waiting for wildlife to arrive or move or do something. You’ll have to be patient.

Tip 3: Learn About Your Subject

You can’t just head out any time hoping to get a picture of a black bear. Wildlife follows its own patterns and before you try to capture an animal’s essence, study its behavior and normal activity.

 

“Learning about an animal’s behavior gives you a much better chance of capturing an amazing moment.” — Lori Janeson

 

Learn where your subjects typically inhabit at a given time of the year, read about their food sources and research typical behavior.

If at all possible, observe your subject animal over a period of time. Then when the real action happens, you’ll be ready.

Tip 4: Learn the Photography Rules for Wildlife

The rule of thirds, where you picture your subject within a square or line intersection of grid of nine equal squares, is as important when you shoot wildlife as it is in other types of photography.

When you photograph wildlife, however, the subject’s eyes become important. Eye contact is often considered the prime example of fine wildlife photography because an image of a wild animal looking at the camera seems more alive.

That’s not to say that the only way to take a dramatic photo of an animal is if it’s looking straight at you. In fact, many of the best wildlife photos are of animals being themselves; doing what they do naturally.

Don’t be afraid to break the rules to get great pictures.

Tip 5: Use Nature’s Light to Your Advantage

The sun is the perfect partner when it comes to shooting wildlife. Early morning and the light just before dark are ideal lighting conditions. Afternoon sun is typically too harsh, but if you’re willing to get up early and catch the animal at sunrise, you just might take a masterpiece.

Overcast skies have their own special aura. Clouds provide a natural light filter that let you photograph any time during the day.

As for the position of the sun and the light rays, the consensus is you should never shoot directly into the sun. The only problem with that is you may not always be able to move to a better position when you’re watching and waiting for an awesome wildlife moment to photograph. Experiment with your camera’s settings and take pictures anyway. You just might come up with a great shot even if you break the rules.

 

Lori Janeson is a nature photographer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

How to Take Great Nature Shots With Almost Any Camera  

By Lori Janeson

Taking pictures of  wildlife and dramatic landscapes seems natural when you live on Lake Winnipeg. But, even if you don’t, photographing nature is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling hobbies you can have.

If you think taking great pictures means you have to buy an expensive camera and learn about all the settings before you start, don’t worry. You can begin learning the techniques to take awe-inspiring nature photos using any camera at your disposal, including your camera phone. All you need to do is begin.

Tip 1: Choose Your Camera

You don’t need a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera to get started. The latest phone cameras include technological advances that have the ability to take incredible pictures.

If you’re serious from the start, a DSLR is your best bet. Still, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on the latest and greatest. Look at online marketplaces for older versions of Canon or Nikon cameras to find more affordable options.

Tip 2: Know Your Camera

It doesn’t matter what type of camera you plan to use, familiarize yourself with the way it works and the different settings before you head out. Practice taking shots in your backyard. Try different settings. Experiment and have some fun while you’re at it.

Tip 3: Prepare Ahead of Time

If you want to take photographs of the stunning areas around Hecla Island or anywhere else, plan ahead. Wear comfortable hikers or boots, layer your clothing and take water and snacks in case your hike takes longer than you expect.

Take someone with your or let someone know where you’re going if you go out alone. Check your location’s regulations about where you can go and what you can shoot.

 

“If you plan to photograph wildlife, pay strict attention to the region’s rules about how close you can get and acceptable behavior around wild animals.” — Lori Janeson

 

Even if there are no set rules, keep your distance from wildlife to avoid stressing them and putting yourself in danger.

Tip 4: Take the Right Equipment

It’s very difficult to hold a camera steady with just your hands. Take a tripod to make sure you take clear pictures. If you don’t have one, try using a rock, tree branch or level ground instead. Consider purchasing a compact tripod. They’re lightweight, easy to carry and make taking great photos a whole lot easier.

Other equipment options to consider include a lens hood to prevent glare on sunny days and waterproof camera cover.

Tip 5: Learn to Set Your Shot

The rule of thirds is a long-standing photography technique. Divide the scene you want to photograph in your mind as a graph cut into nine equal squares. The intersecting lines indicate the space a human’s eye falls. Place the subject inside one of those squares or directly on intersecting lines for a dramatic photo.

Tip 6: Relax and Have Fun

Breathing fresh air while you wait patiently for the perfect shot provides a much-needed respite from the stresses of everyday life. Remember, even the pros take hundreds of pictures and only get a few great shots. Have fun, experiment and enjoy all the outdoor moments now as well as those to come.

Lori Janeson is a nature photographer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

These 15 Canadian Parks and Natural Areas Beg to Be Photographed

By Lori Janeson

Canada is blessed with an abundance of pristine natural areas and scenic wonderlands. Much of the country is a boreal forest that evinces only minimal evidence of direct human impact — though of course it’s under the gun from insidious threats like climate change and water pollution.

These places begged to be photographed. Whether you’re a budding amateur shooter or a seasoned professional, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Here’s what you need to know to plan your next nature photography trip in Canada.

1. Banff National Park, Alberta

Say the words “national park” and “Canada” in the same sentence, context-free, and nine out of ten listeners will assume you’re referring to Alberta’s Banff National Park. Perched in an impossibly beautiful section of the Rocky Mountains, with stunning alpine lakes and high peaks all around, Banff is almost too easy to photograph well. It’s particularly beautiful in the early morning and late afternoon, when the sun’s sharp angles play game with the snow-covered mountains.

2. Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park isn’t as well-known as Banff, but it’s actually larger: 11,000 square kilometers, to be precise. And it packs a lot in, from the stunning Icefields Parkway to Mount Edith Cavell, one of Canada’s true natural treasures. (Due to the area’s environmental sensitivity, you’ll need a permit to trek up Mount Edith Cavell.)

3. Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

The Bay of Fundy is one of the world’s best-known tidal bores, and it’s definitely not boring. This rugged seaside landscape is at once intimate and grand. Whether you’re shooting delicate wildlife in its countless tidal pools or capturing the broad sweep of the shoreline, there’s a lot to take in here.

4. Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park, Manitoba

Among Canada’s most distinctive provincial parks, Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park protects more than 1,000 square kilometers of forest and shoreline.

 

“Come to photograph the charming village; stay to catch a glimpse of moose browsing in Grassy Narrows Marsh.”—Lori Janeson

 

The park is also home to a historic Icelandic settlement that’s one of the few surviving remnants of a semi-autonomous community within what was then Canada’s Northwest Territories.

5. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

Visitors to Gros Morne National Park are forgiven for checking their GPS coordinates. More Norway than Newfoundland, this stunning seaside park is characterized by dramatic fjords, soaring cliffs, and scoured rock landscapes displaying centuries of wind and water action. Don’t miss the Tablelands, a broad badland with stunning rock and water views.

6. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

A kinder, gentler version of Gros Morne, Cape Breton Highlands mixes watery lowlands with steep sea cliffs, rounded interior mountains, and endangered alpine ecosystems. Hit the Cabot Trail, a stunningly beautiful drive up the park’s west coast, across the interior, and back down its east coast. Mind the switchbacks and remember to stop often for photos.

7. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Waterton Lakes National Park functions as an extension of Glacier National Park, just across the international border in Montana — or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way, the landscape here is just as stunning: clear blue alpine lakes, high peaks, and ancient glaciers threatened by a changing climate.

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