zondag 1 juli 2012

Composing for wildlife

I like to go to the Amsterdamse Waterleidingsduinen, a nature reserve in the Netherlands were there are a lot of wild deer. Well wild, they are pretty approachable, you can make very good pictures with a 200mm of them. The thing is, the photos I took of them were they were most visible, also were the most boring pictures. It took me some time to figure out that a 300mm lens is usually overkill for this area. You get way too close for an environmental portrait, while you are still too far away for a headshot. (no pun intended)

The photo above is an example, the deer is quite dominant in this photo, but the photo isn’t interesting at all. There’s nothing happening, and you can’t see where he’s looking at. This photo is taken with a 300mm, and I regret doing so. (although if I’m honest, I don’t think this photo would have improved if I took it with another focal length)

This photo is taken with a 135mm at f/4, and you can still see a lot of the deer’s surroundings. It makes a more interesting photo because I included more of the surroundings. You can see where he’s going, and you can see that the area wasn’t very open. And to be honest the light is better than in the previous photo.

Now, I did not mean that I’m trying to make photos with the shortest focal length possible. I think there is definitely a place for telephoto lenses. For example this shot, is taken with my 300mm, but I was much closer to this deer than I was with the first photo. This is more of a headshot, and I think, also makes an interesting photo.

The point I’m trying to make, is that you don’t necessarily need to go for your longest lens, or totally zoom in your zoom lens. When you can’t get close enough, it doesn’t improve your photo. Sometimes it is better to use a shorter focal length, and show the animal in its surroundings. Think more about your actual composition, and try not to be locked into the idea I need to get as close as possible.