Wildlife Photography According to Jim ZuckermanAs I teach in my online class on Wildlife Photography, there are five types of lighting that you have available to you when photographing outdoors. Light can illuminate a subject from:
Contrast Reduction When the Sun is LowWhen the sunlight is low to the horizon, contrast is reduced. Contrast is significantly lower than when the sun is higher in the sky. The lower the sun is to the horizon, the lower the contrast will be. This will allow both the shadows and highlights in your wildlife photography to have a pleasing degree of detail.
Look at the shadowed side of the great gray owl's face above and you can see detail in these shadows. This picture was taken about forty five minutes after sunrise. Had I photographed this one hour later, the shadow on the face opposite the sun would most likely be black or close to it.
Natural Light for Beautiful Wildlife PortraitsA wedding photography friend of mine once suggested to me that I travel with two strobes instead of one. He successfully uses two flash units when he shoots weddings, and his entire orientation to photography is dealing with high stress, fast moving situations in dark interiors. A second flash adds dimensionality and life to a shot in these kinds of situations.
Most of the wildlife photography I do when I travel, however, is done with available light. I prefer the natural look that ambient light gives, as long as I can choose the type of lighting. I try to avoid direct sunlight during the middle of the day, for example. Shade is so much more attractive for outdoor portraits because, as I mentioned above, it retains the subtle light and dark relationships on your subject. Flash, even fill flash, tends to eliminate or reduce those subtle details.
This photo of a moose is a good example of both complimentary lighting and shallow depth of field. (You can learn more about both of these topics in my Wildlife Photography online course here at BetterPhoto). If I were to have used flash in this instance, flat lighting on the moose and artificial catchlights in the eyes would have ruined the lovely moody quality of this wildlife portrait. I love the way both the foreground and background of this photo turned out - and I owe a lot to the natural light that was available at that moment.
About Wildlife Photography Expert Jim ZuckermanJim Zuckerman has traveled to over 60 countries in his search for the perfect photograph. He specializes in nature, wildlife, travel and stock photography.
Jim also teaches several outstanding online photography courses here at BetterPhoto.com, including:
Article by Jim Zuckerman. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at BetterPhoto.com.