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Nature and Wildlife Photography

So you think you have it rough taking pictures of fire and screaming children in Iraq for Reuters? Try sitting still in on poison ivy for eight hours a day, waiting for a creepy looking sloth to yawn or pee or something. Welcome to the life of a nature or wildlife photographer. What? Did you just think that cheetah’s and chimpanzee’s fight each other in the sunset every evening? Did you think the photographer asked the local koala bear where he could find the deadliest snake in the world? No way. Nature and wildlife photographers are the craziest and most respected shooters out there – and for good reason.

If you want to see amazing pictures, grab a copy of National Geographic. Sure, you might say, “Hey, I can take a picture of a stupid monkey too”. Wrong. And for even saying that would show that you’re the only stupid monkey around. Wildlife photographers need patience, the right equipment, a deep drive for adventure, communication skills and great camo!

Most wildlife and nature photographers spend more time getting prepared for a shoot than anything else. They need the right equipment: telephoto lenses with silent wave motor drives, macro lenses for close-up work on bugs and flowers and things and a few cameras (primarily film).

Because nature and wildlife photographers use film – as in the case with National Geographic – there is no room for technical error. The shooters have to be prepared and know their camera, film, aperture, focal length, etc inside and out. Often times you’ll be shooting in caves, in rain, in blazing heat, in freezing cold, among creatures who want to eat you. Not a simple task.

But most importantly, what defines a great nature photographer is patience. Unlike the wedding photographer who is telling little runts where to stand and look, the nature photographer must sit, wait, watch and listen for a great shot from a great distance. In the world of wildlife photography, patience is not only a virtue, but it is your saving grace. Once something does happen and you get your shot, there is no better feeling.