Last Tuesday with my image of a crested tit, I looked at getting creative by understanding and utilising exposure correctly. This week I’m focusing on the importance of perspective. Perspective, in wildlife photography, can be controlled by a number of elements including lens choice, the physical position of the photographer and the composition they choose to capture.
As ever, it’s important to understand your equipment if you are to control the outcome of your images. Conscious decisions need to be made prior to pressing the shutter if you are to capture an image you are going to be truly proud of. By following a few simple steps, you can vastly improve your imagery:
"Singing in the Rain"
Above is a photograph of a male black grouse (Tetrao tetrix) calling at a lek site in North Scotland. These birds return to the same areas every year in the spring to strut their stuff and try to impress any spectating females. Usually this will consist of displaying to one another in a back and forth of confrontational gestures, goading each other on to make the first move. When showing off is no longer enough, a battle ensues with a heated exchange of beaks, claws and an eruption of feathers.
Research and knowledge of my subject helped in the planning of this photograph. Knowing that they return to these traditional lek sites every spring, I could get in position and wait for the birds to come to me instead of me going to them. This involved some very early mornings and the use of a photography hide in order to avoid disturbance. Each morning for a week, I would wake up at 3am to be in my hide for 4am, around 40 minutes before the grouse arrived.
Being such good looking birds, I knew that I wanted some up close and personal portraits. To achieve this I would want the bird to be perfectly in focus, with an out of focus background and foreground in order for the subject to stand out and be centre of attention. Much like the crested tit of last week’s blog post, but instead of using exposure I controlled the perspective.
A long telephoto lens was used, this not only allows a zoomed in perspective but also compresses the background behind the subject more than a wide-angle lens could achieve. In order to exaggerate that blurred effect, you then want the background to be as far away as possible from your subject. If the point of focus is on your subject in the foreground, this will then decrease with distance behind and infront of that plane of field.
By positioning myself as low as possible, the perspective means I’m eye level with my subject and the background is some distant hills, allowing for that really nice blurred background effect. If I had remained standing, I would be looking down on my subject and the background would be the floor behind, just a few feet away and it would therefore still be in focus. When you’re next photographing wildlife, if you get the opportunity, get as low as possible to control your perspective. This one very simple step will vastly improve your images and can make all the difference to the end result.
For more of my work you can visit my website at: www.jamesshooter.com or if you’re on facebook you can like my page at www.facebook.com/jamesshooterphotography I’ll be back next week with another photograph and more tips.
Thanks for reading, James