Welcome to (The Occasional) Photo Tip of the Day! Please also visit my main site jeffwignall.com. Text and photographs Copyright 2016 Jeff Wignall.



“The best way out is always through.”


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Approach Shorebirds Slowly

I'm lucky that I live near a lot of beaches and close to a tidal river so there are always a lot of shorebirds to photograph. While a lot of photographers think that having huge telephoto lenses is the key to getting close to this kind of wildlife (and long lenses will certainly make your life easier), the truth is that shorebirds are very accustomed to human company and they'll tolerate your presence more than you might think. The trick to getting close though is to approach slowly and appear to be moving somewhat randomly.

Don't just hop out of the car and make a beeline for your subject, for instance.  Instead, get out of the car slowly and stand beside it for a few minutes. Then, gradually make your way closer to the shore by walking in a somewhat circuitous route--edging closer and closer. And try to appear uninterested in your subject: never look directly at it, avoid eye contact and try to look at the ground, the sky--anything but the subject. Hesitate every few feet until you're close enough to shoot but not so close that you'll scare off your subject. All animals have a "circle of safety" where they feel secure and as long as you stay outside of that distance they will accept you as a reasonable risk. You can tell the instant you've crossed into that circle because the bird will stop hunting, will pay more attention to you, or may just up and fly away. If that happens, make a mental note of the distance and use that information next time.

Getting close to any wild animals, and shorebirds in particular, is a matter of patience and letting your subjects gain confidence that you are not an immediate threat. In shooting this egret I parked the car about 40' away and was able to gradually move to within less than 10' in under 20 minutes. Once I reached what I felt was the bird's safe zone, I stopped moving and just became a part of the background. I was able to shoot for nearly a half an hour while the egret fished.

6 comments:

Frank Kautz said...

Thank you Jeff! A very good idea.

Jeff Wignall said...

Frank you're the only one who reads my blog :)

Frank Kautz said...

Hi Jeff,

Naw, I'm just the only one who speaks. :)

Frank

ashlie jon said...

oke imagesAwesome! Immense information there.

grady williams said...

Continue the good work; keep posting more n more n more. Brandon L. Jones Photography

hely fely said...

Never found such informative articles Vancouver Wedding Photographer