Rick Hobbs Photography

Wildlife/Nature/Outdoor Photography

Photo Tips

The Place of Most Potential

Photographing wildlife is very exhilarating and challenging. I feel blessed whenever I get the chance to spend a significant amount of time with wildlife subjects.

Frequently, our opportunities are simply fleeting moments that seem to happen in an instant and then they are over. Often, getting quality subjects, great lighting and simple backgrounds all at the same time can be difficult.

Putting yourself in the place of most potential can help solve many of these problems. For me, a location qualifies as a place of most potential if several of the following criteria are met.

Elk - Yellowstone N.P.

1) The location should be reliable.

It is important the location is reliable so you can be productive with the time you have available. Sometimes just finding the subjects may consume most of our time in the field. Going to a location where the subjects are readily available can increase your productivity since this will allow you to spend more time observing their behavior and creating photographs.

However, if a location is known to be very productive and easily accessible it is likely there will be several other photographers there as well. A good example would be photographing elk or bison in Yellowstone National Park or sandhill cranes and snow geese at Bosque del Apache NWR.

Roseate Spoonbill - Ding Darling NWR

2) There should be several subjects available.

This is a key to increased potential. With several subjects in the area a photographer has more choices. Usually this will improve your chances of finding a quality subject that may be doing something interesting. It also means you are more likely to find a subject in a nice setting with great lighting.

Great Blue Heron with young in the nest - Venice Rookery

3) Plan to visit when you can expect a significant amount of activity from your subjects.

For example, Spring usually brings a constant stream of activity with seemingly endless opportunities. At the Venice Rookery, in southwestern Florida, you can find great blue herons and great egrets nesting within easy reach of your lens. In addition to shooting portraits, you can capture parents feeding the young or turning the eggs, birds in flight as they return to the rookery with nest building materials, mating, fighting and several other types of behavior.

Burrowing Owls - Cape Coral, FL.

4) It helps if the location has subjects that will tolerate people.

It is easier to work with subjects that are comfortable with people in the area. In many locations the subjects expect people to be around and are likely to stay in the area as long as you do not approach too closely. This may allow you to spend a significant amount of time with them, therefore, increasing your potential to create a wide variety of images.

Great Blue Heron - Venice Rookery

5) The location should provide interesting lighting situations.

You can dramatically increase your opportunities if the location provides a variety of interesting lighting situations. A location such as the Venice Rookery will provide great opportunities in morning light as well as afternoon light. As the sun sets you can also use back-lighting to create images that are silhouettes.

Great Gray Owl - Yellowstone N.P.

6) Some locations will provide a variety of backgrounds.

It is great when a location can provide you with a variety of backgrounds to use in your images. You can get many different looks to your images by simply changing the background or habitat for the subject.

Bald Eagle - Birds of Prey Shoot

7) Cooperative subjects will allow you to shoot many different types of images.

You can really be productive when you go to one location and shoot a variety of images including intimate portraits, environmental portraits, and capture several different types of behavior. When combined with multiple backgrounds and different lighting situations your opportunities are practically unlimited.

I enjoy going to locations that are reliable and have significant activity from several tolerant subjects with great lighting and backgrounds. This allows me to shoot many different types of images.

When attempting to photograph wildlife you can significantly increase your productivity simply by putting yourself in the place of most potential.


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