A day in a natural park

Today I was going through some old pictures…


Spoonbill walking in the water


Gerey heron landing

It was a day I spent in a natural park back in Italy, shooting animals and birds (with a camera, of course…); after seeing them, I decided to write a post on shooting animals (again, with a camera… stop looking at me like that!). All the pictures in this post were shot at Oasi di Sant’Alessio, PV, Italy.

Many people think that bird photography is extremely expensive in terms of gear and time invested (and it can be). However, that’s not always the case…

Depending on what you want to shoot you might only need a camera (DUH!) and a long-ish lens (the longest focal length I used was a 200mm on a crop sensor camera, 320mm equivalent). While this two items are not exactly cheap, they won’t make you break the bank either…

So, my gear for the day was:

  • crop sensor camera;
  • 70-200 f/4 L;
  • 100mm f/2.8 macro.

And, to be completely honest, you might need even less than that.


So, anyway, the first thing you need to do is getting to know your gear, and I mean INTIMATELY know your gear. If you are at the point where you don’t even need to look at you camera to:

  1. change drive/focusing mode;
  2. change your main focus point (yes, turn off automatic focus on all points… I mean it!);

and you can eaily guesstimate aperture/ISO settings for your desired shutter speed (of course you’ll be shooting manual. What did you expect?!), then you might be at a good starting point…

If you’re not at that point, maybe you can be lucky enough to find a park/zoo/thingy that holds animal shows (like I did :)).

Birds of prey!


Great practice!

But the hardest part is to shoot birds in the wild (well, almost…). Before anything else (even photographic knowledge) you’ll need patience… Patience to stand still and wait for the reight moment, patience not to curse (too much) when that moment comes and you’re not ready, patience to realize that half the times you were actually ready, your focus is off (or you ISO is too high/low, your shutter speed too slow, your hand is shaking…). I have no idea how many shots I deleted… but that’s how it works…

Yet, there’s nothing like trying to shoot unaware animals in the wild (well, almost…)…

If you are ever around stilts, be extra careful: they’re very small and not that afraid of people. I almost stepped on one: that would have been very sad, not to mention difficult to explain to the park guards…

In the park there’s also a section dedicated to small animals and butterlies: MACRO TIME!

In the end, the trick is to master patience and know what you’re shooting. If you know the animals’ habits you’re already halfway there. The other half is knowing your gear as well as you know the animal ;).

If you have that, you don’t really need super expensive gear…

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