Toucans have some of the most amazing beaks in all of the entire bird world and having the opportunity of photographing one is truly a great experience.
But unless you have the means and time to travel to the Amazon or anywhere in the world where they can be found in their natural habitat you are just going to have to settle for recording these beautiful creatures at you local zoos or nature preserve.
If you do not know what a toucan is or perhaps you have never seen one up close, then you should do a bit of research into their habits and browse some images, therefore obtaining a better idea of how to approach a photographic project involving these creatures.
Here is some information in regards to toucans taken directly from the Net. "Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The Ramphastidae family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species. The name of this bird group is derived from the Tupi word tukana, via Portuguese. Wikipedia
"Toucans are native to Southern Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean region. They generally live in tropical and sub-tropical regions. They make their nests in tree hollows and holes excavated by other animals such as woodpeckers—the toucan bill has very limited use as an excavation tool." Wikipedia
When approaching this project first locate your nearest zoo and ask if they have toucans on display, once you find a suitable location make sure to take a zoom lens and a flash unit since most exhibits where these majestic birds are kept are usually under large trees or dense foliage closely mimicking their natural habitat.
Keep you lens aperture to its largest size as allowed by your lens since you should aim to capture the subject and blur the background. First aim your camera at the toucan's body which is mostly envelope in black feathers and lock the readings, otherwise your subject may appear as if underexposed in its plumage .
Also focus on its eyes which can often be black but surrounded by bright blues or greens. these images are nothing short of spectacular in most cases. Include the entire beak along with the face and parts of the body to get the best images possible.
You will find most of your subjects to be reliably tranquil and recording their images should not be that difficult. However, it is best to record their images form some distance so as not to disturb them by getting to close to their enclosure. If the location has wire fencing as part of the enclosure and you notice that your camera records these, then you can use a smaller zoom (about 80mm) and get really close to this wire. By using a large aperture and by virtue of being close to it, the wire will "magically" disappear from the images.
Toucans have been a very popular subject both with adults and children and there are even some products which feature them prominently, think breakfast cereal.
There are about 47 genus of toucans and all are just as beautiful and photogenic. They can be found in parts of Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and especially in the Amazon Rain forest.
If taking a trip to one of these locations try to look for photo ops. You are bound to find many more diversity in scenes than what you may be able to with captive species.
A good project would involve images from all or at least a majority of them but many images from a single subject or genus can be just as good.
These images make excellent subjects for nature publications, calendars, photographic stock houses and many other publications.
They can also be shown at fine art galleries and sold as individual framed prints.
A visit to your local zoos will more than likely feature several products which prominently feature a toucan as its main point of focus.
Although an image of single toucans is pleasing by itself, try to look for interaction among pairs and when eating. Also look for hollows in tree trunks as they make their nest int these and raise their young on it too until they are ready to venture out.
Toucans are mostly fruit eaters but will opportunistically consume insects and other smaller prey. If the enclosure features fruits position yourself to record the moment when they take the fruit in their beaks and proceed to eating it.
Avoid including parts of the food container, best to wait until they pick it up and raise their bill to force the food down the "hatch".
- Toucans, Toucan Pictures, Toucan Facts - National Geographic
Learn all you wanted to know about toucans with pictures, videos, photos, facts, and news from National Geographic.
© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez
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