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Photographing Creatures of the Night

Updated on September 21, 2014
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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source
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Photographing nature has been one of the most coveted jobs for a large number of professional photographers as well as for even larger numbers of amateur. I have been photographing all sorts of nature subjects for well over 30 years and still look forward to my nature treks and my photographic adventures.

One aspect of nature photography that can be said has been neglected by both professional and amateurs has been photographing creatures that come "alive" during the dusk and nigh-time hours. This is more than likely due because night time photography is not quite as simple to conduct as its daytime cousin. First, most creatures who become active during the night are experts at hiding and at concealing their movements. They are harder for us to locate, focus upon and have them stand still long enough to get a good shoot.

"Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by activity during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal".

Nocturnal creatures generally have highly developed senses of hearing and smell, and specially adapted eyesight. Some animals, such as cats and ferrets, have eyes that can adapt to both low-level and bright day levels of illumination (see metaturnal). Others, e.g. bushbabies and (some) bats, can function only at night. "Wikipedia

One reliable technique used by some field experts has been to heavily scout the are where a specific creature dwells. Among the better techniques is to locate food sources as well as areas where these creatures leave their droppings.

An astute photographer then sets up camp a few hours before nightfall and just waist for the opportune moment of photographing them if they so happen to come close enough to the chosen location. Off course the use of a fast shutter and a fast flash unit is required as well as lots of patience. If successful, the photographer usually comes out with pretty good images of their intended "prey".

Another worthwhile technique is to set up bait stations which feature the subject's favorite foods; fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and so on. The photographer then pre-focuses the lens on the spot where the bait has been placed and waist.

Other useful techniques depend on technology more than anything else such as setting the camera, pre focusing on a specified spot and attaching a laser triggering mechanism. Once the subject breaks the beam of light the camera can then shoot and this way assures one of at least capturing some images. The drawback is that the photographer has very little creative control and the entire operation is dependent on luck.

I have found that the best way is to heavily scout an area know to contain the subject that I intend to photograph. I look for nesting sites, food sources and droppings. This way at least I have some creative control and usually end up with a few usable images which in this business means that some are better than none.


Regardless of how your images turn out use this opportunity to enhance you night time photography and explore sights and sounds which we often miss while we sleep.

The night life is as vibrant as the daytime and it can offer one views of seldom seen creatures that are bound to serve some amazing sights.

Quality photographs can be submitted to many photographic publications as well as other commercial entities. But the adventure of photographing nocturnal animals more than rewards you for your efforts.

This is an experience which every photographer, from professional to amateur should do at least once in a life time.

But even if you cannot travel to an exotic location full of amazing nocturnal animals, don't fret, you will find that your local neighborhood and wild areas have more than their share of the nighttime creatures.

Also keep in mind that most states have their share of wildlife areas like the Everglades in Florida. These can often be a good source for conducting this type of nocturnal project. Just check for the availability and times allowed as well as nay fees associated with entrance to these parks.

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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Richard Murray: It does doesn't

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      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      haha! that looks like the geico gecko:)

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Kris Heeter: Thank you . Coming from you is an honor.

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      As a biologist, I love reading and seeing this diversity - so many species we never have the opportunity to appreciate. I am in awe of those who have the skill and patience to capture these wonderful creatures! Great hub!

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Richard Murray: Thank you. The frog is my favorite

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      Richard-Murray 5 years ago

      love the owl:)