Ethics and Wildlife Photography
Positive Basis For Wildlife Photography
As an avid birdwatcher and photographer, nobody appreciates a good photo opportunity like I do. I’ve learned a few things over the years, which I’d like to share with you, and it has improved my shots dramatically. There is still more to learn and I’ll pick this up as I continue the journey on the discovery of wildlife photography.
It isn’t just picking up a camera and going out in the field, as there are a number of things that are important in this realm of wildlife photography, specifically the avian world. The primary fact is that birds are constantly watching for their safety, as predators can quickly spot them, and dispatch them or their young ones in seconds. The first key in getting a bird to be out in the open is TRUST. To gain trust, you must be seen by that bird many times for it to realize that you mean no harm. If a bird comes to you, you have fulfilled that goal, so use it wisely. This could take months.
How to Carefully Locate Your Subject
Also, know where to find the birds that you are interested in. This means that you must do a little research on what birds like to eat and where they gravitate. For the sake of continuity, say that songbirds are your primary interest. Your birds of choice dine on many things. Some birds favor seeds, some like fruit in season, and those raising young will be feeding their offspring protein. Protein can be in the form of insects, worms, or larvae. You can glean this information out in the field or research it on the internet. Some birds will be usually located on the ground, like water thrushes or the Ovenbird. Other songbirds prefer conifers(trees with needles) or deciduous trees, which have leaves. Other birds prefer to be near the water, like the Red-winged Blackbird, and others still, enjoy the safety of birdhouses.
Eventually, you’ll learn enough about bird behavior to observe flight patterns, and where nests are being built in the spring. Don’t approach nests, as it will strike fear in the hearts of those birds that you tried so hard to get to trust you. Be patient, and you will reap the rewards of watching nestlings, then seeing them leave the nest as fledglings. Those are the food for terrific photographic opportunities.
Getting Into the Meat and Photos of Wildlife Photography
Maybe a year or two down the road, you’ll want to take birding trips to other parts of the country where there are birds that you have only heard about. But how will you find them and get good pictures if you’re only there for a short time? Prepare yourself with research before you go. That Long-billed Thrasher in west Texas can be found on the ground, not in the trees like the Brown Thrasher where you live. This is the point where you will need a book like Field Guide to Advanced Birding by Kenn Kaufman.
If you’re still interested in photographing birds more than three years down the road, you have perfected the technique to a good bokah(background), and have a handle on lighting, then you might use a good bird guide in another location, and then what? You’re so excited about rare and uncommon birds, it is almost like a game in getting the best pictures that you’ll stop at nothing to get them.
But wait! Those birds that trusted you because you were patient with them have become a thing of the past, and NOW you want extreme closeups. What happened?
Get CLOSER With Binoculars
Then Comes the Oh-Oh Factor
Ethics play a part in wildlife photography, too. Sometimes you need to use a blind, which will not let the bird or animal see you while it goes about its business and remains undisturbed by human presence. You’d also better pay attention to that sign that says no pishing(calling birds with alarm calls), and don’t even think about using that new phone app that you got last week to get that Black-billed Cuckoo to come out of that tree.
There are some rules out there when it comes to endangered and breeding birds. If you don’t follow them, those birds may cease to exist. If that sign or common sense tells you not to go any closer or there is a cordoned off area, DON’T and I repeat don’t violate it. You could be causing those birds to abandon their nest site, and I know that you don’t want to do that, because you want to see those birds. You also don’t want to tell those future grandchildren that those birds USED to exist. They will ask you why they aren’t around any more, and you don’t want to break that child’s heart now, do you? It’s because some people broke the law. Even worse, you could have to appear in court for it, as that isn’t a good way to remember that great birding vacation that could have been.
Ethics at a Glance
Have Your Ever Gone Over the Edge When It Comes to Ethics and Photography?
It has now come to the time where we have to really have to pay attention and not step over the line, because some animals are so endangered that a false move can destroy them forever. If you do it, and someone else does it, and so on, it really will happen. Oil spills and global warming are causing problems, too. What about the fact that the population is growing, and now we have to cut down that forest across the street from where you live, where you USED to go to find all the warblers in the spring just for a housing development? Where do we draw the line?
This is something that we can easily control, just by following the laws, and not losing more birds and animals. Please help me help them.
© 2015 Deb Hirt