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How Close Can You Get?

Wildlife photography is both challenging and demanding. Many of those that work professionally in the area tend to use the very best equipment, including fast telephoto lenses, powerful flash/strobe units and carbon-fibre tripods. In addition portable GPS units, quality boots and outdoor gear are required to get the photographer to the location and keep them there in a relatively safe and comfortable manner. Serious wildlife photographers often utilise a whole manner of hides and camoflague clothing to get them within range of their subject, without causing a change in their behaviour. It’s the fly on the wall, rather than a fly in the soup that you’re looking to become.

But what about the average photographer, interested in wildlife, but not prepared or able to commit to the lifestyle of the working pro. Here’s a tip that I learned when photographing little children, that I’ve used successfully with animals, as is evident here with this image of a wallaby near Cape Otway in Victoria, Australia.

I was taking a walk in the bush when I spotted the Wallaby. The strongest lens I had with me at the time was a Leica 90mm Summicron f 2.0 on my Leica R8 Camera. As this is a film camera, there was no magnification factor to provide the illusion that the lens was anymore powerful than it was in reality. I simply had to get close enough to make a compelling image, without scaring the animal to flight. Chances are our friend was aware of me before I was of it, so trying to disguise my presence would have been pointless.


Leica R8 Camera with Leica 90mm Summicron f2 R Series Lens and Fuji Velvia film

Leica R8 Camera with Leica 90mm Summicron f2 R Series Lens and Fuji Velvia film


I achieved this by moving towards the wallaby in a relatively slow, casual manner without making eye contact. The trick is to appear to be interested in other things, just like you were another animal looking to graze. You can often get quite close by moving in a snake-like manner, by walking in a series of diagonal lines. Approaching your subject directly will likely be seen either as a challenge or threat.

While moving closer I also set my exposure and focus manually so that, when the camera came up to my eye, I could make any final adjustments in the second or so before tripping the camera’s shutter release.

© Copyright All Rights Reserved

Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography


2 Responses

  1. The velvia was a very good choice…

  2. Hi Fadzly,

    I’d say that Fuji Velvia 100 was my favorite transparency film. And that’s saying something as I was a loyal Kodak user for many years, including 8 years working for the company in Melbourne, Australia.

    All the best,


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