Challenges every nature photographer has to overcome
Adding the unpredictability and uncontrollably of nature to the technical and artistic complexity of photography leads to a wealth of challenges. Here are a few I have had to face!
Great, we want to take amazing photos of amazing animals... but where are they? You can spend a lot of time just trying to find the subject you want to photograph, let alone shooting them! The key to this is research, if there is a particular species you want to photograph, research it and it's behavior, it is the best chance you have for being in the right place at the right time, and snapping a few frames!
So you think you know where the subject is? Now you need to wait, and wait, and wait for them to hopefully show up! Even if the subject makes an appearance, we have to patient for the right light, setting, pose etc... Learn to enjoy nature in general, so even when you are waiting, you are enjoying! Also, take pictures of the scene around you, and look closely as sometimes other subjects may catch your attention.
A good shot in bad light
Even if you find your subject, the chances of perfect lighting are slim... I mean seriously, it is like we need all the planets to align to get the perfect lighting. So learn how to take a good image in bad light. Think creatively and don't be restricted by your preconceived idea of what you want... how can you make lemonade out of the these lemons!
Hot or cold, wet or dry, being in nature means being in varied weather conditions... Dress appropriately, always take water and snacks with you and protect your gear. :)
You are very happy with your kit and images, then some dude arrives with a lens so big you could take a close-up of a mosquito testicle on Mars... you can't help but be envious, and you previously great kit now seems inadequate. But we all need to remember, cameras and lenses are tools, every tool has a job, strength and weakness too. But the biggest component of how well a tool performs is how it is wielded. The best camera and lens in the world is useless without someone to use them.
Can't get close enough
We can't always get as close to our subject as we would like, and sometimes even the longest lens is just not enough. So in these situations, take a step back and see what image you can take.... think of these times as a creative opertunity to break out away from your plans and play the cards you are dealt... maybe you'll still win! :)
Being a perfectionist is a double-edged sword. It can push you to better and better things, but it can also fog your mind, making you think you are not good enough. This can lead you to not enjoying your images. Enjoy your work, see how you can improve it, but don't get too competitive with yourself or others.
Especially when shooting in bad conditions, learning to post-process is a necessity if you want to make the best of your images. Yes it is another technical aspect of photography you need to learn, but it is vital, espcially if you are trying to deal with high-ISO situations
Finding A good angle
Trying to get the best angle for shooting wildlife can be tough, but it is possible. Plan ahead and pre-visualize the subjects movements or behavior and get in the right position ahead of time. Try to always get a close to eye level as possible.
Constantly changing lighting conditions
Unlike studio photography, we do not have any control over the lighting conditions when a wild subject decides to show up, and often the lighting conditions are constantly changing. Shade, direct light, cloud, sunset, sunrise... we have to deal with all and more in one outing. So you need to stay on-top of your camera settings, so that you can be ready for a spontaneous cameo from your subject. Read this for more advice... :)
The time commitment
It takes time to get good, a lot of it. This is a commitment you need to work into your lives and balence with other aspects of it. I once heard someone say "behind every wildlife photographer is a very patient and loving spouse".
Motivation when you are not in the action
Not all of us can spend our lives in the wilderness, and have to face the reality of modern life. I stay motivated by looking at images online, planning future trips and blogging! :) You also have all your images that you need to sort and process. Take a trip down memory lane by looking at all your old photos, you might rediscover some great works you had previously dismissed!
The bottom line
Nature and wildlife photography is tough, but for me, ultimately rewarding... all the time, effort and challenges makes those great images all the better. My advice is enjoy the journey, because it is a long one! What challenges have you had to face? Leave a comment and let me know!