Zooming in on Wildlife and Their Surroundings

Bull Elk on the National Elk Refuge

Capturing wildlife can be a lot of fun! It’s exciting to be able to experience Mother Nature in a natural moment and to be able to reconnect with it all, and even better, capture a photo that can take you back there at any moment. There’s an innate connection to nature that we all feel and witnessing scenes like this always help us reestablish that connection.

When photographing wildlife, most people want to zoom in as much as they can and provide as much detail on the animal(s) as possible. That’s not, however, always the better shot. Such was the case with this experience. With my Canon 7D still out at Canon for repairs, I had my 5D with me which uses a full-frame sensor, which meant I was going to zoom in quite as much as I’d want. In this shot, a much more interesting photo was including the breaking clouds in the background to include the weather elements in addition to the herd of bull elk on the National Elk Refuge. This gives a much more complete scene that also gives a much more meaningful image. Had I tried to zoom in all the way for this shot, I would have been left with just an average shot of bull elk with not much happening in the background and thus, nothing much there to really embrace the viewer. Including the breaking clouds is what makes this shot really work.

If you’re out shooting wildlife and you can’t get a good enough shot for them to fill the frame, try zooming out and seeing what happens. Even if they can fill the frame, zoom out and see what else is in the scene that could “place” the animal in its home.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I find that I like this kind of wildlife photography a lot better than close-ups. Including some landscape, the rest of the herd and some sky makes it a lot more interesting photo, in my opinion. And I think this shot shows me why!

    1. Thank you for the comment, Øyvind! I definitely agree. There are some closeups that I enjoy, but it’s only if you can get in close enough to really capture some kind of emotion in the animal. Otherwise it’s best to just get their home in there as well.

  2. I find that I like this kind of wildlife photography a lot better than close-ups. Including some landscape, the rest of the herd and some sky makes it a lot more interesting photo, in my opinion. And I think this shot shows me why!

    1. Thank you for the comment, Øyvind! I definitely agree. There are some closeups that I enjoy, but it’s only if you can get in close enough to really capture some kind of emotion in the animal. Otherwise it’s best to just get their home in there as well.

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