How to shoot wildlife in winter

Let’s face it, not all of us own 200-400mm zooms that the wildlife photographers use. We also don’t have all day to stake out a deer run or some place where we know an owl is holding up. So how do we amateur wildlife photographers get some great animal shots in winter?

There’s a couple of simple answers: First go to the zoo or a bird sanctuary or butterfly conservatory. And, if you’ve got a fast lens and a monopod (most public places will not allow you to use a tripod) take those with you.

Want something more outdoorsy? Set up a bird feeder in your own backyard. Remember this is a four-month commitment in feeding the birds but depending on the type of feeder and the type of bird seed you can get some really great bird shoots right out your own backdoor. Highly recommend a tripod and a lens around 200mm or more and a remote shutter release.

Finally there are photographers who take people out to shoot birds and animals in the great outdoors. Here in Ontario, an outdoor photographer and instructor, Raymond Barlow offers workshops that you might want to check out. Now I don’t know Raymond and can’t personally recommend him but his bird images are GREAT. If I could get a shot like that taking a workshop with Raymond, I’d be a very happy photographer. BTW I hope Amanda Reed doesn’t mind but the image of the owl is one of hers taken from Raymond’s blogsite. Wow is this a great shot or what! I love it and I hope Ms Reed does too and that she’s got it proudly displayed in her home.

So why, you might ask would I, a professional with 40 years of experience (I started as a child), want to take a workshop with another photographer? I do it all the time. This past year I took one three-day shooting workshop with Ethan Meleg and and a one-day with David Tejada plus attended a half a dozen teaching sessions with some of the world’s best shooters here in Toronto and down in Buffalo, N.Y. I learned more in three days shooting landscapes with Ethan than I knew 🙂 I mean anybody can walk out the backdoor and shoot a landscape of their yard. It likely won’t be any good but it’s a landscape. Ethan showed me how to shoot really great fall landscapes (tripod, manual focus, split-grad filters, patience….patience).

Don’t let winter get you down. Your camera will survive the cold and so will you 🙂

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