The Common goose
Last year I read an article that was published back in 2008, from a columnist Robert Hardman who wrote; "Should there ever be a prize for Britain's most hated bird, then, surely, it would go to the Canada goose. If Canada geese were human, they would be lounging around all day doing nothing, claiming every welfare benefit in the book, driving their neighbors out of town and notching up ASBOs around the clock."
This made me think has anyone actually stopped and done a serious photographic project on these birds in the U.K and the answer was no. In response to this last year I decided to start working with a local group of geese to try and disprove the above statement.
In the blog below I will showcase a few of the images over the past year & talk through a few of the best practices for photographing common species
Arguably the number one rule when photographing waterfowl is too get low, yes this may cause a sore neck, you may get a little muddy and wet. Once you are home and dry scrolling through the stunning shots you have captured all those thoughts of pain & cold are long forgotten.
Too many times have I seen photographers with a long lens mounted on a tripod, towering over a subject. Yes we see the world from roughly 5-6 feet, but birds do not. To connect with the subject ditch the tripod. Get low, and shoot from the birds perspective and not ours. This will produce a much more intimate image.
Don't be scared of ditching the tripod. Most of the images in this blog are shot with the camera resting on the ground ensuring I am as low as possible to the ground when shooting.
Benefits Of Shooting Low?
By shooting low you can transform an otherwise cluttered surroundings. The low perspective will allow you too shot with a diffused foreground & background making your subject really pop.
By shooting at their level you will produce a much more intimate image of the subject allowing the viewer to connect with the image.
By shooting from a low perspective you are transported into the birds world and not ours.
Spending an extended period of time with one species you begin learn all their different behaviors. This can help when preparing for a shot, some of the behaviors are more subtle than others. Canada geese do make life easy for you when they are taking off. Firstly they will move to the side of the lake to give themselves room for takeoff. They then begin to let off a deafening sequence of honks getting faster and faster until they reach a crescendo and at this point they will normally take off. It's not very subtle behavior but it is an example by knowing this you can keep focus on the goose and wait. This is just one
EMBRACE BAD WEATHER
When you look out the window and see the rain hitting the window. Don't crawl back under the duvet embrace the conditions. Throw on your waterproofs and head out the rain always adds an interesting dimension to any image. When photography in rain, you are faced with a number of problems. Firstly how do you keep your expensive kit dry & safe. I'd highly recommend the covers from Wildlife Watching Supplies. I find they offer the best protection and have never let me down.
The second problem is how do I want to photograph the rain do I want to use a fast shutter speed and freeze the raindrops. Or do I want to use a slower shutter speed and show them as streaks.
This is a topic that I am constantly banging on about work locally. Yes, I know there is the constant pull of wild and exotic places. But by working locally at the same spot for an extended period you are able to build up a local knowledge of the best spots, learn how the light will fall at any given time of year and perhaps the biggest advantage is living close to the site so you are ready to react as soon as the perfect conditions materialize.
Too many people get caught up in photographing big exotic subjects yes it's great to have a roaring lion or a brown bear running down the barrel of the lens. But just because it is an impressive subject doesn't equate to it being a great image. I would be much happier photographing a canada goose in beautiful light than a big trophy species in flat light. At the end of the day it's not the subject that matters it's the final image.
Not everyone can travel to expensive foreign lands or afford top of the range equipment this does not matter. Throughout this blog I have tried to show that award winning images can be taken 5 minutes from your house. So grab your camera head down to your local pond and let me know what you can produce.