Importance of Natural Resources

Wildlife Photography 101 | Are You Ready for the Shot of a Lifetime?


It’s 5:00 a.m. and you’ve stumbled out
to your car, throwing your gear in the back and you’re heading out for a day of wildlife photography hoping for some action. But are you actually ready for that action? What if, at 5:27 in the morning, in the
first rays of sunshine, a lynx walks across the road right in front of you, with a kitten behind it. Imagine the scene; you’re driving along scanning the roadside, chewing your morning doughnut, listening to the radio, all of a sudden
out of nowhere a lynx pops out of the bush onto the road. And just like that,
your world’s in a frenzy. My name is John E. Marriott, are you ready for the shot of a lifetime? So let me ask you again, if you went out
photographing tomorrow morning would you be prepared for the shot of a lifetime? For that split second opportunity, when a lynx crosses the road, or a wild wolf pauses in the snow? The first step to being ready is the most obvious one, and that is make sure you have your camera out of the bag and turned on. You’d be
amazed how many people will leave the city and think they’re not gonna see
anything for the first hour, so they leave everything in the camera bag and then by the time they do see something, they don’t have time to grab it, pull it
out, turn it on…before the animals gone. As soon as I leave the house first thing
in the morning I make sure I have my camera out and my big lens sitting on
the seat right beside me with a beanbag. Why not just have it on a tripod
ready to go? Because as soon as I have to stop the car and get out and get my
tripod out I’m gonna scare away any sensitive wildlife like a wolf or a lynx.
So instead I grab my bean bag throw it on the window sill and set my big lens up
right on there and fire away, I can do all that within a second. The other essential step is to have your
camera settings optimized for a worst case scenario. What I mean by worst case
scenario is an animal walks out at dawn or at dusk in very low light and you
want to be able to get that shot within that split-second opportunity. So for
that my own worst case scenario settings I set my ISO as high as I’m comfortable
with for this particular camera that’s ISO 10000. I set my aperture as low as
possible because I’m shooting an aperture priority, so I shoot at f/4 for
this particular lens which is the lowest it goes to. So if I point this over and
there’s a lynx on the side of the road and there’s only one 125th of a second
of light available that’s what it will shoot at. At least I’ll have a chance of
getting that shot of a lifetime. Use these key steps and you will be ready
for the shot of a lifetime. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel to learn more about how to become a better wildlife photographer.


Reader Comments

  1. A lot of the footage in your videos is awesome. Ever thought of putting some of it under Creative Commons so an aspiring YouTuber could use it? ;D

  2. Early morning driving to our best wildlife area Dryandra Woodlands , always prepared for raptors perched by the roadside, chance favors the bold indeed ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I have a bit of a longer drive to the rockies than you, so 5AM is sleeping in for me…This is a great little video, can't wait for more!

  4. The camera settings is a big one. I had a wolf cross in front of my headlights one morning, and my camera (or me) was not prepared for it. I have an artistic "ghost wolf" from the 2sec exposure. Lesson learned!

  5. Hi John. I watched another video that was also discussing being ready for the shot where they put the camera in M mode & set it to auto iso. This also meant they had control over the apperature & shutter speed. would you or have you ever tried this set up & if so what are the pros & cons? Thanks again, Mark.

  6. Great video, fantastic tips with a nice bit of humour, I think I pressed subscribe quicker than you dropped your doughnut.

  7. Iโ€™ve learned that technique too..So many great shots taken from the carโ€™s window, that I never leave the camera in the bag anymore. I use manual settings, with the widest aperture, auto ISO and then just adjust the shutter speed rapidly depending on the animalโ€™s behaviour. Great channel, love all your videos and I hope I could come photo-shooting over there someday. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘

  8. Great advice. I totally adhere to that. Also, to think about : air-con or car heater and mist on the lens …?

  9. Hi there John, I saw your idea of placing a beanbag on the window, and I thought that is a stroke of genius. I always place my lens directly on the window when I see an animal. How would you call such a beanbag? I can't seem to find anything like it on Amazon. Thanks!

  10. very good advice!!!! i'm always ready! ๐Ÿ™‚ always prepared the the settings too… ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for all this awesome videos!

  11. Great tips! It's funny how I often get my best photos on the drive to and from a park or wilderness area. The beanbag tip is genius – I don't know how many foxes, ravens, coyotes, and other animals have bolted or flown off when I try to quietly open my car door. Thanks for sharing – amazing photographs.

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