For a wildlife photographer, getting closer is a big deal. I learned that after taking a lot of photos where big animals turned into tiny, fuzzy blotches. It was kind of embarrassing to explain that my prize photo really had a bear in it and that the dark spot was most definitely not a mound of dirt!
Addressing that sticky problem has meant spending way too much money on longer lenses and continually trying to figure out how I can get closer. Repeat after me – close is good.
I had been trying to get a good shot of a pronghorn antelope for some time in Yellowstone National Park but for different reasons I was never satisfied with the results. One evening I finally I got an opportunity with a beautiful animal in golden light. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up too close. How did that happen?
Since I had a prime lens, there’s no zooming option other than the one that involves me walking. In the process of trying to get all the body parts into the photo, I ended up scrambling to back away from the very creature I had moved in on. The irony was complete when the animal wandered in my direction, forcing me to back up even further.
You know something has gone completely wrong when you find yourself in full retreat in the middle of a chase. At least the polite pronghorn pretended not to notice!
At some point the difficult terrain slowed the retreat and simultaneously twigged my memory that I could do a portrait. With that light finally turned on, I enjoyed taking some shots. The effect seemed to work well for a larger animal.
At least I don’t have to explain the fuzzy blotches in this photo.