The Eyes Have It
in Wildlife Photography
Regardless of which Everglades animal is in your viewfinder, the first place to focus is the subject’s eye.
You could be extremely lucky to catch an exceptional animal action sequence, such as a lunging alligator attacking a bird on a tree limb.
Or a fast-moving Florida panther crossing the road.
In both instances, you want to capture the action. Detail is not important.
But most Everglades wildlife photos are portraits of an animal as it slowly goes about its daily business.
Every time before I take press the shutter button, I ask whether I can clearly see the critter’s eye. If not, I wait until my subject changes its position.
If the animal is too much in the shade for the eye to stand out—a common problem with dark skinned, dark eyed alligators—I’ll add flash. If the eye still isn’t prominent, I delete the image.
An animal without a clearly visible eye is a mundane snapshot, not an image worth saving.
The importance of an animal’s eye is not a surprise. With people, it’s a long-held maxim that the eye is the key to a person’s soul.
So it is with wildlife, too. Perhaps more since the eye often reveals not only the essence but the possible menace of any wild animal.
Whenever my particular subject’s eye is not readily visible, I try my flash before moving on to another subject. Never the camera’s built-in flash, which is not powerful enough except in close conditions. I prefer a dedicated flash.
Another factor for highlighting the eye is the angle to the animal so I can photograph it from the side, as a profile
(lengthwise with an alligator) so the entire animal is in focus.
If you have to photograph your reptile head on, eye-to-eye, with a telephoto lens, I concentrate on the animal’s eyes. It makes little difference if the snout is out of focus as long as the animal’s eyes are sharp, crisp and clear.
Those eyes reveal the truly primitive nature of these creatures.
With a point-and-shoot camera that doesn’t have sufficient flash power, take the photo anyway. With the proper software, you can make up for a lot of natural light deficiencies.
To Everglades Photo Tips Home
To Everglades Home