by Jack Farley
October18 , 2016
When I was 10 years old I got my first camera, it was an Olympus OM-10 with an assortment of lenses (mostly macro). It had been my dad’s since he was a teenager, he had recently switched to a compact point and shoot Olympus and he gave me all of his gear including a professional Manfrotto tripod for Christmas. I shot a total of two rolls of film with that camera, only one of them got developed. One year later I got a new Olympus tough compact point and shoot camera. That was when I really started taking photos, I probably shot about two thousand photos on that camera. That winter I went to the NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit at the ROM, and I thought to myself; why can’t I do that? Not on that scale of course, but seeing the photos in the 12 and under category of the exhibit really inspired me to step up my photography.
Canada Gees and Mallards
As soon as I got home I looked up wildlife photography competitions specifically for youth, I could not find a single one in Canada. I then just looked up ordinary wildlife photography competitions, the first thing that came up was the Canadian Geographic photo club. I looked at the list of current contests and saw that they had a pet photography competition, at the time I had 2 pet bearded dragons named Lilly and Spike. As soon as I heard about that contest I stuck my camera in their tank (which sits next to me as I am writing this with Spike sleeping two feet from my computer) and took a few snapshots. I edited them on iPhoto and submitted them to Canadian Geographic, several months later I heard back; my photo had been shortlisted but the resolution was wrong. Being eleven I naturally had no idea what that meant so I didn’t respond. A month or two later I heard back from them again saying that my photo had made the finalists but it was the wrong resolution, so I researched what resolution was and then cropped the image a bit and sent it back. 6 months later I was surprised to find that Canadian Geographic had sent me a copy of their pet photography issue. It came as a shock to see my own photo looking up at me.
Osprey with fish
I continued taking photos for the next few years, none of them were any good. But last year I decided to invest in a decent camera, after a few months of research I decided that a Nikon D5300 with 18-55 and 55-300mm lenses would suit my needs best. I waited until black Friday and bought it from Henrys. I took it out to take photos of wildlife about a day after getting the package in the mail, I realized that it was a lot harder than I had expected. The camera just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. So I started doing more research on settings, I read a few books about wildlife photography and I practised. In January I managed to drag my family out to Amherst Island to see the snowy owls. It was freezing cold but I managed to get some mediocre shots of snowy owls. See the photo below
The photo only looks like this because of extensive photo editing. I have learnt a lot over the past year but these tips stick out above the rest. Getting down to the subjects level is one of the most important things for composition the rest you can do with a bit of cropping as long as the background is good. Reading articles is more important than buying the best gear, I have been very successful with one of the cheapest lenses for wildlife photography, you can make up for bad gear with talent and perseverance.
To use the highest possible shutter speed use aperture priority so that you can grab a quick shot without messing around with settings first. A lot can be accomplished by post-processing, I process my photos extensively using Google’s Nik collection to make up for blurry photos or bad colours.
I am a 13 year old wildlife photographer living in Toronto. I am currently in grade nine in a science and math program at William Lyon Mackenzie CI and I enjoy reading, origami, playing the guitar/piano and listening to music. To see my photographic portfolio go to www.youpic.com/photographer/jackfarley1025, if you are interested in buying my work contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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