Habitat in nature photography

When it comes to wildlife / bird photography, people mostly attempt to get a frame filling picture of the subject. A frame filling shot,  like the one below, gives more satisfaction to some people, esp to amateur photographers who have just begun their journey.

Stone plover 2
Those with super zooms like 800mm lenses come very close (okay, it also depends on the size of the subject and distance!) to getting frame filling images of birds and animals. Others have to either make sure they are very close to the subject or do a crop of a larger image in order to get a frame-filling shot.

Going very close to birds/animals is not always possible. And buying longer tele lenses is not a feasible option for many as they run into lakhs (INR). Hence many amateurs / beginners tend to feel disappointed at not getting the kind of shots that the professionals get with their super zooms.

I have a Nikkor 70-300 VR lens which is my workhorse. And I too have been trying to get frame filling images only to be disappointed many times…. But recently I have started thinking on different lines. Why not be a habitat photographer?

Click the subjects in their natural environment. Leave enough room around the subject to tell a story about its living space and not just the subject. Open your eyes towards things beyond just the subject. Use your photo to tell a story!

The good thing about this type of photography is

  1. conveys more information about the subject than a frame filling shot.
  2. you start noticing things that you had not observed before.
  3. you start thinking beyond portraiture.
  4. your knowledge of the subject goes up. You learn more. You evolve into a person who knows what he clicks and not merely into one who has umpteen portrait shots of umpteen species with little difference between each. Nature photography becomes more exciting and not mere monotony after a while!

So habitat photography is how my nature photography will shape up in the future. Now, not only do I end up learning more about the subject, but also would save tons of moolah by not needing to buy that longer tele lens.

Habitat photography is the way to go for most of us! Do not feel bad that you do not have a telephoto lens. Take that 18-55 kit lens (or whatever you have) with you and make full use of it. Capture the subject in its natural environment… tell a story! Enjoy habitat photography!!!

A few of my own clicks below (not all are truly habitat shots though…).

Grey FrancolinBrahminy Kite - habitatGrey Francolin shot @ Valley School, Bangalore              Brahminy Kite

Plain Flowerpecker 1Black Kite - habitat Plain Flowerpecker                                                             Black Kite

Habitat shot - Oriental White EyeBlack & Orange flycatcher 2 Oriental White eye                                                             Black & Orange Flycatcher

Common IoraJungle babbler Common Iora                                                                    Jungle Babbler

Pied Crested CuckooLaughing dove Pied Crested Cuckoo                                                        Laughing Dove

3 thoughts on “Habitat in nature photography

  1. How true, Prem.. The urge to buy bigger tele’s will never end.. Improvising with what we have, is the best way to keep ourselves going.. As you said, the habitat shot conveys so much more meaning than a full frame portrait shot..

    I love the Grey Francolin shot the most among the other beautiful habitat shots..

  2. Lovely explanations. I feel we need not blame the Monster lenses..and actually we can frame a Habitat Shot in dat too. Its all about the Game of depth and in a 600mm, can we be satisfied by pulling back a bit..so as to get the environs of the subject too??
    Keep bloggin about such basics. Very Important. Rgrds

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