Shooting Wildlife

Lisa Snider

The Calvert Photography Club met for its monthly meeting on Saturday, August 17, 2013. President Jeff Smallwood welcomed everyone, and opened the meeting with our Club Business. 

Jeff began by thanking Events Coordinator Robbin Haigler for all of her hard work in planning our August 3rd boat tour field trip - “Lighthouses on the Chesapeake Bay.” While Jeff was unable to attend, he understands that it was a wonderful trip, and Robbin is to be commended for organizing it.

The Visitor’s Center photos for our club have now been set up at the Solomon’s Island Visitor’s Center. Jeff regrets that he forgot to bring in the club photos which were taken down, for return to their owners, but will do so at the next meeting.

Our Photography Boot Camp: A Hands-On Exploration of Exposure, has been scheduled for October 12th at 9:00 a.m. T.O. is coordinating the event, and is looking for volunteers to help. Pamphlets and registration information was set out at our meeting, and is also available on the club’s web site. Also available was printed information on our September 7th annual club picnic. Club members should watch their e-mail for detailed information on these two upcoming events.

Nick Iascone provided information on the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, located in southern Anne Arundel County, 20 miles east of Washington D.C. and 18 miles south of Annapolis. It consists of 1,600 acres of tidal freshwater wetlands, forests, meadows, and fields along the Patuxent River, home to many bird, fish, reptile and mammal species.

The Sanctuary is open to the public on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with no Sunday hours from December through February. Nick advised that as of August 3rd, the Sanctuary will be open to the public on Fridays, too, through October, with extended hours of 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. 

He also advised that Jug Bay is hosting a “Catch the Light” Photography Workshop on Sunday, October 27th, with a $20.00 fee. For more information on the Sanctuary and this workshop, visit  .

Club Librarian Spencer Johnson brought in book titles to share, and set them up at the front, for check out.

UrsulaToday’s program, “Wildlife Photography,” was presented by club members Glenn and Ursula Lawrence. They are passionate wildlife photographers, and presented a very informative program.

Here are some highlights:

Ethics and Safety

  • Study your subject – watch for signs of stress – pull back if you see that your subject is upset – keep a minimum distance when shooting, obeying any posted signs.
  • Remember that you are a guest in the habitat of your subject – be respectful of the environment.
  • Also remember that animals are unpredictable – don’t make eye contact with them, as they may feel threatened.
  • Be mindful of dangerous or slippery surfaces.
  • Use sunscreen and bug spray, and watch for ticks.
  • Don’t entice the animal with bait, in order to get your photo.
  • Use a lens with a long enough focal length to avoid getting too close to your subject.
  • Use a blind or camouflage clothing, to be less intrusive. Be quiet, but do let your subject(s) know that you are there.

Equipment and Settings

  • Lens – use a 400 mm lens, or longer – longer is better;
  • Glenn shoots at 1250 to 1600, ISO at 250 to 400, to avoid too much grain, and shoots in manual mode;
  • Know your gear – be familiar with your camera’s settings and the capabilities of your lens, before you are out in the field;
  • Keep in mind that really great moments only last 5 – 20 seconds – you must be vigilant and patient to get the shot.
  • Photographers with a passion for wildlife shooting tend to be older photographers, who have the time to spend, and the money to invest in the equipment, which can be costly.
  • Get out and shoot often to gain experience through lots of practice.

Tips and Preparation

  • Charge your camera’s batteries! Prepare your gear early.
  • Learn the habits, movements, patterns and behaviors of your subjects.
  • The early morning and late afternoon time periods are when most animals are very active. Also, the golden light of these two time periods is ideal for shooting.
  • Learn by observing.
  • Shoot closer – the eyes of your subject should be tact sharp.
  • Shoot at eye level – it brings the viewer into the scene and into the subject’s perspective.
  • Move slowly – approach your subject on the diagonal and not directly;
  • Glenn pans on flying birds, using the burst mode on his camera, in order to get the shot.

Resources for more information

They ended the program with a question and answer segment, and shared wonderful photo albums of their adventures at the break. Thank you Glenn and Ursula, for a great program!

The club then took a break for refreshments and to mingle, while a slideshow of summer images played in the background.

After the break, today’s member slideshow was presented by Sue Ellen Garner, entitled “Walk with me.” Her images featured nature and wildlife, and were truly inspiring. Thanks Sue Ellen, for sharing your vision with us today.

Shaara presented a mini-program on composition, discussing “Curves.” Curves are used to direct the eye in a photograph. They can be used quietly in an uncomplicated scene, or can be used to show movement. Curves can also be used in repeating patterns, and to create tension. Curves are a classic tool used in advertising photos, which Shaara shared examples of, as well as other “Curves” photos.

This month’s topic was “Minimalism.” Four shots were submitted for critique, and 2 minutes were allowed per image. Guy, Shaara and Sandy were among the club members who offered their thoughts on the photos submitted. Bruce also brought in a beautiful shot to share, which he set up on an easel in the back of the room.

Looking ahead, Jeff stated that next month’s photo assignment is wildlife. Our guest speaker will be Zolt Levay from the Hubble Heritage Team, presenting a program on astrophotography. Don’t forget about the club’s Saturday, September 7th annual picnic – at the Thomas Stone Historical site. Join us for a guided tour of the site, and opportunities to shoot inside the house, as well as take pictures of the buildings and the grounds. Club members should watch their e-mails for all of the details, and the sign up information.

There will be a secondary meeting on August 28th – 7:30 p.m., at the Fairview Library – Large Room, where Jeff will present more Questions and Answers regarding Lightroom techniques. Finally, Jim Rogers will host a Critique Session on September 11th at 7:30 p.m. at the Fairview Library – Large Room.

In closing today’s meeting, Jeff presented his popular “Did you Know” topic of the day, “Photography Firsts.” Jeff showed a series of photos, and asked the club to guess what the photo depicted. His photos featured the following:

  • The second oldest surviving photo – a roof top - from 1827;
  • The oldest surviving photo – from 1825;
  • The first photo with a person in it – 1838;
  • The first self-portrait – 1839;
  • The first aerial photo – from a Balloon over Boston – 1860;
  • The first color photo – 1861;
  • The first landscape – 1877;
  • A World War I photo of a Pigeon with a camera around its neck, from 1907;
  • The first underwater color photo – 1926;
  • The first photo of Earth from space – 1946;
  • The first digitally scanned photo – 1957, and
  • The first photo of the Earth fully-illuminated – taken from Apollo 17 in 1972.

With that, we concluded our August meeting. Enjoy the remainder of your summer.

Lighthouse Tour on the Lisa S.

Karl Barth

In what was one of the more anticipated photo trips, the Calvert Photography Club went on an early morning lighthouse cruise for the August photo trip.  The cruise was chartered by Fish by the Bay Charters.  If you weren’t able to attend but are interested about learning more check out their site at:

by Karl BarthOwned and operated by Captain Phil Langley, Fish by the Bay Charters is located in the southern part of St. Mary’s Country Maryland.  On our way to the location, I started to wonder if we were heading in the right direction.  The last road to the location wasn’t paved and took us through some corn fields with no evidence of water.  As we kept driving we came across the location eventually and found the water.  What would we do without GPS?

We had a good turnout for the trip.  20+ club members signed up for the trip.  As a result of the large group, we got to ride the largest boat of the fleet, the ‘Lisa S.’ There was plenty of room to stand and get some great shots.  In addition, we had good weather for the trip.  We had a mix of sun and overcast skies throughout the day.

The cruise took 4 hours and we were able to visit three lighthouses in St. Mary’s County: Point No Point Lighthouse, Hooper’s Island Lighthouse, and Point Lookout.  With the exception of Point Lookout, the other two lighthouses can only be seen up close by boat.  Unfortunately, those two lighthouses are closed by the Coast Guard so we couldn’t go inside for a tour.  I bet there are some really neat things to see inside.

by Karl BarthIn addition to the lighthouses, we saw various birds such as pelicans, osprey, and other birds along the way.  There was one area on the trip that had all kinds of birds sitting on wooden posts in the water.  Captain Phil was nice enough to stop the boat so that the club members could take pictures.  Most of my pictures of the birds weren’t to my liking.  When reviewing the pictures, the birds weren’t very sharp despite using my 55-200 MM lens and using a fast shutter speed.

Despite the bird pictures not turning out, I got some great shots of the lighthouses.  I also saw some incredible shots from other club members as well on Flickr.  Overall this was a great trip.  Thanks to Captain Phil and the staff of Fish by the Bay Charters for accommodating us.  A huge thanks also goes to Robbin Haigler for coordinating this trip.