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“Chipper Dale?” (Eastern Chipmunk) Nikon D300, 240mm, F/4, 1/80s, -0.7EV, SB900 TTL Flash w/Gary Fong Lightsphere Universal Cloud

It takes quite a lot of patience, good observation skills, and a bit of pre-planning to successfully photograph wildlife. These are things I’ve learned from wildlife photographer Moose Peterson.

Whenever I go out to shoot wildlife, I get the feeling that Moose is standing right next to me, reminding me of all the do’s and don’ts and encouraging me that I can do it! Thanks Moose!!

First and foremost, you should know your subject’s habits. Lucky for me, my landscape is teeming with local wildlife. They love it here! Of course, the free food, fresh water and lush natural habitat might have something to do with it. 😉

Second, you should plan your shot. Otherwise, you can waste a lot of time chasing your subject. 

Our chipmunks love to run around a stacked woodpile that lies just beyond a platform feeding station. I set up my tripod and large lens and scoped for an interesting backdrop for the photo. (I think of this type of shot as an “animal portrait”. My goal is to capture the critter in its natural environment, doing whatever it normally does). Now, chipmunks are quite comical so I was sure to have a good show. (They didn’t disappoint!)

I had several good backgrounds in close range that I could easily switch between, so after doing some test shots for proper exposure, composition and flash settings, all there was left to do was wait. And wait. And wait. It seemed the chipmunks were interested in being any place else other than where I wanted them to be! Geesh!

Well, I am smarter than a chipmunk soooooo, to get things moving a bit quicker, I “baited” several key spots with sunflower seeds. Heck, I had to get my subject there somehow!

To the victor go the spoils!

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