Wildlife Photography – Getting that Unique Shot

Sat and watched two Canada Geese families for about 2 hours

I have so many photos, thousands literally. I go through them over and over again, keeping what I think are my best or unique shots. Sometimes I will have 20 or more shots of the same animal, (usually a lot more,) and quite often they are all in the same pose. My goal is to get shots of the animal or bird doing something different, you know? But it’s not easy.

In my opinion, because I am not an expert, in order to get a different/unique type of wildlife shot, two things determine how you can do that, well maybe three. You don’t need all necessarily but you do need at least one.

1. Right place, right time (that is almost always my mantra);

2. Patience; watching and studying your subject and wait for them to react in a different way, and/or;

3. Money; and by this I mean, for example, going on a Safari for a week or two or heading into the heart of British Columbia to visit Grizzly bears for a few days. You know the kind of trip whereby you and/or the guide you hire, basically know where the wildlife is going to be and you have ample time to photograph your subjects. An environment structured to see wildlife, which we haven’t done yet.

So the first option, right place, right time (or the luck of the draw) is a crap shoot basically, you are gonna be lucky or you aren’t.

The second option is not always possible, quite often we don’t have enough time to sit and focus on a subject for any length of time. Plus wildlife is so unpredictable. Bears for example typically take off upon seeing you and Moose tend to wander off after a few minutes. Believe me when a moose wanders off it’s like they literally disappear into thin air! Or you startle a duck and they are gone in a heartbeat.

The third option would be terrific but how many of those can you afford and how often could you go?

I have quite a few (hundreds) of Right Place, Right Time photos. One day we were driving through a campground and heading back to our campsite and we spotted a Mom Black Bear and 4 Cubs. That was definitely right place, right time.

The littlest bear

Another example – We had both been trying for years to get a half decent shot of a Kingfisher. They are such unique birds but they are skittish and VERY fast. So we never really had much luck but last summer as we were paddling along the shore of the Moira River, we spotted this little guy sitting in a tree. I reached for my camera and I’m sure Clint, in the back of the canoe, was reaching for his but I thought why bother? He’s gonna take off any second, but he didn’t. It was the best time and we sat there for probably 1/2 hour photographing him. Now he didn’t really do anything unique, he just sat there but still….! So I guess that was Rule #1 followed by Rule #2 Patience.

Kingfisher on the Moira River

Or we will drive past a spot in Algonquin Park and see nothing yet 5 minutes later drive back past the same location and there you have it….a moose just walked into the water.

Where did she come from ?

One day we had stopped our truck on the side of a road where we knew foxes hung out and out of the blue, the old fox and one of his kits walked down to the water for a drink. What are the odds?

Dad Fox and one of his kits

We were in Newfoundland a few years and camped in Gros Morne National Park. One day we were heading out in our truck to go someplace, I forget where, and just as we got to our truck we heard a commotion in the tree beside our trailer. There were two squirrels on their first date! Maybe third…… How often does anyone see this? I have not before, nor since.

Third Date……

We were sitting by Lake of Two Rivers one day just enjoying the weather and across the river we saw a chipmunk jump into the water and head to our side! It’s amazing how many chipmunks and squirrels will swim quite a distance to get to the other side. Why did the chipmunk cross the river? I have no idea…..

When wildlife cooperates and we do have time to sit and watch and wait, it can be rewarding. I remember one day my husband and I went to Algonquin Park for the day. We did our usual driving around, hiking some trails but didn’t see too much. We decided to drive down to one one of the lakes and just sit and relax and enjoy the water view. Well there happened to be a couple of families of Canada Geese there hanging out. We sat there for probably 1 1/2 to 2 hours watching them and photographing them and I feel like we were able to get different types of shots than just clicking and leaving.

Dancing Queen
Goslings are so cute.

When we are in our canoe, we can sit and watch mergansers, herons whatever for a very long time and we just sit and wait and you can get some really unique shots. So patience in these types of situations helps to improve your odds of getting a unique image of your subject. We sat in our canoe for a very long time observing and photographing this Merganser family.

Merganser Family

A heron we spotted while in our canoe on Restoule River was incredible to watch. We sat in our canoe for a couple of hours, or close to that. And in fact, he was in the same area for a couple of days so we saw him more than once. Lots of patience involved here, waiting and watching until he did some unique poses.

Crazy Tongued Heron
Maestro Heron

Sometimes the “being somewhere at the right moment” is combined with patience. We were walking an area where there had been moose sightings and indeed one morning they were there. We spent a few hours photographing them and were fortunate enough to see them mating and just being themselves.

I didn’t want to put too much Moose Porn in the post so above photo is what you are getting 🙂

As for the third option, I have not been to an environment structured for wildlife like an African Safari or to British Columbia to see the Spirit Bears or to Churchill Manitoba to see the Polar Bears but believe me, I would love to do all three.

I wish I had more opportunities for the shots taken by being patient but wildlife is quite unpredictable so typically you have to be where they are at the exact moment they are there without you knowing they are going to be there. I don’t really know what I just said lol.

This post shows a few of my photos that I think are a bit different and/or unique. I hope you enjoyed them. If you have any stories to tell or any other opinions on getting “That” shot, let me know.

Hope you enjoyed my stories.

Stay Safe.