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The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 8 of 24

Photographing Otters in the Field Part 1


The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 8 of 24

Photographing Otters in the Field Part 1


Lesson Info

Photographing Otters in the Field Part 1

we're down at the snake river and you see some otters over there on the far bank that just got a fish on dh um they're running along the banks that right now so we're gonna walk out to the edge of the river here you could get a picture just uh went into their den I think the three hours right there too in the water once and went back in now they're all throughout one's running along the shoreline here just stopped for the tour just playing out all right there are cool just what did they do it it's a nice composition with the others are just fun and they're fishing and hopefully catch a fish you want to come out of the water one's got a fish on the shore no looks like a mom and uh a pair with the pup and one is a big fish over there here comes another so yeah it's just not very common to see are you first of all mostly catching fish really incredible fishermen move it must be seven of them holy men one doug specific now just what they're doing they're just watching the others and see wh...

at they do it's not something I'm looking for you know nice composition of the family on the shore with the fish would be great um but right now they're just kind of you're coming back to fish and maybe they'll catch another one and bring it up so if you see one of them catch a fish let me know right away okay okay they're all down there once carrying it off if they all get together and they're you don't have a lot of grass around their faces right now it's a little difficult because there's they're moving fast and there you know but but just just watch for when they get all together and then maybe the catch another fish and it's nice to get him before the fissure half eaten now the proper thing for a mother for pissing and jumping like that they like purposes thie too up in the banker playing tug of war with the fish so you just have to try to get this it's just great behavior is that you'll see this very often you watch us three on the right there they're still fishing for him there now well the seven or nine I don't know eight or nine it's pretty much the most daughters I've seen in one group here I'm scrapping coming out again oh that's a mess daughter beautiful just to see if you know this lightest kind of love those times you don't see this kind of thing very often at all see the tour grooming others it probably looks like a parent maybe grooming a young one I'm gonna come back as a daughter I think this is really special because there's eight or nine I can't tell you for sure the city's many right now they're all on there's four all piled together and you know they're across the river but uh one hundred twenty yards it would be nice to be a bit closer I'm shooting a six hundred the one seven um you do me a favor go get the to accept backpack I'd appreciate one of the great things about digital you're not stuck with thirty six frames until you run out of film you have to keep changing film but in old days you treat one frame at a time kind of thing or more recently maybe five frames a second this camera sheets eleven frames a second good chute you know ten seconds you're shooting a hundred frames and the buffer on this camera fills up to download the images thief ninety eight so if you get a camera you wantto could afford it you wanna have won it you know has a fairly large buffer so you khun do what we're doing right now in action happens and you could shoot a lot of frames having to wait for your camera to catch up with the buffering the images but those air the more expensive cameras so the option is being more selective into shooting a few friends at a time but when something like that happens they're all jumping on top of each other and pulling fish out things you want to be shooting fast because you can't predict that second when they're going to be all in the maybe great position this there's too much activity going on so the more frames you can shoot in the same way with the cards the faster that they I can write the images the better and that's why you sandisk cards that air extreme prose that right very fast but they're more expensive but in situations like this it's great to have cards right fast and a camera that you could shoot a lot of frames without it stopping toe right to the card so as far as the equipment right now what are we using camera and lens nikon deforest who she just eleven frames a second in the six hundred nike or f four with the one point seven extender which is equal to a thousand millimetres it's a pretty nice train because even a feral tighter I couldn't get all six or seven of these otters in it I'm going to look at my exposure after all that mr graham's perfect it's a minus one exposure compensation shooting a sixteen hundred second eleven sixty four hundred s o I'm gonna crank it down two thirty two hundred s o but sixty four hundred on the d for s is quite good quality was so I'm gonna put on this to x and get just a little bit closer thanks thank you so much but this takes two stops a light and we're already compromised with the light so I'll go back up to sixty four hundred seven of shutter speed and at the mena manually focus is the two x on this lens doesn't focus very quickly why did you choose that it's a twelve hundred millimeter now instead of ah a thousand mill nears a slightly longer shania third water and two thirds two thirds graft just got another fifty these guys are like the best fisherman ever you just took it right behind the grass unfortunately check my exposure just again looks good I'm at one twelve fifty the second half eleven because they're moving quickly but it could probably move that down too maybe eight hundredth of a second f fourteen which should be adequate give me love more depth of field get the out of focus isn't working on that non contrast the subject with this to act unfortunately talk and you shoot in manual versus uh auto focus for this stuff um it depends on the subject in the background like this case there's not much contrast because the lights so low on the grass is difficult for the auto focus to track so I just do it you know whenever they that occasion but how often it sometimes once a week and sometimes you know several times a day it's just a matter of that out of focus is great for a lot of things but not for everything for some reason the two exes just challenged on the auto focus I'm going to take it off right now put it back on with one seven of focus is well to ex basically sucks yeah sure that it's an old beaver it's an old beaver lodge in the the otters have taken it over which is what others do I just ran out of members to change a card on back to work flip the car over after I shoot it so I know I shot it that means that it's exposed so don't shoot over it this has a yellow sticky tag on it so I know that's not shot on top of it this is base up so I know I haven't explored that one because when you get in a hurry like this you work really fast you can screw up e I don't want to screw up these images there's a lot of ways different techniques that people used to still he's a friend of the fish so that's like five fish in ten minutes coming out with a part of it you're pretty good at sharing when one catches something that you know it's all one big family so they share what a room you know my buffers filled up slowing down after wait a second the card is writing numb able to shoot again so did you try to do is shoot don't waste your memory craft there was so much fun on god you guys were all up there now great nice shot nice family portrait there he got a heads up we're looking now they're back in the water all in about three seconds now they're heading down river it's nice with the raindrops off so you can shoot in the rain gives you tom way this has been awesome to watch I love this but there's been some discussion that chat room and we actually had a little bit of that same discussion here in the room that you guys out there couldn't hear and I wanted to bring it up because something we were talking about on there and that's how many how many images you take obviously you shoot machine gun style sometimes and who wasn't here emily our amelia pointed out notice the faster moving the animal the more frames he wasn't shooting this much with landscape or the moose so because you're shooting like seven eight animals all moving very quickly writhing around each other and trying to get that perfect shot so is that the case is is sometimes you're just you just hold it down and hoping that one shot works with all of those different elements is can you talk a little bit about your process here yeah I mean out of all those fixes the shot I haven't looked at that whole take because I don't think I have time but they're probably maybe one that I might make a print out of but I doubt it s so but maybe for calendar or for ah magazine article or something else that might use one of those images but yeah it is mohr because you can see how fast they're moving in the head's up here and it's here it's here you got nine of them that case eight or nine and there's no way you could say you know you know you have the option I mean I have the luxury of shooting eleven frames and having enough memory uh both on the card I mean issue two hundred twenty eight gig card sometimes or sixty four cards and so uh you know it's you can't anticipate that that second or that nanosecond you have to shoot a lot of friends if you have the option of the comment that you made that made me want to stop and bring this to people detention was you're like you know by the time you anticipate something with that many people it's gone and so sometimes it is just that's you observe the creature and this situation and figure out do I need to just you know spray and pray and hope that one of these works out or can you be more deliberate and thoughtful well I'm obviously looking you could tell it when when they all head to heads up it's a shoot you know so I would blast off eighty frames but other times I was shooting maybe twenty but there was a dude that's that's the subtle difference that if there was a moment a moment an attitude you know fifty frames but so it wasn't like I'm just like looking away and consciously trying to see a nanosecond in there that would make make some kind of a composition and unfortunately never ever all say got together and looked up on theyjust didn't I mean sometimes they do sometimes I mean sometimes they they're more calm than that you saw earlier picture of daughters in yellowstone whether there preen each other and they were all looking and uh didn't happen just get moving that you were just like frantic thank you very much yeah I thought that was again we were having a discussion in the room and the germans well thought it's something you know it looks like you just shotgunning and you know it's kind of that way but there is a very particular time when you see the moment coming together then it's let's just hope that we get exactly the right nuanced makes perfect thing is that she's compromised the light is a doll it's low contrast it's raining shooting a high I s o sixty four hundred thirty two hundred feet of the two x and one seven and there's not much dip the field at that so so even if they're moving into twelve hundred fiftieth of a second those little suckers were still blurry a little bit so I'm shooting basically uh extremes of what the uh digital camera will do and if I had great light and make a lot of difference the whole different perspective others don't stop fishing when it's raining and don't stop bugling when it's rainy looks like they're heading down river now that might be it was the head down river they're gone for the day usually we were so lucky to see that most otters are saying think there's nine that's the most I've seen in anyone group yeah usually four five maybe six but I've never seen nine together there there there back up on the way to go because they're going to go across and up but they go across this channel so we should go around we have to go around this little channel and go up that way okay we gotta hurry I'm look I'm just gonna go across there you go let's move a little closer fishing beautiful they're going to go back across that of the channel I think we should go back they're gonna go back to the den I would guess others move so fast in the change direction so fast and got minds of their home in they're coming back now one is but you have to anticipate you know what where they might go you know the background and where they might be headed but first they were crossing the island back to the main channel but they reverse themselves these a couple days and they're going back to where we just were so you try to make your best guess and I still think they're going to come back this way because they're dent their den is over there so that's their house no that one's disappeared the main thing about to be a nature photographer you have to anticipate the behavior of an animal and you have to prepare yourself for reversals like this now mostly you from a lot of experience of watching otters and things like that you could start out some morning them or at least hopefully be in the right place at the right time the one is tripping down there so he's calling to his family and I think his family still maybe over here so he's calling him I just lost him actually maybe he wasn't paying attention so did you see the one so he's going to his family and the family trips back in the hill he will won't find that I see you getting higher and higher and they're calling now I just want to be quiet for another bed I don't want to talk to the camera this is a really really neat and it's not like everyday thing so forgive me wait stop here first so it wasn't trying to be rude to the cameraman or the director but it's like when I usually go photographing I usually go alone with my assistant or with your buddy your girlfriend so and when I when I do my best work or whatever it is it's like I just sort of zen out and and I can't like if I'm with it by a group of other people just can't concentrate it drives me freaking crazy because sometimes people are always yeah marie you know old and they make their their narrating like I'm doing but I'm narrating obviously for the class so it's different for the for the video so that's a different story because obviously the director in the car man they want to know what you're thinking what what do you think you know I find that I'm nothing anything I'm just trying to get their freak in picture so that's why that's why I said that human way had a good laugh afterwards but but it was like sometimes you just have to I have to really be see they were quite a bit closer there and I was hoping for a better shot but I just have to really concentrate well and a question that I saw coming in on I apologize I didn't get your name earlier but uh asking about the noise of the shutter obviously it's we hear it a lot louder because your mike is literally right next to it but is that ever distracting in the scenario and is there any thing you can do to help with that uh you know wish the camera manufacturers and make us a quieter shutter I think cannons is actually quieter than icons and summon icons like the deed tenders quieter than that d for us it's a lot of the mirror slap and but it doesn't like say the otters you know they've been photographed before they're obviously it's not it's not a wilderness area when I was doing the capsules in the l trample you know the bruising a force there I had to be really careful and really selective when I hit the shutter because if they heard everything and they're afraid of everything and they're endangered and I don't want to blow the you know the nast and wanna blow their survival and didn't I want to get the picture so I didn't do any bursts they wouldn't have allowed for that I don't have it you know I had a she go shooting for film cameras didn't have did julia uh like I said I didn't use flash because they don't want to bother the birds but they're so sensitive I would just wait till that moment and I would shoot one or two afraid but even then like he'd be the male start going into the nest hole and I click the shutter and he'd look you know and sometimes that was ok because treed another one he was looking but I didn't try to rely on that didn't want to frighten him but so it depends on the animal and some they care of some they don't but like you said it's obviously a lot noisier because mike was right here but uh it just depends on obviously a lot of things that doesn't bother you actually we do have one more question here in the audience like that over just because you were talking about the frustration of moments we have to split your brain between taking a photo and interacting with the people around you maybe think about a struggle that I have which is often especially with wildlife photography when you're what you're taking a picture of a something that's really fleeting or not easily replicated splitting your brain between your experience and making sure that you're really being in the moment and appreciating that spectacular moment that you're in and focusing on trying to create and produce something very specific is that is that a silly question for a professional photographer was great great question because I've often asked a girlfriend's world pastor well can't you just look at it can't you just enjoy the moment you have to have a camera um I think that if you say so this'll last little around we just talk about where I told the cameramen or the director isis you know okay I want to enjoy it I wanted to observe it I want to see it and I want to capture but not necessarily one over the other uh but to me that's what I do I'm a cameraman I'm a photographer and if I could capture that moment and then pass it on to other people and to maybe make a difference somehow but whatever it might be a problem to save others but you know maybe people will have a different appreciation for otters so they get that moment so it's za multiple rationale for getting a picture and yes I do often time just go out and look at things and it always had the camera but I find that the camera actually if you're concentrating you're getting a better experience if you think at the same time because I'm watching very carefully what those animals were doing and I'm not just lollygagging looking for some it's a mixed but is a really good question because it's comes up often and one more right there I was wondering about focus when you have a situation with all the moving otters and the water where do you focus first to make sure that uh your subjects will be in focus um what are the main character I think is if it's a close one and then if you notice when I was changing my shutter speeds and uh f stops and changing the extenders I was very aware that I was always shooting it f eleven of sixteen to give me that five feet say depth of field at that distance with that len set up when it put the two ex extend rana had to raise thie f stop another say from eleven to sixteen or something and to compromise it longer the lens the less step the field you have so in that case you're kind of shooting in the middle of the pack and realistically if you're shooting a third end because your focus is to thirty two thirds beyond the focal point and one third in front of it so if it's a pack like that might be shooting two thirds in you know just behind the front line and then having enoughto the field that all all of them will be in and then there's a step the preview button which we haven't talked about what the depth of preview button is another huge huge asset on all camp modern good cameras um you compress that and see what is it in focus now on the otters they moved around so much that would be kind of tedious and you spend more of your time and it is really difficult but um a lot of things that don't forget to use your adept that preview but

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Learn wildlife and outdoor photography from one of the most prolific nature photographers of our time in The Art of Wildlife Photography with Tom Mangelsen.

Drawing lessons from his 40 years of observing and photographing the Earth's last great wild places, Tom will discuss the complex process behind his breathtaking wildlife photographs. You’ll learn:

  • What it takes to be a great wildlife photographer
  • How to capture wildlife in their natural environment
  • The best places to find animals
  • How to increase the visibility of your work
  • The importance of respecting wildlife and wildlife ethics

Tom will cover the basics of gear and scouting and teach you how to think about lighting when capturing animals in the wild. Tom will also offer a critique images and portfolios submitted by viewers.

If you have a passion for outdoor photography and want to capture the spirit of wildlife in your camera, join Tom Mangelsen for this inspiring and educational class.


a Creativelive Student

There is probably just one word that comes closest to describing Tom Mangelsen’s photography. Glorious. There are other good words too, of course. And they are also inadequate. Mangelsen’s panoramas are (cumulatively and separately (any one of them)) the best I’ve seen. Mangelsen teaches by example and his examples are exemplary. I’ve seen several photographers giving courses on CreativeLive lately many of whose photos I would love to have taken - but with Mangelsen I envy his possession not just of his photos but of their subjects too. And he does possess his subjects in ways many outstanding photographers fail to - possesses them and then leaves them to continue on with their lives. There are other reasons I’m grateful for this course too - his field trips and critiques have shown me (as with other CreativeLive courses) just how lazy I’m being with my work. And if his critiques aren’t motivation enough I only have to view his slide show ‘Last Great Wild Places’ for more inspiration. The photos in this series are revelations all on their own - even without commentary. Thank you CreativeLive for continuing to bring us the finest wildlife and nature photographers at work today - and thank you to photographers like Tom Mangelsen for giving us a look at the way they work.


I could not stop watching this class and set aside time each day until I finished it. I guess you could saw that I binge watched it. Then I was really sad when it was finished! Like a good movie that stays with you and that you don't want to end! This is a wonderful class and the best I have taken at CreativeLive. I learned so much and have a great fondness for Tom Mangelsen. He really knows how to pull you into his passion. I am so grateful to have taken this course and grateful to Tom for all that he has done in his career to further his craft and to share it. I am inspired! If you are going to purchase and course from CreativeLive, this is one to be sure to take!!! Thank you again.

Dub Maitland

Excellent class! An incredibly talented photographer who has a vast knowledge of the subject matter as well as an outstanding ability to deliver the information. It was as enjoyable as it was informative. I first saw Tom's work in an office in Denver in 1991 and have been inspired by him ever since. Thank you Creative Live, for giving us the opportunity to spend this time with the Master! And thank you Tom for your willingness to share your talent with us! Dub Maitland, Missoula, MT.