Congratulations to our Top Pic of the Week, Tom DiVittis! Check out his amazing wildlife photos and his story below.
I've been a photography hobbyist for about 5 years. With no prior experience or knowledge of photography, I bought a Canon Rebel XS with the 18-55 and 75-300 kit lenses on Craigslist, for $200. I would occasionally get a shot that I was really happy with and just continued to shoot, whenever possible, always seeing enough progress to continue learning, practicing, and making every conceivable mistake, both technical and artistic.
Two years ago, I did my oldest daughter's senior pictures, which everyone in the family was thrilled with. This past year, I finally invested in some lenses, which has taken the photography experience to another level and has completely recharged my motivation for improving my skills. The difference in the experience with good lenses is hard to put into words. Yes, you can certainly take good photographs with kit lenses, but it is just not the same experience. I wish I had not waited so long to make the investment. (If you haven't yet bought some good glass, stop putting it off. If using Canon, start with a 50mm prime, 1.8, or similar, they are very reasonably priced.)
Shooting wildlife is very rewarding, however, it can be extremely frustrating. Keep the sun behind you, or you will end up with a bunch of photos that could have been great if only the lighting was better. (I have hundreds, if not thousands of great examples of poorly lit bird photographs.) A good telephoto is pretty much necessary, but lenses like the Sigma 150-600 put them at a reasonable price point, even for hobbyists, and renting is certainly an option, as well. Be patient and persistent, it will be worth it. When you can see the orange glow in the eye of an osprey, or the neon blue in the eye of a cormorant, in one of your photographs, you will have a tremendous sense of satisfaction.
I've recently started using Capture One for post-processing, having used RawTherapee prior to that. One misunderstanding I think many people have is the limitations of the software. Software can make a photo cleaner, or give it a little pop, etc. It cannot turn a bad photo into a good one, and it certainly cannot fix missed focus. Work on your skills with your camera, and you'll find the editing suddenly becoming much easier. (And definitely, shoot in RAW format!)
The simplest, best advice I think I can offer would be to take your camera with you as often as possible, and if you see something that grabs your eye, even if you don't know why, take some shots of it. Some of my favorite photos are ones that I put very little effort into, and just 'took the shot'. If you're new to photography, keep your camera in aperture priority and learn that. The rest of the exposure triangle is relatively simple to understand, but aperture takes a bit of experience, no matter how many times you listen to explanations.
See more information about each photo below:
|Busy Bee||Canon Rebel XS||Canon EF-S 18-55||55||f5.6||1/100||200|
|Into the Blue||Canon Rebel T5i||Sigma 50mm f1.4 DG||50||f11||1/500||100|
|Golden Gator||Canon 6D Mark II||Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG||600||f7.1||1/500||1000|
|Evening Flight||Canon 6D Mark II||Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG||468||f6.3||1/3200||640|
|Watchful Eye||Canon 6D Mark II||Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG||600||f7.1||1/500||800|
|Sitting and Squawking||Canon 6D Mark II||Sigma 150-600 f5-6.3 DG||468||f6.3||1/3200||1250|