Wetland Photography: Tips and Techniques

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Wetland photography can be a wonderful shooting experience, but the environment is often challenging. In this video, professional outdoor photographer Doug Gardner takes you to South Carolina’s Lake Marion for tips and techniques in capturing images of birds and flowers in the ponds and cypress trees. On a cool overcast day, Doug takes advantage of the diffused lighting as he photographs water lilies blooming with pure white flowers. He suggests using a variety of lenses to capture the flowers. The close-up lens gives you a shallow depth of field for portraits of individual flowers, while the wide angle enlarges your depth of field to include birds and frogs among the lily pads.

For wetland photography on overcast days, using a fill-flash works well to enhance colors and fill dark shadows. When you use a telephoto lens for close-ups of flowers, it helps to blur the background. However, you still want to shoot at f-8 or f-11 to make sure the main subject is entirely in focus.

Wetland photography sometimes means getting wet. Doug dons a pair of waders and sets his tripod in the water. This technique broadens his range of photo opportunities. He spots penthonetary warbler birds eating mosquitoes on a cypress tree. With his camera on a tripod, he keeps the ball head loose in order to pan his telephoto lens to capture close-ups of these colorful birds as they dart around. He waits for the bird to pause and eat a bug for that key moment when he clicks the shutter. You will learn that when focusing on a moving subject in the thick cover of twigs and leaves, you should switch your lens to manual focus to make sure your subject is sharp. Join pro shooter Doug Gardner for tips on wetland photography in the backwaters of Lake Marion.

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See all videos in our Capturing South Carolina’s Lake Marion Course: