Wildlife Photography In Colombia

I make no bones about it, wildlife photography is my favorite genre of photography.  It can be very challenging, but is frequently quite rewarding.  Its been almost 3 months since my computer broke down in Panama, and I was unable to process any of my photos during that time.  I have since purchased a new computer, and am finally able to get back to what I love best:  taking my photos and writing my blog (excluding my cigars and Scotch that is).  I’ve already shared these images on Facebook, but for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook here you go.  Click on individual images to enlarge for better viewing.

WB IMG_2696


WB IMG_2611

Roadside Hawk

WB IMG_2400

Scarlet Macaw

WB IMG_2437

Blue and Gold Macaw

WB IMG_2684Owl

WB IMG_2410

King Vulture

Photographer’s note:  All of these images were captured in Colombia with my Canon EOS 5D Mark 2 full frame digital camera and Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super telephoto lens. When using this combination I always shoot in CameraRAW; I find that 30% of my effort is spent capturing the image, and 70% is spent in the post editing process.  I convert my CameraRAW files and post edit using Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11).  Traveling the world I find that lugging a tripod around is just prohibitive, therefore I shoot handheld using available light whenever possible (I rarely use flash with the critters).  Most often I shoot in TV (Shutter Priority) mode using the 1/FL formula to prevent camera shake and motion blur (in this case 1/400mm = a shutter speed of 1/400 second or greater).  Typically I’m shooting at 1/800 second or greater.  When the subject is static I use a single focus point, if the subject is moving (like birds in flight) I will use multiple focus points.  My exposure is invariably set to Center Average, I want the subject properly exposed (I don’t worry too much about the background).  With my 400mm lens I always shoot wide open at f/5.6 (it is an exceptional lens in that regard).  Shooting wide open allows me to maximize the existing light, and it also provides a pleasing bokeh (the soft out-of-focus background blur that isolates the subject).  I get as close to the subject as I possibly can (a real challenge), because distance deteriorates image resolution (IQ or Image Quality).  I love the concept of wildlife “Portraits” and will often try to isolate just the head and shoulders when possible.  The eyes have to be critically sharp (tack-sharp), or the image will not pass muster.  One piece of advice, don’t be afraid of high ISO’s (especially if you have a camera like the 5D Mark 2).  I hope this inspires you would be photographers to get out into nature and try your hand.  SFD

Tilley & Steve San Cristobal WEB

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Reporting from Quito, Ecuador


4 responses to “Wildlife Photography In Colombia

  1. Very nice images Stephen, it looks like you have done well down there. It has been lousy here with the hot weather and very few critters around, I can’t wait for the colder weather to get here.


    • Thanks Tim. I’m looking forward to getting out to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon. If I can’t get some good wildlife shots in those places then I should give up. 🙂

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