This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Photographing Wild Life. At all seasons of the year there is an opportunity for securing excellent records of both birds and animals in their native wild state. This class of photography is intended more especially for those who love the outdoor work that will lead them to the native haunts where the most successful results are to be secured. A knowledge of the woods and a desire to learn more of wild life together with a great supply of patience are the essential qualifications for the successful photographing of nature.
Special Apparatus. Although it is possible to secure photographs of certain classes of animals, and even birds, with an ordinary hand camera, for the best of results a camera with extremely long bellows and an extra long focus lens, or better still a telephoto lens, should be used. If you wish to employ the ordinary hand camera and if the bellows extension is twice as long as the focal length of your lens, you may remove the front combination (if the lens is a doublet) as the single cell will give an image twice the size of that produced by a lens in its full combination.
619. A dark green focusing cloth and a number of feet of extra tubing, to release the shutter from a distance, will be very convenient. In addition to these it is desirable to have a very short tripod, making it possible to set the camera as low as 18 inches from the ground. A pair of climbing irons such as a telegraph lineman uses will materially assist in the climbing of smooth trees. If your camera is not provided with a carrying case and shoulder strap, you should provide yourself with a stout cord with which to pull your camera up after you when climbing.
620. A large pocket mirror will be of great service in reflecting light into dark places, especially when photographing birds' nests, etc. A pocket mirror will also be serviceable when working in confined places, enabling you to read the shutter and diaphragm markings from the rear.
621. It is very interesting to make a series of studies of animal life, and especially in the spring of the year when the buds and leaves begin to spring out, you should avail yourself of the ever changing phases of country life before it is too late to secure some of the scenes which it might be desired to record.
622. Ordinary nest studies may be taken with almost any camera, but it is when you wish to portray living, moving objects that difficulties present themselves. Quickness is extremely important. Where the landscape photographer takes minutes to compose his picture, the naturalist sometimes has to work in as many seconds. If you will really look for subject material you will be surprised to find the great abundance of suitable studies in bird and animal life. Unless the birds are photographed early in the season it will be almost impossible to secure studies of nests and eggs.
623. Early in the spring it is often possible to photograph young animals, such as rabbits, but after they are a few weeks old they will learn to detect the approach of man and will be safely concealed by the time you have come within range of them. Many times it will be possible, however, to set up your camera and focus it on a spot where your subject is likely to appear - a hole in the ground, in a tree or other similar places frequented by the subject. The camera should be protected from view of the animal as much as possible, and then, having attached your long rubber tubing to the shutter, you may retire some distance away and wait for your subject to appear. This method will be found one of the most satisfactory for securing animal or even bird studies with an ordinary hand camera. Where the telephoto lens is employed, it will be possible to remain at considerable distance from your subject and secure fully as good results with much less trouble than when you do not use this optical attachment.
YOUNG WILD FOXES FAMILY OF FLICKFRS, CHIPPING SPARROW AND KING BIRDS BLUE BIRDS, Study No. 40 By John M. Schreck.
YOUNG KING BIRDS Study No. 41 By John M. Schreck.
624. Young birds in the nest waiting for food to be brought to them by the mother bird, form excellent subjects, and many times by placing your camera near enough to the nest to secure a good sized image and then moving back and keeping well out of sight, you may secure a picture of the mother bird feeding her young. Attempts should be made to secure several records, as this is one of the most beautiful sights possible to secure in this class of work.
625. There is a great demand by magazines for accurate records of wild life, but it is very important that you make a special note of the date and also keep a systematic record of the series of pictures which you make. Begin with the nest and eggs, showing the surroundings, then make a near view of the nest so that the eggs may be plainly visible. After having waited ten days, or perhaps two weeks from the time the first egg was laid, set up your camera again, concealing it as much as circumstances will allow, and picture the mother bird covering the eggs. Later you may take the brood as they are first hatched and again when they have developed to such proportions that they overlap the edges of their home. At this stage, the fact of your having so frequently visited the nest will help you to obtain a record of the parents feeding their young. Circumstances might offer further suggestions and enable you to further complete the series by other very charming views in and around the nest.
626. Rabbits are usually easy to photograph in and around corn shocks. On warm afternoons squirrels will be seen running busily to and fro, collecting nuts, barks, etc., and a successful photograph of these creatures will well repay a great amount of patience. All animals, of course, may be taken into captivity, but it is far better, more interesting, and infinitely greater satisfaction is derived, to secure even one good negative of wild animal life.
627. Although indiscriminate photographing of nests and eggs of the young of different types of bird, insect or animal life is to be encouraged, yet a careful, well-kept record of the life story of one particular species is an infinitely more valuable product of your skill.