This week I had the opportunity to give a class on senior photography at the Montana Professional Photographers Association state convention. While in Montana, I'm also taking a few days to explore Yellowstone National Park and work on my nature and wildlife portfolio.
Montana and West Virginia are very similar, only their mountains are just a bit bigger. Other than that, both are exceptionally beautiful and have unbelievable opportunities for both nature and wildlife photographers.
Nature photographers don't have to look far to find a subject in our area especially this time of year. Streams are flowing strong and the spring blossoms are everywhere.
Wildlife photographers on the other hand have to work a bit harder for the shot. A good wildlife photographer needs to have many of the same qualities you find in hunters. You will need to learn the habits of the animals you are stalking, use the proper equipment, and you definitely need to have a great deal of patience to get a great photograph. For the best results you need to get up before dawn and have your equipment ready to go. You don't want the picture of a lifetime to jump out in front of you and find out you don't have a card in the camera or your batteries are dead.
It's a good idea to keep your equipment light and wear proper clothes, too. The best shots aren't always right beside the road and you never know when the weather is going to change on you. With that said, you also need to be sure to follow the rules of the forest. Stay on the trails, don't disturb nature to get a photograph, and if you go out alone be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you are coming back. And don't worry if you don't get the shot you had in mind, sometimes the best thing about nature and wildlife photography is simply being outdoors experiencing some fresh air and peace and quiet.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a master photographer as well as a certified professional photographer.)