Are you ready?
A lynx momentarily appears in the forest then silent slips into the trees
When you go out in the field are you prepared? I mean really prepared to get the shot in that split second. If you are not you may miss that once in a lifetime moment that will forever haunt you. Believe me, I have a few of those I know!
Things can happen fast, a fox may be still than pounce and come up with its supper, a weasel may pop up for a split second, a short-eared owl may be challenged mid-air by a northern harrier for a vole, or a lynx might give you a quick glance and be gone. If you are not ready for those moments they will only live on forever in your mind but not in an image.
A great gray owl goes into protection mode when after a hawk dives at it
There are a few things to ask yourself:
1. Should you take your camera with you even if you are not going out looking for wildlife? I never go anywhere without my camera even to the store. I live in a rural area so my camera is always with me as I never know what I might see on my drive to town. You cannot get the photo if you do not have a camera.
2. Do you have extra camera batteries and memory cards with you? Nothing is worse than being out in the field and your battery dies or you run out of space on your card and you have to end your shooting earlier than expected.
3. Have you checked your setting before you locate your subject? I cannot tell you the times I have kicked myself because my camera was still set from the evening before and low light conditions and the next time I used my camera was midday. All I see is an almost totally white blown-out image in the viewfinder. This is because my settings are not correct. Before you even begin to look for wildlife check your shutter speed, ISO, and aperture and make sure at the very least you can get a photo with these settings if something all of a sudden appears, You can fine-tune the settings once you are settled in on a subject.
A coastal brown bear cub stands to sniff out an approaching bear
4. Do you have appropriate clothing and footwear? Again just like rule #1 do not go anywhere without your camera, this is similar. I ensure I always have my hiking boots, and outer gear like rain pants and coat, or wind pants in my vehicle so I can jump out and track something through rough terrain if need be.
5. Have you pre-focused in the area you anticipate seeing your subject so that once it appears your camera is not searching to autofocus? If you are pre-focused especially with birds in flight it will help your camera rapidly lock onto the subject enabling you to be able to begin shooting quickly when something appears.