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Wildlife photography often demands the use of a long telephoto lens that should ideally be held motionless while the shutter is released. The best way to achieve stability is to use a heavy professional tripod standing on a firm base, because it is then unnecessary to touch the camera as an exposure is made. A remote release is highly desirable for this reason. However, tripods can be very cumbersome and difficult to use, particularly when the target wildlife is on the move. A bird's nest is easier to photograph in this respect because the camera and lens can be positioned and then left more or less undisturbed. In a hide, and even more so in a car, moving a tripod around to follow a moving subject may be virtually impossible. When a camera is attached to a tripod, the tripod head is the pivot which may be located a couple of feet in front of the photographer. When a subject moves it is necessary for the photographer to move in an arc around the pivot point, which is usually inconvenient. In such circumstances, a hand-held camera may be preferable. Although stability is never as good, the pivot point when photographing a moving target is the photographer's body. This can be much more practical, particularly in a confined space.

An alternative to a tripod is some sort of bean bag or foam rubber support which can be positioned on a convenient shelf, window ledge or car window (when wound down to an appropriate position). Pipe insulation which is conveniently split along its length is excellent for use on the edge of car windows. Although complete stability may not be achieved in this way, it is surprising how effective the technique can prove. A final problem when working from a car is that the suspension may shift in response to movement by the photographer or other passengers, as a consequence of gusts of wind, or a disturbance created by passing vehicles.

Image stabilization is almost always an asset for wildlife photographers, although suitably equipped lenses can be expensive. Many experienced photographers employ image stabilization all the time, even when the shutter speed is fairly fast. It is claimed that the technology is equivalent to two or three stops, so allows slower shutter speeds to be used where necessary.


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