Alexandr Pospech

Professional Photographer and Videographer

Basics of the digital photography in the field


this short wildlife photography guide was created in August 2008 during the course of Tropical Ecology in Papua New Guinea, update in August 2009

All photos were taken in rainforest near village Wanang, PNG

© Alexandr Pospech


Equipment used for Digital Wildlife Photography

(with special focus on Canon camera equipment)


  • Digital SLR
    • Canon EOS 300D – 500D – amateur, EOS 10D – 50D – semi-pro, 1D,1Ds and 5D - professional
  • Macro lens with magnification 1:1
    • e.g. Canon EF 100 f2,8 Macro, Canon EF-S 60 f2,8 Macro, Sigma 105 f2,8 Ex Macro, Tamron 90 f2,8 Macro, Tokina 35 f2,8…
  • Long Macro lens with magnification 1:1
    • for getting lifesize pictures from higher distance (e.g. Canon EF 180 f3,5 L USM, Sigma 150 f2,8 Macro, Sigma 180 f3,5 Macro…)
    • alternative is telephoto lens with step-up rings
  • Special Macro lens with high magnification
    • Canon MP-E 65 f2,8 Macro 1x – 5x magnification – very special manual focus lens – great care has to be taken for cleaning dust from lens and camera chip, tripod and macrofocusing rail are big advantage for use with this lens, for skilled macrophotographers
    • Alternative is macro lens with close-up lens, step up rings, teleconverter or combination
    • Another alternative is macrolens connected to inverted standard lens – up to very high magnification, manual focus
    • Flash needed
  • Long telephoto lens
    • for vertebrate photography (at least 200 mm focal length, optimum is 300, 400mm or longer)
    • USM or HSM (ultrasonic or hypersonic motor) is fast and quiet – big advantage
    • Image stabilizer (IS, OS, VR) – prevents from camera shake when hand-held – big advantage
  • Teleconverters
    • Increase focal length of lens (e.g. when 300 mm telephoto lens is used with TC 1,4x the resulting focal length is 420 mm so therefore it is possible to take picture of more distant objects)
    • Used with telephoto or macro lens
    • Canon TC 1,4x; Canon TC 2x, Kenko 1,5x; Kenko 1,4x; Kenko 2x…
  • External flash
    • For photography in low light or night photography
    • Canon Speedlite EX 580 II, Canon Speedlite EX 430…
  • Macroflash
    • Ring flash (Canon Speedlite MT14 EX)
    • Several flash units (Canon Speedlite MT24 EX)
    • Diffusers for flash Light produced by flash is too harsh, diffuser will make it softer
  • Camera support
    • Tripod – steady support for camera
    • Monopod – not as steady as tripod but better than hands
    • Macrofocusing rails – for micromanipulation  of camera on tripod (focusing, composition), used mainly for high magnification macrophotography
    • Gitzo, Manfrotto, Novoflex, Velbon…
  • Ultra wide-angle lens
    • Good for documentary or landscape photography
    • Focal length mostly about 10 – 20 mm
    • Sigma 10-20 f4-5,6 EX, Tokina 11-16 f2,8, Canon EF-S 10-22 f3,5-4,5…
  • Standard zoom
    • With range of focal length from wide-angle to telephoto
    • Various usage
    • Sigma 18-50 f2,8 EX…
  • Standalone data storage
    • Small-size but high capacity harddrive for storage of captured images
  • Remote control
  • Filters
    • UV/ skylight – mostly for protection of the lens from scratches
    • Polarizer – filteres polarized light
    • Makes the sky more blue and filters reflections on shiny surfaces and water
    • The highest effect is in the angle of 90 degrees from sun beams
    • It is necessary to rotate it to get the optimal effect
    • It also works as neutral density filter (grey filter)
  • Memory card
  • Batteries
  • Camera bag

Factors with impact on your photos

Lens focal lenght comparison

Macro & Magnification

In lifesize magnification (1:1) the 20 mm object fills the full size of 20 mm chip (APS-C), so it means that the whole image will be fulfilled with this object.

Aperture and the depth of field control

Photographic filters - Polariser



Common mistakes in Photography






 Timing - when do you press the shutter

 Lenght of exposure - Time


What time can you use when you shoot hand-held? When you have lens with focal lenght 100mm the "safe time" would be 1/100s or shorter, although it's quite individual. Image stabilisation or using support (tripod, monopod) can help.  

 Flash position


Position of the light source is very important especially when you try to photograph object on or under the water surface.



Image processing

•   Backup your photos prior to editing them!!!

–        HDD, DVD


•   Image browsing, simple editing (resize, crop, easy corrections…) – ACDSee (Pro), Zoner Media Explorer

•   RAW conversion – Phase One - Capture One (Pro), Digital Photo Professional (Canon), RAW plug-in in Adobe Photoshop…

•   Serious editing – Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photopaint, Gimp (freeware)


Basic operations:



Contrast adjustment


 Levels adjustment


Shadow - highlight tool


Dust deletion 



Good light! :-)



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