The challenge of nature photography when you’re not in the wild

You’ve all seen the latest outdoor photography magazine or NATGEO image and drooled over how amazing it looks. Then reality hits and realize you’re living in or near a big city and the only wildlife you see is a dog running loose. When this happens you’re facing the ultimate challenge of nature photography which is where to find wildlife. Surprisingly this isn’t as tough as you might think, well at least where I live.

Where to find wildlife and take great nature photos when you live in a city

Living in Canada’s largest city, Toronto, sounds like a huge challenge if you’re trying to take photos of wildlife. The solution is very simple. Leave the city and head to the suburbs. Located around Toronto are a number of suburbs that have small greenbelts, parks or protected land. Here is where the wildlife hides out and I mean they do really hide.

Tips to capturing nature photos in the suburbs of any large city

When scouting for wild birds, deer or even mink remember one thing. Wild animals don’t see the world the same as we do. They’re looking for a place that looks like a home to them or a place to catch food. They’re not scoping out the local malls or highways. For them it’s about survival. See it from there perspective and you’ll be surprised what pops up for taking pictures of wild birds and nature in general.

Top nature tips

  • Tip 1 – Use Google Maps to locate large areas where you would naturally find wildlife. From Google Maps you’ll easily see places that you either didn’t know about or places that seems small from the road but actually are large reserves.
  • Tip 2 – Pick a location and go at different times of the day, week and year. Depending where you live migrating animals will pass through at different times of year. Also, some animals are more active at different times of the day. So try one spot and go often to get an understanding of what’s going on in their world.
  • Tip 3 – Bring the right gear. You’ve read all the articles on the best gear to have when you’re outdoors shooting nature pictures so remember to bring it. I learned quickly to bring the large lens and at the very least keep it in the car just in case I needed it. I can’t count the number of times I forgot to bring one of my large lenses to only find myself watching afar a flock of birds migrating North.

Lucky for me on this day I had my Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens already mounted to the Canon EOS-1D X (sample photos) and ready to shoot.  This is one of the best nature photography camera gear combos.  Cost effective and great quality images.

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