Photo on approach and look for a good spot
In order to photograph wild animals in their natural environment, there are two ways of proceeding: the active method, which consists of moving in the wild in search of the wanted animals and the passive method hiding at a fixed station and waiting for the passage of the animals. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and are complementary to one another.
In this article I offer some thoughts on the approach!
The approach of animals when practiced in areas where wildlife is fierce, will require a lot of technicality otherwise it will be disturbing to the animals and little fruitful for the photographer. On the other hand, in zones where wildlife does not fear humans, as in some national parks (eg: Bouquetins in the Vanoise, fauna of the far north), this will be the preferred method.
The spotting is a kind of photographic stroll that I practice when I go to discover a new territory, it is first to get an idea of the photo potential of the area, what animals are present and their density, Search for traces, castings, where to put a lookout. I do not try to approach the animals I meet, I just observe them and if I can photograph them at the distance where I discover them.
A few tips to optimize your chances of success
Check with the local people on the 'good spots' and any restrictions on the use nature (integral reserves, prefectoral orders, hunting rounds)
Check the weather to adapt the outfit and the protection of the equipment (rain cover), I always take a large garbage bag that will provide a waterproof protection for the device in case of downpour.
Prepare your itinerary on google satellite imagery and IGN maps, allows to visualize, the places favorable to the fauna, rivers, fallows, forests. We will also have an idea of distances and relief.
Adapt your outfit to the weather and terrain. A camouflage suit is not superfluous when the coveted animals are fearful. There are different colors for a perfect adaptation to the environment where you move and at the season! A ghillie outfit or a small camouflage net is appreciated to make mini-hide during the trip.
Adapting the photo equipment for the approach always poses a problem because of the weight! A 500 mm lens mounted on tripod allows to take pictures without approaching too much which is ideal in many cases, but it weighs 8 to 10 Kg! While for a long hike in the mountains a 300mm f4 stabilized with possibly a multi x 1.4 can do the trick (about 2.5kg). You have to adapt the weight according to your muscular capacities so as not to be exhausted, out of breath and trembling when taking pictures! The fitness for use of your shooting set must be good, you must be able to follow a bird in flight or a hare during his race. After all this, you know that training can help you, a wildlife photographer is often a sherpa!
Think about your comfort; Comfortable clothes (or boots), a shooting set easy to handle and not too heavy, will help you to make a good approach.
It is necessary to move as slowly as possible while remaining concentrated on what happens in the surroundings, the animals perceive movement very well, slow gestures scare them less. Hiding the clear parts of the body, especially hands that are moved to handle the camera and will be very visible, use light camouflage fabric gloves.
You have to move as silently as possible, which means watching where you put your feet and having soft clothes that do not make friction noises (avoid the synthetic fabric), do not speak loudly, use the silent mode of your camera or anti noise cover.
It is necessary to move in front of the wind, because if your smell precedes you, you will make flee most of the mammals that fear the humans (avoid strong odors like tobacco or perfume).
It is better to start a photographic walk at the first glimmer of dawn, as soon as you can walk without extra light, this is where the mammals are most active.
It is better to beggin with the sun in the back, your vision will be less embarrassed by the grazing light and the exposure of the images will be easier to manage.
To take advantage of the elements of ground to pass unnoticed, by walking on the edge of a wood in the shade than on a ridge in full light!
Nature is always generous for those who know how to approach it with humility and respect.