I love the Rocky Mountains in spring! We are blessed with so much wildlife, all busy and visible with their young. From prairies to peak tops, the earth is springing forth with new life and opportunities to photograph and observe their behaviors and antics.
The biggest challenge with wildlife is getting close enough to photograph them adequately. That involves the largest focal-length lens a person can afford. The best lenses are the primes (single focal length) with a fast aperture (the largest aperture possible for adequate shutter speed for moving targets). There are some high end telephoto zooms that also do a nice job. Since I use Nikon equipment, my lens of choice is the 200-400mm f/4 VR zoom. I also have a heavier 500mm f/4, but find it heavy for quick, serendipitous use. The 200-400mm lens is pricey, but there are possibilities out there, like refurbished, or used lenses the lower the price tag a bit.
The other downside for some is the time of activity and visibility of most wildlife. As with the best landscape photography, the magic hours are right around dawn and twilight. The thing is, more of us are up and active at twilight than dawn. I’m sure you can then figure out which time animals prefer…….those early morning hours can be tough, especially in late spring and summer. The rewards are great, however, and opportunities to get animals in lovely light (though I feel like animals prefer to retreat as soon as sunlight hits the earth…..another need for a good, fast lens!) Ends of the day photography makes it a solitary activity for the early riser in most families. It is not generally a group activity at any rate, with the noise of children and uninterested, bored and impatient companions. Better to go with a group of like-minded, or to treat it as your “me” time with your camera.
However you go about it, photographing wildlife is a learning experience that requires researching the animals you photograph, understanding their tolerance and body language, and respecting their space and privacy. Don’t force your presence in an attempt to get “the” shot. You can always go back and try again…..that is what keeps wildlife photography fun, educational, and rewarding.