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Hunting crocs with Canon

Crocodylus acutus, American crocodile, Cocodrilo de rio

Hunting crocs with Canon

No worries. I do not shoot with anything but my cameras.

Note the word Canon comes here with the capital C.

As it turns out, I was contacted recently by Juan Carlos Piña, ambassador of this well known brand. His intention was to test the newest DSLR Canon put on the market and was looking for a suitable subject of interest. Crocodiles came to mind and with them, myself. So he gave me a call and a few minutes later we had a plan – to show him some of the local big boys and luck permitting, put them in front of his camera. I was to be a guide that day, but I did bring my gear, too of course.

This is one of the shots from that day. And how do you go about taking a shot like this?
  1. Know where the animals are (sounds elemental .. and it is, but it is also vital).
  2. Known the animals’ habits. When are they most likely to appear and where? Think about how to go about not spooking them and staying at a safe distance.
  3. Be very patient. It is hot, humid, mosquito ridden place and crocs are very patient animals.
  4. Do not move when lying in ambush.
  5. Prefocus your camera to the spot you assume the animals will most likely appear and take a few trial shots to judge the exposition. Find correct exposition for both sunlit and dark, shaded areas. Set your camera to burst function (multiple images with one shutter press).
  6. Stay very alert and wait.
  7. When the animal appears, stay calm and frame well, giving yourself some margin of error – shoot wider, later you can crop, not to cut off an interesting part of the frame.
  8. Be very careful with focus. The natural habitat will be full of branches and other obstacles. If you are good with manual focus or the frame is too busy with obstacles, use manual focus.
  9. Shoot as many images as you can while the action (crocodile coming out of water) lasts.

My settings for this particular shot

  • Nikon D600, Nikon 28-300 f/3.5-5.6
  • 1/640s, f8, ISO 800

 

The 1/640 of the second gives me enough speed to freeze the action, and at the same time allows me a medium aperture of f8, with sufficient depth of field for this shot at ISO 800. No branches in front of the croc, so I went autofocus.