Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

I enjoy hearing from those who visit my gallery. Some of the more frequently asked questions follow. If you have another question, send an email to me at don@dongettyphoto.com. Also below you will find a list of on-line resources that I personally have used and recommend.

Question: What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Question: What do you think of digital photography?
Question: Do you always use a tripod?
Question: Can I use your photos for a school project?
Question: How did you become a professional nature photographer?
Question: Did you put your web site together on your own?
Question: What is your favorite wildlife subject?
Question: As an amateur photographer, how do I get my first photograph published?
Question: It must take tremendous patience to do wildlife photography, doesn't it?
Question: What is your opinion of photographing captive animals?


Question: What kind of camera equipment do you use?
Answer: I currently use a Canon EOS-1D Mark III digital body  and a variety of Canon lenses: 500mm f/4.0L IS, 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, and 28-70mm f/2.8L. I also use Canon 1.4x and 2x II extenders. I’m not one of those photographers who spends time debating which brand is best. What’s most important is to know how to use the gear that you have.

Question: What do you think of digital photography?
Answer: For many years I was a dedicated film user and was reluctant to switch to digital. With a few Photoshop classes for nature photographers behind me I wish I had made the switch years earlier. Digital cameras and Photoshop are incredibly powerful tools and they will only get better.

Question: Do you always use a tripod?
Answer: Yes, whenever I can. I use a Gitzo 1325 carbon-fiber tripod with a Wimberley Gimbal Type Tripod Head II. There are times when you just can’t use a tripod. In Africa, shooting from a safari vehicle, I use beanbags as camera supports. At times I photograph birds from behind the steering wheel of my truck using a Kirk window mount with an Arca Swiss B-1 ball head. In Churchill, when photographing polar bears from a tundra buggy, I use a Groofwin window mount with a beanbag attached. When photographing from any vehicle, the engine must be shut off or the vibration will ruin the image. The only time I hand hold a camera is when shooting from a boat.

Question: Can I use your photos for a school project?
Answer: Send me an email asking to use a photo and in most cases I will be happy to provide it to you. You can copy the web address of the photo you want into your email so I can easily see which one you would like to use.

Question: How did you become a professional nature photographer?
Answer: First you should understand that I am not a full-time professional photographer. Although I dedicate as much time as I can to nature photography, I'm in an unrelated business, which pays the big bills.

Question: Did you put your web site together on your own?
Answer: After studying the web sites of many photographers, I created the detailed design concept for my site. I then turned the project over to Jan Allinder of Digital Imaging Group to turn my vision into a reality.

Question: What is your favorite wildlife subject?
Answer: This is very difficult question. There's nothing like being on foot, photographing the huge Alaskan Brown Bears. Finding an allusive Leopard is always a great thrill. Birds can present a challenge even when you have a big lens. Whales may be the most difficult subjects I've tried to photograph. I guess the answer is that I don't have a favorite. Any animal that conveys behavior or expression and finds itself in good light through my viewfinder is my favorite of the moment.

Question: As an amateur photographer, how do I get my first photograph published?
Answer: The answer is really simple. Submit. Many amateur photographers would like to see their images in magazines, books or calendars, but don't ever get around to giving it a chance to happen. Numerous magazines have annual photo contests or pages for reader submitted photographs. You can also search the web for photo contests. Just follow the directions, submit, and see what happens. See my credits for some ideas of where to submit.

Question: It must take tremendous patience to do wildlife photography, doesn't it?
Answer: I guess it depends on your perspective. You don't just sit under a tree in the woods hoping that a critter may happen by. You go to locations where you know you can find wildlife and you search it out. When you find a good subject you may spend a lot of time with it waiting for some behavior, a great composition or the right light. If you truly enjoy nature, the time passes very quickly. I've spent six hours straight sitting on a cliff above an eagles' nest with young chicks and the time flew by, not to mention the eagles. I've spend many hours with cheetahs that I knew would have to make kills to feed their young. To see a cheetah running at 70 miles per hour makes it all worth while. For me, to lie on a beach and read a novel would require patience beyond comprehension.

Question: What is your opinion of photographing captive animals?
Answer: I prefer to photograph wild animals in an uncontrolled, wild environment, but I'm not opposed to captive animals being used for photography. From an editorial perspective, to represent that a photograph is of a wild subject, when it is not, is just plain deceitful and unethical. Should wild animals be kept captive at all? Well, I suspect that the majority of us saw our first "wild" animals in zoos as children and this is what planted the seed of our interest in wildlife. Without this childhood experience, I theorize that there would be far less interest in wildlife conservation today. Great photographs of animals such as mountain lions, wolves, lynx, etc. also help to expose the world to the beauty of these creatures. I believe such images indirectly help to maintain an interest in their preservation. Sure it's possible to get photographs of these creatures in the wild, but it's rare at best. In a society that allows the use of dogs to chase and tree mountain lions, and then shoot them at close range, I can't get too worked up about photographing a well cared for captive animal.


Resources

Here are some on-line resources that I have used and I hope you find useful too.

EQUIPMENT AND PRINTING

PHOTO TOURS AND DIGITAL COURSES

  • McDonald Wildlife Photography  I have known Joe and Mary Ann McDonald for many years and highly recommend their photo tours and digital photography courses.

  • Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris may well be the largest company offering nature photography tours to locations around the world.

MAGAZINES AND CONTESTS

  • BBC Wildlife is a magazine that sponsors the most prestigious nature photography contest in the world.

  • Nature Photographer Magazine provides an opportunity for unknown photographers to become field contributors, who can have their photos and articles published.

  • Nature's Best Photography Magazine is a premier nature photography magazine with a highly competitive photo contest.

  • Nature Photographers Online Magazine has a wealth of information for nature photographers.

  • Birder's World is a birding magazine with a weekly on-line photo contest which gives photographers an opportunity to be published.

  • WildBird Magazine is a birding magazine with an annual photo contest and also gives photographers an opportunity to have their photos published online.

  • National Wildlife is a magazine that has a very competitive annual photography contest.

  • Outdoor Photographer magazine is a monthly magazine with a wide variety of articles and information for nature photographers.

  • Wyoming Wildlife is an award-winning monthly magazine published by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. If you spend time photographing wildlife in Wyoming you should subscribe. They have an annual photo contest for images taken in Wyoming and the entire April issue is a photo essay using photos entered in the contest. This provides an opportunity for many photographers to get published.

LOCATIONS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

OTHER RESOURCES