How To

Shooting Tree Squirrels? Good Luck !

Medium Shot Squirrel
Free Time
The Treat
Tasty Treat
Photographing me?
Seeking for Trouble
Talkin' to me, again?

It has been two months that I've been living in California. I had the chance of living Spain and in Orlando, Florida. I've seen squirrels before, but never really had the chance of shooting them or getting near them. They are fast, a little tedious to catch, sometimes pesky and unpredictable. But at the same time, they can be very tender, ADORABLE and funny !

I'm a Canon user, and I really recommend the use of a manual camera, for best results on this tough mission. A telephoto/zoom/long lens can be pretty handy at the moment. I used a 55-250 mm f3.5-5.3 telephoto zoom. Now, lets set some standards and rules.

1) Lets start by finding a location with trees, that have a population of squirrels, in a sunny day. Make sure that people around don't bother, walking by or interfering when taking pictures. Better yet, go to a location with no people around at all.

2) We already established that the use of a manual camera is MANDATORY. So, lets go to the settings. If you see in the upper wheel, there's an option called A-DEP (Depth of Field). This option will give more detail(s) to the squirrel, to the surroundings, and to the background. If you are using a Canon Rebel T1i, the camera has up to nine (9) focus points; the Canon 7D has up to nineteen (19) focus points. But there's small catch, the A-DEP option is really recommended to be use with moderate to high sunlight (which helps when photographing under shade). Always remember that for a better depth of field, sunlight will be needed.

3) When setting the WHITE BALANCE, depending the weather of the day, you can set to SUNLIGHT, SHADE or CLOUDY. Remember, this depends according to the situation. Forget about using flash. I tried it by pure error and, is not going to work ! Don't forget to setting the camera for CONTINOUS SHOOTING, instead of SINGLE SHOOTING.

4) If you prefer to go MANUAL, set the camera to MANUAL mode and an ISO of 200. Set the WHITE BALANCE (as mentioned before) and set the speed to 250 or up. About the F-stop, 5.6 is nice, but it all depends of how much depth of field and detail you want. The more closed the F-stop, the better field of depth. If you are shooting in shade and if the light isn't so intense, open the F-stop to 2.8 or 3.5.

5) The autofocus is recommended because squirrels are quite fast and frisky, MANUAL FOCUS here might NOT or simple won't work properly. When using the A-DEP option, the number of focus points (depending the camera), go automatic with the autofocus. When going MANUAL with autofocus, the camera will automatically choose the best focus point or better yet, you can manually select the focus point of your predilection.

6) Be patient ! Squirrels not always in the mood for eating or posing for a camera. Not all the time they are coming for you. As said before, squirrels are unpredictable. Under no circumstances, try to catch them. They can be quite dangerous and it has been said that their claws are full germs and bacteria, so watch out !

7) I didn't mention it before but, have a peanut bag handy. Never leave home without one. As soon as the squirrels come and see that you have food for them, they'll arrive. When approaching them, make light steps, they react really fast to movement and sound, so beware. The zoom here will become handy because, squirrels don't really like near proximity with humans. But have faith, they'll stop by for some peanuts. As soon as they pose or stop to eat, start shooting NON-STOP. The more you shoot the better.

8) Let the squirrels do their act. If they want to eat, let them eat. If they just want to pose, let them pose. The best part of shooting a squirrel is letting them be squirrels. Enjoy and laugh with all the many things a squirrel can do.

9) If you feel satisfied with your shots, let the squirrels rest. If feel that you can do a better job, repeat all the process again. Shooting a squirrel, in some ocassions, may take hours. Shooting squirrels is NOT recommended to impatient people.

10) Enjoy this mission and GOOD LUCK !

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