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How to be a junior wildlife photographer

Patrick Tadros, February 11, 2021 6:30PM News Corp Australia Network

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McKinley Moens took this shot of a frog and called it “Smile! It's contagious”. media_cameraMcKinley Moens took this shot of a frog and called it “Smile! It's contagious”.

animals

Reading level: green

Wildlife lover McKinley Moens is a talent with camera in hand.

The 15-year-old nature photographer from Springwood in NSW has shot a series of candid* and close-up images of wildlife in their natural habitats.

“I got my first camera when I was three years old and have spent hours observing our wildlife,” she said.

“I hope to become a professional nature photographer and ornithologist*.”

media_cameraMcKinley Moens, 15, has been recognised in a number of photography competitions.

McKinley has been recognised in a number of photography competitions, including being named a finalist in the 2020 BirdLife Australia Photography Awards.

“Animals are so fascinating and we still don’t know nearly enough about them, even the common species,” she said.

“The wildlife available to me in our garden includes 94 species of birds. We also have mammals, amphibians* and reptiles — and of course loads of insects and arachnids*.”

media_cameraMcKinley loves photographing birds and calls this shot of a parrot “Waiting for Friends”.

For those looking to take up wildlife photography, McKinley recommended being mindful, having common sense and showing respect for the wildlife being photographed.

“An animal’s welfare is the absolute top priority,” she said. “Try to be at eye level and avoid using flash if you are in close proximity*.

“Animals think of humans as predators too, so educate yourself about the natural behaviour of your subject and learn to recognise when it’s time to back off and give the animal some more room.”

Mum Veronica said: “Interest in our environment, our wildlife and conservation is more than just a hobby for us — it’s our way of life.

“Photography is a great opportunity to learn patience and persistence.”

media_cameraThis insect close up is called “Time for Lunch”.

MCKINLEY’S WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

  • An animal’s welfare is the absolute top priority! The most important tip I can give is how important the ethics* of wildlife photography are.
  • Give animals the room to behave naturally and let them go about their business. Animals think of humans as predators too, so educate yourself about the natural behaviour of your subject and learn to recognise when it is time to back off and give the animal some more room.
  • Don’t alter an animal’s habitat for a better scene. For example, don’t remove plants if they are in your way; move yourself to a better position.
  • It’s all about the eyes. Try to be at eye level with the animal and make sure the eyes are in focus over other parts of the animal.
  • Avoid using flash if you are close to an animal (if you don’t like having a flash in your face, then animals won’t appreciate it either).
  • Find your own style of photography. Personally, I love macro* photography because it shows a viewpoint that we don’t always get to see.
The Great Australian Wildlife Collection. For Kids News media_cameraThe Great Australian Wildlife Collection features 15 books of beautiful photographs and information on animals.

The Great Australian Wildlife Collection features 15 books with beautiful images of our native animals. Collect a new book when you buy your newspaper each day until February 21.

See wildlifebooks.com.au for more information.

GLOSSARY

  • candid: not posing, natural
  • ornithologist: expert on birds
  • mammals: animal that feeds its young milk made by the mother
  • amphibians: animals that live both on land and in water
  • arachnids: spiders and other animals with eight legs and a body divided into two parts
  • close proximity: up close
  • ethics: what is right and wrong
  • macro: photos that show items at life size or larger

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where is McKinley Moens from?
  2. At what age did she get her first camera?
  3. Which competition was she a finalist in?
  4. How many species of bird does she have in her garden?
  5. What does she think is the top priority when photographing wildlife?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Why is it important?
McKinley’s mum says “Photography is a great opportunity to learn patience and persistence.”

Why do you think it is important to learn about patience and persistence? Choose either patience or persistence. Create a poster or write paragraphs that will help other kids understand why it is important.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability

2. Extension
McKinley has given us some great tips for wildlife photography. Think of an activity, hobby, sport or anything that you’re interested in or know a lot about. Write your top tips for that activity. Your purpose is to encourage other kids to give it a go.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Up-level it
Scan through the article and see if you can locate three words that you consider to be basic, or low level. These are words we use all the time and that can be replaced by more sophisticated words. Words like “good” and “said” are examples of overused words.

Once you have found them, see if you can up-level them. Think of synonyms you could use instead of these basic words, but make sure they still fit into the context of the article.

Re-read the article with your new words. Did it make it better? Why/why not?

HAVE YOUR SAY: Which wild animal would you like to photograph? Describe the shot you’d like to take.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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