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Bird Photography: Tips on Capturing Goslings and Geese in Spring

Article and photography by @chrisnoronhaphoto

Spring is a time for starting anew. Warmer weather, blooming flowers and the colour of nature returns from its winter sleep. It’s also a time for new life and new beginnings. As a photographer who enjoys shooting wildlife, I love this time of year. And, one of my favourite things to photograph in the spring is baby goslings.

Goslings are baby geese, and they are, without a doubt, one of the cutest creatures ever! Typically in the GTA, goslings hatch towards the end of April / early May (depending on weather), and almost right away, they are ready to walk and swim. You will find them near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, and ponds. They also like a well-manicured lawn, especially golf courses, grassy fields, grain fields, and for some reason, they frequent parking lots too. They are very acclimated to being around humans.
When photographing any wildlife, being respectful to the animals and their habitat should always come before getting the shot. Here are a few tips to capturing these cute little creatures responsibly.

Keep a safe distance to avoid stressing the goslings (and their parents). We all know how aggressive Canadian Geese can be, and adding babies to the mix makes mother goose even more on edge. This is where a telephoto lens comes in handy. A focal length of 300 mm is ideal as it provides enough distance to allow your subjects to behave naturally.

Goslings can be quick! So it’s best to crank up the shutter speed to ensure you’re capturing everything in focus. Another good practice when shooting any moving subject is to switch to your camera’s continuous autofocus or AI servo mode. It works by tracking the subject’s movement trajectory and constantly readjusting the focus fast enough to prevent blurring from happening. Burst mode, also known as continuous shooting mode, is another way to ensure you get the shot. If you’re shooting with your camera’s auto modes, switch to the ‘Sport’ mode. Depending on the time of day, light can be a real issue. Try using a higher ISO and shallow depth of field, crank off a few test shots and adjust accordingly.

Get low! To see the world from their eyes, you need to get down to their level. Shooting from a standing eye level will not give you the same engagement as shooting at your subject’s eye level. You’ll notice your photos are more intimate, engaging and you bring your viewer into the goslings world. If you’re worried about getting muddy, a cheap inflatable camping pad is a great thing to have when shooting these kinds of subjects.

Look for interactions between the goslings’ siblings and parents. Some of the best shots are moments you can never plan. Getting a good feel for how these tiny creatures move, swim and interact with each other will help you anticipate some great storytelling photos.

The most important tip is to enjoy the moment and have fun! That’s what photography is all about.

About the Author / Photographer

Chris Noronha is a nature, landscape, and wildlife photographer from Toronto. Follow on Instagram: @chrisnoronhaphoto

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