Wildlife Photographers Australia



 

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR PHOTOGRAPHING NATURE SUBJECTS


1. INTRODUCTION
When photographing nature subjects there is always a certain amount of stress put on the subjects by the photographer. We have put together a series of principles that if followed when photographing or even observing naturesubjects,stress is minimised.

2.BASIC CONDUCT
The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph.This applies to geological as well as biological subjects.
Any local or national conservation requirements must be obeyed. This includes getting appropriate permits and observing restricted areas.
Permission should be sought from private landholders before venturing on to their land.
There should be minimal disturbance to the surroundings.
It is most important that the photographer has a reasonable knowledge of the subject before attempting to take any pictures. For uncommon subjects this knowledge needs to be extensive.
It is important that the photographer has a general knowledge of other associated subjects so that the process of photographing causes no risk or stress to them. This in particular refers to small life forms.

3. SPECIFIC CONDUCT
3.1 BIRDS AT NEST, AND ANY ANIMAL BREEDING, FEEDING, OR RETURNING TO ITS LAIR
It is most important to remember that any animal or bird photographed under these
conditions may be put at risk by the presence of the photographer, his/her equipment and/or a hide. Photography under these conditions should only be undertaken by those with an detailed knowledge of the animal or bird’s behaviour and after careful observation of the specific individual in order to ensure the animal or bird is not placed under stress.
The following conditions refer equally to photographing from a hide or setting up a camera and equipment close to the subject area and operating the camera with a remote release. Where it reads “hide” it should be read to include cameras and equipment set up in this manner.
Any need to move vegetation should be minimal and at most only to tie back intruding foliage. Foliage is often a protection against predators, sun, rain and wind. Removing foliage reduces the protection and so chance of survival. Any foliage tied back must be returned immediately at the end of each photographic session.
The use of a hide should only be in areas where they are out of the general public’s view. No hide should be left unattended in a place with any potential public access.
It is important to check out the normal tracks taken by the subject before erecting a hide so as not to position it in the normal path of the animal.
It takes time for animals and birds to get used to hides .Hides therefore, should either be built over a period of time or erected some distance away and moved closer each day. After each change to the hide the photographer should retire to a safe distance and watch with binoculars. If any stage of the hide construction or its movement creates stress in the subject then the procedure should be reversed one stage or the hide should be removed completely.
Erecting hides close to nests that are being constructed, or when there are eggs in a
nest should be avoided, as the chance of the bird abandoning its nest is greater than when there are chicks present. The time for acceptance of a hide is usually about one week.
Approaches to the hide should be devious and varied. It is important to minimise the chance of creating a track or scent trail to the hide. Not only does this encourage other people, but human scent may attract feral animals such as cats and foxes.
The nest, nesting hollow, eggs, chicks or other young should never be touched.
The use of electronic flash needs careful consideration.The flash heads usually need to be well camouflaged and if when used the flash causes distraction to the animals, their use must be abandoned.
The use of recorded tapes, stuffed predators or other animals as baits of any kind is not acceptable. The use of any other bait is undesirable and should be restricted to situations where it does not put the subject at any risk.
The capture of free animals and birds is in most cases illegal and should never be done for nature photography, unless it is for a particular documented scientific study and the relevant permits have been obtained.

3.2 INSECTS
Insects should be photographed where they are found. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to restrict their movements by chilling in a refrigerator or using any chemical that has the same effect.

3.3 PLANTS
Flowers should not be picked or plants dug up for nature photography in a studio set up. It is unacceptable to prune plants to improve the composition of the picture. The surrounds to the plant must be kept as close as possible to the original condition. Any repositioning of leaf, or other litter should be kept to a minimum and replaced as soon as possible. Removing other living specimens to improve the resulting picture is not acceptable.

3.4 OTHER NATURAL FEATURES
Damage to, moving or removal of any natural feature is not acceptable.

4.THE FINAL IMAGE
Any nature picture should record the truth of what the photographer saw at the time the picture was taken. Subsequent manipulation in the darkroom or on a computer must ensure no radical changes, additions or subtractions to the picture. It is however permissible to remove minor blemishes or distractions.

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