Q&A: Wildlife Photography with McDonald Mirabile

WWF August 31, 2016 0

Mac Mirabile with WWF’s Maketing and Communications team is not only a wiz with numbers–he’s also a talented wildlife photographer with a particular interest in photographing birds. We sat down with him to get some insight into his hobby. Check out his wildlife, travel, and landscape photographs on his Flickr page.

When and why did you start photographing birds?

When I was living in London, I liked to walk around Regent’s Park, which has an extensive exotic waterfowl collection. As I lived only a few blocks from the park, I’d spend my Panda Fridays walking around there or the London Zoo (also located in Regent’s Park), connecting with nature and photographing it. I try to engage my family in nature on a regular basis, though I’d stop short of labeling myself as a “birder.”

Great blue heron © Macdonald Mirabile

Great blue heron © MacDonald Mirabile

How many species have you photographed?

Living in London, I photographed about 100 unique species of birds in the wild. In the last year, I’ve added another 50 species of birds to the list.

Great-crested grebe and baby © McDonald Mirabile

Great-crested grebe and baby © McDonald Mirabile

Have your photos ever been published?

I sell a few dozen photos each year (wildlife/travel/stock) through Getty Images; most are sold as art prints, but some for editorial usage.

Osprey © McDonald Mirabile

Osprey © McDonald Mirabile

Do you enjoy photographing other subjects?

Yes, I love new challenges. Recently I’ve tried my hand at astrophotography, which is very exciting because the challenge is capturing an image which you’d never be able to see visually by simply looking up at the sky. Unfortunately, there’s a very steep learning curve understanding how to capture photons emitted at very specific spectrums, and astrophotography requires specialized mounts, filters and new image processing software.

Lunar Landscape © McDonald Mirabile

Lunar Landscape © McDonald Mirabile

What’s the best advice you have for getting good wildlife photos?

Here are a few tips for getting good wildlife photos:

1) Get close: there is no substitute for getting as close as possible to your subject for the shot, but a good telephoto lens (mine is 600mm) makes a big difference.

2) Shoot in the right light: generally this means in the hour before sunset or right at sunrise.  This directional lighting provides great detail in the feathers.

3) Be patient and enjoy nature: I spent the better part of a year searching for a spot to find and photograph a kingfisher in action.  When I finally found the right location, I had to wait in a bird blind for the most of the day before she eventually arrived for a 2-minute visit before departing for the rest of the day.

Kingfisher © McDonald Mirabile

Kingfisher © McDonald Mirabile

Edited by Keith Arnold, Internal Communications Manager, WWF

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