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Wildlife Photographer Alexey Ebel Captures Stunning Images In Arctic Russia (PICTURES)

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Wildlife photographer Alexey Ebel has just returned from an expedition to the Laptev Sea in Arctic Russia where he concentrated his lenses on the local populations of walrus and polar bear.

The project was set up to see if these populations are related to groups to the east or west.

The answer to this on-going genetic mystery may have implications for conservation management in this whole region, whose populations are vulnerable in the current climate, in which we're seeing melting ice in northern Russia and the increased shipping and oil and gas exploration.

Abel is a Russian photographer specialising in wildlife photography. He provided The Huffington Post the following tips for other photographers after joining the Canon-sponsored WWF expedition to Siberia.

  • 1
    Keep your kit dry
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    Working in the wet and cold conditions of the Arctic requires special equipment, which is why I chose the L-series of professional lenses and EOS cameras by Canon. They are great for this type of environment due to the weather sealing which helps protect against dust and moisture which is just a necessity in places such as these to make sure that I can shoot in a wide range of conditions without worrying about not being able to get the image when the light is right.
  • 2
    Make the most of different modes of Image Stabiliser
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    There is no doubt that the Image Stabiliser on modern lenses allows you to take very sharp images even when shooting without a tripod. But remember you do have a choice between several modes of Image Stabiliser. On the Canon WWF trip in a small boat in low light conditions the Image Stabiliser ensured that I was able to continue shooting. Mode 1 is best to use in general conditions like shooting from the boat but mode 2 is best when panning and following a subject like the Polar Bear.
  • 3
    When shooting animals, check the depth of field sharpness
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    When I shoot with a telephoto lens, image sharpness is critically important. Sometimes, especially on images with low contrast subjects, or on a sunny day, it is very difficult to do, but this image provides an excellent example of how the Canon EOS 5D Mark III allows you to see all the details and make all the necessary adjustments. Remember that from your point of focus the depth of field will extend 1/3 of the total depth of field in front of the point of focus and 2/3rds will be behind the point of focus.
  • 4
    When shooting animals use zoom lenses
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    If you shoot animals in the wild, the ability to move around is very limited. In such situations, using telephoto lenses with variable focal lengths is really important to capture the animals in their natural habitat. A zoom lens will allow you to alter the framing of the image without having to disturb the animals and capture the subject effectively with different framing options.
  • 5
    Use different lenses to make a more interesting photo story
    Nature photography doesn’t just mean images of animals, but also images of their environment. When I’m trying to tell a story about an animal and its habitat I find it best to use zoom lenses. With zoom lenses, I can capture a range of images from wide angle to telephoto without the need to constantly change lenses. This is especially important on an expedition, where it is difficult to carry a lot of lenses.
  • 6
    Be careful with wild animals in the tundra
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    The Polar Tundra has very little vegetation, which is why there are so few large animals living there. But, if you are persistent, you can have a very interesting encounter with the local wildlife! But be careful: some of the animals in the tundra have no fear of humans and may perceive you as a target for attack.
  • 7
    Protect your eyes!
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    The polar sun stays low on the horizon and it often shines directly into your eyes. Though this isn’t a problem for your equipment, it can be a danger for your eyes, especially when shooting a backlit subject. Do not look through the viewfinder, use the LiveView as the sun is constantly moving and the conditions change so a camera could be set in one position where it is fine one minute, but in the next the light has changed and you risk damaging your eyes by using the viewfinder.
  • 8
    Be patient
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    Shooting animals can require a lot of waiting patiently for rare, fleeting moments. Be patient, expect and anticipate the magic moment, but also take intermediate shots - sometimes things can happen suddenly. And of course remember to have spare flash cards!
  • 9
    Do not sleep through the important shots
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    In summer, it’s difficult to sleep in the Arctic Circle, as there is daylight 24/7. When you sleep is up to you, but I recommend doing so when there is bad weather, or when other conditions make it difficult to get interesting shots. At other times be alert and keep a set of photographic equipment nearby. This image was taken when the reindeer suddenly began to run across the river.
  • 10
    Remember gloves in cold conditions, that don’t interfere during shooting
    Alexey Ebel / WWF-Canon
    The Arctic Circle is always cold, even in July. If you intend to shoot a lot, you will need to wear gloves! This can make setup of the camera a little bit more difficult, but the basic operational buttons on the EOS 5D Mark III, which I used, are quite sensitive and easy to work with even with gloves on. Also the cold can affect the battery life so try and keep any spare batteries as warm as possible on inside pockets or close to your body.

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