Please introduce yourself, where are you based and where do you photograph wildlife?
My name is Alex Rascanu and I’m based in Bucharest, Romania. I do my wildlife photography all around the country including areas like Danube Delta and Carpathian Mountains as well as outside Romania s border. Since I travel a lot I take my camera and my camouflage clothes wherever I go: could be Portugal or deep into the Alps Mountains.
How did you get started in wildlife photography?
I’ve started photography about at the same time when I began travelling. I thought it would be helpful to have a camera with me and capture all the different places. Then I figure out that I want to learn more about photography and so I went through school. Finished a 1 year photography school in Bucharest and some online classes as well but Landscape oriented.
I got my first 500mm at about the same time with joining a friend’s wildlife photo tour into the Danube Delta. So it started as Landscape photography and it became Wild Life over time. Once I discovered it, 99% of my time and energy allocated to photography went into this direction.
What kind of equipment do you use and why did you choose it?
I use Nikon gear and currently I use own two bodies a Z7 and a Z9. My wild life lenses are Nikon’s 200-500mm f5.6 and 800mm f6.3 + 1.4TC Z. Means that I can easily reach to 1200mm with about no quality loss.
I started landscape photography using Nikon and so I stick with this brand. I consider there are no major differences between all these different cameras from different brands, at least when we are talking about their high end products.
What's the most challenging aspect of wildlife photography and how do you overcome it?
A lot of things are not easy when we talk about wildlife photography. From a mental perspective the most difficult side is to accept and deal with 5 or 10 days spent in the wild without even pressing the shutter button. Imagine sitting in the grass from sunrise to sunset during a hot day in the summer. You are waiting for a fox to come exactly on the same place where you ve spotted her a couple days in a row.
Temperature goes from 25 to 40 degrees and the fox is not showing up. And is not showing up for another 5 or more days. Then you end up being in the wild for a week with no real picture of the subject you want. Think at all of the energy wasted, time and money in the end. So pretty challenging to say ‘okay, let’s try again for the 8th time in a row’.
Once it happens then the result (your photo with the fox) have much more value than your friends can think of. You’ve worked for a week to get that picture. So the real deal is the process you went through and all these experiences which happened before you’ve pressed the button.
Can you share a particularly memorable experience or encounter you've had while photographing wildlife?
Together with a friend, I was sitting stealth on a small island near Danube Delta. We were expecting a White-tailed eagle to come and hunt (which never happened by the way). Suddenly an otter decided to come just in front of us on that particular piece of land. We end up staying 1m away from this funny animal which did not realize our presence there (our camouflage worked great). The thing which is not funny is that our subject was sitting too close to shoot it with the long lenses. I managed to take a pic with my phone thou.
How do you approach photographing different species of animals, particularly ones that are dangerous or difficult to access?
Normally, I do a research before going to shoot anything. Knowing about your subject things like location, what food the subject likes, when it goes out, in which trees you find the bird, what time of the year is in the location and so on. Many times a wildlife photographer spends time only observing and not shooting. It could take several days of observing before actually going to shoot something.
You need to know where to place yourself based on the natural light available in that area, when to be there, what angle should you point the camera, where to pre-focus and so on. Sometimes you have to include in your schedule a long drive, accommodation, a tent or even a boat trip. So the way a photographer prepares for a subject makes a huge difference.
How do you post-process your images, and what software do you use?
I’m only using Photoshop software and some denoise program. I believe the post-processing part is just as important as the other parts of the process. The result depends a lot on photographers capabilities to work with post processing software. So being able to sit in the wild for 5 days do not exclude the edit part of the process to a perfect shot. The better we do all these steps the better the final image will look.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue wildlife photography as a hobby or career?
Go ahead and try this for as long as you need before you find your own answer! So take your time before going to buy expensive gear and such. Make sure it is exactly what you like and what you want to invest in cause it’s not cheap.
What projects are you currently working on or planning for the future?
The best part of my wildlife photography is that I’m not involved in any project currently. This allows me to enjoy every second in the wild without any pressure of selling something or so. It’s pure joy and would not be bad if I can keep it this way. It’s my best way to relax.
How do you enrich your passion of wildlife photography?
In the end it’s about how much time you decide to spend on your passion. It can start with reading articles, watching videos, going out in the field, playing with your camera and so on. Any new day could turn into a positive experience regarding wild life photography just as simple.