How would I go about getting involved in wildlife photography?

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QOTD from Sarah: "Hi there! I've been a learning photographer for about a year now doing work in events, sports, portraiture, macro, families and glamour- but what I'd really like to do is wildlife photography. I was wondering how I'd go about getting involved professionally, and if perhaps there was any wildlife photographers that could share tips on getting into the field, and what they equipment they use etc."

Brian: I'm not in the field, only experience is going to zoos... But, my experience is that you're going to want to get telephoto lenses, the longer the better, and a good tripod.

Sarah:  Thanks Brian! I've done a few zoo shoots using an 85mm macro or a 55 - 300mm lens, which has worked well, but I'm definitely wanting to get something a bit better when I can afford to. What kind of lens do you reccommend? I have a Nikon D5100.

Jfs Photoguy: <<is a wildlife photog...one thing I will tell you right now, is that you should save up and upgrade your camera...second, I use a 80-400mm and even with THAT reach, im still not close unuff...third, get practice shooting at a zoo and watching the behavior of the animals that are native to your area (deer, bear, small animalas, birds) forth, PRACTICE and BE patient!

Andrea: I love wildlife too! And I would rent a lens for a weekend and go to the zoo. A 300 mm or 400 mm is great. Sharp images and gives you some great practice. Must have tripod! 
If you do go to the zoo early morning is best to shoot them because they are up and moving...
Also not sure where you live but Calumet (for example) where I buy my equipment they do wildlife tours (2-4 weeks long in Alaska) just an example. That does require some $$ though
But just an idea ;)

Jfs Photoguy: dont need a tripod...some zoos wont allow them...best to learn freehand holding...and where im at....in the middle of Pennsylvania where there is the largest free roaming wild elk herd...you dont have time to set up a tripod...because you will be on the move...and if your shooting in a blind (at lets say ducks that are slittish) no room for tripod there either...

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