John's Journal...

Taking Great Waterfowl Pictures and Viewing Wildlife in their Habitat with Jeff Coats

Taking Unique Shots

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Jeff Coats of Bel Air, Maryland, is a fantastic waterfowl hunter who guides hunters to sea ducks on the eastern shore of Maryland. But he also is an even-better waterfowl photographer. Here are some tips from Coats on how to take great waterfowl and wildlife pictures.

Question: How do you teach others to shoot their own wildlife photos?Click to enlarge
Jeff Coats: I’ve invented a unique system of teaching wildlife photography. I’ll take four photographers together on a one-day photo safari and put them in the spots where they can photograph shore birds, ducks, geese, the wild ponies of Assateague Island, Sika deer or white-tailed deer.

Question: What do you do to ensure your students take home some beautiful wildlife photographs?
Coats: To make sure the photographers get the photos they want, I’ll also take my camera. I’ll be photographing at the same time they are, and then I’ll give them copies of the photos I shoot. This way, if they don’t get the exact photo they want, I’ll be backing them up with my system. I teach them how to use the light, find the animals or birds, and shoot the same type of wildlife photography I shoot.

Question: How do you get those unique shots?Click to enlarge
Coats: I can take such beautiful wildlife photography because I know where the birds and the animals are and how to get close to them. On my photo safaris, I take the photographers to the places where I like to take pictures and teach them how and where to look for regions where they can photograph wildlife in their own states. If Click to enlargeyou’re a waterfowl hunter and you want to extend your season by 2 or 3 months, you still can hunt waterfowl after waterfowl season is over, if you hunt the waterfowl with a camera. Some of my best waterfowl and wild-game pictures are taken after the season when the hunters aren’t on the water or in the woods. I’ve found that February, March and April are excellent times to take really-great waterfowl pictures. If you’ll call me, I can tell you the right time of year to photograph waterfowl, shore birds, Sika deer, white-tailed deer and the ponies of Assateague Island.

Question: What equipment do you suggest a person purchase if they’re just getting starting in wildlife photography?
Coats: I recommend a beginner buy a Canon Rebel XTi body, which costs from $600 to $700, the L Series Canon 100mm-400mm image-stabilization lens, a couple of memory cards, and a carrying case or bag for a total price of $2000 to $2500. I also suggest buying a good pair of binoculars and a spotting scope with a window mount.

To contact Jeff Coats about his photography, write to 1522 Southview Road, Bel Air, MD 21015, or call (410) 937-4034, or email, or visit or

Tomorrow: The Exotic Sika Deer of Maryland

Check back each day this week for more about "Taking Great Waterfowl Pictures and Viewing Wildlife in their Habitat with Jeff Coats" "

Day 1: Learn to take Great Waterfowl Photos
Day 2: How to Set Up for Wildlife Pictures
Day 3: Taking Unique Shots
Day 4: The Exotic Sika Deer of Maryland
Day 5: Protect the Wild Horses


Entry 446, Day 3