Whether you’re planning to scrapbook your family’s trip to the zoo or looking to capture images of the birds in your background, it’s helpful to remember some basic tips for wildlife photography.
Learning from the Masters
Photographing animals in their natural habitat provides an exciting glimpse into the world of nature. If you’re serious about improving your wildlife photography skills, you’ll want to spend some time studying the work of photographers you admire. National Geographic is a great source of breathtaking wildlife photography. You may also want to invest in a copy of Digital Wildlife Photography by David Tipling or The BetterPhoto Guide to Digital Nature Photography by Jim Miotke.
Essential Tips for Wildlife Photography
To get shots that are guaranteed to make for memorable scrapbook layouts, remember the following tips for wildlife photography:
- Be patient. Nature is something you can’t control. If an animal wants to approach you, it must do so on its own terms.
- Dress for comfort and practicality. Photographing animals often requires getting into rather unusual positions. You may need to stretch out on your belly or balance over a mud puddle, so choose your outfit accordingly.
- Learn about the animal you plan to photograph. A quick Internet search should be enough to help you understand more about its most common behaviors, especially how it will react when it feels threatened.
- Remember that most animals will instinctively view fast or jerky movements as indicative of a predator’s attack. Move slowly and smoothly whenever you approach an unfamiliar animal.
- The light at sunrise or sunset tends to help warm an animal’s color. As an added benefit, this is also the time of day when wildlife tend to be the most active.
- Use fill flash to add catch lights to your subject’s eyes. This is simple way to increase the visual impact of your photos.
- Photograph small animals from a low camera position whenever possible to help maximize their size.
- Invest in a good zoom lens to allow you to photograph animals in the most unobtrusive manner possible.
- Look for backgrounds that are clean and simple to allow the viewer to focus on the animal. If necessary, wait for the animal to move to a better location before you take the shot.
- Ideally, you’ll want to compose your image with plenty of “looking space” for the animal to breathe. Your picture will feel unbalanced if the animal is positioned closely to the side of the frame and appears to be staring off the edge of the page.
- Consider the type of animal you are photographing when choosing between a horizontal or vertical composition. For example, a horizontal shot will often “clip” off vital parts of a bird’s tail feathers. In this case, a vertical shot is a better choice because you’ll be able to include the entire animal.
- Remember that practice makes perfect. It may not be practical to take pictures at the zoo every day, but you can dramatically improve your wildlife photography skills by photographing the animals at a local park.