Wildlife photography is the photographing of non-domesticated animals (and plants). Wildlife has been known to be a challenge to shoot, since wild animals are usually skittish and shy, and many live in areas that are not easily accessible to humans.
Still, wildlife photography can be extremely rewarding, especially after you capture fascinating photographs of these creatures as a result of patience, preparation, and skill.
Some good-to-know wildlife photography tips:
Anticipate actions and behavior – knowing the general behavior of the wildlife you are shooting will greatly help in capturing them in a photograph. Are they active at night or during the day? Where do they usually hang out? How near can you get to them without them feeling threatened? What specific poses do they have that you want to capture? If they are hiding, anticipate where they will most likely appear next, and hunker down, be patient, and be still. Ready the camera settings so all you have to do is focus and click the shutter button. Also, timing is essential in wildlife photography. Remember that wildlife can move quite fast and so it is best to be at the ready when they do show up. Otherwise, you can miss your shot and another opportunity might be hard to come by.
Capture action shots – catch wildlife in action by freezing them in mid-motion using a very fast shutter speed such as 1/1000s or higher. You can also allow a bit of motion blur to be seen by using a slower shutter speed. How much slower depends on how much of a blur you want to achieve. Try keeping some key elements clear and sharp (such as the eyes) even while other body parts are a blur from movement. If your camera has a burst mode, take advantage of it. The burst mode will allow the camera to shoot in quick succession with only one press of the shutter button. This gives you a better chance of getting that desired pose.
Entice the wildlife to come closer – you can take many photos of the local wildlife by enticing them to come closer to your shooting location. For example, you can install a birdfeeder outside your room window and wait for the birds to grab a snack. You might be surprised at the variety of wild birds that will appear. This would be easier than trying to catch a glimpse of them hiding behind tree branches and leaves. Other local wildlife such as squirrels may also pay you a visit so be on the lookout.
Photograph interactions – when you photograph wildlife interacting with each other in some manner, from hunting and mating rituals to family grooming sessions, certain emotional responses are captured which gives us a better idea of how they communicate and react. We might also learn something more about them which makes us feel connected to these less familiar species.
More wildlife photography tips:
- It could be difficult to trek to the natural habitats of various wildlife, especially those considered dangerous, and so an alternative can be to visit zoos and national parks.
- Try to shoot a wide range of compositions, from close-up shots to environmental portraits that provide information about the surroundings.
- For subjects that are far away, a telephoto lens is most feasible since it can greatly magnify the subject without you having to come close to it.