Wildlife photography – a term that fascinates a lot of people.
Over the years, wildlife photography has changed and evolved into a classic photographic art form but the sense of amusement connected to it remains unchanged.
It is a genre of photography that requires a great deal of passion towards the wild and commitment towards the profession. Apart from that, it also requires a whole bunch of skills that will make you stand out. These skills however, can be learned and bettered with practice.
But how do you go about this? How does it work and what do you do to make you pictures look as stunning as the wildlife you photograph look in real life.
Here are 20 awesome wildlife photography tips for beginners.
1. Choose Your Equipment
Choosing the right equipment for your pictures is the first and most important step in any type of photography.
Wildlife photography requires you to pay special attention to equipment due to that fact that it is different from still life photography and the elements and subject you work with are not under your control.
DSLR cameras work great with wildlife photography. Apart from the type of camera you use, it is important carry other essential equipment like a tripod, binoculars, monocular and a ground pod.
A telephoto lens is the most important piece of gear you need to capture wildlife from a safe distance.
2. Choose your location
Wildlife photography requires a ton of pre planning. A clear difference can be seen between a picture that was planned and one that he not been.
Choosing a location that you know well and have put research into is vital since this helps you know what you could expect on the day of you shoot.
3. Know your landscape
Knowing the landscape and the features of the location you plan to shoot at helps you plan your pictures in advance. As mentioned earlier, prior planning is a huge part of wildlife photography.
Prior knowledge about the landscape helps you get a better picture of your set up even before the said set up has been made.
4. Research the animals
So you have packed your equipment, chosen your location and are all set to shoot. What next? Here is where researching upon animal behaviour comes in. Wildlife is unpredictable and oftentimes scary. Working with animals calls for knowing them.
Photographing wildlife without disturbing their natural habitat is crucial. Proper research on animal behaviour also helps you understand when to continue with your work and when to call it off, keeping your safety and that of the animals in mind.
5. Choose your clothing
Wearing clothes that doesn’t alarm animals and scars them away is something to take into consideration and with good reason. Camouflage clothing or clothes that are of a neutral shade are recommended. Camouflaging your camera and equipment will also ensure a smooth proceeding of your shoot.
6. Manage your settings
Managing your camera settings before you begin will ensure that your final product is of good quality. Experts suggest choosing your ISO based on what you are shooting.
Camera settings that go with your subject matter is important since it helps in the pictures being glitch free.
7. Manage your focal length
A focal length of 300 mm is what is suggested by experts on wildlife photography. That being said, you could work around with a 400mm, 500mm or even 800mm focal length too.
8. Know your lighting
Lighting is another element that is not in your control when you are shooting in the wild. Hence, it is ideal to shoot in the golden hours of the day to make sure that the lighting is good enough to shoot under.
Dramatic lighting works. It helps you highlight the subject matter better.
It is common notion that to make a wildlife photograph work, one should focus on the bigger and more regal of animals out there. This is a misconception.
While at your quest for subject matter, ignoring the smaller, more interesting aspects of the wild is a mistake. Choose content that is interesting and not just what has been assumed to be right.
10. Choose your vantage point
Choosing a good vantage point to shoot from is important as it makes the subject look better. Although a worm’s eye view is what is suggested, other points of focus can also be explored and the right one can be zeroed in on.
11. Be intuitive
It is always best to trust your intuition when it comes to this genre of photography. Knowing what to do and what not to is only good as far as technical aspects are concerned. Your intuition is what will take you a long way here.
12. Follow the rules of composition
The rule of thirds is the most famous and widely used photo composition and with good reason. This helps the subject be the focus of the picture while all the side elements complement it. It helps bring the picture together.
Other photo compositions can also be used, keeping in mind that the subject matter is the most important part of the picture and should be emphasised.
Neutral background is the way to go. Colourful backgrounds with too many elements will distract attention from the subject and as a wildlife photographer, you do not want that.
14. Know what not to do
Knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what to. Respecting space and environment of the wildlife is a must.
Do not engage in activities that would alter their environment or moods as this would pose a threat to both you and the animals.
15. Safety comes first
Whatever you plan on doing, it is important to keep in mind that your safety is what comes first. Do not lose track of this while finding the right frame for your picture or trying to get too close to the animal. What is the use of a great picture if the safety of the photographer is compromised?
16. Focus on the message
Focus on the message you are to communicate to the audience. Emotional connect is what gives your picture that extra push to make it a work of excellence. See an animal showing maternal love towards its offspring? Photograph it! A clear message makes the picture relatable.
17. Action shots
Be ever ready to take action shot of the wildlife. Animals cannot be expected to lay still and wait to be photographed. Willingness to capture animals engaging in all kinds of activities is a good virtue to posses. The essence of wildlife photography lies in capturing the animals in their natural habitat and action shots help you achieve that.
18. Try capturing uncommon photos
Always keep an eye out for things that have not been seen before or have rarely been captured on camera. This helps your picture gain the element of uniqueness. The more uncommon, the better.
19. Have patience
The first and most important advice that any professional photographer would give you is to be patient with what you do. Always know that you will find your subject one way or the other and perseverance always pays off. Be consistent and do not give up on your picture!
20. Have fun!
While taking pictures, the main area of focus is to have a lot of fun while clicking it and cherish the atmosphere and experience that you have worked hard for. The outcome is all the more better if the process is fun and engaging for you.