Wildlife photography is quite a challenging hobby because it takes a lot of commitment. It is not about taking the best camera gear with you and clicking the most amazing shot. In reality, wildlife photography is more than just developing your camera-taking skills. It requires patience, passion, and on top of everything, you need to learn about the animals that you will be photographing.
If you have always wondered how the pictures in those wildlife magazines and animal books were taken, then these 12 tips will help you understand how it is all done. So, without any further ado, let’s get into it.
1. Choose the Right Camera
Although a decent smartphone camera or camcorder is good enough to click exciting wildlife shots, you won’t be able to capture those wildlife magazine-like pictures with them. Therefore, the best choice you have are mirrorless cameras and SLRs. The mid and pro-level cameras are equipped with weather seal, and you can easily set them manually and change lenses as per your requirements.
When talking about the best camera for wildlife photography, we can easily say that Nikon D5 DSLR is great in every aspect. It is top of the line digital camera that will help you capture incredible wildlife moments. However, it is quite expensive and isn’t the right choice for people on a budget. But if you are a beginner and want to invest in a budget-friendly camera for wildlife photography, then Nikon D5500 is an excellent option to consider.
2. Choose the Right Lens
A good starting point for general wildlife photography is a lens with a 300mm in focal length. On the other hand, bird photography will require a 500mm lens to capture crystal clear photos from far away. If you have a high budget, then we recommend you to choose the lens that comes with Optical Stabilization (OS). This feature will minimize shaking that can occur due to extreme magnification. However, these models can be quite expensive.
The other option to click stable shots without having OS in your lens is to invest in a high-quality tripod, such as Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP Aluminum Tripod with PH-32 Panhead.
3. Close-up Pictures
Wildlife photography is all about details – the more details the picture has, the more attractive it will look. Therefore, when taking close-up shots with a telephoto lens, set the aperture at F8 and focus on the animal’s eyes. This guarantees that most of the animal’s face will be in focus.
4. Learn about the Animals You’re Shooting
The thing that makes wildlife photography complicated is animal behavior. You can’t tell animals where to go and what to do. Therefore, you need to understand the behavior of the animals you are shooting; otherwise, you will end up missing a lot of good moments and shots.
In short, before you go into the wild, take your camera out, and start taking random photos of animals, familiarize yourself with the animals you are going to photograph.
For example, if you want to photograph a deer, you should learn about the time they go out to feed. You need to know the basic stuff; for example, they tend to assemble where there’s plenty of vegetation (weeds, wild grasses, and plants). Learning these simple things will ensure that your time and effort aren’t wasted.
5. Always Be Prepared For the Action
Unlike other types of photography, wildlife photography is all about being ready at the right time and right place. You won’t be dealing with humans who will obey your commands; hence you should be prepared and ready with your camera at all times. This is because animals suddenly appear and may only give you a glimpse. A general setting is recommended at F8, servo mode with aperture priority.
6. Range Your Subject
For example, when taking photos of an elephant, take a portrait shot, include one more with the general habitat in context to the subject, then another with close-up detail, such as horns and face.Doing this will make your photos look interesting and attractive.
7. Utilize Low Contrast Film
Utilize low contrast film when the sun is intense and high contrast film when it’s overcast or dull.
Take different pictures in vertical and horizontal approaches.
8. Use High Shutter Speeds to Capture the Subject in Motion
When the subject is in motion, use a shutter speed of at least 1/800, except if you are using a panning method. Birds in flight necessitate speeds of 1/1000 or more.Anything lower than that would result in blurred pictures that you would not like.
9. Be Patient
Don’t feel pressured to take a photo at the first chance. If you have the time, take background and foreground interruptions into consideration that may distort your image. Always remember to be patient because the best moments in wildlife photography don’t happen quite often and quickly – they take time.
10. Do Not Center All Your Shots
Unlike portrait photography, where you tend to center all your shots, wildlife photography doesn’t demand it. Therefore, you should not center all your shots. Make sure to leave room in your subject for the animal to move into. This will prevent lifeless composition and give an imitate portrayal of your subject.
11. Take Shots from Various Perspectives
Take photographs from different levels when you are on a game viewing activity. Pictures taken at the animal’s eye-level will appear more sensational.
12. Choose the Right Safari
If your prime reason for going on safari is to take photos, do not go on a regular safari. You will find yourself sharing your vehicle with up to 6 guests. So do not expect to stay at any sighting long enough to take any behavioral shots. Fellow guests will not be interested in the magic light.
In short, if you are sharing your vehicle, you should expect to be frustrated unless you find other photographers to share your vehicle. Otherwise, you can also book a private game drive at an additional cost.
When you are getting started with wildlife photography, remember that it takes several years to master it. Therefore, you should never stop practicing and learning from it. If you remain patient and keep at it, your hard work and time spent will eventually pay off. This hobby won’t just make you a great photographer but also develop patience and a real passion for nature. Be safe, and best of luck!