As a wildlife photographer, you will want to take pictures of all types of animals. This can be frustrating and difficult at times, and very rewarding at others!
How do you get started? It’s always important to know the basics before starting out on your journey into wildlife photography. Here are some tips for wildlife photography that I have gathered from my own personal experience.
How to Photograph Wildlife Everything You need to Know
One of the most exciting and rewarding ways to capture amazing images of animals in nature is wildlife photography. Also, one of the most challenging and difficult forms of photography. Requiring a photographer to be very patient and observant.
Before you go out and photograph wildlife, it is essential to do some research on the animals you hope to photograph. Knowing their habitats, behaviours, and patterns will help you be in the right place at the right time to capture great photos.
It’s important to do your research in advance and plan your shots accordingly. Scouting locations is essential. Find an area that provides excellent opportunities for photographing the animals or birds you’re interested in.
Begin Animal Photography at Home at Familiar Areas
When I first started photographing wild animals, I stayed close to home exploring the natural world around me. Where I felt comfortable, and there was plenty of wildlife. Learn about the wildlife in and around your area, their daily habits, rituals and what time of day they are most active. This will help prepare you for planning an expensive trip to Africa.
Look for wildlife or subjects you might be interested in photographing.
In order to take great photos of animals, you need to first understand their behaviour and their habitat. Familiarize yourself with the animal’s habits. The more you know, the better your chances of capturing a great shot.
This will help you get comfortable with your camera and how it operates. It will also give you a chance to experiment with different shooting styles, angles and compositions before moving on to that trip of a lifetime.
Tap Into Locals, Talk to Other Wildlife Photographers
Local photographers are a great source of information and can be a wonderful resource. Consider joining your local photography club. Many clubs offer field trips that provide an opportunity for you to learn from more experienced photographers.
By all means, search out the local clubs or groups that focus on photography and go to their meetings. Not only will you get some great tips, but you’ll also make new friends who share your passion for capturing beautiful images of wildlife and nature.
Get To Know Your Subject Before Heading Out To Take Wildlife Photographs.
Start by learning about the wildlife you want to photograph, their behaviour, and the best times and locations to find them. Familiarize yourself with your camera’s settings. Should you use aperture or shutter priority, Auto ISO? Practice taking photos in different lighting conditions. If possible, scout potential locations in advance, so you know what you’re looking for when you go out shooting. And finally, don’t forget to take plenty of pictures (and have fun)!
Be Prepared to Wait Have Patience – Think of it as Hunting Photos
Animals are skittish by nature, and it can take a lot of patience to locate wildlife, let alone to get close enough for a photo. Hint, a good telephoto lens is nice to have. Think long-term, be persistent in your efforts. You’ll eventually find success and capture that National Geography shot. The key here is be patient.
Wildlife photography can be a challenging but a rewarding endeavour. It is important to remember that you are hunting photos, and you should be prepared to wait for the right shot. Do not be discouraged if you don’t get that perfect shot on your first try – it takes practice!
Take Advantage of a Digital Camera Take Lots of Photos
- Keep an eye on the background to make your subject stand out.
- Shoot from a different angle or zoom in and out to find the right composition.
- Get on a different plane and shoot at eye level for that interesting photo.
- Carry spare memory cards.
- Shoot Lots. Less cost per photo with a digital camera compared to film.
- Try a remote like a Pluto trigger.
Don’t Shy Away From Unsettling Moments It Can Be Tough to Learn New Wildlife Photography Techniques
It is sometimes tough to learn new wildlife techniques, especially when you are new to photography. If you have the right attitude, it will be easier. The best way to learn is to practice. Practice by getting out and locating hard to find animals. If you are going to get close to the animals, you need to be prepared for the possibility that they will run.
You need to be prepared for just about anything, that includes weather. If you want a close-up photo of an animal in its natural habitat. You might have to wait hours for the right moment to get the shot you want. I sometimes try for days, weeks or even months to get the right shot.
Wildlife Photography Tips for Wildlife Photographers
Want to take beautiful, powerful, and captivating images of wildlife? As a wildlife photographer, let me share my secrets with you. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or advanced if you’re looking to take your photography skills further than they’ve ever gone before then read on!
Invest in Great Wildlife Photography Gear
You’re going to need some great wildlife photography gear. The gear you choose will depend on the type of photography you want to do, but you should always invest in the best camera and lens you can afford. Try to remember camera bodies come and go, but a lens can last a lifetime.
You don’t need the latest and greatest camera on the market to take great wildlife photos. In fact, there are several pieces of equipment you can buy that will help you take better photos without breaking the bank.
Here are a few tips for investing in great wildlife photography gear without spending a fortune.
There are lots of online marketplaces where you can find gently-used photography equipment at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Have you looked at the price of a new Canon 600mm?
If you’re not sure whether a piece of gear is right for you, or if you just want to try it out before you commit, renting is a great option. Going on an Africa Photo Safari tour? Have the gear sent to your indented destination. No need to pay for the rental while you’re on route.
Photography equipment can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of great deals to be found if you’re willing to do a little digging.
While there are some affordable options out there, investing in quality gear is always a good idea. You don’t want to have to replace your equipment every year because you opted for the cheapest glass available.
Don’t fall into the GAS system, Gear Accusation Syndrome
Know Your Camera and Gear
Know where all the buttons are and what they do on your camera and how to make corrections.
Wildlife photographers face many challenges, including moisture, temperature changes, dust and grime. Invest in a good gear bag that can protect your camera equipment when it’s being carried or not in use.
Make sure your camera bag has a cleaning rag and a suitable dust blower. That will help keep the dust and grime off your camera and lens.
Get to the Subjects Eye Level For The Best Wildlife Photos.
They say “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. It works for animals as well. Getting to the subject’s eye level means your viewers will have a connection to the animal. It’s an easy way to improve your wildlife photography.
The eyes are one point that photographers should always focus on when taking their shots, as this is an important part of getting that emotional connection with your subject. Photos in which the eyes are not completely focused, can create a negative impact for the viewer.
Get Close to the Animals
A great quote by Jim Butcher – “Get close to the animals, and they will get close to you. ”
To get great wildlife shots, you need to get close to the animals. This means being patient and knowing your surroundings, so you can anticipate the animal’s movements. Ask yourself where they are feeding or drinking, think about the direction of the wind. Is it behind you? Don’t be in a rush to click the shutter. Burst mode may not always be the best choice.
There’s no better way to see some of the world’s most exotic animals than on African photo safari Tour!
Stay Far Away From Your Subject
Contrast to get closer, way too many wildlife photographers get fixated on trying to have the longest/biggest lens possible. They create sterile, boring images with a perfectly smooth background and no sense of the subject’s environment because they are too focused on getting an ultra-tight frame. As my friends say,” Yup another bird on a stick” 😆. Instead, challenge yourself at times to shoot with a wider lens by giving viewers a better idea of where you took the image and what your subject looks like in its habitat. Try to include more than one animal in the photo.
Play with Depth of Field
- To take more interesting images, experiment with the depth of field.
- To separate the animal from the background, try a shallow depth of field.
- Play with the depth of field to control how sharp or fuzzy your photo and backgrounds appears.
- Use a wide aperture (small f-stop number) to create a blurry background and increase focus on the subject.
- Use a narrow aperture (larger f-stop number) to increase the depth of field and make everything in the photo appear more crisp and clear.
Use Continuous Autofocus (AF-C or AI Servo)
Want to achieve sharp images without having to refocus every time your subject moves? Then you might want to set the camera to Continuous Autofocus.
Continuous autofocus mode (AI Servo on Canon and AF-C on Nikon) can be one of the best ways to take pictures of wildlife. This mode allows you to focus continuously until you actually release the shutter. The mode is not infallible, but it certainly helps at the moment when there is a flying bird or a running lion or cheetah.
Manual focus is still an option when shooting stationary wildlife.
Follow the Rules.. Or Don’t! When Shooting Wildlife
Rules are made to be broken, only if you know the rules first. We all start off learn the rules of thirds as it’s the easiest to work with and to remember. However, what works for one person might not work for another – and that’s okay! The important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it. If you want to follow the rules, great! If you want to break them, that’s okay too. Just be sure you understand the consequences of your actions and are willing to live with them.
Find what works best for you and stick with it!
Respect the Wildlife
It is critical to remember that wildlife should be respected and never disturbed. Photographing animals in their natural habitat can be a rewarding experience, but it is important to do so from a safe distance. Remember that wild animals are unpredictable and can be dangerous, so use caution. Be cool, calm, and collected when trying to take their picture. Rushing in may scare them off or, worse, cause harm.
Now that you know how to take amazing photographs of animals, it’s time to book your next African photo safari with us! We guarantee you’ll get some incredible shots. And if you have some extra time, be sure to check out our other blog posts for more great tips and tricks.
Frequently Asked Questions
What focus mode should I use for bird photography?
One-Shot AF or the AI Servo AF focus modes are the best for bird photography. For catching birds in action, the AI Servo AF mode is perhaps the most popular. Even if the camera moves, the focus will remain fixed once established.
How Do You Photograph Wildlife?
All you need is a camera and a desire to learn. Wildlife photography can be difficult because of the unpredictability of animals in their natural habitat, but there are some tips that can make your wildlife photography easier.
- Select a quick shutter speed.
- Switch to Aperture Priority Mode on your camera.
- Select an ISO in the Mid-Range.
- Make use of a long lens.
- Employ autofocus.
- Invest on a good tripod or monopod.
- Have patience and be ready.
- Take a Good Photograph.
Bob Wild is a professional photographer and the former owner of African Photo Safari, having led guided photo safaris to numerous destinations including Namibia in western Africa. He owns Who Said Photography and continues to help introduce newcomers to the joys of photography.