10 Tips for better wildlife photography

November 24, 2014  •  1 Comment

Willdlife photography is not my "cup of tea" so to speak but here are 10 valuable tips to better wildlife photography for those of you who do pursue it:


TIP #1   Know Your Gear

The really great action-packed moments in willdlife photography last on average between 5 and 20 seconds.  If you are not intrinsically familiar with the settings of your camera or the abilities of your chosen lens, you will either miss it or blow the images you do manage to capture.

  • Know what the minimum shutter speed is at which you can obtain a sharp image with your camera/lens combo;
  • Know the added margins that the in-camera or in-lens stabilization gives you;
  • Know how to quickly toggle between focus points or focus modes;
  • Know how high you can push your camera's ISO setting and still achieve acceptable results


TIP #2   Know Your Subject

  • Be able to somewhat predict your subject's behavior beforehand;
  • Knowing your subject can make the difference between being ready and prepared for capturing that "golden moment" and watching it fly by you in agony.
  • There is only one way to get to know wildlife...spend time with them.


TIP #3   Know the "Rules" / "Break the Rules"

  • Understanding proper exposure and the use of the histrogram and proper "composition" using a guideline like the "rule of thirds" are all important aspects to ingrain in your subconscious and to incorporate in your ability to instantly capture that fleeting moment properly.
  • In this genre, much is made about eye contact with the subject, as this gives "life" to the image.
  • Once you know the "rules" and the guidelines, and once you know when and how to apply them, it's time to start breaking out from them.  Test the boundaries a bit. 


TIP #4   Work the Light

  • Capture the "golden light".  This means "dawn" and "dusk" and well known as "The Magic Hour"!
  • You need to know how to use the light to your best advantage.
  • Backlighting (the subject is lit from behind) and "soft" light (when the skies are cloudy and overcast) also make for great light!


TIP #5   Shoot Wider / Shoot Closer

  • Don't get fixated on using giant supertelephoto lenses.  Challenge yourself to shoot at a wider angle to give the viewer a better idea of where you took the image and where your subject has to carve out a living in the wild.
  • Then, shoot really CLOSE like get-in-your-face close by moving your position or by changing effective focal length by using a longer lens or with optional teleconverter.  This will help you create different and interesting studies of the animals/birds you photograph.  This will also help you think in terms of more abstract compositional arrangements


TIP #6   The More, The Merrier

  • The more wildlife there is, the more interaction!


TIP #7   How Low Can You Go?

  • How you portray your subject can make all the difference in the world.
  • Try to get an eye-level perspective.  This brings the viewer of your image right into the scene and confronts them with the view of the world from your subject's perspective.
  • Always bear in mind the constraints of your environment.


Tip #8   The Content

  • Does great content trump a technically great image with average content?
  • Look for great opportunities regardless of species when the light is good.
  • Learn to see the potential in the mundane to create amazing photographic moments.
  • The ideal image has "great content", "great light" and shot with the "right settings"!


Tip #9   Patience is a Necessity

  • Nature is "unpredictable".  Anything can happen at any time.  It is vital that you be patient...very patient.
  • Observing your subject, getting to know their behavioral patterns, requires a great deal of patience.


Tip #10   Be there and enjoy it!

  • Not just physically show up but you need to be at the right place at the right time!
  • Be in the moment!  Don't worry so much about the technical issues and concentrate more on the "moments" you are witnessing while out photographing wildlife.
  • Be mindful of the privilege of spending time in nature and being places where the hand of man hasn't quite exerted its full force yet.
  • Enjoy what you are doing!  Have fun doing it!











Beverly Nuttall(non-registered)
Thank you Ron for the many helpful suggestions and wise solutions to capturing the beauty of wildlife photography. I shall attempt to put them to productive use. Thanks again!
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