Wildlife photography hints and tips


The following are some usuefull hints and tips to remember to try and improve your wildlife photography.

1. Get to know your equipment, all the planning and preparation in the world will be worthless if you don't know how to use your camera to it maximum capacity. To understand shutter speed, aperture, ISO and the best settings to use for wildlife photography click here.

2. Researching your subject will be extremely beneficial when you are in the field, whether it is finding the species, knowing how it will react to your presence or how to anticipate interesting behavior will all help you get those cracking shots - for example when trying to photograph young rabbits, you can creep up to the rabbit, it then may bolt down its burrow, but don't stress, this gives you the perfect opportunity to move in to the best position - down wind and close to the burrow. The young rabbits will soon pop back up and you can be close enough for a frame filling shot.

3. The main ingredient in a good wildlife picture is not always high action or artistic creativity but a good understanding of what components the picture could benefit from:

- Correct focusing: generally for wildlife photography you focus on the eye of the subject - this is usually the first thing people look at in an image even without realising - if the focus is off the image is worthless.

- Good composition: Alot of photographers in general use the rule of thirds to determine correct composition, but this is not necessarily the case in wildlife photography as wildlife can have their own elements that make the image work. One point to remember is to never have a subject looking out of the image.

Curlew - looking 'in' to the frame

- Simple backgrounds: Try to avoid cluttered or highly lit backgrounds, soft dappled greens from vegetation are generally the most pleasing so choose your spot carefully. This includes avoiding the sky as the main part of the background if at all possible. - High aperture values usually produce the best results and make the subject stand out.

Flesh fly - showing a simple background that make the fly stand out

- Eye level: Don't be afraid to get down and dirty - being on the same level as the subject will generally produce a better shot - try shooting from another animals perspective - an angle we don't usually see in every day life. This also may benefit the picture by including some foreground in the image (as with the background, this should not be cluttered.

Barn owl at eye level

- Portrait: Don't just take pictures in the landscape format. Some species will fill the frame better when shot in portrait mode - plus wildlife images generally sell better in portrait mode - just look at any magazine cover.

- Low ISO: Using a high ISO value produces more image noise but is sometimes required when the light is not very good. You should be always aware of the amount of light about during the day and adjust your ISO setting accordingly. The balance is achieved by keeping the shutter fast enough to freeze action and stop camera shake but not having too much noise on those images. Most publishers recommend using the lowest possible ISO setting (generally ISO 100) as this will produce the best image quality.

Finally, do not stop learning. You will find your own style of taking pictures and will keep learning new techniques along the way that will always benefit your wildlife photography.

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