Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners
Wildlife can be some of the toughest photographic subjects out there, as well as the most beautiful and satisfying to capture on film.
Besides patience and an appreciation for all things great and small, here are a couple of other things that might help.
Do Your Research
It seems obvious that the first step to photographing wildlife is finding it, but many people forget how tricky that part can be.
More than that, shooting your subject in an environment, light and situation that is conducive to good photography (and accessible to you) is significantly more difficult. Research into your subject’s habits, behaviour, feeding times and environment is critical to getting that perfect shot – or any shot at all.
Be Creative with Composition
A lot of beginner wildlife photographers despair at how hard it is to get close to their subject, but that shouldn’t stop them from taking a great photo.
If close-up shots aren’t possible, focus on getting a good shot of the animal in – or interacting with – its environment. Ultimately you want to tell the story of that animal, and a big part of that story is the world it lives in. Show that.
Know Your Tools
Unlike human models, animals don’t show up exactly when and where you want them to. Many animals are active at night, dusk, or dawn. You might have to shoot from under a shade, or after many hours in difficult weather conditions.
The background won’t be open and clear behind the animal, either, and let’s not forget how animals tend to move around.
It’s important that you get to know your camera, its light settings, how to focus it correctly, how to capture motion with it and how to take care of it in difficult weather. Similarly, your equipment needs to be tough, reliable, and easy for you to use.
Get to Know Your Home
You don’t have to travel to exotic locations or trek through miles of dangerous terrain to get started in wildlife photography.
All you need is your camera and some curiosity about the plants and animals to be found in your own back yard.
You might be surprised at what you learn. It’s also not strictly necessary to leave human civilisation behind in order to get interesting shots of wildlife.
Remember: humans are part of many animals’ lives, particularly if they’re in an urban or suburban environment. Showing that relationship is just as interesting, if not more, than showing an animal in the wild.
Respect Your Subjects
This is true for everything, from playing at online bingo sites to all forms of photography, but wildlife can take extra care. Being ethical and responsible about the photos you take is a huge aspect of wildlife photography.
Respect the environment you’re in and cause as little damage or disturbance as possible. You should never harm or scare an animal just to get a shot. The wildlife photography community is full of nature lovers and, to be a part of it, you need to show nature some love too.