Whether you are trying to capture the wild beasts on the Serengeti Plains or a few squirrels in your backyard, you’re going to need some wildlife photography tips. Patience is critical with wildlife photography. You cannot ask animals to do anything to get them in the rule of thirds. And have them look this way, do something cute, or stand where the light is better. You must be ready for when they decide that these things need to happen in wildlife photography.
But not only that. Giving yourself plenty of time with a group or individual animal while shooting wildlife means you’ll get to know them better and be able to track their patterns. This will result in more satisfying photographs when you can anticipate what they might do in various wildlife photography situations.
Wildlife Photography Tips for the Budding Photographer
The wildlife photography tips shared in this blog post are perfect for both amateur and pro photographers alike. If you’ve ever wondered how the photos in animal books and magazines were taken, then these fifteen tips will help you understand how it’s all done. It’s all you need to know.
Become familiar with the basic wildlife photography techniques involved. And you’ll realize that taking photos of wildlife can be a very rewarding experience. Keep reading for all 15 of our wildlife photography tips below:
1. Use a DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses
A DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses is a must for any wildlife photographer. The ability to change the lens will help you take close-up photographs of smaller animals while shooting wildlife. Or zoom in on more distant subjects like birds that won’t land near your position.
One such example would be taking photos of frogs from underwater. You wouldn’t want to disturb them by getting too close.
If there were anything else I could say about this tip, it’s that if possible, make sure one of those lenses is fixed at 80mm – 100mm and has a wide aperture (e.g., f/stop). This last point may seem obvious, but it really helps when photographing insects up close and other tiny things like birds in the wild.
My personal favorite wildlife lens is the Canon EF 100-400mm f/USM. I use it for photographing birds in flight and other subjects from a distance while shooting wildlife.
It’s also beneficial when zooming into specific areas of your subject—feathers or fur, trying to capture animals mating, fighting or hunting prey, and so on.
The number one piece of advice that any experienced wildlife photographer will usually give you is this: never rely only on autofocus! Autofocus can be helpful, but it won’t work well if there’s not enough light (e.g., during dawn). You should always have manual focus mode enabled at all times during wildlife photography. This way, you’ll know exactly what part of your scene is in focus.
The best animal wildlife photographers often invest a lot of time waiting for the right moments to happen. You might find yourself sitting by your camera for hours, but when you finally capture that shot, it will feel like all the hard work was worth it!
2. Carry a tripod to get the perfect shot
The following wildlife photography tip: If you want to take wildlife photos in low light, then it’s a good idea to carry a tripod with you. A tripod will allow you to keep your camera steady and still while shooting at slower shutter speeds (e.g., 30 seconds).
A wildlife photographer might need their hands free for other purposes. Carrying food or equipment during the shoot leaves them one hand left—the right is an example! The best way is to attach the lens cap onto your belt loop by threading its strap through an extra hole in it.
This way, if anything gets too close or starts flying towards you unexpectedly, you’ll be ready to press the shutter. All you have to do is whip out your lens cap and shut off your camera’s sensor without missing another shot.
It’s a good idea to have some spare batteries and memory cards with you while shooting wildlife. You don’t want to end up in the field without these necessities because chances are, it’ll be hours before another store is reachable (if there even is one).
If your camera has an external battery pack attachment, then this becomes much easier. If not, consider investing in such an add-on for long shoots.
You may also want to invest in watertight bags or cases for your equipment during rain and other weather moments. If they’re expensive items that can get damaged from wet environments easily. This will allow you to use them on rainy days while reducing the risk of damage due to moisture exposure during sudden rainstorms or heavy dew points.
An important thing to note is that rain can be a hassle for you and the wildlife that you’re photographing. What if it’s raining too heavily? Then chances are they’ll get spooked and leave before the photo is completed or even start to approach your camera if they’re curious about what it is you’re doing.
There may be an emergency while shooting wildlife. For example, many wildlife photographers should be ready, such as when batteries die earlier than expected due to an influx in photos taken. It may be after seeing something new and exciting. Have some spare AA batteries with yourself so that way you don’t run out entirely!
3. Bring a telephoto lens for animals that are far away and can’t be seen well without one.
One of the most important things to bring when photographing wildlife is a telephoto lens. This will allow you to zoom in on animals far away and can’t be seen well without one. They’ll be too small (and sometimes blurry) with just your regular old lenses.
The best way to tell if an animal is close enough for a standard lens or needs more magnification from afar? It’s usually around 300mm-400mm range depending on what kind of camera you’re using. If it doesn’t say anywhere about how wide the angle of view is, then go ahead and assume this number first before adding any other information!
So for example, if someone has their camera set at 400 mm focal length, the angle of view is around 15-20 degrees.
This person might be able to take a photo from far away, but if they’re looking for more detail or want a close-up shot, then it may not work for their needs.
Need more zoom but don’t want to buy another lens? Try using a teleconverter.
4. Try using natural light instead of flash
Utilizing natural light instead of artificial lighting is essential when doing wildlife photography. This will produce more natural and ‘in-focus looking photos.
Flash photography is excellent for close-up shots. But if you’re trying to take a photo of wildlife or animals in the wild, then it’s best to use other methods instead!
5. Shoot in RAW
This is a crucial wildlife photography tip. Do you want more control over your photos after they’re taken? Shooting in RAW allows you to do just that for wildlife photography. This is an option on all DSLR cameras. And it’s one of the most critical settings for wildlife photography. It offers more control over what color balance your photos will be set at (as well as higher quality images).
When you edit RAW photos of wildlife, you can play around with contrast, exposure, and clarity levels. With shooting in RAW, you also get to decide which lens your photos are taken through. This is important for wildlife photography. Distances between the photographer and animal will vary.
Are you using a DSLR camera for wildlife photography? Then it’s easy to shoot images in RAW. Just go into “live view” mode on the back of the camera, click on the button labeled “RAW,” press it again when ready to take a photo. It gives you more control over how your image will turn out!
6. Practice taking pictures of wildlife
Before going on an actual trip, such as at your local zoo or aquarium, it’s a good idea to practice taking photographs of wildlife. Various museums also have areas where you can take pictures of animals in their natural habitat – which is the best way to learn how it should be done in wildlife photography!
If there’s space and time, try practicing with different types of animals. By the time your trip actually comes around, not only will you feel more confident. But you’ll also know exactly what techniques work well for specific species. After some time, you will find yourself ultimately at ease with capturing wildlife shots.
The photographer should try to get close enough so that the subject fills most of the frame, but not too close, or it will look like a headshot. A good rule is to stand as far back as needed to get an entire body shown in the shot while still showing plenty of detail on its face (if possible).
Another essential thing to remember when taking photos of animals in their natural habitat. It’s ‘the closer you are, the more dangerous it becomes.’ This is due to diseases spread through bodily fluids such as urine and saliva. Also, don’t forget your bug spray! In specific subtropical areas, you could be in the throng of lots of mosquitos, so it’s best to apply a bug repellent.
Avoid photographing animals that are in danger of being hunted or killed. Particularly when they’re sitting on the ground, this may encourage hunters who might take them out for a sport.
7. The best camera position for photographing wildlife
Try not to shoot from a lower angle because this creates distortion with wildlife photography – Especially when shooting animals like deer! An excellent way to minimize any sort of distorting effect is by crouching down or lying flat on your stomach. Make it so that the top half of your body isn’t sticking out above the subject being photographed.
We recommend that wildlife photographers use the wide-angle lens to help you shoot more of your subject and put them in context. You should also try to stay at least six feet away from any animal. This is considered a safe distance for photography and ensures you’ll have enough time to react if needed. In general, don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with wild animals like bears or lions. But always keep an eye on their body language so you can tell when they’re feeling aggressive!
The best camera position for photographing wildlife? It’s usually standing straight upright. This allows the photographer’s arms to move freely without hitting anything. This could make things awkward while trying to steady themselves against gravity. It also helps ensure stability by causing the photographer’s weight balanced. And they’ll be evenly distributed between their feet.
A wildlife photograph is usually taken with the animal in the frame, but some animals (like camels) will often keep moving if you try to get close. To solve this problem, set up an object or person to walk towards so they’ll stay still long enough for you to take a photo!
Wildlife photography can also be done from just about any angle: on all fours, upside down on your knees… even hanging off a cliff face way above ground level – as long as it’s safe, of course!
8. Bring multiple cameras
This is one of the most simple wildlife photography tips. When photographing animals in nature, it’s always a good idea to have two cameras with you – One for framing and one for shooting. This ensures that you’ll always have a camera ready to capture the perfect moment.
9. Turn off autofocus
Turning off autofocus will automatically begin adjusting itself according to what type of light there is nearby. Which can cause blurriness; just switch it back over to manual focus, and you’ll be good to go.
10. Image Stabilization
Make sure that your camera has image stabilization features before taking any shots of animals in the wild! You’ll need instant access to them through buttons on the outside of the lens or some other quick-access control system. There are two ways one could go about getting their hands on an image stabilizer. They could either purchase a specific, lens-mounted device or use the camera’s built-in capabilities.
11. ISO and white balance
Adjust the ISO: This is best done by adjusting it to a lower number, such as 50 or 100 (and if you’re in Manual mode, this should be changed down). If there’s not enough light for your camera and you don’t want graininess on your photos, try using an external flash that includes a diffuser.
It can also help with wildlife photography to adjust white balance – Selecting “daylight.”
12. Camera settings for lighting
Do you have your camera settings on “auto?” Ensure that the settings are tuned into the correct lighting situation so that your pictures are as accurate and true to life as possible.
Be cognizant of shutter speeds during wildlife photography. The higher the shutter speed to minimize blur. When using a 300mm lens, the shutter speed should be 1/300 or faster; with a 20mm lens, it should be 1/20 or quicker.
13. Closing up on wildlife
Are you trying to get close enough to photograph certain animals that are sensitive to light? Then try using a fast film speed such as 100ASA or 400 ASA (ISO). This will help reduce blurring effects while also improving color saturation and contrast levels. For example, if your subject is frolicking in tall grasses. Make sure that there isn’t any wind blowing towards them because this can cause movement blur!
14. Consider the personality and environment
Taking photos of animals is a rewarding but challenging process. The toughest part is capturing the emotions and personality of the animal in your image. One good trick for photographing wildlife is to hold back, use wider lenses. Consider what the environment is like and how your subjects interact in the world. Be patient, observe, and take wildlife shots that capture the animal’s behavior. You’ll be sure to catch some excellent wildlife photography in a different background of another animal each time.
15. Pay attention to the little things, too
When you’re on photo expeditions to photograph wildlife. Don’t just focus on catching the high-maintenance, popular animals that are primarily featured in your typical media. Take a moment to check out the background, and you may discover some astonishing lifeforms!
Conclusion: How To Photograph Animals in the Wild
Photographing wildlife is a rewarding experience, but there are things you need to know. But it can be tough to capture the personality of animals without getting too close for great wildlife photos. To make your photography more accessible and more effective, use wide-angle lenses, so you don’t have to get as close to these interesting creatures!
Hold back on photographing popular animals like tigers or penguins in favor of lesser-known ones. The less popular ones may offer unique opportunities for amazing photos.
Finally, when you are out exploring outside looking for wildlife shots. Take time not only to focus on the animal itself. But also what might be happening around them–you never know what small creature will capture your eye in just one glance!
With these 15 tips at your disposal, capturing great photographs should become much more straightforward than before. Good luck! Oh, and don’t forget the rule of thirds!
Want more photography tips? Check out some more of our photography guides and tutorials from ShutterRelease!