Ten Tips for Wildlife Photography
When you’re out in nature and trying to find wildlife, it’s nice to come back with some high quality pictures. Nobody likes saying “If only I had a camera” or “I wish I could’ve zoomed in more”.
Here are some tips for your next excursion into the wild, looking for those great shots you know you want!
Figure out where you’re going, what the weather conditions are, what the wildlife is like, where to park etcetera. There is an abundance of information online on trails and wildlife viewings.
Don’t forgot to learn how your camera works either. The last thing you want to do is fiddle with the buttons right when that elusive fox comes into view.
2. Bring All Your Gear
First thing that comes into mind is a spare battery and extra memory cards. Always double or triple check your gear before you leave.
It’s not only about the camera equipment either. Create a list of everything you need and use that to pack up your bag. Perhaps you need a rain jacket, extra water, some trail mix or sun lotion.
3. Get Comfortable
Make sure you are comfortable, whether you are hiking, sitting or crawling around. Wear the right shoes and clothing for the job. It’s not just a comfort thing, but also a safety issue. Your clothing will protect you again friction, bugs, scratches, cold or heat among other things.
4. Pick the Right Lenses
Depending on the subject and the proximity, you will need to pick certain lenses. A 80mm lens will be useless if you are planning on taking pictures of wolves in Yellowstone, while a 300mm lens won’t be useful to photograph in close proximity.
5. Don’t Forget the Tripod
Many of us tend to leave the tripod home because we don’t want to haul it around. Big mistake. It is an extremely useful piece of your gear and can make or break your trip. It’s worth tying to your backpack, especially since they are becoming lighter and lighter.
6. Be Wise With Your Backpack
There are many backpacks on the market, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. Pick one that is well reviewed and fits your own personal needs. How much gear do you like to bring, how big are your lenses, what weight are you comfortable with and so on…
It’s a good precaution to pick a bag with a waterproof cover as well.
Depending on the area you are traveling to, use safety precautions. This will depend what type of trip you’re doing and how long. If you’re in bear country, bring bear spray. Think about bringing a whistle, horn, an emergency kit, basic medications, a water filter etcetera.
Also think about traveling with others or let the people at home know where you are. Give them the location of your car and which trail you are hiking. GPS locators may also be a great idea.
Photographing wildlife is unlike other subjects. Situations can vary very quickly and the subject might be on the move. Use the lowest ISO possible, shoot RAW and us AF Continuous / Al Servo on your camera, which will let the camera continue to autofocus even when the subject is moving around. To do this, keep pressing the button or press the shutter button halfway while following the subject. The camera will automatically calculate the changing focus for you.
9. Golden Light
Getting up early and being on location when the sun is rising (and shortly after) is a prime time for great shots. This is also when many animals are either settling down or getting their day started, especially on hot days to avoid the midday heat. The light in the early morning and late afternoon is the most beautiful light in which to take pictures in. Your photographs will be exponentially better looking compared to the harsh light conditions in midday. Overcast days are an exception of course.
10. Enjoy But Leave No Trace
The most important thing is to have fun. Don’t get too caught up with getting the perfect picture. Instead, focus on the moment and the picture will come. Don’t let the files on your memory card dictate the amount of fun you had that day.
At the same time, leave no trace. As outdoor enthusiasts, it is our responsibility to keep things intact and not pile up garbage or wreck the habitat we’re visiting. Minimize your impact as much as possible, so the habitat will still be there next time you visit, as well for our future generations.
By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.