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Ten Pro Tips for Spectacular Wildlife Photography

Leopard close upNature is full of gorgeous, colorful animals that can make you gasp in wonder. Capturing the majesty on film is not always an easy task but it is vastly rewarding.

The first challenge a wildlife photographer faces is location. A wildlife photographer has to go into the habitat of the animals in order to capture the exquisite creatures in their natural settings. This might mean you have to treck far into woods. It might mean you dive to the bottom of the ocean.

The wildlife photography experience is different than studio photography, where everything is under your control, it’s air conditioned and the break room is just down the hall. In the case of wildlife photography, the photographer has to face various hurdles like weather conditions, lightning, unpredictable behavior of the subject and the environment. All these elements are way beyond the control of wildlife photographer.

A good photographer would be the one who has the eye and patience to capture that magical moment. Believe me, once captured, it stays in the mind of viewers for a very long time.

Here are some Pro Tips that may help you in clicking those perfect wildlife pictures.

Know About Your Camera Features

First, even though it is a unique genre, wildlife photography follows the basic rules and steps of photography. The very first step is to be aware of your camera’s features and functions. This becomes more essential in case of wildlife photography as you might not get another chance to click that perfect pose of your subject. You should be aware of how to adjust shutter speed, focus point, aperture and so forth, while looking through the viewfinder. You should be so sure about all the camera settings that when the right time comes, you’ll be able to click the image immediately, without wasting any time in making adjustments.

Take your time to learn about your camera’s features and know them better than the back of your hand. Before going for wildlife exploration, try clicking as many pictures as possible to get a better understanding of your camera. You can refer the user manual that comes with the camera or even through the online videos.

Get so good with it that you can do it by touch, without looking directly.

photo example of underwater fish Get Low and Connect with the Creature

Get unique angels and perspectives for more interesting shots. Often this means low, at eye-level with the animal. Shooting at eye-level helps the viewer feel connected to that beautiful animal.

This technique offers various advantages as far as technicality is concerned. Positioning yourself at the eye level of the creature’s eye increases the chances of a better focus. Another advantage of getting low and clicking the picture at eye-level is that it helps in directing the attention on the subject and not on what lays behind the subject. This helps in clicking a clearer, sharper, and more beautiful picture of the creature.

Keep Background Original and Simple

Wildlife photography is full of adventurous moments. Photographers tend to get lost in the beauty of nature. Sometimes they get so lost in their subject that they even forget to check the background. They end up messing up that beautiful picture which otherwise would represent a magical moment.
Before pressing the shutter button, check the backdrop and surrounding. In case you find any unwanted distractions, take action accordingly. Shifting your position may help. Experts at “Dhaval Patel Photography” advise photographers to remain calm and composed while taking pictures of wild animals.

Know Your Subject

Before going for a shoot, try to get as many information as possible about your subject. This turns out to be very helpful as it gives you an idea about your subject’s behavior in different situations. Unlike humans, animals are entirely predictable as they follow a simple routine. Research your subject’s basic nature, preferable habitat, feeding habits, mating season, and so forth. This would help you find out in the wilderness and would also help you in predicting what’s going to be their next action, so you can prepare yourself to capture the upcoming moment.
Knowledge is the key to success. So more you know about your subject better would be your chances to click a distinctive and wonderful photo.

Try to Take Wide Angle and Fill Flash

In case you want to add the beautiful surroundings to your picture, try using wide-angle lens. It might take some time to capture that scenic beauty surrounding your subject, but once you get it, the result would be beyond your imagination. This might involve manual focusing; hence, some practice of manual focusing can be quite useful.
Use of advanced technique (Fill flash) in wildlife photography, gives remarkable results. Fill flash is a technique which turns out to very useful when you are shooting in places with poor lighting, like in a thick forest. This technique helps fill in the shadows.

Rain Streaks

Different animal behaves differently in the rain. A picture capturing birds hiding under a shed, or trying to shed water from their wings is worth all your time and effort. If you manage to capture those mesmerizing rain streaks  it would be like an icing on the cake. Capturing rain in film requires backlighting, or the raindrops disappear.

Shooting under extreme conditions is quite tricky, but it would enable viewers to see and feel your experience.  Many photographers prefer taking an easy road and shoot on a beautiful shiny day. Going against all the odds and shooting in such extreme conditions would make your photographs stand out.

primate sleeps in tree

Always Be Prepared

To be a successful wildlife photographer, you should always be ready to click. In wildlife photography, you are totally dependent on your subject. You have no control over your subject’s behavior. Hence, you should always be ready with your camera so that you have to press the click button whenever the moment arrives.
Second chances are quite rare in wildlife photography. Animals often move quickly so higher shutter speeds can be beneficial.

Keep shooting

Continuous shooting turns out to be a safe option which increases the chances of capturing a great shot. In wildlife photography, you don’t have any idea when the facial expression and body position will change. Bst results often involve being patient and letting the entire composition fall together and give you a picture better than your imagination.
To be on a safer side, you might have to click many shots. Hence, keeping extra batteries and spare memory cards is always a good idea.

Stretch Yourself and Try Something Out of the Box

Wildlife photography is all about knowing basic and fundamental rules of photography. You need to have a clear understanding of manual focusing, shutter speed settings, lighting, and so forth. A little adjustment in the settings and you may get a better shot. You have to be fast.
Always remember, your camera is only a tool which would help you in capturing the image. Magic which can convert that shot into a breath-taking and wonderful picture is YOU. Use your creativity and imagination, experiment using various techniques, try changing different lenses, test different viewpoints, and use different settings.
Take Care and Survive!
Finally, don’t forget that you are dealing with wild animals. It can be quite dangerous. So be safe as nothing comes above your own life.
Wildlife photography provides you lots of experience and enhances your skill set as a photographer. So, if you are bored of your regular shooting projects, try to explore wildlife photography, a trip filled with adventure and opportunities.

Dhaval PatelAbout the author:  Dhaval Patel is a wildlife photographer who enjoys sharing his passion with others.  I have two passions: Travel & Photography. Lucky for me they go hand in hand. My goal is to inspire and encourage others to get out into nature — it’s a beautiful and enlightening experience. Be sure to check back often to learn the various ways I photograph nature. If you have any requests feel free to contact me 🙂

Here is another article on how to get great wildlife shots.   Thanks for reading VPT.

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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  1. Hi Christian. My personal thought on that is to capture the wildlife in as natural a setting and activity as possible. When I look at wildlife films and pictures as a viewer, I want to be able to imagine I am right there out in the wild with that animal. What do you think?
    Lorraine

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