Wildlife photography is a beautiful and exciting career and hobby. You need to prepare yourself for a challenge: while sometimes you’ll run into opportunities right in front of you, more often it requires a lot of patience and time spent exploring the wild. Today, equipment has not only advanced but also become more affordable, so you start-up cost-effective and easy. Here are some tips on how you can get the best results that you’re aiming for.
Emphasize the subject
Make use of visual elements in order to draw the viewer’s attention to the important part of the picture. One of the effective tools for focusing interest on the subject is framing. You can either use the surroundings: tree branches, natural arches and windows, or you can arrange a number of visual elements around the subject. Sometimes the best solution is contrast between the frame and the subject. Another important factor is light: spotlighting or adding brightness behind your subject can draw the viewer’s focus. You can use the light to create silhouettes, depending on the time of day.
Get to know your subject
Since much of your wildlife photography is based upon catching the right moment, it is a good idea to be able to somewhat predict your subject’s behavior. Every animal species has a behavioral pattern that you can observe and learn about, even though it’s not always so easy to do. There is only one good way to do this, and that is to spend a lot of time with them. Be patient, sit with them and watch them closely. A good idea to do this is to start a project. Frame your photographs into a story, and devote your time to it. A well-defined and successfully done project is a good way to get noticed.
Shoot close and shoot wide
Shooting close, by getting face-to-face with your subject or by changing effective focal length by using a longer lens, can result in interesting studies of the animals you photograph, as well as enticing abstract compositional arrangements. However, getting too close to the subject and isolating them from their environment can end up looking like a photo of a captive subject, stripping the viewer of the understanding of the real environment that the animal habituates in. Therefore, shooting at a wider angle is often a better idea, as it lets the viewer in on where you have taken the picture and what is this animal’s habitat in the wild like.
Practice near your home
You don’t always need to travel far in order to make great photographs. There are probably a lot of interesting subjects close to your home, or a short walk or car ride away. Finding a nearby place where you can practice is like finding a no-pressure zone, a place where you can take your time exploring and getting acquainted with different techniques and equipment. Also, by visiting the same location often, you will start noticing subtle changes in nature better, and improve on your photography skills.
Get acquainted with your gear
It may sound obvious, but being well acquainted with your gear is essential. If you keep in mind that some of the best moments you can capture last less than a minute, if you don’t know characteristics and the abilities of your gear well enough, you will either miss or blow your chance to take the perfect picture. For example, you need to know the minimum shutter speed of your camera at which you can take a sharp photo or how far you can push the ISO and still get an acceptable result. Next to being well-acquainted with your camera, you should also pack yourself with all the other necessities, like a comfy camera backpack that will hold your gear, a large and reliable memory card and a sturdy tripod. Make sure that you are well-prepared.
Get to the subject’s eye level
The most effective wildlife photographs are those that create a connection between the animal and the viewer. The best way to get this effect is to take the photo at the subject’s eye level, which creates the illusion that the viewer is sharing a moment inside the subject’s world, instead of feeling like an outsider that is looking in. It is really important to get the eyes right. If the eyes are lost in shadow or out of focus, or worse, if the subject blinks or looks away, the connection between the viewer and the animal is severed, and the photography no longer has the same power.
Have fun while taking pictures
In the end, your wildlife photography won’t work if you’re not enjoying it. You need to be more than just at the right place – you need to be in the moment, taking in the wonderful event that you are witnessing, without obsessing too much with technical issues. And of course, don’t let your project get you down. You will miss some shots, and you will have days when you just won’t be able to get the picture that you want. Remember that wildlife photography is all about patience.