As you can probably figure out, photographing the wild comes with many challenges. Yep, capturing wildlife on your camera is a completely different type of photography. It requires tremendous patience, it’s a little daring and most of all, you need finely tuned instincts. So, without further ado, below are a few things you can do to get beautiful wildlife photos with ease!
Most insects are late risers, which means they can’t fly until they’re warmed up enough. Because of that, you have the advantage of capturing them in their sleepy state before they fly away. That also means you can get much closer to them to take better photos.
It’s best to hide yourself while you wait for your subject to arrive. That way, you won’t disturb its natural habitat just for the sake of photography. It also helps with your own security, especially when you’re in the middle of a large national park where potentially dangerous animals live.
You also need to be very stealth. Move at a slow pace and stay close to the ground. A sudden movement could frighten your subject and you could miss a once in a lifetime shot. Also, make sure you don’t move in too close. You just need to be close enough to fill your frame with the subject. Similarly, when you’re done taking your pictures, move back out with the same motions. After all, animals do deserve their privacy and you have no right to alarm them once you’re done.
Keep Your Distance
It’s agreed that you can get the best detail when your camera is as close to the subject as possible. Yes, that’s great, but if you get too close, you’re putting your own safety at risk. Wild animals are masters of surprise and you never know what could trigger them to attack. You can still get great photos from a safe distance!
If you find a bird nesting in a thick cover, do not try to uncover it! The best thing to do is wait until the bird emerges from the nest. Of course, that demands patience, but you already know that’s a requirement of wildlife photography. You can’t make things happen. You just have to wait for them to occur. Wildlife photography gives you the chance to observe and learn. Yes, it may take awhile for you to get the photo you’re looking for, but if you’re patient and you simply slow down, you’ll get what you want.
Rules of Composition
You should also strive for balance in your images. Try to incorporate different elements into your picture that have equal weight. For example, something at the edge of your picture will have more appeal than something in the center. Similarly, an element in the foreground has less weight than one in the background. Elements with higher contrast to their surroundings also have greater attraction. Colors play an important part as well, so while you’re composing your image, always make the most of compositional lines. They could be a row of trees, a shoreline or a rocky hillside in the background. Special effects like that can really make a photo.
See Better and Think Faster
Wildlife photography requires you to think on your feet and be far more observant than ever before. Some of the things you need to keep in mind include: the direction of light and its effect on your picture, the colors you can balance in your frame and the textures in the scene that could form your foreground/background or the subject itself. You should also think about the animal’s direction in the frame. For example, while most photographers are happy with a bird in the center of the frame, it might be even better to capture the bird leaving the frame so that you can convey dynamism and movement.
No wildlife photograph is good if you can’t capture the eye of your subject. Therefore, it’s important to do that with precision, care and skill. You should use either the manual or auto focus on the eye and then use the focus lock to recompose your image. If the eye isn’t sharp, your photo will be lifeless. For instance, when a bird is in flight, focus on its head and you’ll get one of the best images you’ve ever taken.
Time of Day
Photographers will tell you it’s not wise to go on wildlife shoots in midday when the sun is directly over you. During that time of day, the sun has a nasty habit of forming harsh shadows over your subjects. The best time to go is either early in the morning or past 4 p.m.
Catch the Light
Light is essential in bringing life to your wildlife pictures. If you use flash without forming shadows of your subjects, you are on your way to creating a “catch light” in the final image, which is a localized edge contrast boost that gives a perceived increase in image sharpness. It can also be used to balance the exposure of a back-lit subject.
Watch Your Shadow
It’s very easy to get close to an insect, but you should also bear in mind that your shadow can easily fall on the subject. If that happens, your picture will look a little odd and you won’t be happy with the result.
Wildlife photography is just like taking pictures of people. Therefore, the same principle of shooting at eye level applies here as well. Not only will it connect with the viewer, but the subject will look far more down to earth and less intimidating. Now, go out there and take some wild photos!
~ Zahid H. Javali