Animal Photography: Tips and Techniques for Capturing Wildlife

118 views 1:34 am 0 Comments October 15, 2023

Photography of Animals

Photography of animals can be a fun way to get your kids involved in nature. It’s also a great option for zoo and safari park photos.

Photographing wildlife requires patience and skill. It’s important to capture natural behavior, without disturbing the animal in any way. Focus on eye contact to personalize your images and invite the viewer into your subject’s world.

Composition

When photographing animals, composition is essential to creating a successful image. Whether you are shooting close-ups of a lion’s eyes or a sweeping landscape, the way you place your subjects in the frame can make or break the photo.

Using the technique of juxtaposition — placing two very different subjects next to each other — is one way to draw attention to their differences. This works well for subjects with strikingly different characteristics, such as a big dog and a small dog or a black and white animal.

It’s also important to leave a bit of breathing room around your subject. This is known as negative space, and it helps your photos look balanced and pleasing to the eye. Crowding wildlife into a composition forces the animal to work harder to get its eye into the frame and often leads to less-than-ideal results.

Lighting

Lighting is perhaps the most important element of wildlife photography. When animals have the light behind them – known as backlighting – the resulting images can be striking. However, it is not easy to do well.

It is often best to shoot backlit subjects against a dark background to reduce contrast issues. This technique is also useful for animals that have glossy surfaces, such as frogs and birds, which can be robbed of their true color in glaring conditions.

Another trick is to use spot metering when shooting to ensure that the animal is correctly exposed and not the surrounding foliage or sky. Finally, shooting in black and white can really make some animal photos stand out. For example, desaturating this hyena’s image brings out its spots and highlights the drool on its lips.

Getting Close

Many animals are skittish and it’s important to keep a respectful distance without disturbing them. However, you can also get some compelling shots by getting close and transporting the viewer into the animal’s world.

Using a wide angle lens to shoot down on the animal can offer an intimate view of its environment. It’s also a good idea to check the edges of your frame for distracting elements, like branches or twigs that might detract from the image.

Researching your subject helps you move beyond animal portraits and discover more descriptive images that tell a story about the animal and its habitat. For example, learning that woodpeckers often take off into the wind for extra lift makes it easier to find them when they’re swooping down on their next prey item.

Getting on the Ground

Many wildlife photographers are guilty of shooting their subjects from above, but it’s important to get down on the ground for eye-level images. This helps to establish a connection between the viewer and the animal, as well as making the photo less threatening to animals.

Another key is to learn about the animals you’re photographing. Knowing their feeding times, for instance, can help you anticipate their movements and capture them at their best.

It’s also helpful to know what habitat they live in, what time of year they’re present and what sounds they make. This research may be a conscious process or simply an observational one, but it’s invaluable for helping you find the best photo opportunities.

Using a Telephoto Lens

A telephoto lens is an ideal tool for wildlife photography. Its naturally thinner depth of field makes it easy to focus on your subject while blurring the background behind them, and it can also simplify compositions by eliminating distractions.

These lenses are also a great way to photograph distant objects that you can’t approach, such as a city skyline or mountain range. This is helpful because wild animals often don’t take kindly to photographers trying to get too close and they may even flee the scene.

A telephoto lens can be used for more than just wildlife photography, though, and many photographers use them in creative ways to take their images to the next level. Remember that every lens has both practical and creative uses, so experiment with yours!

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