How To Improve Wildlife Photography

Wildlife photography is a very popular area to specialize in, and for good reason.

It gives you a great excuse to spend extended periods of time outdoors, keeps you fit, and allows you to develop a real appreciation for the natural world.

But it can also be a very challenging field too, especially since your subject is often running away from you! Plus, wildlife is usually active in low light conditions at dusk or dawn.

If you are a beginner who is looking to capture beautiful wildlife photograph, you are in the right place.

We are going to share with you 14 of our top wildlife photography tips so you can start improving your nature photos straight away.

Capturing wildlife is a rewarding experience if you can overcome the challenges

1. Shoot on Eye-level

wildlife photography tips
Moving onto eye-level introduces impact into your shot. 

When you’re standing up and shooting an animal on the ground, your angle of view is pointing downwards. This detracts from the photo, making the perspective seem strange. It also decreases the distance between the subject and the background, getting rid of your chance for that nice, soft creamy bokeh background.

Instead, get eye-level with your subject. It brings the viewer down to the animal’s level, creating a much more interesting perspective. It will most likely increase the distance between the subject and the background, removing distracting elements by throwing the backdrop out of focus.

2. Study Wildlife Behaviour

A greenshank bird flapping winds after bathing
Watching this greenshank bathing, I knew it would flap its wings to dry off

Getting to know the animal you’re photographing can be a really helpful trick. If you know about an animal’s typical behavioral traits, you’ll be able to predict movements or particular things you can focus on capturing.

Do some reading online, or in textbooks, to learn a bit of background about the animal you’re looking to photograph. In fact, you can do this quickly by watching videos on YouTube to study how different animals move, behave and act.

Two male deers fighting in mating season
Knowing animal behaviour allows you to anticipate their next move while photographing them

For example, some animals are very territorial at particular times of the year. You might be photographing deer stags, and you can expect males to fight during the rutting season (October time).

If you know about this beforehand, and the types of behavior that signal a fight is about to occur (in this case parallel walking, roaring, pawing the ground, etc.), you stand a better chance of capturing it on camera.

3. Use Your Lens Hood

Lots of people ignore their lens hoods, especially for shorter focal length lenses. I’m not sure why, as they really do help.

Lens hoods are great at preventing annoying lens flare, something that is pretty apparent when you’re shooting towards the sun.

They also eliminate stray light coming from the sides, improving contrast and clarity of a photo.

A pack of antelopes roaming in the fields of Africa.
Using a lens hood helps to avoid unwanted lens flare and stray light

4. Experiment with Light

Light makes or breaks an image.

So you need to know how to use it to your advantage if you want to come away with something unique.

My favorite type of lighting for photographing wildlife is backlighting.

wildlife safari photography tips
Backlighting this spider monkey highlighted the edges of it. 
This is when the sun is positioned behind a subject, and you shoot towards it. It’s risky, as exposing the picture is difficult at times.

However, backlighting gives a nice halo to your subject, rim-lighting them and giving a very ‘magical’ feel to the scene. If the sun is particularly low, you can underexpose your photo to just reveal the golden outline of the animal.

Side-lighting is a little different, where the light source comes from… you guessed it… the side. It has a different effect, pulling out contours and casting interesting shadows.

A cheetah looking for a prey, photographed with side lighting
Side lighting helps to accentuate contours and shadows

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