9 Tips To Help You Capture The Perfect Wildlife Photo

Most of us absolutely adore taking photos. We have access to all sorts of equipment at our fingertips – professional quality cameras, lighting kits, backdrops, tripods, or just a really high-quality smartphone camera. Social media networks, particularly Instagram, give us a platform to share our photography efforts with not only our close family and friends but with a global audience. More people than ever are taking photography courses and are editing their photos in ways that were only available to professional photographers a few years ago. On the internet, you can find guides galore to taking the perfect shot of your children, or of your pet dog, or even of your dinner. Here, we look at something a little different – nature and wildlife. This can be a tricky genre to shoot because you can’t really stage it or reshoot it – animals and insects will not pose for you-you have to be there, ready and waiting to grab that perfect moment.

wildlife photo - wood duck

Photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash

9 Tips to Capture Unique Wildlife and Nature Shot Photos

  1. Have the right equipment

First things first, you need to make sure you have the right equipment. It is said that the best camera you have is the one in your hand – whether that is a fancy DSLR, a basic point and shoot, a disposable camera or your mobile phone. That still stands absolutely true. Sometimes though, having the right equipment helps.  A tripod stabilizes your camera and reduces the chance of blurs. It is also a must-have if you take night time or low light shots. If you haven’t got one, or forget it, see if you can find something to balance your camera safely on. Do not forget a case to protect your phone or camera, especially if you are shooting outdoors. You may also want to invest in some basic editing software. Lightroom and Photoshop are relatively inexpensive to purchase, around £10 each for a month for a subscription, and allow you to turn your photos into something really special. If you are shooting on your phone, there are plenty of apps available to allow you to do it on your phone, or you can use airdrop to send photos from your phone to your Apple computer, or vice versa. If you are not quite sure how to do this, you can find a guide to it here

  1. Scrap the rules and experiment – look for new perspectives

There are many ‘rules’ when it comes to photography, but our best advice is to break as many of those as you want. You often know before you take it how you want your picture to turn out – even if it breaks all of the rules, go for it. Want to get down on the floor, or climb up on a chair?  Do it!

  1. Composition

Ok, so above we told you to scrap the rules, but sometimes there are some that will really help you. There is the rule of thirds: imagine your frame split into nine grids – a lot of cameras, even the most basic of ones,  have a setting where you can make this grid visible. The points where the lines meet are the best spots for positioning the focal point of your shot.  Another composition technique that works really well when you are trying to get perfect wildlife and nature photos are leading lines. These are natural lines within the frame that draw your eyes to something.

  1. Get up close to your subject

This can be a more tricky one if you are trying to get shots of wildlife – they do not tend to like cameras up in their faces. Obviously, on pretty much all cameras now you have a zoom feature which is absolutely fine. However, this digital zoom can make it go all pixelated, which is never a good thing. Optical zooms work much better, but if you have a set of binoculars to hand, try putting the lens of your camera at one of the eyepieces.

  1. Shoot in the Golden Hour

Golden hour is the time around sunrise or sunset, when the light is much softer and diffused, casting everything in a beautiful golden glow. This is the best time of day to get photos – it avoids bright spots and dark shadows. Cloudy days are also surprisingly good for photos because again, the light is naturally filtered and softer than harsh sunlight.

  1. Patience

Wildlife shots are particularly difficult to capture because animals are not natural posers. To get that perfect photo, you may have to wait hours – even days or weeks – but once you have got it, it will be all worth it.

  1. Take Advantage of Burst Mode

It is really good practice to capture action shots using your camera’s rapid-fire or “burst mode” setting, which most modern camera and smartphone cameras. Most cameras can take between three and 20 images per second, increasing your odds of nailing that perfect shot. Just remember to use a memory card with a write speed of at least 95MB/second, so that your camera does not seize up while processing the photos.

  1. Use Macro

A macro lens is an excellent tool for shooting small reptiles and tiny insects that typically go unnoticed. These close-range lenses are available for most DSLR and mirrorless camera models, while some point-and-shoots and mobile phone cameras have a built-in macro setting that can be switched on. Macro photography forces you to get up close and personal to your subject, so remember to move slowly and avoid making any sudden movements.

  1. Practice, practice. practise

Like anything, practice makes perfect. Keep looking for opportunities to take wildlife and nature photos – there are plenty of them! Take your camera everywhere you go ready for that elusive and unique shot!

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