When you want to capture those breathtaking wildlife shots, the first thing any wildlife photographer will tell you is the following: Patience is a virtue.
Animals are elusive, unpredictable, and can disappear faster than you can blink. You could be waiting all day for the perfect shot, but you may not get it the first time around. Many wildlife photographers go to the same places, time after time, trying to understand their subjects. For example, their eating habits, movements in the area, and what times of day they appear and disappear.
In doing this, they know next time when to be there, where the best chances of photographing their subject are, and the animals’ routine for capturing the special moments.
We’ve compiled a few tips for wildlife photography and how to use your camera for the best outcomes.
Fast Shutter Speeds
Using a fast shutter speed freezes the movement of your animal subject cause we all know they won’t stay still for long!
If the animals you photograph sit still or move slowly, you can get away with a slow shutter speed. However, depending on the animal’s movements and speed, you may need to go for a faster shutter speed, such as 1/250 or 1/500th of a second, or at times, faster. If you’re trying to capture a running cheetah or a flock of flying birds, you will likely need to use a shutter speed of 1/1250th of a second.
Shooting in Aperture mode can allow you to experiment with the different shutter speeds by adjusting the aperture. Remember your camera fundamentals. A faster shutter speed needs a smaller aperture; the slower the shutter speed, the higher the aperture.
Whether you choose a zoom lens or a fixed focal length lens, a long lens for your wildlife photography is your best friend. There’s no need to try and sneak up close to your subject and risk spooking it. Zoom or fixed focal length lenses can keep you safe enough away from your subject so you’re not disturbing them in their natural habitats (and ensuring your own safety) whilst being able to capture those spectacular close-ups.
Animals are not ones to do what you want them to, especially the wild ones. They won’t stay still or strike a pose for you. So, the game of patience begins.
If you’ve ever been to a zoo or safari park and have seen photographers standing at a particular animal enclosure, chances are they have been or will be there for a while, waiting for what they call ‘the money shot.’
A lot of wildlife photography is all about the waiting game, so you have to be willing to be patient and prepared.
Zoom Out Once in a While
It’s a popular thing to capture the close-ups of wildlife, to focus on their faces, their markings, and a glimpse of their personalities, but sometimes it’s just as magical to zoom out and capture the beauty of their location too. Not only does it provide context, but depth to your image, as well as joy, seeing your animal subject in their natural habitats.
Continuous Shooting Mode
Continuous shooting mode or burst mode is a setting that enables you to capture several photos at a time. Firing off your camera like this can help you capture the perfect shots of animals on the go. Animals are unpredictable; therefore, you never know what’s going to happen or which direction they’re going to take next for you to photograph something picture-worthy. So this setting can help ensure you don’t miss anything. However, be aware that this setting can use your memory cards quickly, so make sure you have a large amount of memory or extra memory cards with you.