8 Tips to start in wildlife photography

Starting off with wildlife photography is not easy, and a lot of people get lost at the beginning, so I have made a list of 8 tips that will set you along the right path to making great wildlife images...  :)

I. Gear does not matter

Ok, this is not entirely true, better gear does produce better results, in particular in difficult situations, BUT this is only when used by someone who knows what they are doing. So don't stress about it, you can take wildlife images with any set-up. At this stage it is better to spend your money on getting out there shooting than buying the best of the best gear. That will come later. :)

Canon 450D and EF-S 55-250 IS II... This is one of my first shots when I ventured into wildlife photography in September 2012.

II. Get to eye level

This is a key tip, shoot at the eye level of the subject, not up, or down, but at their eye level or as close to it as you can get.

III. Shoot local, and shoot often

I've spoken about this in a recent post here. The fastest way to improve is to shoot. So find anywhere locally that you can shoot anything. It doesn't matter if it is a pigeon on your back fence... If you can't take a good pic of a pigeon, how are you meant to take a good pic of an eagle if you see it. So shoot local and shoot as often as you can.

Mute Swans on a frozen lake in a park close to my apartment in Paris, France.

IV. Copy cat

Look at other people images and ask yourself why you like it, then try and copy them. This image of a leopard up a tree was inspired by the 2012 Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Photographer of the Year image by Sudhir Shivaram. It is not the same, but I loved the composition of Sudhir's image, and when I had the opportunity I remember that, and implemented it in my image too.

So look at other peoples work, see what you like, remember it and try to copy it. :) For inspiration check out jungledragon.com

V. Know your subject

Firstly, we tend to get into wildlife photography because we like wildlife, so knowing more about wildlife is fun. It will help you find your subject of interest too, and iIt will also help you make a better image... Knowing about your subject and it's behaviour will get you in the right place for the action (if any) or recognise strange behaviour well worth documenting! :)

Once while looking for leopards up a tree, i saw this Dhole (Indian wild dog) up a tree instead...  very odd behavior for a dog! :)

VI. Be respectful of the wildlife

We are in their world, so respect that. Don't damage their nests or disturb young offspring. Do not litter, or leave anything behind that shouldn't be there. General common sense for treating the wildlife with respect.

VII. Have your camera ready at all times

I have a logic-loop for wildlife photography, always keeping my camera set-up for the action. You never know when it will be so, you need to be ready.

I start with “standard” shooting settings, that is a kind of ” jack-of-all-trades default that fits immediate action if it should arise. Note, this is constantly changing as lighting conditions change, but this is my general starting point:

  • AF set to continuous and center point only
  • Aperture priority with the lowest F-value my lens can do and the ISO set to give a shutter speed around ~1/500

You can read more about 'MY LOGIC LOOP, OR HOW I SHOOT WILDLIFE' here!

VIII. Read my FREE ebook!

It's free and has lots of advice on improving your wildlife and nature photography, so why not? :) You can click the image below to check it out! :)

I hope this helps all the budding wildlife photographers out there...  and remember this is just the tip of the ice-berg so stay strong, keep shooting and you will get better. Also keep an eye on my blog, as I frequently have tips and advice here.

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