When you’re in the biz of capturing animal photos and aiming to take your craft to the next level, examining and catching the personality of whatever wildlife you’re shooting is key. Photos that tell a story are easier on the eyes and are more captivating as a general rule of thumb. While many photographers learn that telling stories with their photos is important to creating great shots, those same photographers may not realize this also applies to wildlife photography. Humans may not be able to relate directly to animals in the wild, but it’s amazing how much character you can convey through a series of images. Animals can be bold, shy, curious and even funny. Here are six tips for snapping your best wildlife shots to date.
Sure, cropping can be done later in editing, but tight framing your subjects with your camera leaves you with less work later on. This type of composition technique is especially useful in putting all of the focus on the animal subject. For achieving this type of shot, it’s easiest to isolate your subject using a wide aperture for a shallow depth of field and a telephoto lens.
Similarly to humans, behaviors in animals can be normal and predictable, while others might catch you by surprise. Capturing these behaviors with your camera can convey the whole character of a particular species. It can be a great help to read up on and study the animal you’re shooting before you step out into the wild. This way, you’ll know where to look and what to look out for so you can get more ideal images. Lots of animals have display signs ingrained in their behaviors, so studying them will clue you in to when you’ll see action, and even interaction, between groups of animals.
Everyone loves adorable shots of families, and this applies to the animal kingdom as well. Of course, not all animals care for their young, but those that do can make for great photo ops. Look for families of birds and mammals to capture playful shots of interactions like feeding time and familial bonding. Naturally, you need to be in the right place at the right time, but these moments are always very rewarding when you manage to catch them.
Animals won’t try to be funny like humans will, but that doesn’t mean that what they do can’t make us laugh. Humorous moments are bound to happen when you’re taking wildlife images, but you have to be on your toes and have one finger on your shutter button since they can happen in a split second. Keep your eye to the viewfinder and be patient. Snapping multiple photos in succession can mean getting that one shot that will really put a smile on peoples’ faces.
The right lighting makes or breaks a photograph, and that translates into nature photography as well. If you want to really highlight your subjects and bring attention to them in your image, backlighting is particularly effective. If you see interesting lighting around your subject, you need to be careful about your exposure. You want to keep the individual or subject properly exposed while also not blowing out the highlights.
6. Be Different
All photographers have been told to experiment from time to time and some may get sick of hearing it, but honestly, it works. High-key style photography can be effective in isolating the subject against a background with strong highlights. Isolated shots with clear backgrounds can look intimate like portraits and showcase the subject nicely. Most of all, stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing. Forget the traditional rule of thirds and golden ratio – try breaking the rules and seeing what kind of photo magic you can make.