This article would be useful for all those who are interested in Wildlife photography. I am sharing 101 Wildlife Photography tips based on my experience. You can make use of these useful wildlife photography tips to improve your photography skills and be a better wildlife photographer.
101 Wildlife Photography Tips
1. Be Patient
Let me start with one of the most important wildlife photography tips. Patience is the key to a great wildlife photograph. Suppose your safari jeep spotted a tiger lying inside the bushes then you should be patient enough for it to come out to get a good shot. If you photograph it with all the clutters of the bush then there is no photographic value in that.
2. Follow Wildlife Photography Ethics
You should always give respect to the wildlife subject you are shooting. You should not make sounds or noise to draw its attention to get good shots. Always make sure that you are at a comfortable distance from the animal. This is also essential for getting a natural shot.
3. Use Prime lens
There is no replacement for a Prime lens. You can never match its quality with a zoom lens even though it is costly.
4. Try Wide angle
Use wide angle lenses to create a different perspective. Carry a wide angle lens along with your telephoto lenses.
You can capture awesome images when the animal comes close by or when the landscape is good. Please ensure that you compose the image properly.
5. Don’t Use Flash
Don’t disturb wild animals by triggering the flash. It can even harm the eyes of the animal. Also, the animal may get angry and it can attack you.
6. Use Torch to Photograph Subjects at Night
Using a torch is a good way to photography nocturnal animals. So, always carry a good decent torch in your camera bag when you are photographing wildlife at night.
7.Wear Camouflage/Dull Clothes
Wear dull colored clothes, like shades of dull green or brown or Camouflage clothes so that you don’t become a distraction for the subject. Camouflage clothes are not allowed in certain places. So, do check before using one.
8. Carry a Backup Camera Body
There can be situations where your main camera may throw in some issues. So, always carry a backup camera body so that you don’t miss any photo opportunity.
9. Shoot in RAW format
Always shoot in RAW format. The main advantage of using a DSLR camera is its ability to capture the image in RAW format. So, you should make full use of that. It allows you to fine tune your image later while post processing.
10.Carry Spare Camera Batteries
Sometimes you may get very lucky with wildlife sightings. In these situations, you will click lots of pictures. You may even shoot videos. This will consume lots of battery power. Also, most of the wildlife photographs use Burst mode, which demands more power. So, you may run out of battery power. So, always carry spare camera batteries with you.
11. Use Burst Mode
It would be good to use continuous burst mode while capturing action wildlife photography. This will ensure that you don’t miss any good moments. Use it wisely as it drains your camera batteries quickly.
12. Do Research on your Destination
You should do a proper research about the place or safari park you are visiting. This will help you to know what you can expect over there. You can google for information or you can check with your friends who had already visited that place. This will help you to plan properly.
13.Spend some Time with Subject
You should spend some time with your subject. This will ensure that you get the best shots out of them. The animal needs to get used to you to show its natural behavior. So, you should ensure that the animal is comfortable with your presence. This will take some time.
There is no replacement for “Practice”. There is a well known saying that Practice makes a Man perfect. Same is applicable to wildlife photography also. You should get out in the field and photograph subjects regularly.
15. Learn your Camera Properly
It doesn’t matter if you own a high end DSLR camera or a budget camera. You will be able to capture good wildlife photos only if you know how to operate it. So, go through the camera manual and try out each camera settings. This will help you to learn your camera in a better manner.
16. Use Zoom Telephoto lenses for Composition
Zoom lens can’t beat the image quality of a prime lens. But, a zoom lens has the advantage of Image Composition. When you are doing wildlife photography in a safari jeep, your movements are restricted. So, when you use a fixed focal length prime lens you won’t get the flexibility of including the desired elements in the frame. So, carry an additional camera body fitted with a zoom lens.
17. Capture Silhouettes
The best thing to do as a wildlife photographer when there is no light is to photograph silhouettes. The light during Sunset and sunrise is the best for Silhouette photography. Shoot against the Sun with the subject in the foreground.
18. Try shooting Videos
If your DSLR camera supports video recording try capturing wildlife videos too. Nowadays, short wildlife videos are getting more popular in social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. You can shoot videos and share it over there.
19. Play with Exposure
As a wildlife photographer, you don’t have to shoot always in the correct exposure. Try Underexposing or Overexposing the image to create unique wildlife images.
20. Carry Headlamp
If you are photographing in the night, it would be a good idea to use a headlamp.
21. Use Beanbag
Beanbag is a must-have accessory if you are doing wildlife photography on a safari jeep. It will help you to stabilize your camera and lens set up when you are photographing from a vehicle.
22. Use Monopod
Sometimes, you will have to trek inside the forest or mountains for wildlife photography. You won’t be able to take your tripod in such a situation. So, use a monopod instead. A Carbon Fiber 4 section monopod would be an ideal one to have.
23. Use Tripod
Tripods are useful if you are waiting inside a hide. Make sure that you select right tripod. It should be steady while shooting.
24. Use Gimbal Head
Gimbal head is the one which you should use as a wildlife photographer. It helps you to pan vertically as well as horizontally. So, you can easily move around your camera around the axis and capture the image. It is good for photographing wildlife action shots.
25. Start a Website and Create a Portfolio
You should showcase your wildlife photographs to the world, then only people would come to know about you and your works. So, set up a photography website and upload your best wildlife photos.
26. Upload Images to Social Media Sites Regularly
Social media websites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are good platforms for a wildlife photographer to showcase his works. It is always good to get feedback on your pictures and it would be best to get it from the people following your photos.
27. Don’t Litter in Wildlife Areas
Be a responsible wildlife photographer. Don’t litter in wildlife areas and protected core areas.
28. Try Playing with Light
You can get different lighting situations during different times of the day. So, try playing with the light around. Don’t hesitate to photograph when the light becomes harsh. You never know that harsh light can be a good element for that particular scene.
29. Follow works of other Wildlife photographers
If you want to improve wildlife photography skills then you should definitely check out the photos of other wildlife photographers. You can learn a lot from these pictures, the way they compose, the angle and other details. I am not telling you to copy their style. You can get inspired by their photos.
30. Join good Wildlife Photography forums
Photography forums are a good place to get connected with many fellow wildlife photographers. It is the best place to get your pictures reviewed. Only they can see the image from a photographer’s perspective. So, those inputs can be really useful to improve your photography skills.
31. Participate in Wildlife Photography Contests
Make it a habit to participate in Wildlife photography competitions regularly. It is not necessary that you need to win a prize. But, you will come to know where you stand.
32. Use Teleconverters with Prime Telephoto lenses
Teleconverters are the best companion for a wildlife photographer. It will help you to get that extra reach. I recommend using teleconverters with a Prime lens. Using it with a zoom lens will result in the reduction in picture quality and autofocusing speed.
33. Try shooting with Medium Telephoto lenses
Medium telephoto focal lengths like 70-200mm are good for getting good images with wildlife habitats. Image of a tiger in its habitat can be more interesting than a tight close-up shot of the same tiger.
34. Use a GoPro action camera
GoPro action cameras very useful to get ultra wide images. The main advantage of a GoPro camera is that you can place it anywhere you want, with the help of various mounts. It allows you to capture images at different angles and positions.
35. Upload Photos on Stock photography websites
if you are planning to sell wildlife images then uploading good resolution images in stock photography websites is a good option. Don’t expect to generate a huge amount of income through this. If your image gets purchased multiple times then you can get a decent income.
36. Carry an Insect repellant/Mosquito repellant
You can expect mosquitoes and insects in forests and wildlife habitats. So, always carry an Insect repellant with you.
37. Invest in a good camera bag
A good camera bag is a basic necessity for any wildlife photographer. So, consider investing in a good one. There are many varieties of camera bags available in the market like camera backpacks, camera trolleys and hard cases. You can select one based on the camera gear you own and the camera bag features.
38. Carry a Basic Camera Cleaning Kit
You can always expect dirt and dust when you are doing wildlife photography. So, carry a basic camera cleaning kit, one which includes a brush, cleaning cloth, few wet wipes and a blower would be sufficient.
39. Use Clamps
You can make use of clamps on safari vehicle. This will help you to mount your Gimbal tripod head or any other tripod heads to the vehicle. You can make use of this to get a steady shot.
40. Use Thumb rule for Shutter Speed selection
When you are looking for sharp and crisp wildlife photos, you need to ensure that you get the correct shutter speed. Make use of the thumb rule of Shutter speed selection. The lowest shutter speed chosen should be the reciprocal of your focal length when you are shooting handheld. If you are photographing with a 500mm lens then you should use a minimum shutter speed of 1/500.
41. Use Auto Focus
Don’t waste your time in exploring manual focusing. Use Autofocus to get a good focus lock on the subject. Use Manual focus only when the Autofocus fails (due to low light conditions).
42. Back Button Focusing
If you are shooting an animal which is lying down or stationary, then using Back button focusing would be a good idea. Once the focus is locked, you can press the shutter button when you get the desired pose.
43. Right Technique for Handholding the Camera and Lens
Make sure that you use the right technique to hold your camera and lens set up while shooting. Otherwise, your image will be blurry.
44. Watermark Images shared on the Internet
Make sure that you watermark images which you are planning to upload on the internet. It would be good to upload a web resolution quality rather than a full resolution image.
45. Compose with Rule of Thirds
46. Use Vertical and Horizontal Lines for Composition
Vertical and Horizontal lines in the scene can be used for Image Composition.
47. Composition with Curves
If you have interesting paths in the scene, like pathways inside a forest. Make use of these curves for image composition.
48. Use Auto White Balance
Set Auto White Balance as your default White Balance settings and shoot in RAW. You can adjust White balance later in post processing if required.
49. Use Evaluative Metering
Evaluative metering works 90 percent of the time. So, use it as your default metering mode.
50. Shoot in Manual Mode
Start using Camera Manual mode. Don’t let the camera control you. As a wildlife photographer, you should be controlling the camera. This will help you to photograph in any lighting conditions.
51. Photograph Animal Portraits
Capture good animal portraits.
52. Photograph Tight Close Up Headshots
Sometimes, you may find it difficult to fit the full body of the animal into the camera. This is a good opportunity for close up headshots.
53. Shoot Reflections
If the subject is near any water body, look out for reflections. Try to capture it along with the subject.
54. Photograph Animals in Action
Anyone would love to see wildlife action photos. So, don’t miss such an opportunity.
55. Carry Additional Memory Card
You never know when you will run out of memory. So, carry additional memory cards. Some high-end cameras like Canon 1DX Mark ii come with 2 memory card slots. So, make use of both the slots so that you don’t have to change the card in the field.
56. Use Low Angle for shooting
Always try to photograph the subject at eye level or at a lower angle.
57. Photograph Story Telling Scenes
Capture storytelling photographs. It can be a series of photographs too.
58. Capture Intimate Moments
If you get a wildlife sighting with mother an cubs or animals in a group. Look for the intimate moments.
Don’t restrict yourself to beautiful portrait shots alone. Try to capture the interaction between the wild animals.
59. Network with other Wildlife Photographers
Make sure that you are in touch with other wildlife photographers. This will help you to get useful pieces of information.
60. Learn Post Processing
Don’t get lazy when it comes to post processing. If you don’t know how to do it, learn it and start post processing your images.
61. Learn to Denoise and Sharpen
It is good to learn how to remove the noise from an image without losing much image details. Also, learn to correctly sharpen your image.
62. Contact Magazines for Publishing your Wildlife Photos
Get in touch with local magazines and publishing houses in your area to publish your wildlife photos. If you contact magazines like National Geographic they are less likely to publish your images.
63. Contact Wildlife Calendar Publishers
There are many calendar companies looking for good wildlife images. Get in touch with them. You can make some decent amount of money out of it.
64. Learn something about Wildlife photography Daily
Make it a habit to learn something about Wildlife photography daily.
65. Try Slow Shutter effect for Action Shots
Use a slow shutter speed for action shots to get the Motion Blur effect in your images. Use a tripod for such shots.
66. Use Exposure Bracketing
If you are having trouble exposing the subject, make use of Exposure bracketing and photograph the scenes in multiple exposures and choose one amongst them.
67. Create HDR Images
Shoot HDR images if your camera supports it or make use of Auto Exposure Bracketing to create images at multiple exposures and later stitch them in Photoshop.
68. Shoot Low Key Images
Try Low Key Photography if you have some shade behind the subject and when the subject is in good light.
69. Shoot High Key Images
Try High Key Photography style if you are getting the subject against a bright background.
70. Develop Your Own Style
People should be able to differentiate you from the rest of the wildlife photographers through your photographs. So, develop your own style.
71. Print your Wildlife Images
It is a good habit to print your photos. The real feel of a wildlife image can be felt only when it is printed. You will also come to know if you are getting the picture right or not.
72. Do Photography Exhibitions
Showcase your work by doing photography exhibitions. Showcase your best works in Exhibitions.
73. Try Selling Photo Prints
Try to sell your wildlife images through your website or through other stock photography sites.
74. Develop your Workflow
Develop your workflow for storing and processing Images
75. Create Multiple Backups of Photo Storage
Multiple Backups of the image are required to ensure that if one gets deleted, you have another copy somewhere else.
76. Use Cloud Storage
Make use of the Cloud Storage to store your photos online.
77. Try using Shallow Depth Of Field
Use shallow Depth of Field to get a nice Background Blur.
78. Capture Black and White Wildlife Photos
Don’t restrict yourself to colors. Try Black and White Wildlife Photography also. See how your image looks if it is photographed in Monochrome.
79. Try Unusual Angles
Try to get different perspectives on the subject by photographing at different angles.
80. Try photographing frames with Habitat
Including habitat of the subject is a good way to frame your subject.
81. Be a Fast Photographer
In Wildlife photography, you need to be fast with your camera. You never know what is going to happen in the next second. So, be ready to shoot at any time.
82. Don’t Shoot for Likes Alone
Don’t get carried away by the Likes and Comments in social media. Make sure that you photograph in your style.
83. Carry Camera Rain cover
You never know when the weather changes. So, it is a good practice to carry your camera rain cover with you.
84. Try to Shoot in Low ISOs
It is a good habit to capture the images in low ISO values. Higher ISO values make the picture look grainy.
85. Try Shooting Vertically
Don’t restrict yourself by shooting horizontally. Try Vertical frames too. When it comes to Portrait Vs Landscape, some images look better when framed in Portrait mode.
86. Try Different Composition by Breaking the Rules
After learning all the basic rules of composition in photography try to get good image composition by breaking these rules. This can help you to develop your style.
87. Photograph Wildlife Patterns
Wildlife patterns can be very interesting, like patterns of stripes on a tiger, patterns in the forest e.t.c. Try to capture these wildlife patterns.
88. Try the Double Exposure Technique.
Double Exposure is a good technique to be tried in wildlife photography. If you find 2 relating subjects like the animal and its habitat, try for a Double Exposure photo.
89. Try Camera Traps
Camera Traps can create interesting photos. You can use it to photograph nocturnal animals.
90. Use Timer For Slower Shutter Speeds
Enable mirror lockup and make use of the 2 second or 10-second timer for slow shutter speeds.You can even use a remote trigger.
91. Don’t Carry Too many Camera Gears
Like the famous saying, Too many cooks can spoil the broth. Too many camera gears will spoil your photo. So, carry only what is required.
92. Make use of Negative Space
Sometimes, the negative spaces in the frame can bring great feeling to the picture. Make use of it while composing.
93. Use Continuous Focus
The continuous autofocus is a good focusing technique in wildlife photography. This will ensure that the animal which is moving is in focus and you can trigger the shot at the right moment.
94. Make use of Lens Hood
95. Explore Urban Wildlife
Don’t restrict your wildlife photography to the forest areas alone. Explore urban areas, you may get some interesting wildlife subjects like the fox or leopards.
96. Photograph Birds in Backyard
Don’t forget about your Backyard. If you observe regularly you can find many bird species in your backyard.
97. Use AE Lock
AE Lock is a very useful camera feature which allows the photographer to lock the Exposure after taking the reading from a particular point. You can then focus, recompose and trigger your shot.
98. Store in TIFF Format
Store the final image in TIFF format after post processing the RAW file. TIFF is the Digital Negative.
99. Take care of your Camera gear
When you are back from a wildlife photography trip make it a habit to clean your camera gears and keep it safely in a dry place. Make sure that there are no humidity issues. Humidity can result in fungus inside your camera lens and bodies.
100. Get it Right in The Camera
It is a good practice to get the picture right in the camera. This can save your time while post processing.
101. Read Wildlife Photography Magazines
There are many good wildlife photography magazines out there. You can start reading.
These are the 101 Wildlife photography tips which you can use to improve your photography.