The affordability of digital SLR technology together with the many options of affordable high-end camera phones have led to an increase in the numbers of photographers. And it also makes it easy for everyone to take snaps of everything they enjoy.
Out of the many types of photography, landscape and wildlife photography are two of the most popular. But take a look at some animals photos on popular photo share websites and you’ll soon realize that many of them aren’t good enough to share with the family let alone with the world.
Know your gear
If you are the proud owner of a shiny new camera, make sure to get to know it really well before you go on a wildlife safari. Maybe you have had that camera for a while but you have always used the automatic settings. Learn its fastest shutter speedwhich still offers a sharp image, learn how you can combine shutter speed with ISO to get acceptable results, get really well acquainted with the lenses, and take a lot of photos.
Use telephoto and wide lenses
To shoot wildlife you need two lenses: telephoto and wide. That’s because you want to get close without having to physically get close, which is where the telephoto comes in; and you want to capture the environment, too, which is where the wide lens is used.
Also, remember that using wide aperture allows you to blur the background and bring the attention on the subject.
Know the framing rules
Everyone should know the rule of thirds. Once this becomes second nature, try breaking it. Because rules are made to be broken and when it comes to photography, you may be able to take some stunning shots.
Patience is a necessity
Have you ever tried to photograph your own cat or dog? Then you know how unpredictable and stubborn animals can be. Wild animals are going to show their character, no matter how used they are to humans. Patience comes in handy if you want to capture a good photo and especially because you need to observe so that you can anticipate the animal’s next move.
Remember I mentioned the shutter speed? Unless you are photographing lions relaxing in the Savannah during a scorching hot day, chances are your subject is going to be on the move. And fast. Use the fastest shutter speed your camera has and take a lot of photos.
Look for the action
What do you like best? A photo of a male lion sleeping in the mid-day sun or an impala running in the grass? Of course, you cannot go on a safari and not take a photo (or ten) of a lion but action-packed photographs tell a different story.
Get at eye-level perspective
You want to get right into the scene and there’s no way to better do that than shoot from the eye-level. Of course, sometimes this may not be possible. When you photograph a giraffe you are always going to be below eye-level; and if you are not allowed to get out of the car, you won’t be able to always get the best perspective.
Don’t forget the tripod
Yes, they are heavy and can be quite annoying to carry around. But, unless you already master the art of finding a rock or a fallen try to keep that tele lens stable, you will need the tripod. And remember, the bigger the lens, the smaller the motion, which can cause a blur in the photo. If your budget allows, look for lenses which have image stabilization rather than relying on the image stabilization from the camera.
Capture the golden hour
The golden hour offers incredible natural lighting for any photo. It is a period shortly after sunrise or right before sunset when the light is softer and redder than when the Sun is up in the sky. The mid-day sun creates dark shadows and strong highlights, but the golden hour softens the light, reducing overexposure. If you have to photograph on a sunny day, don’t forget to use the flash to fill in the shadows. Some clouds, on the other hand, filter the light and allow for some incredible photos.