Wildlife Photography: Tips and Techniques

Have you ever thought about taking photos of wildlife? Wildlife photography records animal life in their natural habitats. Being close to a wild animal as safely as possible for taking pictures is an inspiring experience.

This type of photography is a challenge. It’s also a way of being in close contact with nature. The contact with the wildlife spaces is very interesting as taking photos in them becomes an adventure. Also, there are many animals in zoological parks and in environmental reserves (zoos) that live far from human coexistence, so those places are perfect for you to develop your work on wildlife photos.

In this post you will discover wildlife photography tips and techniques for taking beautiful photos of wild animals!

Let’s get started.

Get a spot for observing wildlife and for taking photos

To photograph wildlife, first you need to take the time to observe wildlife. So, look for a place that gives you an elevated view to help you see better because sometimes animals are in environments that are far from standard ground level, such as animals that live in the mountains.

Also, observing a forest from a higher point can give you many possibilities to take photos. From a higher point of view, you will also be able to take better photos of wild birds because they usually stay in trees.

How to Take Photos of Wild Animals

Take advantage of the local weather changes. Patience is very important when taking photos of wildlife. Have patience and observe for as long as necessary. If you are in your car in an environment that has groups of animals such as zebras, wild oxen or elephants, perhaps you can approach a little more. Try to take the photos with your Camera being at the same height as the animal you’re photographing.

Always keep a safe distance

The animals that live in their natural habitat have their own behavior and are not used to the presence of humans. To take pictures of wild animals, you need to keep a safe distance, there are only a few exceptions such as wild birds that stay in trees and not on ground level. If you’re visiting a natural park (a.k.a. national park) or a nature reserve, it will be easier to take photos of wildlife.

But if you’re on a guided tour in a safari, for example, you must stay in your vehicle as it’s hard to predict the animals’ behavior when there are humans near them, so you may use your camera zoom as much as possible to take photos from farther away.

Take photos of wild animals in zoos

Tips and Techniques for Photographing Wild Animals

Taking photos of wildlife in a zoo can be easier and even more peaceful because the animals’ behavior is easier to predict. Also, animals have their individual private space in a zoo, so you will be able to take photos of each animal separately.

You will also be able to take photos looking in the animal’s eyes, this will create a connection between you and your photo subject (the wild animal). You will then get a better focus on the animal’s eyes with more clarity, bringing a deep effect to your photos. Your final photo will portray a communication of the animal with photo viewers.

When you’re photographing wildlife in zoos, pay attention to the background before taking any photo because sometimes objects can make your photos look disorganized and ugly. If the background is spoiling your photo, then zoom in directly on the animal to eliminate as much background as possible.

When you find a good background for your photo, use multiple angles. Photos of wildlife in natural scenery can be very beautiful.

Remember that you must be aware of the rules for approaching animals in a zoo.

Tips for taking photos of wildlife in private nature reserves

Private nature reserves are private protected areas that are privately owned and managed for conserving biodiversity.

For taking photos of wildlife in private natural reserves, it’s important that you have a 100/400 telephoto lens because this type of lens has a higher focal length and it zooms in on animals to make them seem as close as possible in the final photo.

Wildlife Photography Techniques

To work with a telephoto lens, you will need to use a monopod, which is like a tripod with one single leg. This equipment will give you more security and mobility when taking photos.

The fitting head of the monopod should be the ball head that rotates to all sides because for this type of photography your camera will have more stability when attached to a ballhead on a monopod.

How to compose wildlife photos

Photo composition is how the elements are organized in a photo, working on photo composition is a way to get images that aren’t too similar to each other.

In wildlife photography, the elements are always the wild animals and the nature around them.

Here are a few things you can do to get a nice variety of photos:

  • Frame the photo according to the scenery lighting and according to how far you’re from the wild animals.

  • Take photos from different angles.

  • Photograph the entire wild animal’s body.

How to Photograph Wildlife


  • Be careful not to leave parts of the animal body off the photo.

  • Photograph just the head of the wild animal with a focus on the eyes.

  • Have patience and wait for the animal to turn and look at you.

  • Keep your camera on and never turn it off when you’re out in the field to take photos. For that, you may need extra camera batteries.

  • Stay tuned and always be ready to photograph anything because wild animals can run away if they sense the presence of humans.

  • Try not to use flash for photographing large animals to avoid scaring them. But if you notice that the wild animals are calm near camera flash, don’t miss the opportunity to use it, especially at night.

How to set up a pro camera for wildlife photography

Now you will get tips on how to use a Professional Camera the best way possible when taking photos of wildlife:

  • Keep the image stabilizer on so you get images as clear as possible and not shaky or blurry.

  • Set the camera to keep continuously shooting to get photos of the animals in motion.

  • Don’t forget that low ISO values result in photos with better quality and higher ISO values result in photos with more brightness and eventually with less quality.

How to Take Photos of Wildlife


  • Adjust the ISO according to the ambient light, always looking for the best quality possible for your photos.

  • For photos of large animals, set the camera shutter speed between 1/125 sec and 1/250 sec.

  • Use camera flash or a dedicated flash (an external flash unit made for a specific camera system) in scenes with poor lighting and in shady locations. Remember that you need to avoid scaring the animals away with too much lighting in the scenery.

  • Use a fresnel lens (a lens that has been carved out) in front of the camera flash to help focus the light beams (light rays) on the center of the photo scenery.

  • Set the dedicated flash to 105mm if you aren’t using a fresnel lens.

  • Pay attention to the brightness of your camera flash/dedicated flash, if it’s regulated only by the camera as a fill light will, it should be set between -1 power and -2 power.

  • If the dedicated flash is not compatible with the camera, reduce the camera flash to 1/8 power or to 1/4 power.

  • When the photo scenery is well lighted, if your camera is set to its largest aperture and to low ISO (around 100), you need to set the camera shutter speed to a value greater than the sync time between the aperture and the camera ISO. If this setting makes the flash blink, you can activate the flash’ high sync speed to make it stop blinking, but remember that you must increase the flash power because the high sync speed in function decreases the light output.

Wildlife Photography Tips

Conclusion

Great! Now you know how to get a spot for observing wildlife before taking photos, why it’s important to always keep a safe distance from wildlife and how to photograph wild animals in zoos.

You also know tips for taking photos of wildlife in private nature reserves, tips on how to compose wildlife photos and tips on how to set up a pro camera for wildlife photography! So don’t hesitate to put what you’ve learned into practice!

You can also share your thoughts in the comments below!

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