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Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography - Time

Stallion Yawn Nevada horse photography take your time

We often think of wildlife photography as being exciting, but more often than not, the best images come from hours in a blind or using brush to hide.  That is, it is almost impossible to walk up on many types of animals.  The best wildlife photographers invest large quantities of time sitting and waiting for their best photographs.

Photography is all about that special moment when the animal is doing something – whether it’s flying, walking, making eye contact, or interacting with another animal. The best photograph has a combination of leg or wing movement, and positioning of their face.  Animals blink just like humans so expect a number of photographs with closed eyes. Once an animals turns to walk away, you are finished – no one wants a “butt shot.” Once you observe and understand animal behavior, be patient, be quiet, and wait.

Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography - Practice!

Blue Jay, backyard photography, Great Wildlife Photography

You don’t have to wait to practice your photography skills.  Keep your skills sharp by practicing with animals at your local city park or zoo. You might surprise yourself and come up with some of your favorite shots. Try practicing with squirrels.  They move fast and unexpectedly.  If you can stop the action of a squirrel, you will learn the techniques you will use later with wolves or bears.

Try setting up a bird feeder outside your window and you can practice on the birds that come right to you.

Remember, there’s more to making a captivating wildlife photograph than simply having an animal, any animal in the frame. If you simply snap large numbers of photos hoping to get an award winning photograph, you may find that your photograph will not be as captivating after you return home as it was in person.

Practice.

Practice.

Practice.

Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography - Carry Two Camera Bodies

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The most important thing is to capture that special moment, so don’t miss it by changing lenses. It’s better to pick two lenses to work with, and have each mounted on its own camera body. Then, when you need to switch, you simply put down one camera, pick up the other, and you’ll be ready to shoot in less than one second. I usually use one camera with a 70-300mm lens, and the other with a 400mm lens.

Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography - Use Faster Shutter Speeds

Cow Elk Nevada photo

Many a great wildlife photograph has been ruined when an animal moves faster than the photographer anticipated, resulting in a blurry image. It happens.  Learn how to adjust your camera.  That is, take it off of “auto.”  The camera will select “average” settings which may or may not work in the particular light you are working in.  Learn how to set or increase your camera’s ISO which will allow you faster shutter speeds.

Even when your subject is absolutely still, you never know when they’ll decide to move, and that could be the magic moment you’ve been waiting for. Be ready by using a shutter speed of at least 1/500th of a second.

Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography - Watch and Learn

 Bobcat in Nevada

Every species of animals looks and behaves different from every other animal.  You may never see a large cat.  When one appears, they are nervous and difficult to photograph.  Bighorn sheep may stay in the same location without moving.  You cannot photograph them all the same way. But, if you spend some time observing animal behavior, you’ll be better equipped to click the shutter at exactly the right moment.

Photography is all about that special moment when the animal is doing something – whether it’s flying, walking, making eye contact, or interacting with another animal. The best photograph has a combination of leg or wing movement, and positioning of their face.  Animals blink just like humans so expect a number of photographs with closed eyes. Once an animals turns to walk away, you are finished – no one wants a “butt shot.” Once you observe and understand animal behavior, be patient, be quiet, and wait.

Tips to Improve Your Wildlife Photography

Lionesses Playing in Africa

Whether professional or an amateur, most photographers who enjoy wildlife photography do it because they love being outside exploring nature.  It is inherent in photography that the photographer loves to share their photographs and their experience.  The invention of cell phone cameras with all those selfies is evidence of our love of photography.  Carrying our cameras encourages each of us explore the wildlands looking for animals as we appreciate what nature has to offer.

Black Rhino Running

But there’s more to making a captivating wildlife photograph than simply having an animal, any animal in the frame. If you simply snap large numbers of photos hoping to get an award winning photograph, you may find that your photograph will not be as captivating after you return home as it was in person.

Next time you are out in the wild, try some tricks used by professional wildlife photographers to capture wildlife.

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