HOW TO SHOOT WILDLIFE LIKE A PROFESSIONAL
Wildlife photography has to be one of the most difficult photographic genres, especially if you want to achieve great images on a regular basis. Not only does it require a lot of technical ability, but you also need to do the groundwork to find the right locations and subjects to photograph. Oh, and if you have a bit of luck on the day that helps!
In this blog, we’ll cover six in-depth tips on how to achieve stunning wildlife images that will have you shooting like a professional.
Shot by Bryce Bradford with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 + OLYMPUS M.75mm F1.8
1. Know your kit
Wildlife photography often requires you to change your camera settings, such as shutter speed, ISO sensitivity and aperture, very quickly, and probably at the same time as adjusting your focal length and moving the camera. For this reason, it’s important to know everything about your camera so changing the settings becomes second nature. A deer can pop out of a thicket one minute and be gone the next. If you can’t change the settings on your camera quickly enough, you may well miss the shot completely.
If you’re having trouble shooting in program mode, try manual, aperture or shutter mode as these will allow you to control a few settings and will ensure you get a decent exposure.
2. The way of wildlife
In order to capture the best wildlife shots, you need to understand your subject. Learning the location and habits of an animal will help you to achieve the perfect shot. This could be finding a kingfisher’s favourite branch on which it likes to perch or a place you know that a curious fox likes to visit. Having this information is a great way to maximise your time and capture the best shots.
Shot by Flickr user watchdog Images with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 + OLYMPUS 50-200mm Lens
3. Research your locations
A big factor in getting great wildlife shots is the availability of the subjects. You’re unlikely to be able to capture a shot of an elephant in a quiet Kent suburb, but there are ways to find out where you can go to photograph different subjects. Using forums, and researching websites such as The Wildlife Trusts (www.wildlifetrusts.org) and RSPB (www.rspb.org.uk), you can gain information about hides, nature reserves and what animals are around the area.
Shot by Toni Genes with an Olympus E-5 + OLYMPUS 70mm-300mm Lens
4. Check the weather
The weather can pay a big part in wildlife photography. Certain creatures don’t like some conditions and will behave differently, depending on the weather. Also, different conditions can affect what kit is required. For example, if it is dark and cloudy and you think you will be shooting low-light conditions, I would choose to shoot with an f/2.8 lens like the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO or, if I didn’t need a long focal length, I would opt for the Olympus M.Zuiko 45 mm f/1.8, shooting it wide open to ensure the shutter speed is fast enough to capture the action. However, if it is bright and sunny I would simply pick a lens that gives me the best sharpness and the ideal focal length.
Shot by William Cowings
5. Shooting wider
While it’s certainly true that most wildlife subjects will require the use of a telephoto lens, it’s also important to give subjects context and a sense of scale. Framing a subject tight will often look very dull, as it requires some environmental context to really elevate the image. By avoiding a tight frame, and thinking about the composition, you can turn an average wildlife image into an amazing one.