BY AUTUMN LOCKWOOD
POSTED MARCH 10, 2010
If you love taking pictures of wildlife then this article will be sure to give you some helpful tips that you can start using today. Animal photography, also called wildlife photography, encompasses the entire world of animals from your pets to polar bears. This article focuses on photographing wildlife, but you can apply many of these tips to photographing Muffin or Fido. To learn how nature photographers get those fantastic images of wildlife, read on.
The basics for taking great wildlife pictures start with these tips. As always there are exceptions, but the following go a long ways towards ensuring successful animal photography:
* Use natural lighting to your advantage
* Fill the frame with the subject
* Focus on the eyes
* Shoot from various angles
* Capture personality
Perhaps you are wondering how you can, without a huge lens and SLR safely get close enough to a wild animal to "capture their personality" or "fill the frame"?
Actually even professional wildlife photographers don't always take their winning photographs in the wild. Many of the photographs of polar bears, tigers and other wild creatures were taken at wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. Cheating? Maybe, but it's safer for the photographer and doesn't disturb their free roaming cousins' mating and feeding cycles.
If you love taking pictures of wildlife then this article will be sure to give you some helpful tips that you can start using today.
Animal Photography Tips for Zoos and Sanctuaries
1) Simplify the Composition: If the background is distracting, use a wide aperture or Portrait mode to blur it. Or use a photo editor like Photoshop to clean up or blur the background.
2) Go Natural: Avoid showing cage bars, fences, humans, signs, etc. If it is safe and not against the rules, point the lens through the gap in the fence so you can take a picture without showing the fence. Sometimes there will be a vantage point that allows you to shoot over the top of the fence. Look for areas like these that are perfect for a photo. Again, use a good photo editing software to blur what you couldn't get rid of while taking your picture.
3) Fill the Frame: Use zoom (optical for best quality) or a telephoto lens to get close ups.
4) Use Sports Mode: Use Sports mode or set shutter speed priority to around 1/250 to freeze movements.
5) Use Light and Weather to Best Effect: Overcast days are often best for animal photography. If the overcast isn't too bright, it will prevent glare from light colored or watery backgrounds. If the overcast is too dark and you have an SLR, raise the ISO. With the right amount of overcast lighting, you can get well exposed sharp images with your compact camera without any of the animals squinting.
Since the eyes are usually the most expressive, they are generally the best place to focus so be patient in getting a picture of their eyes wide open and not squinting. Another way to avoid this problem is to take the picture when the animal's back is to the sun. In this situation, you'll need to use flash fill (turn off the automatic flash and set to "on") to prevent underexposure or a silhouette. You will also need to wear a broad brimmed hat or use a lens hood to prevent lens flare.
6) Try this When Shooting through Glass: When you want a picture of a terrarium or aquarium critter, turn on the flash and shoot from an angle. Be sure to check your camera manual for the safe distance when taking pictures with a flash of any creature otherwise you could damage their eyes. Or turn off the flash and gently press your lens right up against the glass.
7) Plan your Visits for the Best Photo Ops: Many people will especially love seeing your animal photography when it includes baby animals. Often sanctuaries and zoos post on their websites when new babies are arriving, or you can call and check. Another great time to take pictures is during feeding time. Animals that stay in hiding throughout much of the day will come out to eat. Lastly, if you are going to a zoo or sanctuary when the weather is hot, always go early in the day as this will be when the animals are most active.
8) Use Context: While usually it's best to fill the frame with the animal, sometimes the context is too interesting to bypass. Examples of using context include a child and baby animal looking at each other, or a giraffe bending down to look at something.
9) Capture Expressions: Animals, whether our pets or wildlife, make the cutest expressions. Be prepared with your camera! Even just normal expressions like a wolf pup yawning or a tiger licking its lips are cute or interesting. The more you understand the habits and behaviors of the animal you're trying to take pictures of, the better chance you'll have of capturing a great photo of them.
So, the next time you're ready to take some wildlife pictures, use these animal photo tips and you'll be amazed at the difference applying this tips can have on your photos.