- Digital-Photography-School - 10 tips for improving your wildlife photography
- OphrysPhotography (very specific and in-depth)
Knowing the Subject
I would consider this to be the most important as the following tips are generally dependent on your subject. Before you go out to photograph your subject, find out some of the following:
- What time of day they are easiest to find (usually the first hours of sunrise).
- How they react to human interaction.
- How they usually act when undisturbed.
- Their calls/sounds (if applicable)
There may be some more but these are usually enough. By knowing this information you can plan when you will photograph them, how camouflaged/hidden you need to be, rough camera settings (shutter speed/aperture) and more...
In the example to the right, I knew how the rabbits acted around people due to them inhabiting my local beach and I have tried to photograph them before. Also, I know that they are easiest to photograph during the early hours of the morning, before people start jogging and walking dogs. I first spotted the rabbits from around 50m and for around 20 minutes crawled closer to the rabbits from the cover of bushes, only moving whilst they were not looking. The large amount of foreground matter is due to the bushes.
In most cases, you will want to be at eye level with the subject. This makes an image much more interesting, as you are bringing the viewer down the point of view of the animal, if you don't already use this technique then you will definitely notice the difference! Usually this will involve getting dirty and wet, but if it makes a better photo then why not! Obviously there are times when rules can be broken and make superb images, but this is one which should work in most cases.
This subject is widely argued and each aspect is disputed from different angles. Some want the image to be easier to take but this involves luring the wildlife away from their usual activity. One area that nearly all photographers will agree on, is to 'leave no trace'. This breaks down to not disturbing the wildlife and leaving the area in the same way that you found it. Do not break branches in order to see the subject easier or trample plants to gain access to a hard to reach area. You can still photograph the wildlife but be considerate of how you go about getting the image and the affects you have on the habitat. This will also make the image more special to you as you had to work harder for it! This leads me on to the last point.
Love taking the images
Whether it stems from a love of nature or photography or both, you should take a picture because YOU want to. There are many photographs of my own which people find 'worse' than others even though they are some of my favourites and this is due to how I got the photographs. If I just got out my camera in the back garden because a bird came down to a low branch and gave me the opportunity to take a nice picture, then this will probably be less interesting to me than when I got up at 4am and sat in a hide to get an in-flight picture of a pair of geese. However, people who do not know the back story, may prefer the close-up portrait of a blue tit.
You may want to check out a previous post of mine for 'rules' that could improve your pictures - Click Here.
Feel free to leave a comment with any more tips you think will help people. Also head over to my 'Facebook', 'Twitter' or 'Google+' pages to keep up to date with my photography.