Photo Copyright Scott Bourne 2008 – All Rights Reserved

Every once in a while, someone writes in asking what my wildlife photography workflow looks like. This is something that I just intuitively do now, but I thought about it and sketched out (as best I could) what that looks like. If you’re interested in shooting wildlife, think of this list as a series of tips. It’s not intended to be a white paper with every possible thing you need to think about. Just a starting point. I hope you find it helpful.

•    Shoot wide open
•    Aperture priority (shutter priority for moving animals 1/1000th second minimum to freeze action)
•    ISO – light will change digital can shoot up to 3200 w/D3s – 1600 w/Canon 1DMKIV
•    Lens length – 800 for birds – 600 for regular wildlife – 100-400mm for budget-minded shooters – wide angle for wildlifescapes
•    Use tripod/monopod/handhold sometimes for bird flight shots – gimbal head for 600mm & up lenses
•    Calm down and be purposeful about what you are doing
•    Focus on the animal’s eyes – nothing else matters
•    Keep the light over your shoulder–behind you – Position yourself so the light is on the animal’s face for catchlights in the eyes
•    BACKGROUNDS!  Need clean backgrounds – Set up for backgrounds and wait for animal to move to the area
•    Be ready when the animal first comes into sight – some of best stuff happens right away
•    Don’t “bullseye” the animal – shoot animal off center – rule of thirds still applies
•    Allow some room for the animal to move into the frame
•    Don’t chop off the legs/tail/ears of the animal unless it’s on purpose
•    Shoot both horizontal and vertical shots
•    Shoot both environmental and portrait shots
•    Capture animal behavior
•    Be ready for action – Anticipate the action so that your buffer is empty
•    Move around for the best and varied shots – change your angle
•    Bring lots of pre-formatted memory cards into the field
•    Bring rain gear – animals don’t go home when it’s raining
•    Camera issues with cold weather – put in Ziploc bag for condensation issue and/or warm up very slowly
•    Know your subject – know the rules and remember safety first – both your safety and the animal’s safety
•    Stop occasionally to appreciate what you are seeing

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

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