Careful readers of this blog know that I am primarily a wildlife photographer. I am working on a revised edition of my book, “88 Secrets to Wildlife Photography” which I co-wrote with Rod Barbee.
Here are some of the tips you’ll find in the old and the new book.
1. Always be ready for an animal encounter. Wherever you live, chances are there are animals nearby you can photograph. Be aware of local species. Do research to find out which kinds of animals frequent your area and when they are nearby.
2. Always carry a 300 to 400mm lens with your camera. You never know when you’ll get a chance to make a wildlife image. And you can’t make that image unless you have a reasonably long lens and camera nearby at all times.
3. Keep your basic gear on your person, not in your bag. Things like flash, batteries and memory cards should be in your pockets, not in your bag. Pawing through your bag in the middle of a wildlife encounter will usually result in a lost opportunity. I wear a vest for this reason and keep my basics in the same place every time I go out, so I can know where to find them.
4. Start by finding a good background. Background, background, background is the most important thing in the image after the subject and the light. The simpler the background the better. If the story is the animal, keep the background simple to focus attention on the real subject.
5. Shoot with a fast shutter speed when trying to get moving animals in focus. I shoot wildlife in shutter priority mode and when using my long lens, the Sigma 300-800 F/5.6, I set 1/750th of a second as my minimum shutter speed.
6. Look for situations that tell a story, convey a concept or communicate a mood.
7. Keep the light at your back, and point your shadow at the subject unless you have a very good reason to do otherwise.
8. When photographing groups of animals, look for separation between subjects. Avoid merges. It takes patience but it’s worth it.
9. Remember that in a photograph, a sleeping animal appears to be a dead animal, and therefore, not interesting.
10. Remember that when photographing action like moving animals, staring at your LCD will cause you to miss opportunities.
These are just some quick tips to get you started. There are more coming. Feel free to share yours below.