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How To Take Good Wildlife Photographs

Squirrel in the wild

Whenever we purchase a new phone, so too do we purchase new cameras. Nearly every new model of phone these days comes equipped with a quality camera system, allowing us to take better, cleaner and far more professional looking photographs. But it’s interesting to consider that, whilst our personal photography system has changed and developed, the photographs themselves have typically remained the same. 

You might take great pictures of your children, your friends, or the incredible looking salad you ordered from the local restaurant. But that’s only demonstrating half of what our cameras can achieve.

Why You Should Take Your Photography a Little Further

Any nature lovers out there will know the feeling of seeing a herd of deer taking shelter on a summer day, or spotting a nearby owl roosting in a derelict barn. But many of you will be all too aware of the difficulties of actually capturing those memories with a phone. Wildlife is a notoriously tricky beast to handle. One moment it’s there, and the next moment it’s gone. Or, even if it sticks around, it is incredibly hard to capture the beauty of it with just a camera lens. 

This is a shame, because while it is nice to have a photo book of friends, family or salads, you could utilise your phone even more and turn a corner with your personal photography. You could totally change the direction your Instagram feed takes and, as a result, have a totally new genre of Instagram photo books to create. One that not only shows off your developing skill, but your passions and interest, too.

But how do you gain these skills, we hear you ask? Well, for the nature lovers among you, here are a few tips which can help you effectively capture wildlife and start creating a photobook even the great David Attenborough would be jealous of.

Don’t Travel Halfway Around the World on Your First try

This may be a strange first tip, but leaving your own property and venturing into the unknown is the first mistake you can make as a wildlife photographer. Nature can be found anywhere, and it is far more efficient to start in your own back garden. 

By taking a few days to understand what nature you have in your garden, you can start to visualise the pictures you want to take in your head, rather than travelling afar and being entirely unprepared for what you might see. Whether it’s butterflies, insects or the local stray cat; there are plenty of gorgeous photo opportunities right on your own doorstep. Start there, practice, and then take the leap.

You can learn about the differences between macro and micro photography – how to handle natural light at different times of day – and how to capture subjects that are constantly in motion. 

Watch Planet Earth

Okay, this might be a bit of a joke title, but the message behind it is true. If you want to take beautiful photographs of local wildlife, then it is important to get to know them first. When you do take the leap out into the unknown, be sure to watch any television shows which might feature the animals you want to capture, or do a bit of prior research on the internet. 

If you understand the animal’s behaviour and idiosyncrasies, then you are far more likely to capture them in the perfect moment.

Attain The Patience Of A Saint

This one is very important. If you want to take great photographs in the wild, then patience is a trait you absolutely must have. Any wildlife photographer will tell you that taking wildlife photographs is basically waiting, waiting, and more waiting. Remember, wildlife does not dance to your tune, so you will have to dance to it instead. If you do so, then you will almost certainly be rewarded with the perfect picture. Perhaps even front-page worthy of your very own photo book.

Purchase A Few Apps

Onto the more technical side, you will need to purchase a few apps if you want a truly good wildlife portfolio. Apps which can allow you to control the shutter speed of your camera (a fast shutter speed is essential to capture animals in motion), automate the focus or alter the ISO, will all help you in replicating a highly technical, professional camera.

Location, Location, Location

Lastly, it is important to take everything into account when hunting for that perfect picture. This includes the location of the wildlife itself. It’s all well and good taking a photograph of a gorgeous, rare white buffalo, but it’s hardly going to be a great picture if it's trudging around near the local supermarket. Although, saying that, a white buffalo wandering around the supermarket is a pretty amazing sight in itself and you should definitely take the time to capture it. 

But the point is, the backdrop is just as important as the subject. Like any great picture, it is all about composition and juxtaposition, so make sure to take the entire scene into account if you want something truly special. Becoming a proficient wildlife photographer necessitates some travel, so build your bucket list accordingly.

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