Top Tips for Epic Wildlife Photography

October 8, 2018
Leandra Slabbert
I don't think God intended for any of us to just be ordinary

There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than snapping pictures of wildlife, their habits and nature.  When going out to photograph wildlife, make sure you have the correct equipment and make sure to do some research about where you’ll find the species you’re most wanting to photograph. Good equipment means a camera with a strong zoom lens and which comes with all the bells and whistles for you to get that perfect shot.

Camera

With the advancements in technology and cameras today it makes it easier to capture that picture perfect shot. Today, one can even use their phone to take extraordinary photos! If you are no photography guru, or have not invested in ‘state of the art’ camera equipment, don’t fret. The beautiful African landscapes and the majestic wildlife will make any photograph look like a masterpiece. The best advice we can give if you’re using a phone camera, is to try and get as close to the wildlife as possible (provided you stay in the van). Otherwise a camera with a strong zoom and focus will be all you need!

Stay quiet and camouflage

As the photographer you have to always keep in mind that you are in their territory. If you’re serious about getting that perfect picture, you need to keep quiet and fairly still so as not to alert the wildlife. The best pics are always the most candid ones. Birds especially get nervous around noise and sudden movements, which is why the best option for a camera would be one with a quiet shutter. If you do not have one of these, then use a piece of clothing or any item that could slightly silence your camera. Wearing camouflage attire will also work in your favour. If you’re wearing bright clothing the wildlife will not feel relaxed, making it a lot more difficult for you to get a candid shot.

Be alert and ready for action

Wildlife or any animal are not like human models that can be told what to do and how to move – they won’t be standing waiting around for you to shout “action”. They are probably your most difficult of models, which is why you have to be ready and waiting to snap away. Some wildlife species are quick or shy and will find their escape in seconds, which could mean you miss your chance. Reacting quickly is the secret to wildlife photography as the best moments usually pass in a split second and when you least expect it to. Another piece of equipment that could be of great use for these moments is a tripod. This can be placed out of direct sight, and saves you from taking blurred pictures after your arms get tired and your hands get a little shaky.

Lighting

Professional wildlife photographers all know that they need to get up really early in the morning before sunrise, so that you can experience the “golden rays or light”. Early mornings are also the best time for sightings as the wildlife look for water and roam the grasslands while it is still cool. Timing is most important – with a dash of patience. Sunset is another great time for pictures as the lighting is once again golden. This time, however, you’re also likely to get breathtaking pictures of the deep orange African sunset which you’ll certainly want to capture! If the light is not working with you, make the most of the moment by going back to basics – making sure the light is on the subject you’re capturing. You can also always enhance the colour and lighting at a later stage.

Focus on the Subject

The background should never take away from the main subject. The background can distract one from seeing the actual reason why that picture was taken. If you are in the wild, look around before setting up your camera, tripod etc then you won’t have to readjust once you are ready for action. If you find that your background is not working for you, rather move to a more suitable area. You can also zoom in on your subject so as to fill the frame.

Experiment

Think “out of the box”, don’t be scared to try new things and experiment. Find out what your camera is capable of doing, and play around with these settings; zoom in and out, blur the subject or blur the background, see if it has a motion setting and what it does for the shot. There is an advantage to knowing your camera and its attachments- it certainly makes all the difference to your photos.

Visit Africa

What better place to travel to than Africa, for wildlife photography. It is the only place on earth where you’re bound to find almost any wildlife species in their natural habitat. Go on a safari in the Kruger National Park in South Africa, or visit Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania or even Namibia for extraordinary wildlife encounters.  Each country has so much to offer, with incredible landscapes that make for the most jaw-dropping backgrounds to your photographs. It’s important to research and gather as much information as you can about the species you’d most like to photograph, where you’d find them and even the best times of day to witness their movements. This will give you a better chance of capturing that picture perfect pic!

See how you can play your part in wildlife conservation.

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