10 Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners

If you’ve ever stood under the night sky, you may have been lucky enough to see a shooting star. Shooting stars, or meteors, result when particles from asteroids or comets enter the atmosphere at high speeds. The heat this causes vaporizes the particles and creates the flashes of light we see across the sky. Meteor showers, then, occur when the Earth crosses paths with a trail of particles, and more “falling stars” are visible.

The chance to view a meteor shower can be rare, but always beautiful. But how do you make sure those memories last? Obviously, by taking pictures! While it can be slightly more difficult to take photos of quick-moving meteors with your phone, it’s certainly not impossible. If you’re looking to embrace your inner shutterbug during the next meteor shower, read on to learn how to photograph meteor showers with an iPhone!

1. Master your camera

If you take away only one tip from this article, let it be this one: master your camera. Give yourself plenty of time to learn your camera’s ISO capabilities, exposure compensation, focusing modes, and more.

Everything happens fast when you’re photographing wildlife, and it’s not like shooting landscapes where you can take time to adjust your settings. If you’re not familiar with your camera, its settings, and the abilities of your lenses, there’s a good chance you’ll end up missing out on some fantastic photo opportunities.

Simply put, learn as much about your gear as you can, and practice at home before you head out on that dream safari or adventure holiday.

If you’re starting from scratch or simply looking for an easy to pack, worry-free bundle of photography equipment, got you covered.

2. Always be ready

Picture this: You’re sitting in a safari vehicle with your camera resting on the seat beside you and, suddenly, a lioness appears and begins to approach the vehicle. Slowly, she inches closer and closer and — just for a second — she locks eyes and pauses directly in front of you.

If you’re not poised and ready to shoot, there’s no way you’ll have enough time to capture that once-in-a-lifetime shot. So, remember to set your baseline settings before you head out, and make sure you’re fully ready to pick up your camera and shoot at a moment’s notice.

3. Shoot during the golden hours

Light is one of the most important factors in any form of photography — especially when it comes to wildlife photography. The easiest way to use light to your advantage? Shoot during the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, two times of the day known as the “golden hours” in photography.

During these times, the angle of the sun is low and the light gives everything a softer, warmer look. Locations that are overexposed at noon on a bright sunny day may be perfectly lit in the early morning or late afternoon, turning an ordinary photo into an extraordinary one.

4. Be prepared to wait

Patience is the name of the game in wildlife photography. Wild animals are highly unpredictable, and you (unfortunately) can’t ask them to look your way, pose on cue, or move where the light is better.

You have to be there — and ready — to grab your camera when they decide to appear or do something interesting. So, be prepared to wait and wait (and wait some more). It takes a long time to get good wildlife shots, and it takes even longer to capture remarkable ones.

5. Compose carefully

Whether your subject is moving or you’re waiting for it to do something interesting, try implementing the following two guidelines:

  • Focus on the eye. Eyes are often the first thing we notice when looking at a photo of an animal. When the eyes are sharp, the overall image will feel sharp, even when you’re working with a shallow depth of field.
  • Leave room for the animal to move in the frame. If you’re capturing an animal in motion, always leave room in the frame for them to move into. The same guideline applies if your subject is looking to the left or right — leave enough space in the direction they’re facing. Use negative space (the empty or open space around your subject) to add impact to your photos.

Of course, other basic photography tips — including the rule of thirds and leading lines — still apply here, but these two guidelines can make or break your shot.

6. Aim for simple backgrounds

The most dramatic wildlife photos typically include a simple background that doesn’t take away from the subject. Photos with a busy or distracting background, on the other hand, will result in your subject getting lost in the scene.

Ultimately, the goal is to highlight your subjects to make them stand out, and a blank (or mostly blank) canvas behind an animal will do just that. Sometimes you just need to shift your position by moving to the left or right by a few inches to craft a more favourable scene.

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