Wildlife photography was on my bucket list for a long time. I always wanted to capture wild beasts and beautiful birds in their natural habitat. However, the only hurdle in achieving this dream was – ‘the right equipment’.
I was sceptical whether I’ll be able to click sharp and clear images using my manual zoom lens. However, an article made me realise that even though a lens is important to click a nice wildlife shot but composition is more important. Higher the effort in observing their behaviour and habitat, the better the shot will be.
Here are the five golden rules that you can follow to kick-start your wildlife photography dream just as it did mine 😉
1. Getting your camera settings right
It is very important to understand the setting required to capture the images and how swiftly you can change your settings for different shots at a different time.
To capture an animal or a bird in motion or anything in action, it is important to set a low shutter speed (I varied it between 1/250 and 1/4000). However, this, in turn, would lead to a low light image, which can be fixed using a proper ISO (All images were taken at 800 ISO). Aperture is another important aspect of wildlife photography. The concept is similar to portrait photography. The lower the aperture, the higher the blur in the background. If you want to focus on the subject and blur the rest then set the aperture at its lowest (f4 was lowest aperture in my lens). The focus is another vital part of wildlife photography. It’s better to have an autofocus lens with IS or VR. Mine was a manual lens. Hence, it was a bit difficult to focus on the subject in motion. Moreover, the image stabilization was low when using its full zoom capacity.
2. Choosing your lens carefully
A telephoto lens is necessary for wildlife photography but good ones come with a cost. Since I am an amateur, I prefer my 70-300mm lens. However, for far distances, long lenses like 400mm or 600mm are preferrable. However, these lenses are heavy and difficult to carry around. You can also use a telephoto converter that is small and light weight and can greatly increase the reach of your lens, although the resolution would not be good. The best approach would be to rent a lens so that you have a variety at a minimum cost.
3. Know the best time
The best pictures are taken at the break of dawn or during dusk when the light is soothing. These times of the day are called the Golden Hour. In addition, animals are most active during these hours. However, don’t forget to do your research about the best time of your target animal before heading for the trip.
4. Keeping the patience and distance high
Zen-like patience is all you need to capture wildlife, as they won’t go posing for you! Wait until you find that perfect expression or pose, but don’t try to grab their attention, as you never know if they are in a mood for a snack! Stay at a reasonable distance and don’t disturb their natural movement.
5. Capturing the habitat too!
The habitat tells a lot about the animal. You can get to know about their lifestyle, daily movements etc. by observing their environment. Therefore, carry a wide angle lens or a normal kit-lens that would help you capture a wider landscape of their habitat. Moreover, don’t get mesmerized by the megafaunas, pay attention to the tiny ones as well. Their beauty will amaze you!
Do you have a tip to share? Let me know in the comments below.