TOP TIPS FOR BEGINNER WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS
I only got into wildlife photography after being a dedicated bushwalker for years and seeing some awesome animals I wanted to capture. As a rule, I don’t really do any other photography disciplines and only snap wildlife photos as a nice way to remember an interesting walk.
That being said, I have picked up some tricks and tips in my time on the trails. I have snapped most bush mammals you can think of, and more than my fair share of snakes and spiders. These are my top tips for photographing Australia’s magnificent fauna.
CONTINUOUS DRIVE MODE
Timing is a large part of photographing nature, particularly lively and unpredictable animals. Keeping your camera in the continuous drive mode will allow you to take photo after photo in quick succession. If you fire off a sequence of photos of a kookaburra feeding, for example, you should get a lovely photo series or one absolute gem in the middle which perfectly captures the action.
EYES ARE DRAWN TO EYES
When composing shots of mammals, I try to focus on the eyes of the subject. One of my favourite images I took recently was of a kangaroo focussing fiercely on something in the distance. When you look at the image, your eye is immediately drawn to the eye of the kangaroo. For the best results, use a single autofocus point, and make sure that focus is fixed on the subject eye or eyes.
GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR PERSPECTIVE
I have loads of pictures of animals from human eye level. They just get boring after a while. Keep your photos interesting with some other perspectives. Get on the floor to appreciate the enormity of a kangaroo perched up straight, or get a lizard eye view of another lizard close to the floor. Getting on the same level of the animal can often give the composition more intimacy. Just be careful of your subject. Don’t put yourself in any dangerous situations. Maybe a picture of that eastern brown snake from human eye level will suffice.
COMPOSE THE SHOT WITH A PLAIN BACKGROUND
A plain background with a close-up of your subject will keep the viewer’s attention on the subject. The more elements in the background, the more action the viewer’s eye will be drawn to. Unless there is something particularly striking about the background which can add to the picture, try and give your subjects a plain background, the blank canvas will show off their beauty far better than anything else.
DON’T SUCCUMB TO CROSS HAIR SYNDROME
This is especially difficult when shooting bigger animals. The animal is so formidable and imposing, you put it right in the middle of the picture and snap away. But placing your subject a little to the right or left makes for a much better picture. It gives theoretical space for your subject to move. If you have any elements in the background like a tree or rock, try and place it in the opposite corner of the picture to your subject. This will not distract from the subject too much, and will offset the larger beast and balance the photo.
Practice makes perfect and the more photos you take, the better you will get. Experiment and find what works for you. Just be mindful of their habitats. You are their guest looking to glimpse an insight into their lives. Don’t impose. Take what you need and be on your way.
Do you have any other ideas for shooting animals on the trails, Share your ideas below.