Wildlife photography is a rewarding and challenging genre that requires passion, patience, and skill. If you want to get started with wildlife photography, here are some tips to help you:
- Learn about your subjects. Research their behavior, habitat, and habits so you can anticipate their movements and capture them in their natural environment.
- Choose the right gear. You will need a camera that can shoot in RAW format, has fast autofocus, high ISO performance, and continuous shooting mode. You will also need a telephoto lens that can reach at least 300mm or more to get close to the animals without disturbing them. A tripod or monopod can help you stabilize your shots and reduce camera shake.
- Shoot in the golden hours. The best light for wildlife photography is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the sun is low and soft. This will create beautiful colors, shadows, and contrast in your images.
- Use a fast shutter speed. Wildlife photography often involves capturing fast-moving animals, so you need to use a shutter speed that can freeze their motion and avoid blur. A good rule of thumb is to use a shutter speed that is at least 1/focal length of your lens. For example, if you are using a 400mm lens, you should use a shutter speed of at least 1/400s or faster.
- Experiment with different angles and perspectives. Don't be afraid to shoot from different heights, distances, and angles to create more dynamic and interesting compositions. You can also try to include some environmental elements or other animals in your frame to add context and story to your images.
- Be respectful and ethical. Wildlife photography is not worth harming or endangering the animals or their habitats. Always follow the rules and regulations of the places you visit, keep a safe distance from the wildlife, and avoid using flash or baiting them. Respect their natural behavior and don't interfere with their activities.
Eyes in focus
True for animals and anything else with eyes! As a viewer of a photo of a subject that has eyes, YOUR eyes are immediately drawn to the subject's eyes just like you would be when having a conversation with someone. If the eyes are sharp, you will notice that right away. If they are not sharp, you will notice that too and probably conclude "that is not a very good photo".
How to achieve
With a dSLR, you can achieve this by focusing on an area that is either the eye or very close to the eye. With the newer prosumer mirrorless cameras, there is an Eye Tracking feature that can be amazing. Consult your camera manual for details on how to enable this feature.
Focusing Animals
How to get animal in frame and in focus
There are a number of ways to accomplish this. If the animal occupies a major portion of your composition, try to get the eye in focus (see above). If the animal is only a portion of the composition, you will have to practice, practice in order to achieve your goal. You could try to widen your field of view and crop to your desired composition. With the newer prosumer mirrorless cameras, there is an Eye Tracking feature that can be amazing. Consult your camera manual for details.
Don't cut off legs & feet
For closeups of the animal, this is mandatory. For close to full body compositions, definitely not. Again, practice, practice!
Setting Aperture & Focus
To get maximum bokeh in any shot, set your aperture to the lowest numbered f-stop your lens is capable of. As long as there is some distance between your subject and the background, focus on the subject and shoot.
If your background is close to the subject, you will have to perform some magic in post processing (blur of some sort) to accomplish this.
Camera Settings
Additional Resources

​​​​​​​How to Capture Sharp Photos of Birds in Flight - 30 min
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