Top Ten Wildlife Photography Tips.

18th May 2009
In no particular order these are my top ten tips for making a success of wildlife photography.

1) ALWAYS TAKE YOUR CAMERA.

However much we plan you can almost always expect that the one time you don't have your camera is the time when that stunning image passes you by. Even when not going out to take photographs I always take my 50d with sigma 18-200 attached, in a small shoulder bag. Although not ideal, I know with this lens I have a chance of covering most eventualities.

2) GET YOUR FAMILY INVOLVED.

If like most people you are holding down a full time job as well as being a wildlife photographer, it is possible that at some point your wife, girlfriend or children may like to see you! If you can combine trips out and photography you may make yourself much more popular at home. As examples if the family like hill walking combine some photography. We recently walked a route through Lathkill dale in derbyshire and took lunch by the river, giving me chance to take some dipper shots. Kids love the zoo, an ideal opportunity to get shots of more exotic animals with the added complication of making them look like they were taken in the country of origin.

3) KNOW YOU LOCAL PATCH.

We all dream of the african safari but how many of us really know the few square miles we actually live in? You could spend a lifetime in your own area and not take a picture of everything yet many of us can't wait to race across large parts of the country or globe. This also counts double when your in full time employment. Less time travelling means more time out with the camera.

4) TAKE A SPARE BATTERY.

Common sense but you can get caught out especially if shooting in winter when batteries don't last half as long. Keep your spare close to your body as it will perform better at body temperature.

5) KEEP YOUR CAMERA AND LENSES CLEAN.

After a days shooting, if your lenses arn't spotless you can expect to spend a week in photoshop removing dust spots. Nice to know we can do it if we need to but if like me you'd rather be out in the wilds, don't have the dust in the first place.

6) RESEARCH YOUR SUBJECT

Time spent looking through a few books or conversing with other photographers on photography forums can save you a huge amount of wasted time in the field. Are you looking at the right time of the year? Is the species even located in the area your looking? Are their times of the year that will increase your chances? Deer would be a good example. I find them much easier to get images of during the rut.

7) WORK WITH YOUR LOCAL WILDLIFE TRUST

Many of my photographs are taken on wildlife trust sites. Because I don't have the time to join working parties to help maintain the sites I decided that I would donate a small number of photographs to them each year for their use. Normally I'm not in favour of this, however, I think that its my way of putting something back. It has the added benefit that their site managers will often make me aware of whats where and when, again making me more efficient.

8) DON'T GET DISTRACTED

I'm particularly guilty of this and its something that I constantly have to work on. Does this happen to you? You go out to take photographs of a specific subject, you then either get distracted by something on the walk their or after taking a few shots you move on to take pictures of something else. Don't let this happen, take your time and use the whole compact flash card on your target. If you do you may end up with one or two stand out shots, if you don't you run the risk of a card full of mediocure shots.

9) RESPECT YOUR SUBJECTS

An old chestnut but most important. No photograph is worth stressing out a wild animal so use your common sense and field craft and know when to back off. Remember we are all representing each other out there.

10) HAVE FUN

Until we turn professional this is our hobby so if we arn't having fun its time to do something else. Maybe set yourself a small project, have a go at landscapes, infrared, panoramics or perhaps put the camera away for a while.


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