Intermediate Wildlife Photography Tips

For those who have already picked up a camera more than a few times, there are a few new tools that you may be missing out on to help you with your wildlife excursions. Things like F-stop, depth of field, and ISO are key settings that may be critical to your ability to take a great photo, on top of other tricks that you can use such as camera placement, angels, and proper subject framing. These are all things that fall in the understanding of Intermediate Wildlife Photography.

Wildlife in its purest form

Camera Controls

Most digital cameras offer a wealth of image capture settings. You have the ability to control shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO. These are all major assets to a photographer is ensuring that their image is absolutely perfect.

Shutter speed is used to determine how long the camera exposes the image sensor to light. High shutter speeds are best used in bright light to stop movement and record a precise moment in time. Situations that benefit from high shutter speeds include sports photography and pictures of young children, as they can’t ever seem to sit still. Keep in mind, at higher the shutter speeds less light is able to reach the camera’s sensor. Be sure the subject is well lit, otherwise your camera may try and compensate for underexposure by increasing ISO, which can add noise to your image, or opening the aperture, which can cause you yo miss your focus point.

On the other hand, a slower shutter speed can be used to enhance motion or action, by allowing fast moving objects to blur. This is particular helpful when shooting specific scenes where you want slower moving objects captured clearly, while fast moving ones are blurred from motion, such as a car’s moving wheels during a race or a bat swinging at a baseball. With the correct shutter speed, you can capture the car/batter clearly and crisply, while allowing the wheels/bat to show motion blur, adding action to an otherwise still photo.

Depth of field is exactly what it sounds like, it is the amount of depth you want to have in the image. It refers to how much of the image do you want in focus for the image. Some photos require a blurry background and a high definition focus on the subject, others require focus on the whole image and a very wide depth of field. It is a matter of what you are looking for and what looks best for your subject. High aperture/F-stop settings make more of the image in focus but let less light to the camera’s sensor, while low apertures/F-stops blur the background more while letting more light reach the sensor.

ISO is another tool you can use to increase or decrease the camera’s sensitivity to light. Lower ISO settings tend to produce noise-free images without any grain, whereas higher ISO settings tend to introduce more noise into the image. Photographers typically try and keep ISO low, as most prefer to keep noise out of their images, but sometimes you must increase ISO due to a combination of low light/subject movement.

Digital Camera Controls

Photographer Control

The other half of the photographic equation is the photographer. It is imperative that the photographer is able to not only control the camera, but also to work with the surrounding environment, especially in the wild. You may be looking to capture animals that are small and will run away at the sight of your existence, so it is important to be prepared.

The key is to understand your surroundings and know your subject. The world is reactionary for the most part, so if you move one way, you can predict the movement of some of the pieces. Most animals will flee perceived danger in a specific way, so if you are prepared for this exact movement, you have a better chance of capturing the shot. For example, if you wanted to capture a shot of a frog jumping, you would be ready for it to jump forwards, as frogs rarely jump backwards.

Sometimes you need a presence in order to draw the subject’s attention to the camera. Other times it is necessary to be a fly on the wall and be a bystander to an amazing moment. Both of these come with understanding the moment and your surroundings. A recommendation to help with this understanding is taking a look at this National Geographic article. It will help you get in the mindset of great photography and really strengthen your knowledge around it.

Your goal should be to place yourself in the right spot and at the right moment to capture that perfect image. It is really necessary to just feel out the scenario playing out in front of you. Seeing where the sun is, what type of shade is impacting the image, is there any plants in the way of a key feature, are there too many/little objects in the image, are all things to be considered when going through the paces. It is your job as the photographer to ensure that the decisions made are the right ones.

Photographers in their natural habitat

Photo Editing Tools

Photoshop is exceptional at having so many tools and tricks to make your image become a masterpiece. Nearly any magazine ad, photo shoot, or marketing campaign uses Photoshop for a multitude of reasons. If you have not been lucky enough to try out and use Photoshop, you definitely should, it’s free with a two week trial, and they do not ask for your card info.

Another great tool that you can use to edit your photos is LucidPix. Lucid is one of the leading innovators in artificial intelligence-driven 3D technology. Lucid’s app, LucidPix, gives creators an easy way to create 3D photos and share them on any social media platform. Available at no cost on both iPhone and Android platforms, the LucidPix one-tap process turns any regular photo into a moving 3D image.

You can also turn your, now transformed, 3D image into a MP4 video or animated GIF using the LucidPix app, giving even more life to your amazing image. With LucidPix it can sometimes feels as if you were back at that same spot watching that animal move through the wild. There is no shortage of options when it comes to LucidPix for quick and painless photo editing technology.

Be more confident knowing that you have the tools, knowledge, and capabilities to be able to capture many animals out in the wilderness. Keep your wits about you and think through the situations you are putting yourself in. Everything will react according to your actions, whether you even see the animals or not, so it is imperative that there is some view of self perception for you to be successful.

Finally, and most importantly, enjoy the experience. This is the great outdoors, God’s creation, natural beauty, whatever you want to call it, there is nothing like it, nor as gorgeous, so take it in. You now, at the minimum, know intermediate wildlife photography.