9 Tips for Stunning Animal Photography

Animals are some of the most captivating subjects to photograph. Each species is unique in its own special way, allowing for a plethora of different photo opportunities. However, animal photography can be difficult, as weather, low light, and a constantly moving subject could all drastically affect the outcome of the image.

If you are just a beginner in the world of animal photography, these challenges could seem overwhelming. It’s important to know how to overcome these obstacles in order to capture stunning photos of various types of wildlife. Read on to find our top animal photography tips.

photo of a tiger sitting on a branch

Dealing with Low Light 

Many forms of wildlife are most active during dawn and dusk rather than during midday when the sun is at its strongest. The lack of light available during these hours can be a challenge to even the most avid photographer. Low light can cause your photos to become blurry due to your camera’s low shutter speed. It is recommended that you set the shutter speed to a higher setting in order to get a crisp shot, as the default speed set by your camera is often too slow to allow blur-free movement.

animal photography example - buck deer

When dealing with low light, ISO speed is important also. ISO speed controls how sensitive the camera is to light. It is best to raise it to a high setting when shooting in low light conditions. Digital noise is another prevalent issue in the world of animal photography. Digital noise distorts the picture, oftentimes in the form of small pixels that are present. 

However, these settings can differ significantly between different types of cameras. In some cameras, the ISO settings may be at their max, however, the image could still be unstable and cause your photos to become blurry. If your lens has a stabilization feature, it is best to put it to good use in this instance.

Learn How to Take a Crisp Photo

Animal photography comes with a constant learning curve, as even the most experienced photographers are always learning new techniques. There are a variety of reasons that your photo may be blurry, such as:

  • Lens quality
  • Tripod use
  • ISO and exposure settings
  • Stabilization mode

These are just a few of the many aspects that go into taking a crisp, high quality photo. It is critical to learn the basics of your camera settings in order to change them as you see fit.

Research Your Desired Animal Photography Location

One of the main aspects of photography is the location or background. Location can make or break a photo shoot, and should be carefully considered. When choosing a location, it is important that you visit that location prior to your shoot. This allows you to get a feel for the place, and determine which areas are the best for the shot. 

Ideally, visit the location during the time of the photoshoot so you can see how the light and shadows behave, and observe where your target animal tends to place itself in the landscape. It is important to choose a location where you feel you could take the most advantage of the natural light available. 

Have a Subject in Mind

When conducting a photo shoot, it is important to have your desired subject in mind. It helps to use your imagination to determine how a certain shot will look, as it helps you to improve composition. Furthermore, it is important to conduct thorough research on your subject prior to the shoot, in order to get to know the various behaviors of the species. 

Shoot for Golden Hour

Golden hour is the time of day when the sun rises in the morning, and sets in the evening. This is one of the best times to take photos, especially photos of wildlife. Animal photography can be tricky at any time of day, but during dawn and dusk, there are soft rays of diffused light for you to use to your advantage.   

Use the Weather to Your Advantage

Many novice photographers will not venture out if the weather is not ideal, however, the various types of weather can actually yield stunning photos. For example, if your subject is an animal such as a moose or deer, a cloudy day could enhance the photo and improve its composition. However, if you are planning on photographing birds, you may want to wait for a clear day.

 You should also not be discouraged because a location may have adverse weather conditions. Some of the best photographs are captured in the rain and snow. Just make sure that your camera and lens are properly protected against the elements.

animal photography of an eagle in a tree

Prepare for the Conditions

When out in the wild, you may encounter less than favorable conditions that may hinder your photoshoot. This can be anything from extreme cold, heat, or other natural elements. If going out in the rain, it is critical to protect your expensive camera equipment. 

Dressing appropriately is also important, as you need to be prepared for whatever elements may be present. This includes wearing boots or shoes made out of a durable material. Layer your clothes if it is cold, and ensure you are wearing gloves so your hands don’t get numb when holding the camera. If traveling to a cold location, it is important to bring extra camera batteries, as cold weather has the potential to severely hinder your battery’s longevity. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative with Animal Photography

Photography is an art, therefore, creativity and imagination is very important. Although you should plan out your shot ahead of time, it is important to improvise and get creative as you see fit. Using your imagination can lead to spectacular images that you may have just taken by chance. It is important to try different locations and species of animals in your chosen area, as this adds variety and keeps the shoot exciting. 

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

Photography should be a fun, enjoyable experience for all involved. Even though getting the right shot can sometimes be difficult, you should have fun and enjoy the process. It is also important to note that with every outing, you gain more knowledge and can really dial in your craft. 

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