Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Wildlife Photography Tips

By Stephanie Mallory

Taking great photos of wildlife doesn’t require expensive camera equipment, years of training or costly trips to exotic locations. With a few tips, planning and patience, you can capture impressive images of wildlife that rival those you see in magazines.

Here are 10 tips for taking eye-catching wildlife photos:

1. Use a telephoto lens ranging between 200mm to 500 mm if possible. A telephoto lens allows you to get that close-up shot while keeping your distance from shy, wild animals. If you don’t have a long lens, you’ll just have to be more patient and work at getting closer to your subject.

2. Snap your photo at the animal’s eye level to create an intimate connection between the subject photographed and the person viewing the image. Crouch, sit or lie down on the ground, especially if you’re photographing a small animal.

3. Focus on the eyes. You will lose that intimate connection if the subject’s eyes are out of focus, in the shadows or simply not visible.

4. Experiment. A beautiful, natural background can greatly enhance a wildlife image, but a close up shot can reveal a lot about the animal’s personality and mood as well. You can get widely differing images by zooming in and out.

5. Employ the Rule of Thirds. Give your subject some lead space when framing the shot. Whichever way the subject is looking implies possible movement in that direction. Arrange the elements in your photograph by imagining a grid of lines drawn through the viewfinder to split the frame into nine equal parts. Place the subject roughly where the two lines cross, giving the subject more room in front than behind.

6. Shoot in good lighting. A lightly overcast day often produces the best light for photography. On a sunny day, take your photos early in the day and late in the evening when the sun is low for a softer, warmer-colored light.

7. Take a bunch of photos. Sometimes you can take hundreds of images and only be happy with a couple. Make sure you have plenty of memory cards and charged batteries.

8. Find great wildlife photography locations near your home. State and national parks provide ideal photography opportunities. Animals living in these parks are used to humans, so they are less likely to flee. Also consider using your 4x4 or Side-by-Side to access remote locations where wary animals are easier to find.

9. Have patience. You may have to wait for a great opportunity, but use that time to learn about your subject. As with any type of photography, the more time you spend with your subject, the more revealing and intimate your images will be.

10. Don’t just take images of the big and impressive animals. Lizards, frogs, bugs and other small creatures can all make for some beautiful imagery. Don’t leave these little guys out. In fact, you may be most proud of those images when it’s all said and done.