Wildlife Photography Tutorial

Published by WPC Official on May'23,2019

1 | 331


Wildlife Photography Tutorial

WPC Official
1 | 331 | May 23, 2019

I am here presenting an in-depth tutorial for the budding wildlife photographer. Wildlife photography is a very demanding kind of photography. The reason I am saying demanding because every species which we want to capture has their own tantrums and moods, obviously unlike human beings because they are not aware that they are going to capture. They do not bother when they see a camera or gathering of some moving objects which do not resemble them. That’s the glory of nature, variety of species being made dependent yet independent. Therefore, It is very important to start with the mention that the world of photography is revolutionized with the technology of DSLR. The continuous innovation and by introducing new technologies, millions & billions of people are attracted to photography. The scholar photographers have segmented photography into many categories and one out of it is WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY. Through this tutorial on wildlife photography, I tried to put maximum best shooting tips which will certainly help a budding photographer to brush the skills at its best.

I would also like to mention that I am sharing my field experience while shooting wildlife. All of my recommendations and guidance are experience based. So, it may be possible that you may counter from a different experience of mine. Because I feel any photographer is an interpreter of nature scientifically. Through photography, you interpret the best creations of a creator.

Now, what is wildlife photography exactly means?  

Wildlife photography is one of the categories of photography which is mainly concerned in capturing the wildlife in their original/ natural postures or form.  Even the different species live in the same natural environment but the habits and physical structure and resistant differ from each other. That’s the glory of nature and excitement for a photographer to shoot the wildlife.  Therefore, for a wildlife photographer, it is important to study the behaviour of the animal to capture their apt pose. Sometimes, the photographer has followed or to hide from them also.

The genre of wildlife photography is observance, so the photographer has to observe and need to remember the behaviour of each and every animal. The experience of visualization is more countable than any image observed and when we see it on a print or on the monitor looks different sometimes. Therefore, the experience altogether counts the visualization as well as observation. In case, one has observed any exciting or interesting postures or poses any such animal to whom you planned to shoot, usually, you click plethora of the images.

While planning wildlife photography it is important to choose the place. I mean, is it a Zoo or a Sanctuary. I am specifically mentioning because the behaviour of the same species become different in both the different places. So, I recommend that it is better to do your homework before capturing the desired species, studying their behaviour and knowing the routine and nature according to the weather will certainly reflect in your every picture also that will help you take the exact emotions and poses as you planned to capture. In other words “KNOW YOUR SUBJECT” is important. This will help you to make the image composition as per the setting of the camera and lighting, focus adjusting even if you are using a modern, high-power autofocus system. The animal moves at its pace which could be faster or slower or straight at you also. I would like to explain the statement through an example. If you have planned a shoot through a fast motor drive sequences. Then you have to deal with the crowd, flashing displays, indicators and the flickers of the camera mirror in the viewfinder. Keeping in view all these aspects will make the view through the lens quite hypnogogic. This will make you see the images what no one has taken before. You will find the real and utmost satisfaction in those clicks.

A wildlife photographer must also arrange the trip with full preparations, like he/she must be known to the shooting conditions as well as the environment and surroundings, also, the seasonal behaviour of the species you choose to shoot.  Remember the ultimate goal that is “In the right time, in the right place”. As the experience and concentration increases it helps to any wildlife photographer to see entirely the new perspective of nature. They will also experience that viewing capacity towards nature or any object and subject is also changed. They will find an improvement in perspective and the conceiving power of visualization is also on next or higher level. The change they will notice into themselves may relate towards the detailing of the subject or the object. The advancement in photography technologies also helps them to review the past pictures clicked and a detailed comparison with the new pictures taken. It is equally important to understand that whether you want to work on “Observe and Snap” or want to work on the in-depth on wildlife photography. 

Where can be wildlife photography can be done? The best place for wildlife photography for beginners is Zoo but in India, it is important to prior enquire about the photography because many Zoos do not allow photography or sometimes they allow but have certain rules to follow. Once a person got good practice on camera then can opt for National Parks / Wildlife Sanctuaries. In India, for national parks, there is a stipulated time to visit. During the monsoon season usually, all national parks are closed in India. Therefore, it is recommended to do prior enquiry before scheduling the wildlife photography with the national parks.  

What is the Best Time to shoot? In photography, light plays a very important role to get the best results. It is  recommended to schedule the wildlife photography at “Golden Hours”, I believe everybody should understand what this term means, but in case not known that these are the first hours of light in the morning to which we called “Dawn”  and last hours of the light at the end of the day to which we called “Dusk” . I prefer this time because the tonal quality of light is its best, the diffusion of light produced is soft at this point of time and the height of the sun relative to the subject is as perfect as required. Therefore, golden hours are very important for wildlife photography. Also, when we shoot the condition of weather is also very important to consider. The behaviour of the animal is also different in different weather condition. We in India are lucky to have all kind of weathers as nature has showered its love to upon it.

Now you may have a question that if golden hours are best for the photography then why not the midday hours? As a matter of fact midday sunlight ruins the photographs though strong shadows. The shadows may cause a difference in tones due to strong lights. So, it is important to visualize the end results of the photograph also and equally important to consider the time of the shooting, also, it’s not possible to make the midday sunlight look suitable for wildlife photography.

Here are some points to consider like to get up early to shoot in the morning light. Time management like travel, ready with tools, comfortable outfits etc. You need to have the patience to find the animal and to wait till the perfect pose. Adjust the shutter speed as per the light level.

What are Gears & How to select them? Gears in photography mean the tools using for photography, e.g. Camera, tripod, & lenses etc. Basis on the animal chosen to shoot, the equipment should get selected and shooting techniques like lighting conditions etc. Gears in photography mean the tools using for photography, e.g. Camera, tripod, & lenses etc. The basis on the animal chosen to shoot, the equipment should get selected and shooting techniques like lighting conditions etc.

 The usage of gear for wildlife photography is mostly dependent on three major principles: (1) High speed (2) quality of the image must be at the best and (3) apt lenses for the wildlife photography that will shorten the effective distance between and subject for sharp images. The other effective factor is the robustness which is the reliable exposure metering systems that continue to function effectively under briskly changeable lighting conditions and reliable autofocus. If there is an appropriate light then it is also possible to snap an important moment using an old SLR camera and a manual telephoto lens. However, recent technical proposition in camera and lens technology makes using former technology uneconomic for budding and present professional photographer. As older equipment won’t help budding or amateur photographers attain adequate outcomes usually. Nowadays many of present normal digital pictures are created under lighting situations that were sometimes been not possible to click through analogue technology.

To start the wildlife photography, Mirror or DSLR cameras are important. One can use full frame cameras for good results or can also use Crop sensor cameras.  The recommended lens is a telephoto lens. For this tutorial, I have used canon 70mm-200mm for this wildlife shoot because the usually focal length of the telephoto lens starts with these ranges.  Carrying tripod is a must. For any professional photographers choosing the right gear is a fundamental need, broadly for them who have planned to capture the high image quality. As high image quality demands of photographs have mainly occurred from agencies, publishers, and magazines. Technically the speed of a camera is described by the sensitivity of its image sensor and lens, the number of frames per second (fps) that the camera’s motor drive can shoot, and the size and speed of the camera’s data buffer that is the number of images the camera can shoot and store in a single sequence without slowing down its other systems. The sensitivity of light of any image sensor is described by the density of light necessary for the camera to produce low-noise or noise-free images. In the series of such cameras presently in use are 12-megapixel 24 × 36 mm full-frame models of camera. They also have exposure advantage of up to two full stops (2 EV) in comparison to cameras with APS-C (16 × 24 mm) sensors or cameras with much higher megapixel values. Agencies for Photography work usually contended that photographers use a maximum ISO value of 400 if the images are APS-C images and if the usage of the images is for a double-page magazine spread. On the other hand, if images shot using full-frame cameras are sufficient even at ISO values of 1600 and higher. If we choose to put full-frame cameras, then the outcome of the taken pictures may be in worse lighting situations and with shutter speeds up to four times as fast as those used by other cameras. Such results can be expected only if you too using correct high-resolution lenses with large maximum apertures. Professional lenses are generally two stops (2 EV) brighter that means it better to use a maximum aperture that is two stops larger than the value lenses aimed at the amateur end of the market. There are some professional lenses that are sometimes equipped with image stabilizing technology. That may increase the brightness of the lens by up to four additional f-stops. This technology helps in capturing shaking free pictures. Folks, I am not discussing very much technical aspects in this blog as you need to understand the basics of wildlife photography. To learn the technicalities is a process where you have to continuously practice photography. One more interesting thing you will find about your photography is as and when you will be able to understand the techniques and subject, the same photographs will start emitting emotions one after another. In other words, the photography has done of the same subject at a different season, timing and season will be kind of your progress report.

Now here you start to shootIt is really helpful if you have done homework on your subject. This is not only applicable to wildlife photography but also useful in any genre of photography. The photographers who are nature lovers and wanted to capture nature at its fullest they geographically prepare themselves for the best shot. They study about the seasons, the changes in light conditions as per the time etc. Therefore, in the same way, it is recommended to study on the animal or animals you want to capture. Like, how they run, they move at what speed? What they eat and when? Are they prone to earth and water both? If yes then what are the timings they stay on earth and their behaviour and the same the timing in the water and their behaviour or we can say that as you schedule the shoot, it will be helpful to research about the behaviour of the animal you have planned to shoot. The most important is to consider is self-safety. It is recommended that proper and safe distance to be maintained from the animal. Take the help of guides deputed by the management of the national park. This is a much-repeated story of some of the national parks that animals become wild and out of excitement or for the best capture the photographers risk their lives. So, here a calculated risk must be taken into account. It would be better than if you consult with the park authorities and guides a day prior to scheduling your shoot about the geographical and behavioural situation of the arena. Therefore, use such lenses which will be helpful to shoot from a safer distance and pictures may also be at par.

Thinks Composition – Composition of Image in the wildlife photography genre also pursues the ditto key guidelines that follow for other photographic genres. Before starting the shooting of any selected wildlife or animal it is important to visualize the environment and surrounding of the animal on the spot about how the picture must be. Here the visualization means proper light, pose, background and moment.  Then start capturing the poses. It is good if “The rule of third” is considered in your composition. If not able to use it then in post-processing can be done through crop the images.

Perspective, the “rule of thirds”, lighting mood, colour, and background are the essential aspects that create a sharp image. A perfect or a great image is usually described by its depth and the emotions it invokes. The image depicts one of its conclusive moment. A picture captured of any running animal captured can be a sharp one by using the technique of an ultra-short 1⁄8000 second shutter speed that helps a technically perfect shot, but in case it lacks the depth that the same animal displays when photographed at 1⁄30 or 1⁄250 second while panning the camera.

The portrait of an animal shot in passing can make a sharper picture, but may not be as good to the amazing moment which you can capture if you observe the animal at distance. Many animals only lose their audacity once you monitor them quietly and surprisingly for a long span of time. They can make you curious to capture them by showing their curiosity as they start behaving weird. You would certainly appreciate and love some animals that make poses for you like professional models. One of the technical aspects of such pictures is if you plan to comprise those photos with a motto of using them monetary benefits than you should make sure that the traditional 3:2 Leica format is not in use currently anywhere to publish. Always consider an aspect of “room for manoeuvre” when you choose to frame your captured animal to showcase.

The success of any wildlife photography depends highly upon the actions of any photographer with the use of the right composition. The wild animals are famous to change the scenario in one blink of an eye, the events take place so quickly and change the poses faster.  All this activity never allows you to think much about your composition or your setting of lenses and many a time you need to finish the images in post-processing or by crop your images to fit into the visualized picture afterwards. This all makes you learn to take the best shots at an odd situation.

Keep in Mind – The shutter speed should not be slow. The recommended minimum shutter speed if the animal is walking 1/400 to 1/800, if the animal is running then the speed must be 1/1000 to 1/1250, if you plan to capture a flying bird then the speed should be 1/1600 to 1/2500, and for small fast flying birds the speed must be 1/3200 and auto.

Refer to the below table:

APS-C focal

Equivalent full-frame (approx.)

Lens used for which proportion of shots (approx.)

200mm -400 mm f/4

300mm-600 mm

70 %

280mm-560 mm f/5.6*

420mm- 840 mm

5 %

340mm-680 mm f/6.8**

420mm- 840 mm

2 %

70mm-200 mm f/2.8

100mm-300 mm

8 %

17mm-55 mm f/2.8

25mm-80 mm

4 %

12mm -24 mm f/4

18mm -35 mm

2%

The above table explains some of the technical aspects that if a wildlife photographer can cover all essential focal lengths with the help of given dimensions of APS-C focal camera with approx. 400mm lens and a teleconverter. The lens mounted on APS-C camera on AF-S VR Zoom NIKKOR 200mm-400mm lens finest of the presently feasible with super-telephoto lenses. The same configuration gives good results if we use it for closest focusing and for that the distance may be less than about seven feet. To get good results the wildlife photographer may also use 80mm-400mm lens which is termed as slow one and another substitute is low-cost that is 70mm-300mm lens but remember both the configuration will give good results only with the use of teleconverter.

If we talk for another way to use the camera which is full-frame and a wildlife photographer wanted to shoot the animals in close up than the recommended configuration is classic 500mm f/4 but it’s a bulky option, next option is the 60mm f/4 lens. The apt distance recommended is more than approx. 13feets for the good results. 

The professional photographer says that APS-C systems are two times expensive when we talk about the full-frame gear. Well, if in future you want to work as semi-professionally or professionally you have to buy the expensive option for beating all the previous records and to make sure that all advanced equipment has made you the most professional and popular in the genre of wildlife photography.

As you all know that there are various brands available in the market and more or less the configuration is also the same but the results are different. Therefore, it is important to know the technical aspects of the lens and how to use those lenses with which particular brand of camera is completely your kitty.  Here, I, recommend that till you get the complete hands on the technical aspects of wildlife photography it is better to use the economical technical types of equipment. This is also a fact that technology gets outdated soon. Therefore, if you bought any equipment today may get obsolete very soon and you would not be able to use at its fullest. So, get the extravagant or overpriced equipment once get hands on the technical part too. 

The use of flash in wildlife photography is very limited. The reason behind it is, usually, wildlife photography is done in the “Golden Hours” where the light condition is apt for big animals. But in case any wildlife photographer wants to shoot the small creatures or different insects than one has to use the flash but that is a very later part of the genre. If a wildlife photographer wants to shoot nocturnal activity of any big animal then they have to use flash in order to get the proper light condition for good results.

Post Processing (Final Touch) Refer Video – The need for post-processing of photographs is just to make your each and every photograph presentable. Also, it helps in creating the proper visual story as per the subject. First, select the picture, crop it and create the proper background. Please refer to the video and follow the steps to create the photograph beautifully.

There are certain technical aspects also which I would like to discuss here. If you want to expand the technical potential of your camera than it is recommended to set the camera’s exposure control system to matrix metering mode.  Now how matrix meter will help? The work of Matrix metering is to save more than ten or twenty thousand images which help you in comparing among the best as per the scenes you capture. Another best feature of matrix metering is its blooming effect but it will depict good results if it is set on the most minimum. The effect is defined as washed out highlights. Matrix metering works into backlight also and it secures the brightest side of the images, whatever it carries.  Matrix metering also works as a safeguard for tonal quality of all the images captured. If we talk about the best part of a technology called matrix metering is that its outcome is well-exposed images. It also helps in correcting the images while post-processing through RAW images.

 

What if your camera is not fixing with the Matrix Metering? In such condition, you need to be highly skilled in processing the fine images. Therefore, it is recommended to focus on the improvement of the final image and leave the rest of the images. If this situation occurs then the other way to handle for improving the tonal quality of image you can set the grayscale value of the decided subject manually and this will help in limiting your camera from auto selecting grayscale (usually approx 17%).  By using some of such technical skills by practising, I can ensure the best ever results for your images. It is also said by some of the great and professional wildlife photographers that HDR is somewhat difficult to capture the moving objects or when the subject is moving but I can say that you can improve your images by using a technique of bracketing sequences in matrix mode or in HDR cameras. As there is saying “Practice Makes A Man Perfect” – yes it is implied in wildlife photography too. The more you play with the techniques more you would be able to develop and innovation in your own techniques which will help in enhancing your captured images which will make it different from others. There are many photographers whose style is very much apparent in their images. Initially, I recommend using very few settings that will be helpful in tracking all the images you are capturing with the subject who has very different behaviour and are difficult to capture. Therefore use the auto mode of the shutter, ISO etc. With the use of all such auto functions, you can easily limit the motion and the blur effect if it is directly related to the focal distance of the lens. Sometimes auto ISO makes noise. If you want to exhibit the fine image with tonal quality, it is recommended to use the manual setting of exposure metering along with auto ISO. The role of shutter speed, apt lenses and aperture are equally important if you are using auto techniques but yes I can assure you that you will have amazing images by using all these techniques in your initial photography days. Remember, the use of the technique on auto mode may be a reason for broken overexposure if you are capturing the images on such selected shutter speed if the subject is in a shady area, as you may need straight sunlight. It is also recommended to set the ISO’s range in advance otherwise it will create a noisy image. So, be careful and concentrate while doing all technical settings to get a fine image. I think, programmed auto mode is workable only when you are not in a serious role of the photographer but just want to collect the memories to cherish.

Another important technical aspect is the lens. The lenses should be set in a perfect focal distance. This is very important to monitor when you are using a camera with a fixed focal length lens. So, to freeze the frame of any big animal with a fixed lens camera is really difficult because if you want to change the camera at that point of time may change the whole event in a few seconds. There are certain techniques which may help you to improve the images and its tonal quality but cannot be able to replace the body parts of the animals if you missed it to capture while avoiding the technical glitch. 

I hope you all may find the tour of wildlife tutorial an interesting one. Because as I said it’s an affair of patience because sometimes it is a time taking the process of capturing proper pose of any animal. Therefore, foremost is patience in wildlife photography. The most important is to know your subject and try to schedule the shoot according to the proper light condition and behavior of the animal that will certainly help you for better results. I wish you all the very best and happy wildlife photography.

 All photos clicked by and the blog is written by Mukkesh Sharma for WPC project Wildlife Photography Tutorial


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I am here presenting an in-depth tutorial for the budding wildlife photographer. Wildlife photography is a very demanding kind of photography. The reason I am saying demanding because every species which we want to capture has their own tantrums and moods, obviously unlike human beings because they are not aware that they are going to capture. They do not bother when they see a camera or gathering of some moving objects which do not resemble them. That’s the glory of nature, variety of species being made dependent yet independent. Therefore, It is very important to start with the mention that the world of photography is revolutionized with the technology of DSLR. The continuous innovation and by introducing new technologies, millions & billions of people are attracted to photography. The scholar photographers have segmented photography into many categories and one out of it is WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY. Through this tutorial on wildlife photography, I tried to put maximum best shooting tips which will certainly help a budding photographer to brush the skills at its best.

I would also like to mention that I am sharing my field experience while shooting wildlife. All of my recommendations and guidance are experience based. So, it may be possible that you may counter from a different experience of mine. Because I feel any photographer is an interpreter of nature scientifically. Through photography, you interpret the best creations of a creator.

Now, what is wildlife photography exactly means?  

Wildlife photography is one of the categories of photography which is mainly concerned in capturing the wildlife in their original/ natural postures or form.  Even the different species live in the same natural environment but the habits and physical structure and resistant differ from each other. That’s the glory of nature and excitement for a photographer to shoot the wildlife.  Therefore, for a wildlife photographer, it is important to study the behaviour of the animal to capture their apt pose. Sometimes, the photographer has followed or to hide from them also.

The genre of wildlife photography is observance, so the photographer has to observe and need to remember the behaviour of each and every animal. The experience of visualization is more countable than any image observed and when we see it on a print or on the monitor looks different sometimes. Therefore, the experience altogether counts the visualization as well as observation. In case, one has observed any exciting or interesting postures or poses any such animal to whom you planned to shoot, usually, you click plethora of the images.

While planning wildlife photography it is important to choose the place. I mean, is it a Zoo or a Sanctuary. I am specifically mentioning because the behaviour of the same species become different in both the different places. So, I recommend that it is better to do your homework before capturing the desired species, studying their behaviour and knowing the routine and nature according to the weather will certainly reflect in your every picture also that will help you take the exact emotions and poses as you planned to capture. In other words “KNOW YOUR SUBJECT” is important. This will help you to make the image composition as per the setting of the camera and lighting, focus adjusting even if you are using a modern, high-power autofocus system. The animal moves at its pace which could be faster or slower or straight at you also. I would like to explain the statement through an example. If you have planned a shoot through a fast motor drive sequences. Then you have to deal with the crowd, flashing displays, indicators and the flickers of the camera mirror in the viewfinder. Keeping in view all these aspects will make the view through the lens quite hypnogogic. This will make you see the images what no one has taken before. You will find the real and utmost satisfaction in those clicks.

A wildlife photographer must also arrange the trip with full preparations, like he/she must be known to the shooting conditions as well as the environment and surroundings, also, the seasonal behaviour of the species you choose to shoot.  Remember the ultimate goal that is “In the right time, in the right place”. As the experience and concentration increases it helps to any wildlife photographer to see entirely the new perspective of nature. They will also experience that viewing capacity towards nature or any object and subject is also changed. They will find an improvement in perspective and the conceiving power of visualization is also on next or higher level. The change they will notice into themselves may relate towards the detailing of the subject or the object. The advancement in photography technologies also helps them to review the past pictures clicked and a detailed comparison with the new pictures taken. It is equally important to understand that whether you want to work on “Observe and Snap” or want to work on the in-depth on wildlife photography. 

Where can be wildlife photography can be done? The best place for wildlife photography for beginners is Zoo but in India, it is important to prior enquire about the photography because many Zoos do not allow photography or sometimes they allow but have certain rules to follow. Once a person got good practice on camera then can opt for National Parks / Wildlife Sanctuaries. In India, for national parks, there is a stipulated time to visit. During the monsoon season usually, all national parks are closed in India. Therefore, it is recommended to do prior enquiry before scheduling the wildlife photography with the national parks.  

What is the Best Time to shoot? In photography, light plays a very important role to get the best results. It is  recommended to schedule the wildlife photography at “Golden Hours”, I believe everybody should understand what this term means, but in case not known that these are the first hours of light in the morning to which we called “Dawn”  and last hours of the light at the end of the day to which we called “Dusk” . I prefer this time because the tonal quality of light is its best, the diffusion of light produced is soft at this point of time and the height of the sun relative to the subject is as perfect as required. Therefore, golden hours are very important for wildlife photography. Also, when we shoot the condition of weather is also very important to consider. The behaviour of the animal is also different in different weather condition. We in India are lucky to have all kind of weathers as nature has showered its love to upon it.

Now you may have a question that if golden hours are best for the photography then why not the midday hours? As a matter of fact midday sunlight ruins the photographs though strong shadows. The shadows may cause a difference in tones due to strong lights. So, it is important to visualize the end results of the photograph also and equally important to consider the time of the shooting, also, it’s not possible to make the midday sunlight look suitable for wildlife photography.

Here are some points to consider like to get up early to shoot in the morning light. Time management like travel, ready with tools, comfortable outfits etc. You need to have the patience to find the animal and to wait till the perfect pose. Adjust the shutter speed as per the light level.

What are Gears & How to select them? Gears in photography mean the tools using for photography, e.g. Camera, tripod, & lenses etc. Basis on the animal chosen to shoot, the equipment should get selected and shooting techniques like lighting conditions etc. Gears in photography mean the tools using for photography, e.g. Camera, tripod, & lenses etc. The basis on the animal chosen to shoot, the equipment should get selected and shooting techniques like lighting conditions etc.

 The usage of gear for wildlife photography is mostly dependent on three major principles: (1) High speed (2) quality of the image must be at the best and (3) apt lenses for the wildlife photography that will shorten the effective distance between and subject for sharp images. The other effective factor is the robustness which is the reliable exposure metering systems that continue to function effectively under briskly changeable lighting conditions and reliable autofocus. If there is an appropriate light then it is also possible to snap an important moment using an old SLR camera and a manual telephoto lens. However, recent technical proposition in camera and lens technology makes using former technology uneconomic for budding and present professional photographer. As older equipment won’t help budding or amateur photographers attain adequate outcomes usually. Nowadays many of present normal digital pictures are created under lighting situations that were sometimes been not possible to click through analogue technology.

To start the wildlife photography, Mirror or DSLR cameras are important. One can use full frame cameras for good results or can also use Crop sensor cameras.  The recommended lens is a telephoto lens. For this tutorial, I have used canon 70mm-200mm for this wildlife shoot because the usually focal length of the telephoto lens starts with these ranges.  Carrying tripod is a must. For any professional photographers choosing the right gear is a fundamental need, broadly for them who have planned to capture the high image quality. As high image quality demands of photographs have mainly occurred from agencies, publishers, and magazines. Technically the speed of a camera is described by the sensitivity of its image sensor and lens, the number of frames per second (fps) that the camera’s motor drive can shoot, and the size and speed of the camera’s data buffer that is the number of images the camera can shoot and store in a single sequence without slowing down its other systems. The sensitivity of light of any image sensor is described by the density of light necessary for the camera to produce low-noise or noise-free images. In the series of such cameras presently in use are 12-megapixel 24 × 36 mm full-frame models of camera. They also have exposure advantage of up to two full stops (2 EV) in comparison to cameras with APS-C (16 × 24 mm) sensors or cameras with much higher megapixel values. Agencies for Photography work usually contended that photographers use a maximum ISO value of 400 if the images are APS-C images and if the usage of the images is for a double-page magazine spread. On the other hand, if images shot using full-frame cameras are sufficient even at ISO values of 1600 and higher. If we choose to put full-frame cameras, then the outcome of the taken pictures may be in worse lighting situations and with shutter speeds up to four times as fast as those used by other cameras. Such results can be expected only if you too using correct high-resolution lenses with large maximum apertures. Professional lenses are generally two stops (2 EV) brighter that means it better to use a maximum aperture that is two stops larger than the value lenses aimed at the amateur end of the market. There are some professional lenses that are sometimes equipped with image stabilizing technology. That may increase the brightness of the lens by up to four additional f-stops. This technology helps in capturing shaking free pictures. Folks, I am not discussing very much technical aspects in this blog as you need to understand the basics of wildlife photography. To learn the technicalities is a process where you have to continuously practice photography. One more interesting thing you will find about your photography is as and when you will be able to understand the techniques and subject, the same photographs will start emitting emotions one after another. In other words, the photography has done of the same subject at a different season, timing and season will be kind of your progress report.

Now here you start to shootIt is really helpful if you have done homework on your subject. This is not only applicable to wildlife photography but also useful in any genre of photography. The photographers who are nature lovers and wanted to capture nature at its fullest they geographically prepare themselves for the best shot. They study about the seasons, the changes in light conditions as per the time etc. Therefore, in the same way, it is recommended to study on the animal or animals you want to capture. Like, how they run, they move at what speed? What they eat and when? Are they prone to earth and water both? If yes then what are the timings they stay on earth and their behaviour and the same the timing in the water and their behaviour or we can say that as you schedule the shoot, it will be helpful to research about the behaviour of the animal you have planned to shoot. The most important is to consider is self-safety. It is recommended that proper and safe distance to be maintained from the animal. Take the help of guides deputed by the management of the national park. This is a much-repeated story of some of the national parks that animals become wild and out of excitement or for the best capture the photographers risk their lives. So, here a calculated risk must be taken into account. It would be better than if you consult with the park authorities and guides a day prior to scheduling your shoot about the geographical and behavioural situation of the arena. Therefore, use such lenses which will be helpful to shoot from a safer distance and pictures may also be at par.

Thinks Composition – Composition of Image in the wildlife photography genre also pursues the ditto key guidelines that follow for other photographic genres. Before starting the shooting of any selected wildlife or animal it is important to visualize the environment and surrounding of the animal on the spot about how the picture must be. Here the visualization means proper light, pose, background and moment.  Then start capturing the poses. It is good if “The rule of third” is considered in your composition. If not able to use it then in post-processing can be done through crop the images.

Perspective, the “rule of thirds”, lighting mood, colour, and background are the essential aspects that create a sharp image. A perfect or a great image is usually described by its depth and the emotions it invokes. The image depicts one of its conclusive moment. A picture captured of any running animal captured can be a sharp one by using the technique of an ultra-short 1⁄8000 second shutter speed that helps a technically perfect shot, but in case it lacks the depth that the same animal displays when photographed at 1⁄30 or 1⁄250 second while panning the camera.

The portrait of an animal shot in passing can make a sharper picture, but may not be as good to the amazing moment which you can capture if you observe the animal at distance. Many animals only lose their audacity once you monitor them quietly and surprisingly for a long span of time. They can make you curious to capture them by showing their curiosity as they start behaving weird. You would certainly appreciate and love some animals that make poses for you like professional models. One of the technical aspects of such pictures is if you plan to comprise those photos with a motto of using them monetary benefits than you should make sure that the traditional 3:2 Leica format is not in use currently anywhere to publish. Always consider an aspect of “room for manoeuvre” when you choose to frame your captured animal to showcase.

The success of any wildlife photography depends highly upon the actions of any photographer with the use of the right composition. The wild animals are famous to change the scenario in one blink of an eye, the events take place so quickly and change the poses faster.  All this activity never allows you to think much about your composition or your setting of lenses and many a time you need to finish the images in post-processing or by crop your images to fit into the visualized picture afterwards. This all makes you learn to take the best shots at an odd situation.

Keep in Mind – The shutter speed should not be slow. The recommended minimum shutter speed if the animal is walking 1/400 to 1/800, if the animal is running then the speed must be 1/1000 to 1/1250, if you plan to capture a flying bird then the speed should be 1/1600 to 1/2500, and for small fast flying birds the speed must be 1/3200 and auto.

Refer to the below table:

APS-C focal

Equivalent full-frame (approx.)

Lens used for which proportion of shots (approx.)

200mm -400 mm f/4

300mm-600 mm

70 %

280mm-560 mm f/5.6*

420mm- 840 mm

5 %

340mm-680 mm f/6.8**

420mm- 840 mm

2 %

70mm-200 mm f/2.8

100mm-300 mm

8 %

17mm-55 mm f/2.8

25mm-80 mm

4 %

12mm -24 mm f/4

18mm -35 mm

2%

The above table explains some of the technical aspects that if a wildlife photographer can cover all essential focal lengths with the help of given dimensions of APS-C focal camera with approx. 400mm lens and a teleconverter. The lens mounted on APS-C camera on AF-S VR Zoom NIKKOR 200mm-400mm lens finest of the presently feasible with super-telephoto lenses. The same configuration gives good results if we use it for closest focusing and for that the distance may be less than about seven feet. To get good results the wildlife photographer may also use 80mm-400mm lens which is termed as slow one and another substitute is low-cost that is 70mm-300mm lens but remember both the configuration will give good results only with the use of teleconverter.

If we talk for another way to use the camera which is full-frame and a wildlife photographer wanted to shoot the animals in close up than the recommended configuration is classic 500mm f/4 but it’s a bulky option, next option is the 60mm f/4 lens. The apt distance recommended is more than approx. 13feets for the good results. 

The professional photographer says that APS-C systems are two times expensive when we talk about the full-frame gear. Well, if in future you want to work as semi-professionally or professionally you have to buy the expensive option for beating all the previous records and to make sure that all advanced equipment has made you the most professional and popular in the genre of wildlife photography.

As you all know that there are various brands available in the market and more or less the configuration is also the same but the results are different. Therefore, it is important to know the technical aspects of the lens and how to use those lenses with which particular brand of camera is completely your kitty.  Here, I, recommend that till you get the complete hands on the technical aspects of wildlife photography it is better to use the economical technical types of equipment. This is also a fact that technology gets outdated soon. Therefore, if you bought any equipment today may get obsolete very soon and you would not be able to use at its fullest. So, get the extravagant or overpriced equipment once get hands on the technical part too. 

The use of flash in wildlife photography is very limited. The reason behind it is, usually, wildlife photography is done in the “Golden Hours” where the light condition is apt for big animals. But in case any wildlife photographer wants to shoot the small creatures or different insects than one has to use the flash but that is a very later part of the genre. If a wildlife photographer wants to shoot nocturnal activity of any big animal then they have to use flash in order to get the proper light condition for good results.

Post Processing (Final Touch) Refer Video – The need for post-processing of photographs is just to make your each and every photograph presentable. Also, it helps in creating the proper visual story as per the subject. First, select the picture, crop it and create the proper background. Please refer to the video and follow the steps to create the photograph beautifully.

There are certain technical aspects also which I would like to discuss here. If you want to expand the technical potential of your camera than it is recommended to set the camera’s exposure control system to matrix metering mode.  Now how matrix meter will help? The work of Matrix metering is to save more than ten or twenty thousand images which help you in comparing among the best as per the scenes you capture. Another best feature of matrix metering is its blooming effect but it will depict good results if it is set on the most minimum. The effect is defined as washed out highlights. Matrix metering works into backlight also and it secures the brightest side of the images, whatever it carries.  Matrix metering also works as a safeguard for tonal quality of all the images captured. If we talk about the best part of a technology called matrix metering is that its outcome is well-exposed images. It also helps in correcting the images while post-processing through RAW images.

 

What if your camera is not fixing with the Matrix Metering? In such condition, you need to be highly skilled in processing the fine images. Therefore, it is recommended to focus on the improvement of the final image and leave the rest of the images. If this situation occurs then the other way to handle for improving the tonal quality of image you can set the grayscale value of the decided subject manually and this will help in limiting your camera from auto selecting grayscale (usually approx 17%).  By using some of such technical skills by practising, I can ensure the best ever results for your images. It is also said by some of the great and professional wildlife photographers that HDR is somewhat difficult to capture the moving objects or when the subject is moving but I can say that you can improve your images by using a technique of bracketing sequences in matrix mode or in HDR cameras. As there is saying “Practice Makes A Man Perfect” – yes it is implied in wildlife photography too. The more you play with the techniques more you would be able to develop and innovation in your own techniques which will help in enhancing your captured images which will make it different from others. There are many photographers whose style is very much apparent in their images. Initially, I recommend using very few settings that will be helpful in tracking all the images you are capturing with the subject who has very different behaviour and are difficult to capture. Therefore use the auto mode of the shutter, ISO etc. With the use of all such auto functions, you can easily limit the motion and the blur effect if it is directly related to the focal distance of the lens. Sometimes auto ISO makes noise. If you want to exhibit the fine image with tonal quality, it is recommended to use the manual setting of exposure metering along with auto ISO. The role of shutter speed, apt lenses and aperture are equally important if you are using auto techniques but yes I can assure you that you will have amazing images by using all these techniques in your initial photography days. Remember, the use of the technique on auto mode may be a reason for broken overexposure if you are capturing the images on such selected shutter speed if the subject is in a shady area, as you may need straight sunlight. It is also recommended to set the ISO’s range in advance otherwise it will create a noisy image. So, be careful and concentrate while doing all technical settings to get a fine image. I think, programmed auto mode is workable only when you are not in a serious role of the photographer but just want to collect the memories to cherish.

Another important technical aspect is the lens. The lenses should be set in a perfect focal distance. This is very important to monitor when you are using a camera with a fixed focal length lens. So, to freeze the frame of any big animal with a fixed lens camera is really difficult because if you want to change the camera at that point of time may change the whole event in a few seconds. There are certain techniques which may help you to improve the images and its tonal quality but cannot be able to replace the body parts of the animals if you missed it to capture while avoiding the technical glitch. 

I hope you all may find the tour of wildlife tutorial an interesting one. Because as I said it’s an affair of patience because sometimes it is a time taking the process of capturing proper pose of any animal. Therefore, foremost is patience in wildlife photography. The most important is to know your subject and try to schedule the shoot according to the proper light condition and behavior of the animal that will certainly help you for better results. I wish you all the very best and happy wildlife photography.

 All photos clicked by and the blog is written by Mukkesh Sharma for WPC project Wildlife Photography Tutorial