The Beginner’s Guide to Wildlife Photography


If there is one thing that all wildlife tourists never forget to pack it is a good camera and accessories so that they are able to capture images that will serve to keep fresh the memories of an once-in-a-lifetime trip. Being able to shoot the animals in their natural habitats is in itself a wonderful experience, and the results can get you bragging rights back home. Unfortunately, since wild animals are extremely shy and elusive at the best of times, it can prove to be very difficult to compose a shot that captures the essence of what you have actually seen. Some tips for beginners that they can peruse and practice so that they are able to bring back an album full of exquisite memories:

Get Up and Close

While this suggestion may seem to be obvious, you need to appreciate that proximity to the subject is the single-most important factor influencing the quality of your photographs. While you need to maneuver yourself to a spot that is as close as possible, in real life safaris it may not always be possible to approach wild animals that are extremely shy or aggressive. You should always pay heed to your guide and follow all applicable national park rules when you go for Zion National Park UTV tours.

A situation where the most interesting animal will invariably be the least accessible is not uncommon. The only way out is to use a telephoto lens. While these lenses are available in an assortment of focal lengths and prices, try and pick one that is, at least, 250mm. Try to get the longest one that your budget permits as with a powerful lens you improve your ability to capture more details, especially of the animal’s expressions.

Take Advantage of the Light

The next most important thing after the distance is light. As a rule, you will need to depend upon natural light to illuminate your subject. This is because usually the animal will be too far for a flash to have an effect, and, more importantly, a camera flash disturbs animals and can cause them to behave unpredictably. Unless you have special permission that is usually reserved for special wildlife photography units, it is unlawful to use a flash to photograph wild animals in game reserves.

For best effect, ensure that the sun is behind you so that the sunlight falls on the animal to the extent possible. By doing this you will be able to capture a greater detail of the animal’s features. While all vehicle drivers in the reserve are aware of this requirement it will not harm you to remind them of your objective.

Let the Eyes Talk

Of all the animal photos that are shot by professionals as well as amateurs there’s nothing more captivating than close-ups of the faces; especially the ones that seem to peer deep into the eyes as if reading the very soul of the animal itself. You can make your wildlife photography exceptional by trying to get shots of the animal’s eyes. Not only do you need to be extremely patient because these shots can only be taken when the animal is looking towards you but also have the proper telephoto lens that will allow you to compose the perfect shots.

Shoot Fast on the First Sighting

Since animal sightings are at best completely unpredictable, it is best that you use fast shutter speeds to get your first set of shots. With this technique, at least, you will have some shots to display even if you never encounter that animal again during your trip. Rather than missing the opportunity altogether, it is worthwhile adding a little bit more ISO to avoid blurred pictures. If you see that the animal is at ease and does not want to flee the scene, you can shoot more photos, this time taking care to compose and optimize the frames.

Author Bio: Meredith Hanmer is an amateur wildlife photographer who has won a number of awards for her photographs of animals at play. Her photo-feature on wildlife seen on Zion National Park UTV tours has been widely acclaimed.