Bluefin Studios | Tutorial - Wildlife Photography Tips 1

Tutorial - Wildlife Photography Tips 1

February 07, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Perfect for FallPerfect for FallNorth American Red wolf, in the red leaves of fall! From StoneZoo New England.

North American Red Wolf


Wildlife Photography Tips, Part I

I've broken this set of tips into a couple of parts... 
Part I is really about before the shoot.
Part II is about the shoot and the post processing.

Wildlife Photography, Part I: Before the Shoot!

Nature, and in particular, Wildlife Photography, is about an accurate presentation of the natural state. No Human presence should be visible in Nature or Wildlife Photography. Before you begin, you need to understand what is correct behavior in the wild.

Head on over to this post about Ethics In Wildlife Photography

Do Your Homework: Your subject!
As with all subjects, you need to understand and do some research in order to make your shooting a success. With wildlife, that means, understanding your subjects. A little internet research, a trip to a local library, and of course, reading and following great wildlife photographers, can be a great start!

These are some of my favorites in Nature and Wildlife Photography!


Moose Peterson (Big Game, Wildlife, Nature)


Mike Spinak (Seals)


Rick Sammon (specializes in NOT specializing!)


Bill Fortney (Wildlife, Nature)


Shawn Carey (Birds, Nature)



Do More Homework: The Place!
Do your homework, for the animals, birds and plants you are shooting. Understand the area where you will be.

Just as you research the animals you are shooting, research your subject area. Before you leave the house, understand sunrise, sunset, the wind, weather and clouds. Let someone know where you will be shooting; someone needs to know where to send rescue in case you get lost, or long overdue! Seriously, getting lost in the woods can be a bad thing. Prepare for it.

Prep Yourself
Spending an entire day, out in the woods, walking, shooting, etc., can be fun. But it can also be work. Physically demanding work. Hills, trails, rocks, springs, streams... these all are wonderful to shoot. they can also exhaust you. Make sure to get in shape. Make sure the trail you are going to hike is matched to your hiking experience. Work up to the more experienced levels. Bring a map, and learn to use it. Learn to read terrain, and find your way!

Remember, when you are in the woods, dress in layers! Bring appropriate jackets, gloves, rain gear.


Prep Your Gear

Gear In Your Pack:

If your spending the day shooting in the woods, then bring what you need for the day in the woods.

Pack a tripod and a monopod.

Pack the long lens (400mm or 600mm).

Pack a wide angle (11-16mm).

Pack a medium telephoto (70-200mm). There's no need to carry too many extra lenses. Bring lots of Memory Cards.

No need for speedlights, portrait lenses, etc.


OK, so we don't all own these lenses. But, there's nothing stopping you from renting a fast long telephoto for the day. This is the perfect excuse to learn a new lens. A day shooting with a rental can help you decide of this is a good purchase or not. Personally, I use Of course, I have the advantage of having a pickup location right next to my neighborhood. but BorrowLenses will ship the rental to you. Same for many other places online.


Also in your pack:
Pack water, and some snacks (an apple, a protein bar, etc.)

Pack your field first aid kit.

Pack a poncho, and an extra plastic bag.

Bring towels, to blot. dry your gear. Don't rub water into the lenses, or force it into seals. Don't let it ruin your fancy cameras.

Bring a map of the area.

Bring a lighter and a flashlight. 

Cell phone.


Practice, Practice, Practice

You need be able to react quickly when shooting most animals in the wild. Which means, you can't be looking down at knobs and buttons and dials and screens on your camera. Practice shooting and understanding where the dials are, what they do, all without having to keep looking at everything. Sure, you'll chimp, as they say (look at the back of the camera, hunched, to see if the shot came out). That's fine. But when you pop up on a deer, in a trail, you don't have time to shoot, look at the back, make an adjustment or two of aperture, or exposure. Get good at changing the settings on the fly. Spend a day, at an outdoor zoo or animal park. Set about practicing your snap framing, and adjustments. The worst that can happen is you might enjoy yourself, and come away a better photographer!


Post on Great Wildlife Photographers

Post on Ethics In Wildlife Photography



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