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Mar 25, 2021
How to improve the Art of Wildlife Photography in just 4 ways
Wildlife photography is an art. For many photographers, capturing frame-filling gorgeous pictures of any specie is the ultimate goal. For me, it certainly is much more than that. Below are the 4 ways which I use (and suggest you as well) to make my images different from the league.
When I started doing wildlife photography in 2011-12, I was inspired by mind-blowing photography of Sir(s) Shivang Mehta, Tejas Soni and David Lloyd. I used to study how they are playing with the light, what they are observing in the subject, how they are so consistent in making good images. After seeing their images for a few years, I started photography and over time captured many images.
In my journey, I met many photographers who helped me to broaden my vision and made me introspect my photography. I too started to feel that there is a need to improve my wildlife photography skills.
Here I am discussing some methods which I use in my photography journey. These methods helped me to grab many National and International awards as I continue this saga of being a better photographer.
Capture The Action
Capturing your subject in action can lead you in taking once in a lifetime images. This is one of the best ways to upgrade your skills. The most important tip for capturing good action is understanding the behaviour of your subject. If you’ve no clue about it, you’ll miss the moment. Predict their next move before they make it. You may fail a thousand times but when you’ll learn it, your camera will take care of the rest.
Gone are the days when cameras used to struggle in focusing the subject. In these modern times, most of the cameras have exceptional autofocus and can perfectly spot a moving subject. They also support high ISO which is helpful for photographers in increasing the shutter speed and capture the perfect action.
Using the camera’s shutter speed wisely will help you in capturing the action in many ways.
Using a slower shutter speed can give your subject a bit of movement which helps depict motion. Please note that there’s a difference between slow shutter speed and panning. High shutter speed will freeze everything. To get a slow-flying bird in sharp focus, your shutter speed should be a minimum of 1/1250.
Witness Vivid Weather
Vivid weather will make your capture like a piece of art. Falling rain or fog can add mood in your photography. Since most of the photographers avoid these circumstances so if you do photography in such conditions, they will be unique.
I prefer photographing wildlife during rainfall and the natural conditions work for me in artistic ways. There are a few technical challenges to master when the rain is falling. I use a blend of auto-focus and manual settings in order to achieve good results. Your camera will tend to underexpose images in rainy conditions so increasing the exposure will support good image output. I usually keep exposure between +2 and +3. Under these situations, you won’t be able to use high shutter speed so carrying a beanbag or tripod will be beneficial for avoiding shake and getting rain-drops.
Use Light Creatively
It is the light which creates an image. The proverb, “keep the light source over your shoulder for a good photograph”, is appropriate in certain conditions while narrowing down to your vision. I always try to get the benefit of atypical lightings. With today’s advanced camera equipment, you can even capture exceptional images before sunrise or after sunset.
Some beneficial lighting situations in making artistic images can be:
Getting light from the side of the subject.
Getting light from the back of the subject.
Spotlighting and silhouettes.
I have successfully tried all these situations though I prefer doing photography where I am getting the light from the back of the subject. While doing that, I usually keep high-shutter speed (around 1/1000+), aperture value between f-7.1/10 and low ISO (preferable under 400).
The capability of today’s cameras to pull details out of dark areas and still keeping the required exposure unlocks many creative opportunities for photographers.
I believe that the habitat is the soul of an image. Including the habitat in your images is a different ball-game altogether. Habitat is the most important part of wildlife protection. By showcasing your subject in its primary environment, you are not just making fresh images, but playing a role in conserving them too. While most of the photographers are looking for portrait images, this niche can make your work to stand out from the mundane images.
Like many other photographers, I too started photography with a focus on the regular close-up shots of the subjects. I used to search for a subject without any distraction. However, a few years ago my focus has been shifted to capturing the habitat shots. I have made some good habitat images as well. Now I try not to miss any chance to capture a bird performing behaviour which has been less seen or an animal peeping through the golden field in the sunset as these opportunities don’t come easily.
I hope that these tips will be as useful to you, as they are for me. Keep seeking for the excellent light and be prepared for the action. Whenever it happens, take full advantage of it. Low-light can turn out to be a boon for photography. Explore your camera and make the most beneficial out of it. Push the barriers you’ve in your mind and you will be able to take your art to a new level.