I started my Travel and Wildlife photography journey in 2012. Since then, I have traveled to more than 75 cities, captured more than 500 birds species, won several awards along the way and acquired a decent collection of images. Currently I am following this passion as well as working full time as an Interior Photographer and Faculty of Wildlife Photography in an institute on a part-time basis.
1. Know your Gear as much as possible
Read about your camera as much as possible. Know it to the core. You should know every single function of your camera. Wildlife photography is very tricky and does not last for more than a few seconds. If you are not aware of your camera features, you will miss the moment.
Know about the minimum and maximum shutter speed of your camera,
Learn to quickly change settings while capturing an image,
Test how much ISO your camera can handle without giving noise,
Be so perfect that you can change settings even without moving your eye from the viewfinder.
2. Use a Telephoto lens
Let’s first understand that what a telephoto lens is? A telephoto lens has a long reach which allows you to capture a subject which is far away from a normal lens’s reach. Please understand that a telephoto lens and a zoom lens are two completely different things. If any camera has an inbuilt zoom lens which can zoom up to 20x, 30x or so on, are not telephoto lenses. A telephoto lens comes with a variety of focal lengths like a 55-250mm or 70-200mm.
It’ll bring the subject closer to you: In a natural habitat, if you’ll try to reach closer to your subject, chances are that they’ll run away and won’t return. A telephoto lens will help you to capture images from a distance and due to the high focal length, you’ll feel as if standing next to your subject.
Do you want to mess with a Tiger or disturb any bird with small babies: I hope the answer is NO. In that case, for your own safety and getting results without disturbing and specie, which we should never do, you’ll get the desired results.
Not only there are many other benefits of using a telephoto lens like getting good depth of field, capturing through the canopy, also but it’ll also help you to focus on the desired subjects and get more creative with frames, etc.
3. Play with Shutter Speed
Shutter speed plays a very important role in wildlife photography. If it's not up to the mark, chances are you'll miss that shot. If you are capturing a bird in action, make sure that the shutter speed varies from 1/1000 to 1/4000 (1/8000 too is achievable in high-end cameras). However, don't forget to play with it. If you are looking for a panning shot, you can use between 1/30 to 1/250 as well. Though, it depends on that time's conditions too.
4. Be Patient
It's a necessity in wildlife photography. The shot of this flying Crested Serpent Eagle is not just another random shot for me. It required a lot of patience. I saw this eagle sitting on a branch and somewhere, got an intuition that he will fly in this direction. I decided to wait for him to fly. He did the same but took more than 1.5 hours before the flight. Waiting for 1.5 hours to capture something is not a big deal. At times, you'll be coming back empty handed even after giving your more than 100%. Be ready for that.
5. Shoot during Golden Hours
Images captured in golden hours can be the best in your portfolio. If you are planning to capture during golden hours, make sure you reach before they even start. During these hours, give extra attention to the white balance. You can easily spoil the moment by making it too warm or fluorescent. Make sure that you are capturing in RAW so that you can adjust the tone later. Though, priority should be to get it straight into the camera.
6. Understand the Behavior of your Subject
To know about the behavior of your subject can be a boon for you. Don't hit the field and start clicking. Spend some time first. Give close attention to the behavior of birds, animals or whatever you are capturing. Notice there flying patterns or walking style, concentrate on the directions which they are following, notice the activity they are doing. These small things will help you in capturing something different.
7. Get Down to the Eye Level
This is a very crucial point in wildlife photography. It tests your patience, strength, and fitness altogether. If any of them is lacking, you will face a challenge. Though, eye level shots can be the game changers too. Lying down on that dirty ground, full of animals shit, or at times on a muddy ground which will change the color of your clothes will eventually help you in getting some amazing shots. To get eye level shots without disturbing the birds, at times you need to crawl as well.
Ans: Better background - There'll be a sea change in the image's background which you'll be getting from a car or the ground.
Feel of habitat - I agree that eye level shots are not always possible but whenever you get the opportunity, go for it. It'll not just give you a clear background but also the layers in your image. With little efforts, you may end up getting the ground layer as foreground, subject at eye level and sky/bushes or whatever available as a proper background. The depth of field which you'll get would be breathtaking.
8.Be there, keep patience, enjoy and breathe. You are alive!
Hear the chirping of birds, see flowing water, feel the wind touching your cheeks. Merge yourself with Mother Nature.
This is one of the most ignored tricks in wildlife photography as many people are busy in getting THAT PERFECT SHOT.
At times, when in the field, I put my camera inside the bag, lie down on the ground and feel the nature. This helps me in getting better frames (try it yourself). Don't be there for the sake of being there, be there to feel your own existence. Be ONE with Nature.