Wildlife Photography 201 - Technical Tips
Most of these actually apply to zoos, general wildlife, pet or portrait photography too…
- Know your camera - you need to be able to change settings very quickly and without looking.
- Shoot RAW as it’s more forgiving and holds more detail.
- I personally use AV mode and then adjust ISO to try and achieve at least 1/400 shutter speed - keep checking and adjusting. Don’t be afraid to use a high ISO to achieve the shutter speed you need.
- I personally go for the widest aperture I can so that I get pleasing backgrounds - I’m a sucker for f/2.8! Depending on your subject though, you may want to go a bit narrower - you may want a whole beak in focus and not just the eyes, for example.
- I generally use spot focusing and move the the focus point or ‘focus and recompose’ - only works on stationary animals though!
- Use the best AF mode for the circumstances - single focus or servo when shooting moving subjects.
- Same for metering mode - adjust for the circumstances. Take time to learn the effect of metering mode.
- Try to pick your moment when shooting - you might get lucky with high-speed continuous shooting but you’ll have a lot of image filtering to do later on!
- Use exposure compensation appropriately to handle dark fur.
- Use a tripod or monopod if it suits you - especially with heavier lenses. I personally don’t as I like a bit more freedom to move around.
- Like most outdoor photography, the best light is in the morning or later in the day.
- Overcast days are often best too as the clouds act as a diffuser.
- Avoid flash for the animal’s sake.