Animal Photography - Tips for Taking Great Photos

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If you love taking pictures of wildlife then this article will be sure to give you some helpful tips that you can start using today. Animal photography (also called wildlife photography) includes the entire animal kingdom from house pets to zebras.

This article focuses on photographing wildlife, but you can apply many of these tips to photographing Muffin or Fido. To learn how nature photographers get those amazing wildlife photos, read on and learn how you can too.

The photography basics for taking great pictures of wildlife begin with these tips. As always there are exceptions, but the following go a long ways towards ensuring successful animal photography:

  • Use natural lighting to your advantage
  • Fill the frame with the subject
  • Focus on the eyes
  • Shoot from various angles
  • Capture personality

Perhaps you are wondering how you can, without a huge lens and SLR safely get close enough to a wild animal to "capture their personality" or "fill the frame"?

Even professional wildlife photographers don't always take their animal photos in the wild. Most of the wonderful pictures you see of wolves, polar bears and other wild creatures were taken at wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. Cheating? Maybe, but it's safer for the photographer and doesn't disturb their free roaming cousins' mating and feeding cycles.

If you love taking pictures of wildlife then this article will be sure to give you some helpful tips that you can start using today.

Animal Photography Tips for Zoos and Sanctuaries

1) Simplify the Composition: If the background is distracting, use a wide aperture or Portrait mode to blur it. Or use a photo editor like Photoshop to clean up or blur the background.

2) Go Natural: Avoid showing cage bars, fences, humans, signs, etc. If it is safe and not against the rules to do so, point the lens through a gap in the chain link, so you can take the photo without the fence showing. Often there will be a look out area or vantage point that lets you take pictures over the top of the fence. Look for areas like these that are perfect for a photo. Again, use a good photo editing software to blur what you couldn't get rid of while taking your picture.

3) Fill the Frame: Use zoom (optical for best quality) or a telephoto lens to get close ups.

4) Use Sports Mode: Use Sports mode or set shutter speed priority to around 1/250 to freeze movements.

5) Use Light and Weather to Best Effect: Overcast days are often best for animal photography. If the overcast light isn't super bright, it will help minimize glare from water or light colored backgrounds. If the overcast is too dark and you have an SLR, increase the ISO to compensate for the dark lighting. With the right amount of overcast lighting, you can get well exposed sharp images with your compact camera without any of the animals squinting.

Since the eyes are usually very expressive and the best place to focus, you really want to avoid squinting. Another way to eliminate this is to photograph when the animal's back is to sun. In this case, you will need to use fill flash (turn off automatic flash and set to "On") to prevent underexposure or a silhouette, and you will need to use a lens hood or wear a broad brimmed hat to prevent lens flare.

6) Try this When Shooting through Glass: When you want a picture of a terrarium or aquarium critter, turn on the flash and shoot from an angle. Be sure to check your manual for the safe distance when using flash to photograph living beings without damaging eyes. Or turn off the flash and gently press your lens right up against the glass.

7) Plan your Visits for the Best Photo Ops: Many people will especially love seeing your animal photography when it includes baby animals. Often zoos and sanctuaries let visitors know when new babies are arriving by posting it on their websites. Another great time to take pictures is during feeding time. Animals that stay in hiding throughout much of the day will come out to eat. Finally, if you're visiting a sanctuary or zoo when the weather's hot, go early in the day when the animals will be most active, not napping.

8) Use Context: While usually it's best to fill the frame with the animal, sometimes the context is too interesting to bypass. Examples of using context: a child and baby animal looking at each other, a giraffe, long neck bent as it peers down at a car in front of yours at the drive-through safari park.

9) Capture Expressions: Animals, whether our pets or wildlife, make the cutest expressions. Be ready with your camera! Even just normal behaviors like a wolf pup yawning or a tiger bathing are cute and interesting pictures. The more you learn about your favorite species, the better able you will be to capture these fun shots.

So, the next time you're ready to take some animal photos, use these animal photography tips and you'll be surprised at what a difference it can make.

Autumn Lockwood loves taking pictures and is a writer for YourPictureFrames.com. Your Picture Frames offers a diverse selection of picture frames in a variety of finishes, colors, styles and sizes. If you're looking for a large selection of sizes like 8x10's and 11x14's give us a call or visit us at => YourPictureFrames.com

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