Capturing photographs of native wildlife is an excellent way of commemorating your travels, especially if you have enjoyed an experience such as whale watching or a safari. It can be tricky to perfect your shots, however, as wildlife is notoriously tricky to photograph. You need to respect the animals and keep your distance, but you want your photos to be clear and close up. Here are our top tips for taking wildlife photos on your travels.
Don’t ever pose with wild animals or animals in captivity
When taking photographs of animals always remember two simple rules: wild animals need to remain wild to survive and animals in captivity are treated terribly. Don’t ever pose for photographs next to wild animals – getting close or feeding them can tame them and mean they are unable to survive in the wild. And always avoid animals in captivity such as chained elephants, performing monkeys or tigers in cages. These animals are usually drugged and mistreated to turn them into tourist attractions.
Keep your distance
Invest in a zoom lens to get up close and personal to wildlife, making sure you keep your distance from the animals. This is both for your own safety and the safety and wellbeing of the animals. All wild animals can be dangerous, even those that appear cute and cuddly. And as mentioned in our previous point, you need to avoid taming the animals you come into contact with.
You may need to wait a long time for wildlife to appear and to capture your perfect shot. Make sure you are comfortable, stay still and alert and keep watching and waiting for animals to appear. Be prepared that nature is unpredictable, and you may not see the fauna you are hoping to see, but keep your eyes peeled and wait for the opportunity to start taking photos.
Shoot during Golden Hour
Use natural light to your advantage and shoot during Golden Hour to capture beautiful images. Golden Hour is the time before sunrise and after sunset when the light is soft, golden and flattering. Conveniently, this is also the time that wildlife tends to be more visible, as animals wander around looking for food and water around sunrise and sunset. Use the light to get creative with your shots, shooting away from the sun for soft, warm light or shooting into the sun to capture silhouettes.
Keep pressing your shutter
Animals are fast so you shouldn’t delay when photographing them! Press the shutter release on your camera over and over again to capture multiple frames without worrying about capturing a perfect image. You’re more likely to take a memorable photo if you stop thinking about what you’re doing and just take as many photographs as your memory card allows. You can go back over your images later and edit them.
Be familiar with your camera
This isn’t the time to play around and get to know a new camera. Capturing action shots is tricky and you have to be fast, so use a camera you are familiar with or learn to use a new set-up before you head out to take photos. You need to seize opportunities to capture wildlife immediately, so know how to change your settings quickly and feel confident with your camera.
Emma Lavelle is a UK based writer and photographer and has her own blog Field and Nest.