Wildlife Photography tips for the amateur photographer.

If you have an interest in wildlife photography and wondering where to begin there is light at the end of the tunnel by just following a few easy steps.

The first thing to do is get the right equipment for the job, depending on what you think of shooting like landscapes, animals, or birds. The right equipment is crucial to get that perfect shot.

For a good all round choice get yourself a DSLR camera of your choice with 2 exchangeable lenses, one wide angel 18 -70mm is a good option and a zoom lens, the 100-400mm has a good range for the photos that needs a bit more zooming.  Of course, there are always the more expensive telephoto lenses as well that the top professionals use but if you know the basics you don’t necessarily need that to take high quality wildlife images.

When shooting wildlife like animals or birds you would always try and get the best angle, which is not always possible when on a game viewing vehicle. Patience is a big part of wildlife photography, you can sometimes sit for hours at a water hole waiting for the one shot that will make the wait worth wile.  For landscape photos light is the most important, the best time for landscape shots is early morning or late afternoon when the light is much softer, you will end up with more quality images compared to shooting in full afternoon sun.

The DSLR cameras have a lot of functions that you can adjust, you definitely don’t need to know all of them, but to know a few and what they are there for will make a huge difference in your photo quality.  The last thing you want to do is shoot on full auto, that will make your photos look very amateurish.

The first setting that you need to adjust and place your camera on is apateur prihority, this is where you adjust your f stop of your camera (the lens opening), the camera will automatically adjust all other setting for you accordingly, it all depends on your lens but you can adjust the range anything form F4.5 to F22. The higher you go on your f-stop setting the more in focus everything will be from your focus point to whatever is behind it, F16 and higher is good for landscapes just keep in mind you need a lot of good light for high f-stop shots or a tripod.  The lower your f-stop the less light you need and its more used for close ups, such as the head of a lion through a zoom lens, where there is only one object in the shot.

The next important thing to look at is your ISO setting, the ISO controls the sensitivity of light going through the camera, you would generally want to keep the ISO as low as possible, a good ISO for wildlife on a good day will be between 250 or 400. The higher you go on your ISO settings the darker it can be like for a dusk or dawn shot you can move it up to 800, just remember the higher you go the grainier your photo will be so keep it as low as possible.

The last thing you need to look at is your white balance setting, this is one of the easiest setting to adjust on your camera, there is an auto white balance setting that you can use but it is better in the end to adjust it yourself for the most accurate image color. White balance is where you adjust your camera to the lighting conditions in your environment, for example inside a room there will be fluorescent light bulbs so you will need to switch your white balance to the fluorescent setting.  There are white balance settings for incandescent, fluorescent, flash, cloudy, open shade and sunny.

For wildlife photography, you will only use the cloudy, sunny, and open shade options, so you will need to set it to the setting according to the weather conditions.

You will have to play around with the settings and find out where they can be found on your camera (refer to the manual if unsure), but in the end the most imported thing to do is have fun and enjoy the beautiful world we live in.

(written by Riaan Geldenhuys)

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