Have you ever spotted amazing creature while on tour and wished you could take the perfect image to remember your encounter with nature? Wildlife photographer Jane Morgan offers her expert 10 top tips for wildlife photography and capturing wonderful photographs.
Know your kit
It sounds boring, but do read the manual! It’s really important to know how to change settings with your eyes shut. This photo of a frog was taken at night, by torchlight, and being able to change settings without looking was a necessity. However, at any time, it will make your life so much easier and prevent you from missing the peak of the action.
- Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm, ISO i800, 1/125, F8
Go wild with your camera… in the garden
Make the most of your backyard. The majority of us can encourage wild birds into our gardens with feeders and baths, or you could get really creative by building an infinity pool. Whichever you choose, shooting birds just outside your back door is great practice and can be incredibly rewarding, plus, it will keep your skills tip-top until your next trip.
- Nikon D300S, Nikon 105mm, ISO200, 1/125, F9
The backgrounds of our photos are as important as the subject, but sometimes they are just plain messy. One way of dealing with this is to shoot with a narrow depth of field, thereby neatly blurring out the background. This kestrel was perched in front of some gorse and by using an aperture of F5.6, I’ve managed to blur it away.
- Nikon D300S, Sigma 120-400, ISO 400, 1/1600, F5.6
Learn the basic rules of composition, consider the rule of thirds and look for diagonals. Photographs can be more interesting if the subject is off-centre, like this grouse standing camouflaged among the heather. Once you have learned the rules, you can learn to break them!
- Nikon D7200, Sigma 120-400mm, ISO 1250, 1/500, F8
Up close and personal
Get really close to your subjects and highlight those incredible details. Best to get yourself a macro lens for this job, although many compact cameras now also feature fantastic macro settings.
- Nikon D300S, Nikon 105mm, ISO 200, 1/800, F5 (manual)
Patterns in nature
Nature presents us with a brilliant kaleidoscope of patterns, which can create really intriguing abstract images. For example, this dewy web, which presented itself on my lawn early one morning.
- Nikon D300S, Nikon 105mm, ISO 200, 1/160, F11
Working the light
Make best use of all of the available light, especially if you are shooting early or late. These dragonflies on my pond were highlighted by the sun, but if the sun is in the wrong place, you can always improvise by using a reflector or a mirror.
- Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm, ISO 100, 1/160, F11
The human story
Sometimes you need a human in the frame to help tell the story. This is especially relevant in the sea, because so few people get to observe the wildlife in our oceans. Putting a model into the shot helps to convey the scale of the marine life you are shooting.
- Nikon D7200, Tokina 10-17mm, ISO 500, 1/125, F10
Get to know your models
Most animals disappear once a large lens is pointed at them. However, if you give them time to get used to you, curiosity will often get the better of them. Seals are a prime example of this behaviour. We can’t use hides in the water, but we can live still and observe until they come to us.
- Nikon D500, Tokina 10-17mm, ISO 400, 1/160, F9
Down and dirty
Get some good outdoor clothing, because you are going to need to be at eye-level with your models. This can mean getting a tad dirty, but is so worth the effort.
- Nikon D300s, Nikon 105mm, ISO 640, 1/200, F6.3
If you liked this… READ THESE:
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Wildlife spotting outdoor gear guide
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