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Wildlife Photography Highlights

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Wildlife photography can be time consuming and frustrating, with many people finding it difficult to capture the perfect shot. However, it can also be one of the most satisfying hobbies; forging a real connection between the photographer and the subject.

While there are many ways of composing your image, there are some tried and tested formats that well and truly work. Our friends at Plus One Photo Tours have given us their top tips for wildlife photography, read on to find out how to get that perfect shot for yourself.  

Eye Contact

Eye contact shots represent a connection between the photographer and subject as the shutter was pressed. They also offer a real focal point for the viewer. The key to these kinds of shots is timing - you’ve got to be ready and waiting to capture the scene, take as many pictures as you can and then select the best ones later.

Our favourite shot:

The lion is arguably the most majestic of the animals found in the Kenyan Maasai Mara. After five days of no sightings due to weather, this king of the pride came into view. The battle scars on his face are a lasting reminder of his struggle to the top.

Landscape perspective

Another aspect of wildlife photography is the natural environment that the subjects wander among. It becomes very tempting to zoom in close to the animal for them to fill the frame, but don’t forget to capture the surrounds to give the image further context. This can be a great way to take your shots to the next level.

Our favourite shot:

Natural habitat is a subject all its own - essential for the animal to survive and exist. Images which capture a wider view will document not only the wildlife but also their often stunning homeland. The above image shows a herd of African elephants in the midst of the Kenyan plains.

Portrait

In contrast to the above, portraits focus solely on the animal without any distractions. Where possible, portrait shots look best when shot at the subject’s level. This isn’t always easy and care should be taken, no matter what the animal. Its well being should always be the prime concern, so if taking the image means disturbing them or putting them under stress, then it’s best to leave it. Research and a little prior knowledge of the subject become really important in these scenarios.

Our favourite shot:

This grey seal pup is only a couple of hours old and capturing this shot involved quite a long period of time lying in the wet sand and altering my focus! Although it would have been tempting to have moved closer to the pup after its mother had moved away for a rest, it’s always important to remember not to distress the animal.  If human scent attaches to a seal pup, their mothers will often abandon them - a death sentence at this early stage. Keep your distance and bring a long-focus lens.

Clear backgrounds

It’s not always possible, but a clean, bold-coloured background can really isolate the subject. When it comes to this type of image, composition is key. Take as many shots as you can from varying angles so you can take your pick during the editing stages.

Our favourite image:

The image to the right was taken from a long distance using a focal length 600mm. By angling the eagle to the left of centre, the image captures a sense of space and vastness.

Action

Probably the hardest aspect of wildlife photography is capturing action; a movement can last a split second and is all too often missed. To enhance your chances, firstly make sure that the shutter speed is high enough to capture the moment. When viewing the subject, keep looking through the camera viewfinder, refocusing constantly and keeping your finger on the shutter button. At the same time have an awareness of your surroundings - something may be about to happen from outside of the frame.

Our favourite shot:

The image to the left is of Red Kites fighting in mid-air. This scene was only captured due to a fixed gaze through the viewfinder and having my finger constantly on the shutter. It lasted for only a second or so but the resulting images are full of drama; an insight into a rarely photographed wildlife scenario.

Animals are fantastic to photograph and very often, produce the most rewarding images. These wild, moving subjects offer many challenges for a photographer, but if you are privileged enough to enter their environment, wildlife photography can be greatly satisfying. Armed with a few basic tips, along with prior research and planning, you can increase your chances of returning home with some ‘once in a lifetime’ shots.

Make it happen

You can learn about these techniques and more on a Plus One Photo Tour, organised with our travel partner, TravelLocal. We take guests to popular locations as well as less touristic areas to give a true flavour of a country, as well as teaching photography skills and camera knowledge.  Visit www.plusonephototours.com for further details. For more general enquiries or to chat about your travel plans, give TravelLocal a call in office on 0117 325 7898.

About the author: Plus One Photo Tours Photo Mentors take passionate amateur photographers to stunning and luxurious locations around the world to share their technical and creative expertise, enabling them take that perfect take-home shot.  We’ve teamed up with TravelLocal to create our unique photo tours.

https://www.plusonephototours.com

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