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Wildlife photography: tips and tricks

Hey Photographer! Martina Here.
Wildlife photography is my favorite type of photography but it definitely is the most challenging. At least for me!

Whether you’re trying to capture a photo of a cheetah hunting or a flying pigeon in your city, the most important thing is to be prepared and be ready for anything. You have no control over what happens in the wild. You can’t ask a bird to fly a little slower so you capture the shot you want or a lion to roar in front of your camera again because you were not ready the first time.

You have to use what’s around you and have your camera set and ready. You can spend hours without seeing or capturing anything, but once you do… you will witness something incredible!
Wildlife doesn’t ever disappoint us!

Here are few tips and tricks on how to get the best wildlife photographs


If you are going on a safari you definitely need a telephoto lens. Wildlife does not like to get up close and personal with people, so you’ll be shooting from afar. You’ll need a lens that will get your frame as close as possible. A telephoto lens is a must!

Don’t forget to bring your wide angle lens as well. It’s important to show the surrounding and the natural habitat of the wildlife.

Time of the day

Most wildlife is active during early morning – I mean before sunrise!

Get up early, take your coffee and breakfast to go and enjoy it near a watering hole where kits if animals stop for a drink.

Midday is a very difficult time to spot anything so that’s a good time to take a break, or even a nap.

During golden hour, you’ll have great lighting to be creative with, so enjoy it!

High season vs Slow season

I personally like to travel during the slow season. Slow season means fewer crowds, more flexibility, more availability and better prices on trips.

The downside is usually it is a slow season for a reason. You run the risk of dealing with rain or very hot and cold temperatures.

Simple Background

Most dramatic wildlife photographs usually have a very clean and basic background – something that is not very distracting and doesn’t take attention away from the main subject.

Use the disadvantage in the lighting to your advantage

Dramatic light always makes for a great photo, so use it. Instead of looking for subjects that are well lit, take a few shots of the silhouettes of the wildlife. This will create dramatic photos.

Take eye to eye animal portraits

Get down to the animal’s eye lever for more intimate shots. Make sure you focus on the eyes. Your camera will focus on whatever is closest to it and that might not be what you want. Use manual focus in that case.

Practice, practice, practice

Before you go to a safari, make sure you know how to use your camera. Go to the park and practice until you feel confident. Know your settings.

When I got my telephoto lens I didn’t know how to use it.  I didn’t even know how to zoom in and out! Practice is what will make the difference.

Respect wildlife

Never get too close to wildlife, especially if you don’t have a guide and you are doing a self-driven safari. Wildlife is WILD and you can’t predict their behavior. In any situation where wildlife feels threatened they will attack. Keep a reasonable distance and be very quiet.

Believe me, you don’t want to be chased by a Rhino. I have experienced that and it wasn’t fun! Those guys can really run!

Don’t forget to enjoy it

The most important thing is to enjoy! Don’t get too obsessed with your camera and your shots, so you forget where you are and what’s around you. Leave your camera for a few minutes, just look around you and listen to the nature and the wildlife around you. It is truly magical!

Happy Shooting!

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