Top tips for wildlife photography

Looking to improve your wildlife photography? Join David Rogers as he gives some tips and tricks for getting the perfect for shot.

1. Photographers need to work hard

If you are prepared to work hard, then you will be able to take make great photographs. There are potential subjects all around us, but it takes effort to make the most of the opportunities they present. Are you prepared to lie on the ground, climb a tree, wake up at sunset, or experiment with different angles? Are you patient enough to sit with a herd of elephant for a whole morning, for the sun to come out from the cloud, or for an animal to move its head in just the right direction? Are you prepared to carry heavy lenses (and pay for them!)? If so, you have the potential to be a great photographer.

2. You need to be patient

People that become frustrated after spending 10 minutes at a scene and want to move on because they have seen and photographed the sighting will not make significant progress with photography. Just because you have taken a picture of a leopard lying in a tree or a lion in the long grass does not mean that you have got the shot. A photographer will spend a whole day with a subject if necessary. You just have to be patient and try all the lenses and all the angles to get an original shot.

3. Never blame the weather

When game viewing is not great, focus on flowers, when the sun is not quite right, wait. If it is raining, then photograph the raindrops. Photography is an active process, and you often need to really take control to get the pictures that you want. Keep your camera ready at all times and make hay while the sun shines. I have learnt that you should take a picture when you see it and not procrastinate. Even with static subjects like lodges, all too often the image that you see is not going to be repeated.

4. Be selective

We are only as good as the pictures that we show other people. So don’t show the bad ones, or ones that are less than perfect. Don’t dilute the gems. Look for impact, originality and technical quality.

5. Anticipate the action

Getting yourself in the right place at the right time gives you more chance of getting great images. Whether it’s the migration, flowering plants, or bird concentrations, different times of year will yield different opportunities. It pays to research your subject.

6. Buy the best equipment that you can afford

There is nothing to beat the effect of a really sharp lens or a camera that gives you great low light quality.

7. Shoot in RAW format

Learn the art of post-production. In the same way that black and white photographers used dodge and burn in the darkroom, learn how to use technology to bring your images to life.

8. Start on a project

There is nothing more encouraging than seeing your work in print. Submit images to magazines, print books, create posters. Use and enjoy your images. Mostly think about the stories that your images will tell. Point your camera at the wide spaces, the details and everything in between.

9. Be familiar with your equipment

You must know how your camera works and to be able to move between settings quickly and easily. Photographer Frans Lanting is said to improve his familiarity with his cameras by changing settings with his cameras in a bag.

10. Develop an eye for design

Whether it’s a close-up, a landscape or a portrait, we all have an idea of what makes up a harmonious image and the trick to creating them regularly is to develop the artistic and technical skills to get it recorded in the way that you expect. Learn the basic rules of composition.

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