Appeal of Animal Photography

When Capturing Photos of Animals, Technique Influenced by Subject

Your photography technique will be primarily influenced by your subject nature. Most animals are apprehensive and shy so a fast shutter speed and a Fast telephoto lens are often a necessity; also a camera with a quieter shutter will circumvent scaring animals thus drawing self attention. One the more ideal ways to photograph live birds and other wild animals is constructing a "hide".

Photographing animals in the wild takes both perseverance and patience, although there are considerable other opportunities to capture great animal images without the impediments of grueling trips, long waiting periods or using a "hide". These opportunities come in the form of game preserves, parks, and zoos.

Many people have animals as pets, that can become excellent subjects as they have less inclination to be camera shy and maybe even thrive on the added attention. Although animal and pet actions can become erratic, in this field of photography failures can be quite frequent, making the occasional outstanding success all the the more satisfying

No matter if you're an amateur or professional photographer and regardless of the subject being your cat in your home or a wild wolf, demands patience, perseverance, skill and an extensive comprehension of animal behavior so that you can foresee they way they will likely act or react, and look forward that moment of capturing a truly impressive image or photograph

Max the Cat - Sigma 18-200 f/6 1/60 focal length: 155mm
"Max the Cat" Max just loves having his picture taken - Sigma 18-200mm Lens

Photographing animals is a much loved pastime of many amateur and professional photographers alike Whether photographing family pets, livestock such as cattle, horses or sheep, wild animals such as mountain lions or deer, brightly feathered birds, or tiny insects, the basics of shooting images of critters remain universal across subject type.

Gater the Dog - Sigma 18-200 f/6.3 1/60 focal length: 200mm
"Gator" Gator is very Photogenic - Sigma 18-200mm Lens

Wildlife is one of the hardest subjects to capture

Wildlife is the most active exactly when light is the most uncooperative ( dawn and dusk). making a long telephoto lens helpful, although not necessary at all times. There are some slower cost effective, telephoto lenses available which may be employed to acquire decent wildlife photos.

Columbian Black-Tail Deer - Sigma 18-200 Lens
Columbian Black Tail Deer in Amador County California - Sigma 18-200 Lens

Sigma 18-200mm lens @200mm and cropped 50% - I was driving down a Northern California Foothills road when these three deer crossed the road in front of me. Fortunately. I had my DSLR camera with an attached 18-200 lens attached. I stopped the car and got of four shots of these Black Tail Deer

Canon Telephoto Lens
 500mm Telephoto Lens, with flash and monopod. Used for when capturing wildlife photographs.

Requirements:

Some basic technical photography knowledge, like knowledge aperture and shutter modes to with the to choose the correct exposure.

More advanced photography gear. Although wildlife images can be shot using rudimentary equipment, advanced gear makes it easier. As an example, a 600mm lens combined with one of the newer autofocus cameras are practically necessary for any kind of bird photography.

A less costly superzoom bridge cameras, as an alternative, (with 35mm equivalent focal lengths in excess of 500mm, 800mm+ combined with a teleconverter will create satisfactory results, in spite of being more portable and far less costly than a DSLR with an attached super telephoto lens. Because of their small image sensors these cameras ISO limited to 100 to attain maximum image quality. This can be a limitation attempting to capture animals on the run or in not so perfect lighting environments (dawn and dusk).

As an alternative, less expensive superzoom bridge cameras (with equivalent focal lengths exceeding 500mm, 800mm+ with a  can produce excellent results, despite being far less expensive and more portable than a SLR body with a super telephoto lens. Due to their small sensors these cameras are limited to ISO 100 to achieve optimum image quality which can be a hindrance with fast moving animals or in less than ideal lighting situations (dawn or dusk).

Papio Hamadryas aka Baboon
Papio Hamadryas aka Baboon

Author: André Karwath aka. Camera Nikon D70 Lens Sigma 70-300 / 4-5,6 APO Macro Super II, Flash Nikon Speedlight SB-800, Focal length 300 mm, Aperture f/5.6, Exposure time 1/320 s, Sensivity ISO 200

Good field photography knowledge

It is usually challenging to approach wildlife As a result animal behavior knowledge is necessary with the ability to foresee their actions. Animal stalking skills is often also necessary. Blinds or hides to conceal the photographer are helpful when attempting to photograph more skittish subjects

The techniques for capturing wildlife images differs greatly from the methods used for landscape photography. For instance, in wildlife photography large apertures are employed for fastter shutter speeds to freeze the motion of the subject' and at the same time blur the background, while landscape photographers klike smaller aperture openings. Wildlife is usually photographed using from a distance using long telephoto lenses. Using telephoto lenses ofteny means using a tripod also (as we all know the longer the length of the lens, the moe difficult it is to shoot handheld). Many wildlife photographers also use blinds or some sort of camouflage.

Suggested Lenses

Few people get the chance to go to Africa on Safari or stalk Grizzly bears in Montana, but most anyone can go to the zoo which is the best location to shoot images of exotic animals without a big expense and in relative safety. Zoo also afford photographers a chance to get very close to wild animals for close up photography without a lot of equipment. If you keep a few basic techniques in mind you can make your zoo photos shine.

Suggested Equipment

Camera with zoom capability (if using a SLR or DSLR a 300mm lens is preferable)

if lighting is good, a super zoom (18-200mm lens also makes a good zoo lens

Flash (with tilt head if possible)

Extra Batteries

Plenty of Film or Memory Cards

Camera Bag with Shoulder Straps

Updated Review Mar 18, 2012

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See also

updated article Jan 6, 2011

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Appeal of Animal Photography Reviewed by Gene Wright on . Rating: 4.5