upclose image of a lemur

Wildlife Photography: Beginner Tips for Taking Stunning Portraits of Animals

Are you searching for wildlife photography tips for beginners? If so, you’re in luck! This article includes 10 tips for capturing amazing shots of animals. So, if you want to become a better wildlife photographer, just keep reading. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Experiment with using a wide-angle lens or zoom lens when shooting wildlife. Who knows, using a different focal length may help you see the natural world from a different perspective. 
  • Great wildlife photos can be captured by professional and beginner photographers alike. Practice photographing birds and other animals at your local park or zoo, whenever possible, to improve your skills. 
  • Remember, the best camera is the one you have available. Photographers can use a DSLR, mirrorless camera, or smartphone camera to get good images of wildlife. 

10 Tips for Photographing Wildlife 

The tips listed below are aimed at helping photographers capture good shots of animals in the wild or at nature conservancies! If you’re ready to improve your animal photography, keep scrolling.

1. Use the subject’s environment as a frame.

portrait of a white tiger sitting next to a foliage-covered fence

Make use of a lush, verdant environment as a frame for wildlife subjects. The surrounding leaves, branches, or flowers can help you capture unique images of wild animals. 

2. Experiment with black and white wildlife photography.

black and white portrait of a penguin with its eyes closed

In the digital era, most wildlife photographers shoot in color. However, that shouldn’t discourage you from experimenting with your own nature photography. Change your camera settings to shoot in black in white, or convert color images to monochrome during post-processing. 

3. Use manual focus and other manual mode camera settings to control your image quality. 

close up portrait of a baboon

One of the most effective photography tips we can offer beginners is to get to know your camera gear. Before you can take better wildlife photos, try to master manual mode. While modern cameras have high-quality auto focus and auto exposure features, learning how to manually control will offer you more control, which can work wonders for your wildlife photography in the long run.

4. Be careful when approaching animals or use a zoom lens to shoot from a distance.

a baby orangutan hangs from a tree and points at himself

Wild animals can be extremely dangerous to photograph. To get great shots without risking injury, be sure to approach all animals with caution. Or rely on the use of a telephoto lens so that you can get a good shot from a distance. 

5. Remember, embarking on an African safari isn’t the only way to get great photos of animals. 

close up image of a male peacock with a blue head

Photographers don’t have to travel far to capture great images of animals. So, if you want to practice wildlife photography and can’t make it to another country to do so; don’t fret! National parks, nature conservancies, zoos, or local parks can be good places to take wildlife photographs. Or better yet, look in your own backyard! You may be surprised at the number of animals and insects that can be captured close to your home. 

6. Experiment with exposure settings when possible.

monochromatic portrait of a wolf

Could your bird photography benefit from you using a faster shutter speed? Does a slow shutter speed work better for capturing certain animals? Experiment with shutter speed, ISO, and other exposure settings while practicing animal photography. Doing so will help you improve your photography skills overall and establish your own style when shooting wildlife.

7. Show off an animal’s personality.

a lion roaring with an open mouth and their tongue sticking out

Whenever possible, try observing an animal for an extended period. When doing so, try to capture the animal’s personality and mannerisms as they move, eat, and play in their habitat. 

8. Remember, timing is everything. 

portrait of a long-billed dowitcher bird standing by a lake scratching its feathers with its own foot

While there is not necessarily a minimum shutter speed when shooting wildlife, you definitely want to be mindful of the subject and how fast they could move out of the frame. Timing is still important for those wishing to capture a bit of motion blur, although it may not be super critical. However, for those photographers who are seeking a sharp image, timing is absolutely imperative! 

9. Go shooting during golden light.

goat chewing grass as the sun sets in the distance

Want to capture a golden moment when a mammal is bathed in sunlight? Shoot wildlife photography during a golden hour – which usually occurs after sunrise or before sunset. Play with camera settings to get golden-hazed portraits and stunning silhouetted shots.

10. Photograph animals often.

 close up image of a zebra

One of the best photography tips we can offer is to shoot as much as possible. After all, the best way to improve your skills is to photograph wildlife often. So, take your camera with you when you visit the zoo or even when you go for a walk around your neighborhood. Photograph the birds, butterflies, squirrels, and other furry or feathery creatures you encounter. With each click of your shutter, you’re sure to improve as a wildlife photographer. 

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