How to be a better wildlife photographer!
World Photography Day!
Many nature and photography lovers aim to bring together these two passions, to capture wonderful moments from the wild and freeze them in beautiful frames, forever! One often becomes a jungle-fanatic, escaping into the wilderness at the very possibility of time off from work. Honing one’s photography skills then becomes not just a passion, but an obsession for life. We have seen numerous examples of people who either took to wildlife photography as a serious hobby, or even as a profession! The fact remains that wildlife photography is as much about technical knowledge about the camera, as it is about creating a wonderful frame from the moment you experience.
This World Photography Day, we take a look at some softer aspects of how you can improve your wildlife photography skills and create wildtastic photos!
- Understand behaviours: Wildlife photography is so much more than clicking a close portrait of your favorite species. Nature is complex, full of interdependencies and relationships that can help you weave a story through your photo. So learn to observe and understand the behavioural norms of species. For example, a peacock dancing to impress a peahen during mating season is a classic behaviour. An in-depth understanding of animal behaviour will help you not miss out in the special moment and create an epic photograph!
- Capture expressions and emotions: Many of us think that only we human beings exhibit expressions. But look closely at wild animals and they too have myriad stories to tell through their faces. It can be an expression of motherly love, or the frolicking fun of a cub, or the alertness of a sambar deer in danger, or a langur baby playing mischievously with its siblings. A classic animal expression is the Flehman’s response which is used by animals to gain a better sense of smell. Expressions will present you innumerable opportunities to capture the true essence of a wild species!
- Look for action: Action shots often talk a lot about animal behaviour. It makes the reader wonder, “What’s going to happen next?” This mystery-factor is enough to intrigue and enthral the viewer of the photograph, and earn some brownie points as a photographer. Whether it is a predator stalking a prey, or a mating scene of an insect, action is where all the action in wildlife photography is!
- Be Click-ready: Wildlife is an area where you are just an observer, you cannot make things or events “happen” or control them. Moreover, the unpredictable nature of wildlife is the very thing that lends it tremendous thrill. It is therefore important to always be click-ready i.e. ready to instantly shoot a scene that suddenly unfolds. This means you must tune in your camera to the required settings, and keep it handy to lift and shoot (especially the big bazooka lenses that are a common sight these days!). Always be on the alert and on the lookout for unique wildlife occurrences- on the ground, in the trees, and even in the skies above!
- Capture the abstract: Go beyond the obvious portraits, habitats and action photos and a whole new world- abstract photography opens up. This is one for those who see hidden meaning in wildlife and nature. Patterns, interrelationships, nature scenes- the sky is the limit when you have a limitless imagination.
- Click about conservation: Wildlife photography has a higher purpose- spreading awareness about nature and conservation. This is an allied field of photography called conservation photography, but often wildlife photographers find many chances to represent conservation situations. Portraying conservation issues through photographs can convey a lot and create a positive change. A powerful photo has the potential to move people, stirring emotions and even compelling action for the better. As they say, a picture says more than a thousand words. For example, a photograph of a lion and a human being walking on the same road highlights man-animal conflict and encroachment of jungles by humans. You may want to explore the opportunity to blend your love for wildlife with conservation work, then you must click about conservation.
The most important success formula for great wildlife photography, is loads and loads of patience. Lao Tzu once proclaimed a famous quote- “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished”. Maybe we wildlife photographers must adopt nature’s attitude to do justice to nature, through our work!
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