To wrap up this four post series on Wildlife Photography tips, here are some final points to note:
FOCUS IS EVERYTHING!
No matter what anyone tells you, if you do not have the focal point of any image perfectly in focus – whether it be just the eye of an animal, or some hairs on a macro subject, or whether it be the focal point of a wide-angle landscape – it is not a perfect shot. PERIOD! Apart from the other parameters requisite in a great image, if the focus is not exactly there, do not waste your time with it. In a panned, slow-shutter-release shot of a leopard chasing its prey, or a panned high-speed shot of a raptor to freeze the beauty of its feathers and the finer detail, the focal point must be right.
Not the tip of the raptor’s wing if you were aiming to focus on the eye, not the bush behind the leopard when you were aiming to focus on it and the prey’s eyes. This will totally detract from the image you wanted to portray. Honestly, this is probably the most difficult skill to master in photography, so practice, practice, practice!! It is the single most important ingredient that will distinguish your work. And remember, autofocus helps a lot, but it is not the Holy Grail by any stretch of the imagination. The human eye, well-trained, is the answer. No question.
In these modern days of digital photography, we no longer have to worry about the price of film, which was a huge cost consideration in the old days. Now you can buy memory for next to nothing, so USE IT! Do a photographic course with your local college, then practice ALL the different techniques you learn about, and start mixing them up. You can have huge amounts of fun by deliberately experimenting with different permutations of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, exposure compensation, etc. Be totally honest with yourself and your peers about your results – focusing on what you are happy with, what you are battling with, etc. Most importantly, remember that there is never a stupid question, so share ideas.
BUY THE BEST EQUIPMENT YOU CAN AFFORD
There is no doubt that modern compact point and shoot cameras can take really nice pics, but do not believe for a second that they can compete with higher-end or professional equipment. Shutter-lag, sensor technology and size, lens quality and functionality are just a couple of issues to take into account when selecting equipment for wildlife photography. Wildlife is a difficult genre to master, and using the best gear that your budget and degree of passion allows will certainly give you the best chance to do well at it. Ask a pro for advice, not the salesman at your local store, as you may end up with what they want to sell, not what you actually need!
Just for fun, here’s an adorable pic taken by my wife Naomi, of a six-week old rhino calf called “Smurf” sucking my video camera on a recent filming project. We can’t wait to share more with you about this special endeavour (to help save the rhino from extinction), and will do so as soon as we launch the films we have created . . . so stay tuned!
If you’ve found these Wildlife Photography tips useful and would like to read more about other aspects of photography (such as studio, commercial, architecture, etc.) and/or videography, then please feel free to Contact Us with any questions or suggestions.
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In the meantime, happy shooting!