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8 Tips to Taking Great Wildlife Photography

As we venture towards winter, our school holidays and weekend getaways tend to take a u-turn at the beach, and head back inland to the bush. Here’s how to make sure you’re taking the best wildlife pics when you’re there.





There’s nothing quite like driving through the mist on a chilly morning game drive, and filling your nights with fireplaces and bush braais. And, of course, it gives you the chance to flex your wildlife photography skills. Snapping pics of our incredible animals isn’t always the easiest thing to do (shout out to Nat Geo photographers), but there are ways to improve your skills. Follow these wildlife photography tips:

1: Be ready

Unfortunately, you can’t ask a zebra to “go back and do it again”, so you can get the shot. Make sure your camera is out, and on, and you’ve checked your lenses and other equipment so you’re ready to strike.

2: Know your Camera

Wildlife moments will likely only last a few seconds. You should know how to use your camera so well, you’ll never have to fiddle around during that time. Know your minimum shutter speed – where you can still focus, know the in-camera or in-lens stabilisation, find out how to quickly change focus points or focus modes, and learn how high you can push your camera’s ISO setting, to still get a great shot.

3: Research

When you know where you’re going, research the wildlife you’ll most likely see there. Learn about their behavior and movements. Look up more information about the location, so you can spot the best places to shoot from, and know where the light will come from at different times of the day.

4: Have patience

Get ready to sit very still, and very quietly. This could take a while…

5: Use negative space

Let the animal be your focus, and try shoot on a plain background. Make the negative space work for you and give your photograph some breathing room. This will also look best when printing them on canvas or in a wildlife photobook.


6: Use the light

Most cameras have a 'low light,' or 'sunset' function – and the minutes after the sun sets can be the best time to get wonderful, colourful sky, silhouette shots. On a digital SLR-camera, select your exposure on the brightest part of the picture, focus on the animal and take the shot.

7: Think of new angles

Once you’ve got a handle on the animals, see how close you can get (safely), or what other angles you can explore. Get up high on your vehicle, or lie on the floor. Check out tech like BeetleCam, a remote-control camera used to take close-up, wide-angle photographs of wild animals.

8: Be unique

Many, many people are capturing wildlife. Try find something no-one has done before. Maybe an animal that doesn’t get photographed a lot, or an animal doing something unusual. Look for the most unique options!

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