Beginner Tips for Becoming a Wildlife Photographer

Dec 12 2015


In this week’s Latest Sightings article, ‘How to Become a Wildlife Photographer”,  we discuss the basic fundamentals. It can be a little overwhelming when starting out: choosing the right gear, and understanding techniques of what do do while driving around the many game reserves and national parks. Therefore once you have booked your wildlife holiday experience, the next two requirements that should be addressed is as follows:
  1. Understand what you want to photo:
  • Wildlife
  • Landscape
  1. Finding a suitable camera, and lens for your purpose.
Choosing a camera depends on the supporting photography you want to provide. Are you looking to provide high resolution magazine print-quality photographs? Or just photographs for web publishing? Do you want to sell your photographs as well? Or just keep them for personal use? Ilan Ossendryver says, “I personally use a Canon, accompanied by a wide angle lens for landscape. You want a good visual and don’t want it distorted”. 
Types of Cameras:
  • Point-and-shoot cameras
  • Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras

Advantages of DSLR cameras:

  • Support for interchangeable lenses
  • Shutter and focusing speed
  • Better operation in low light 

It is the cost of the DSLR cameras that may be a disadvantage when choosing your cameras. Therefore it is imperative before splurging out that you are certain this is what you really want, and that you practice finding your niche. Practice how you see things. To get a good picture you need to see the behaviour. A great practicing technique is to take pictures in sequence / stages and then stitch the photos together (Best photo stitching software options). 

Ilan’s number 1 tips when starting out:

Always focus in on the eye. It is the eyes that give the sense of character! Therefor once you have the eyes in focus, the rest of the photo will take care of itself. If you do focus on the body you will most likely find that the face becomes out of focus, thereby losing its character. Also important to remember is never to shoot down on an animal, always get eye level (although this may be difficult from in a vehicle). If you photo any animal from a high angle, psychologically they are put at a lower level. No matter what animal, if you photograph from the same level it gives the animal a sense of power.

In landscape, always create depth. For general landscaping images should be sharp. Have something in the foreground which shows you depth in the background. It can be a tiny flower in the foreground with sharp background, or be creative with it in reverse. It all depends on what you want to create. Remember there are no rules regarding creativity in photography. 


Golden light rule - this is where the light is rich in colour. The best times of day for this is early morning or late afternoon. Midday often has harsh light so images of different angles get washed out. 


Once you have purchased the right equipment to your suit your nees, remember to keep practicing. And the bottom line is how you see your image. 



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