While camera selection, framing, exposure management and the like are outside the scope of this article, here are some general tips and resources to get you started.
1. Don’t be afraid to use “auto”. Even as a professional photographer and videographer, I’ve often turned my camera to the “A” when I just couldn’t get the shot figured out. You won’t learn much leaving the dial there, but doing so can sometimes make the difference between getting a shot or not.
2. Move your feet, not the zoom lens. Famed war photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Quality telephoto lenses can be unbelievably expensive, and digitally zooming degrades quality. Moving closer to animals is free, though not always easy.
3. Use the camera you have. All too often, aspiring photographers get sucked into the black hole of camera and lens shopping before they ever even get started. But novice photographers often don’t need a camera at all. I recommend starting with one of the many advanced photo apps (Camera FV-5 for Android and VSCO for iPhone are my picks). These apps are free and teach users how to adjust things like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and more.
Use the gear you have and practice a lot. If you find you enjoy photographing animals, you’ve found a hobby that will get you outside more and completely change how you look at the natural world.
Have your own wildlife photography tips to share? Email them to us at [email protected].