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wildlife and nature photography  hints and tips - heron in flight

Wildlife and nature photography hints and tips


Introduction

Although some of these tips are universally applicable to whatever camera you are using (particularly the first one), the majority are intended for users of a modern SLR cameras.
They assume that a) you are pretty serious about taking good quality wildlife images b) you have the ability to change lenses and add accessories c) the camera permits settings such as exposure compensation or manual control and so on. As I am a digital devotee, there will be a big digital bias creeping in !

I will endeavor to add more hints and tips to this section over time so please bookmark these pages and re-visit from time to time if you would like to keep up to date.


Ethics of wildlife photography


"Take nothing but Photographs, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time"



This is essential ethical advice. No species should suffer in any way as a result of taking it's picture - no image is worth that. This means that we must take extreme care that we don't disturb sensitive animals or birds - particularly at a breeding site, also when photographing plants great care needs to be taken that small or emerging plants are not trampled when setting up tripods or lying on the ground. It also means leave no litter, and don't take souvenirs such as flowers or eggs.

I would strongly encourage you to read about the ethics of wildlife photography at the following links before setting foot in the countryside with your camera.

Photographer's code1

Photographers code 2




Expanding on a basic tip

The first tip I will provide is not original - it is the old addage of " f8 and be there". This is pretty sound advice as setting the camera to f8 is usually a good compromise aperture to obtain reasonable depth of field without forcing the camera to set too low a shutter speed to compensate. If you are not there, i.e. have not researched your subject, travelled miles, got up at the crack of dawn, or whatever else your subject demands - you won't be there to get the shot !

I would go further to say have your camera ready set in "Action Mode". By this I mean set to motordrive, programme mode (or aperture priority - with the aperture set to f8 or even wider for birds and other fast-moving subjects), evaluative metering selected (matrix in Nikon speak). If you have AI servo (predictive autofocus) then set this too. Now you have the camera set ready for anything. If you suddenly round a corner and an eagle snatches a rabbit off the path in front of you you will stand your best chance of capturing the image in point and shoot.
Once you are at your location and you have time to change settings to something more suitable - you can do this at your leisure





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