Blog - Solly Levi

Tips on shooting wildlife

Get low

1 A good wildlife photograph is rarely taken looking down at the subject. The camera is almost always on the same level as the subject or lower. This is important for two reasons:

1) It gives the subject greater presence and helps the viewer connect with the animal.

2) It increases the distance between the subject and the background, which helps throw the background out of focus and draw attentionn on to the subject. If possible, lie on the ground to get as low as possible. If you are on safari, then shoot out of the window rather than from the roof of your vehicle.

This is important for two reasons:

1) It gives the subject greater presence and helps the viewer connect with the animal.

2) It increases the distance between the subject and the background, which helps throw the background out of focus and draw a en on to the subject.

Keep your shutter speed up

Long lenses exaggerate camera shake because a small movement of the camera results in a large movement of the picture frame. Therefore, you need to use a faster shutter speed to get sharp shots. The longer the lens, the faster the shutter speed needs to be.

Nowadays, many cameras and lenses have Image Stabilisation, enabling you to push the boundaries further. However, a good rule of thumb is to keep your shu er speed faster than 1 over the the focal length of the lens. For example, with a 400mm lens, you should keep your shu er speed faster than 1/400th second. With a 200mm lens then 1/200s should be fine. Generally with wide-angle lenses, I tend to use 1/50s or faster.

Focus on the eyes

You’ve probably already heard that you should focus on the eyes. If the eyes aren’t sharp, it is very hard for the viewer to connect with the subject.

Eye contact can help the viewer to connect with the subject. However, it is not always neces- sary.

Shoot in Raw and understanding the histogram

It is important to get your exposure correct because with wildlife you may not get a second chance if you mess it up! One of the most important things you can do is shoot in RAW not JPG. This will ensure your camera maintains details in the shad- ows and highlights, so that you can darken or brighten the image later if necessary. This gives you more exibility if you don’t quite perfect the exposure in-camera. When you are out shoo ng, it can be hard to see if the im- age is well exposed on your camera screen, par cularly if you are in bright sunlight. This is where your histogram is useful. The histogram is a graphical representa on of the brightness of the pixels in your image. The graph shows dark pixels on the le and bright pixels on the right. The height of the trace shows how many pixels are present at each brightness level

Light is important

Good light can turn an average photo into an extraordinary photo. The best me for photographing wildlife is around sunrise and sunset. The light is most beautiful in the ten minutes af-ter sunrise and before sunset. The light rapidly becomes cooler and harsher as the sun moves up in the sky, however, it is s ll very good for at least an hour or so at the beginning and end of the day. Good light is so important that I aim nev- er to miss a sunrise or sunset whilst out in the field.

There are two ways to use beautiful sunrise and sunset light. Usually, photographers will shoot with the sun behind them, so that their subject is bathed in lovely warm light. However, you can also experiment with backlighting your subjects, particularly if the light is low and strong (for example, when heavy rain has washed all of the dust out of the air).

Consider the background

The background can often make or break a photo. First and foremost, you want to make sure it is clear of any distractions such as bright spots or messy foliage. You also should ensure your subject stands out from the background and is attractively  framed if possible. Often just moving slightly to the left, right, up or down can shift the subject in relation to the background and completely change the composition and framing. Always take a moment to consider if your shot could be improved by adjusting your position.






Powered by SmugMug Log In