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Principles for successful wildlife photography – Part 2

6) Patience

To get that really WOW shot you have to be patient. Animals are not well-trained actors that you can set up for the shot. You have to sit and wait. Most of the times for hours or days or even weeks before the animal will present you with that perfect shot. But while you are waiting, get creative and take some other shots, of compositions, portraits and small detail. Never stop shooting.


7) Work the light

Quality of light is one of the most important elements of photography. The word, after all, derives from the Greek words for “light drawing”. Light affects everything about an image, from the way a subject looks to the mood it conveys, and light is always changing. Each moment of the day has its own quality of light, as do various kinds of weather and different seasons. And qualities of light- of direction and colour – fit different scenes and moods.

For wildlife photography the first 2 to 3 hours of the day and the last 2 to 3 hours of the day presents the best quality of light. The sun is at a nice low angle. This gives very good structure and detail in the subject. This is also the best time to use back lighting for silhouettes and nice moody shots with warm colours. Especially the first hour, and the last hour of the day.

From first light on you need to constantly adjust your camera setting to be ready when an opportunity presents itself.


8) Different angles

Try different angles to photograph your subject. For me the best way to photograph an animal is to be as close as possible to the eye level of it. If you work from a vehicle, it is not always possible but go as low as possible. Sometimes you want to show it more from a higher lever but sometimes a lower angle gives more impact. It accentuates the size of the animal, like for e.g. an elephant.

Sometimes you want to show the animal or the bird more in its environment, or show a more close-up and intimate image. Try to shoot just a portrait of the animal. Play with different ideas.


9) Learn the rules and how to break them

 Someone once said that there are no rules. Compositional Rules are there with good reason. Masters of the art created them. Make a study of the paintings of the big masters and you will be surprised how the majority of them stayed strictly to the rules of composition. I did just that and I must say that the majority of artwork just works better with those rules.

But then, rules can also be broken. There is nothing wrong with breaking them. There are also masters that effectively broke rules with great success. But remember you need to know the rules to break them effectively.


10) Enjoy the experience

Very important. Go out and enjoy the moment.   Enjoy the experience. Become passionate about the amazing art of photography and work on it to create and make beautiful images that tells the viewer something about the animal or bird that you are photographing.