I love wildlife photography because it brings out an authentic African nature and the rich Kenyan culture. If you haven’t tried Maasai Mara and its environs, you better get a glimpse of what nature has to offer. Wildlife photography is not an easy route down the aisle. A photographer needs to be patient and master the art of photography since you can’t ask a lion to look at the camera nor a giraffe to do a pose. Imagine booking a crocodile for a photo shoot. Heh! Can’t work.
If you are that guy who wakes up at 11 in the morning and go to bed at 8 in the evening, wildlife photography isn’t your thing. Technically, the best shots are taken in the morning that’s why many photographers refer to it as magic hour. During these times the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, diffused light which is much more flattering than the harsh midday sun that so many of us are used to shooting in.
Always maintain a low level
Make sure you are on the same level with the animal. Dropping the eye level establishes an amazing eye contact with the subject. Ideally, if you are on the same height with the subject, the photo will be powerful and you as a photographer will be able to communicate with the animal through what I may call ‘sign language’.
Always check the background before clicking. A perfect background may place the animal in context and make it stand out in a way that highlights it wonderfully. It’s always advisable to check out for bright patches that might distract the eye, lines that clash and spoil a nice shot. In wildlife photography, the background should complement the animal and illuminate a story about the animal’s habitat.
The art of surprise
Mind your own business in the bush. Once a gazelle establishes that you are invading its comfort zone, it will definitely engage a high speed on the first corner it will point its eye to. In addition, don’t follow the animal, a photographer should be in a position to predict the animal’s next move.
Animals have unpredictable traits. It’s advisable to check on the animal every second since it can probably pull a move at your absence. In addition, one is able to identify specific animal habits. With that in mind, a photographer is able to know the particular shots to be taken.
If you want to be a professional wildlife photographer, invest heavily on telephoto lenses and good equipment to enhance the shots. Naturally, animals are different – herbivores like impalas and gazelles tend to be pretty skittish and have greater flight distances than carnivores like cheetahs and lions, who can be very blasé.
Fast memory cards
The memory card is the most important device that must keep an eye on. Technically, high-speed memory cards are designed to perform faster. A speed rating means that each card is tested and guaranteed to be at least as fast as its stated rating. It also means that the camera can write to the card faster, and that fast readers can perform downloads from the camera faster. If you are on the field, you need quick changeovers to be able to capture the best moments from the unpredictable animal movements.
Use AF points for compositions
It’s advisable to create your composition in your view finder before doing anything else. You may also opt to move the AF point to the eye of the subject to make it easy for you when the animal moves. AF points makes composition a little automatic which is better.
Use center point AF for tough to focus scenario
There’s an exception to the above mentioned tip on AF points for composition because a photographer may sometimes find it hard to establish an AF lock and that’s why it’s advisable to try using the centre point.
Play around with the wind
The wind is not your best friend in the wild since it creates some weird vibrations. If you have an image stabilizer on your lens, it’s fair if you turn it on to reduce the vibrations. In addition, lose the lens hood because it increases the amount of vibration.