We are all intrigued with the things that are different from us, and one such sphere of difference that holds a lot of interest for humans is the animal kingdom. Animal photography or wildlife photography as it is generally called, involves the shooting of life forms from the animal kingdom. Subjects for animal photography extends beyond the “wild” to capturing subjects as simple as snails on a fence or curious domesticated cats.
More than with other types of photography, this category is considered to be the most difficult to capture. The difficulty with these subjects comes from the fact that they will do what they want to do when they want to do it. Unlike with human subjects or inanimate objects, you cannot pose them or tell them what to do. The only way to achieve excellent images is to be patient. In most cases animals, may be too active for you to get a shot or their slow periods consist of simply lying around which may be interpreted as relatively uninteresting. With these subjects you have to learn their patterns and in many cases be willing to wait in hopes of getting a great shot.
As with other forms of photography, you must be mindful of the depth of field. This refers to the range of distance that appears acceptably sharp. A smaller aperture usually provides more depth of field and will bring more of the background into focus which can distract from whatever animal that should be the focal point of the picture. This is not to say however, that the background is not important. The animal’s habitat is important since it helps to add character to the picture, but the surrounding atmosphere should not be included to the detriment of the composition of the image. Therefore adjusting your aperture to the framing is important.
Since these subjects are almost always very active, an important aspect of getting a great shot is to freeze the movement. You want to capture life, so freezing their movement gives the picture a more natural feel as well as adds personality to the image. Capturing movement can be done by adjusting the shutter to a fast speed in an effort to eliminate blur.
When taking animal photographs one mistake that is often made is taking a picture from a human perspective. Animal photographs are much more compelling if taken from the level of the animal. Don’t hesitate to get down low or climb up high. The results will be worth when the image captured looks more natural. Another thing that happens with animal photography is a lot of attention to the large obvious creatures. Zooming in on small reptiles and taking macros of tiny insects can create amazing images.
Needless to say, capturing animal in the right lighting will make a world of difference as it does in other forms of photography. Photographing animals can be quite rewarding as they have much to offer not just in their uniqueness but also the personality that they add to an image.