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Photographing Animals

Wildilife & Your Pets

Copyright 2009-2013 - Remember Forever Photography
Copyright applies to all information and images
All rights reserved.
Photography Workshops and Courses
Phone: (646) 736-3231 (National)
a. M Mode on Your Camera
b. ISO set to 400 (800 in lower light)
c. Aperture set to F5.6 at most (shallower is better)
d. Shutter Speed becomes your variable 1/750 at a minimum.
It is important with animal photography that we both work and shoot quickly. Working
with a faster shutter speed allows you to avoid the blur of an animals small movements
Animals tend to move rapidly and without warning so a photograph that you have taken
time to prepare can be lost in alot less than a heartbeat.
1. Settings for Success
Changing the ISO is a very simple task - however can be different camera to camera. Your camera
may have an ISO button on the top or back display of your camera. It might be accessed through
your cameras menu system. If you need help locating your ISO button, please ask your workshop
When you have located the ISO button we can then change the ISO for your camera.
As a rule with animal photography we want to set our ISO to 400 which will give us a high quality
image but and also be sensitive enough to light for a slightly faster shutter speed.
Your focal point is the most important thing in the photograph. Most cameras default to multiple focal
points - or the camera deciding what is important. Now your instructor will show you how to set a single
focal point - so we can tell the camera what is important!
2. Focal Points - Where are you aiming?
By selecting the centre focal point as our single point of focus on our
camera, you will always know where to aim the camera at when
starting your photograph. You can then reframe your photo at will!
When photographing people, we want to focus on the eye closest
to the camera. We half-press our shutter while aiming at the eye
The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both
horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts.
As youre taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfnder or in the
LCD display that you use to frame your shot.
With this grid in mind the rule of thirds now identifes four important parts of the image that you should
consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image. Not only this but it also gives you four
lines that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.
and without letting go of the button, reframe to fll the image how we want the end result to look. If
you have a group of people, pick the most important person in the photo: the bride, the birthday boy
- or if you have more than one child - pick your favourite. Just kidding. You can also pick the centre
person in the group - or the person closest to the camera.
3. Rule of Thirds
While a good yawn (see the photos above) sleeping animals look like dead animals and
these rarely make a good photograph!
If youre in the wild, animals will be most active at sunrise/sunset when it is cooler. Hang out
near the watering holes and try to get them doing what they do. (Lions sleep for most of the
day so the above shots were kind of normal - and the hunting/killing photos were a little too
graphic for this workbook.)
Domestic animals will respond to humans PLAY. Get them revved up and watch the photo
opportunities fow abundently.
4. Capture the Action = Capture the Personality
(4. Its all About the Animal)
There is an expression in photography: Miss the eyes and youve missed the shot
Animal photography however, especially in the wild offers a multitude of opportunity to take amazing
photos and completely ignore that rule/expression.
What is the animal famous for? eg. Tigers have stripes, elephants have tusks, cats and dogs have
whiskers, soulful eyes and noses. These can create amazing photographs.
What is the animal doing? eg. Digging a hole, eating a bone, playing with a ball, grooming itself.
Never before have action photographs become so accessible - and thanks to societys predeliction
for sharing cat photos on Facebook and sending it viral, your playful photograph of a kitten with yarn
could be seen by millions overnight. :)
Wildlife shots are different to other photography in that you dont need to have a background or
context to tell the story the animal itself will usually do that. Try flling the frame with just the face, just
the paws or just three quarters of the animal.
Some pretty cool photographs of animals where the eyes werent visible or the focal point of the
The eyes are mostly not visible in these photos but they ARE still interesting.
Why? Because of point #4:
This requires patience and patience is the most successful attribute of an animal
photographer. Some of the best animal photos capture an obscure look or a stare, yawn,
growl, etc. .
Focus on the animal and then as soon as it opens its mouth to yawn or turns its head to
scratch, start shooting. By looking for unusual expressions you can capture a unique and
personable animal photograph every time.
6. Animals are not concerned about embarrassment
We know that animals have very cute faces
but what about their paws, ears, fur, tails
Some of the best wildlife shots are detail
orientated rather than just a pretty face.
Some photos ignore rule of thirds and feel
free to crop parts of the animal to highlight
a nose, tongue, growl, whisker ...
Get in close. make it the priority of the shot
animals are generally smaller than humans
so we dont need as much space between
7. What else does an animal have?
Every animal behaves differently. You cannot expect identical behaviors in any two of
the same species just like humans. The key to getting a good picture is watching an
animal long enough to be able to predict what theyre about to do.
8. Stalk Your Prey!
9. Capture Unaware - the Element of Surprise
While your pet is playing quietly or focused on a
toy, get into position take some photos and THEN
have someone else whistle or call him/her. This
will surprise the pet and capture attention and
you will have a few seconds to capture him in a
nice and alert posture and pose.
Obviously this is for domestic animals, we dont
advise doing this in Africa on Safari. Though Luke
wanted to. His wife and the trackers wouldnt let
Again patience is a virtue watching an animal
for long enough will yield the results a lion may
smell game and react the same as a dog to a
familiar whistle.
In the photo on the right, you can even see the
point where the dog became alert.
them as we do when shooting people. Except for lions. Keep space between yourself
and lions. Thats probably the most important tip we can give you in this workbook.
Remember Forever take no responsibility and
accept no liability if you are in the wild and
intentionally startle a predator in order to take a
great photograph. Animals can be predictable
and their behaviour can usually be anticipated
in order to get a photograph, but often they act
unpredictably and people can get hurt. Not just
with lions, even with domestic dogs.
Patience is the number one key to animal photography. The most successful wildlife
photographers are not professionals but gifted amateurs who have the opportunities
rangers in game parks. They have the time to sit and wait for the shot to come to them
and they invariably get it.
When planning to shoot animals whether domesticated or on safari, the main thing is to
allow yourself time to do so. Unlike shooting people where you can allocate an hour and
expect to get a reasonable photograph allow yourself 3 hours each time you go out to
stalk a single animal.
Practice laying down with your camera ready and limited movement for a couple of
hours like a military sniper. That is probably the key secret to great animal photography.
This is probably the hardest thing to learn today. As a habit we photograph through the
viewfnder with one eye open (looking through) and the other closed.
We dont like to look at the LCD screen as the focus is never as accurate as the
viewfnder and with one eye closed, we often miss action about to happen.
By trying to keep both eyes open when one is looking through the viewfnder we are able
to anticipate and see action before it happens and ensure we capture it and not miss
the photograph.
Set your cameras to continuous shoot each time you shoot an animal you should be
photographing bursts of 3-10 images. Not only are you less likely to miss that key moment,
animal photography often works better in a series of 3 photographs displayed together
but showing an event, action or lifestyle of an animal.
12. Keep both eyes open.
11. Take a lot of photos
10. Lets emphasise patience.
It also means that you might see a
dangerous situation in time to avoid it
and that is paramount.
Safety frst.
You only need to look at the example
of iconic Australian Steve Irwin to know
that animals can be dangerous.
As a photographer, your job is to
capture the action not be a part of it.
Important things you want to remember ...
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Copyright 2009-2013 - Remember Forever Photography
Copyright applies to all information and images
All rights reserved.
Photography Workshops and Courses
Phone: (646) 736-3231 (National)