deer on the grass Photo by Diana Parkhouse on unsplash

20+ Comprehensive Wildlife Photography Tips for Beginners

The wildlife photography genre allows you to explore many different concepts of nature. Whether a beginner or an experienced photographer, you must follow specific guidelines to achieve stunning wildlife photographs.

This article will explore numerous comprehensive wildlife photography tips for beginners to help improve techniques and capture breathtaking images. You'll learn to use your equipment and environment to get exquisite wildlife pictures. Let's dive into it.

Preparation Tips for Wildlife Photography

There are several things to do when getting ready for wildlife photography. Considering the risks when dealing with wild animals, it is essential to take some safety precautions. Read on to discover how you can adequately prepare as a beginner in wildlife photography.

1. Research Your Subject

Often overlooked by most photographers, researching your subjects in this genre is essential. This is especially when you want to shoot different animal species. You should get prior information regarding the following:

  • The specific wildlife behavior during hunts and when interacting with each other.
  • Their characteristics when around people.

Understanding your working environment should also be part of your research. This factor will help you know the equipment to carry and how to utilize the gear for exquisite wildlife photos.

sheep under sunset glow

Photo by Ahmed Galal on unsplash

2. Seek the Right Location

Going to the wild can be challenging for your first wildlife photography shoot. Try locations such as parks and reserves to exploit their rich wildlife populations.

You also have the option of natural sanctuaries found in different parts. For instance, local bird sanctuaries or even your backyard can offer exciting wildlife photography opportunities.

3. Make Good Ethics a Core Part

There are various ethical considerations to adhere to in wildlife photography. These ethical factors include:

  • Always prioritize the welfare of the animals and their habitats.
  • Respect their space and avoid disturbing their natural behavior.
  • Follow local regulations and guidelines to ensure your actions have minimal impact.

4. Deal with Low-Light Situations

Many experts advise shooting Wildlife photography in low-light conditions, especially during the golden hours (sunrise and sunset). Always ensure you learn how to adjust your camera settings in these conditions.

Additional lighting equipment, such as a flash or a reflector, is handy for capturing clear and well-exposed images.

5. Be Patient

Patience is a virtue and rule of thumb in wildlife photography. Often you might get frustrated waiting for your shooting subject to appear. Even after animals show up, wait quietly, observe their behavior, and be prepared to capture that perfect moment when it presents itself.

Equipment Tips for Wildlife Photography

Different genres require certain specifications from shooting equipment, an aspect that gets more demanding in wildlife photography. Here are some tips for selecting or using the perfect wildlife photo gear.

1. Check Your Camera Settings

elephant walk on the grass

Photo by Craig Stevenson on unsplash

Familiarizing yourself with your camera's settings before heading out is critical. Having learned about the specific shooting time when researching, you can appropriately adjust the essential photo composition features (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) to capture the desired effect. Setting them priorly also allows you to understand how you can easily switch with changing light or animal movements.

2. Set a Low ISO

Your subject might always be on the move, especially when you want to capture a hunting photo moment. It is, therefore, crucial to maintain image quality and reduce noise.

You can set your camera's ISO to its lowest native value (ISO 100 or 200) to achieve sharp, noise-free images.

motion blur of running leopard

Photo by Mahesh Prabahath on shutterstock

3. Verify Your Tripod

A sturdy tripod is handy when using long lenses or shooting in low-light conditions. You'll be able to enjoy these benefits with a stable stand:

  • Adjusting your shooting position and camera settings quickly.
  • Avoid camera shakes to achieve sharp images.  
  • Capable of supporting the weight of your camera and lens.

litte bear on the broken branch

Photo by Janko Ferlic on unsplash

4. Use a Long Lens

Your best bet is maintaining shooting distance to protect yourself and your equipment from animal attacks. You can invest in a quality zoom lens with a long focal length to capture wildlife from a distance without disturbing their natural behavior. A 200-400mm focal length lens is excellent for getting close-up shots of animals in their natural habitat.

zebras and tiger on the two sides of grass

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on unsplash

Shooting Tips for Wildlife Photography

So what are other practical factors you use for your activity as a first- wildlife photographer? Read on to discover more tips.

1. Golden Light is Important

You can utilize golden hours for the best lighting. The time offers soft and warm sunrise light, a feature that has helped photographers win multiple awards.

Golden Hour will help add a magical touch to your wildlife photographs. However, you'll need good concentration during these hours, especially when getting hunting shots.

2. Longer Bursts for Sharper Photos

Wildlife photography is unpredictable, thus essential to capture simultaneous shots. Use the continuous shooting mode to take longer bursts, increasing your chances of capturing a perfectly sharp image.

birds flying over river

Photo by Mckenzie Toyne on unsplash

3. Utilize Crop Mode

You are in luck if your camera has a crop mode feature. The mode can help you extend the effective reach of your lens, as it magnifies the image. This allows you to get closer to the subject without physically moving. Therefore, you'll avoid spooking the animals in a hideout, making photography easier.

pine tree

Photo by Art- lasovsky on unsplash

4. Watch for Blurry Foreground Objects

Wildlife photography locations involve many distractions like vegetation, primarily when you must hide to get a shot. You can always adjust your position or use a wider aperture to minimize the impact of these obstructions.

5. Avoid a Shadow Pull

There can be some inconveniences when dealing with wildlife since you can't direct your subjects on where to be or what to do. For example, you can encounter high-contrast lighting that results in a bright background. Your subject will probably be in the shade, so you should be careful not to underexpose the subject.

Try using exposure compensation to ensure the animal is well-lit, even if it means sacrificing some detail in the background.

A raccoon on a branch

Photo by Jessica Weiller on unsplash

6. Start Tracking Before Shooting

It's important to start tracking animals in motion before pressing the shutter button. This technique will help you capture a series of frames and increase your chances of getting a sharp and well-composed shot.

7. Lower the Camera's Shooting Angle

Low-angle shots are good for excellent photo results and are key when in a compromised location/position. They help you create a more intimate and dynamic perspective and add depth and impact to your wildlife photographs.

Additionally, the position is ideal when capturing smaller/baby animals. The technique gives great results, equal to when applying an eye-level angle.

8. Use a Fast Shutter Speed

It can be challenging to capture a fast animal, thus needing a faster shutter to freeze its motion effectively. Aim for at least 1/500 of a second or faster to guarantee sharpness.

You might use more depending on the species or the activity they might be doing. For instance, running animals can require a shutter of 1/1000.

Seagulls standing on the beach

Photo by Ben Vaughn on unsplash

9. Camera in Aperture Priority Mode

Wildlife photography does need to consider different major factors, especially how to work with the available setting and lighting. Adjusting your camera to the aperture priority feature allows you to control the depth of field while letting the camera modify the shutter speed accordingly.

Therefore, you must understand how to work on manual DSLR modes and other available effects.

10.Use the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a fundamental concept and one of the most essential factors in photography. They will help you appropriately place the animals in the surrounding environment.  

Place your subject off-center, aligning it with the intersecting lines or points of the grid. The specific subject positioning guides the viewer's eye.

11. Shoot wide

While close-ups of wildlife are captivating, remember also to capture wider shots. Wide-angle lenses can showcase animals in their environment, providing a sense of scale and context.


That's all you need to get the best photo results in the first stages of wildlife photography. You can easily maneuver around this genre by understanding basic photography skills like the rule of thirds. Try focusing on researching your subject, which can go a long way in saving your time, safety and getting unique wildlife shots.  

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