top of page

Improve your wildlife photography without breaking the bank: Know your animal

Continuing our series on improving your wildlife photography, in this iteration we will discuss importance of knowing (and understanding) your subject(s) of interest, something many photographers often neglect. This will ultimately enable you to bridge the gap between the animal and the viewer, and spark that intimate, emotional connection with the viewer.

You will be able to illustrate (or translate) a snippet of a secret intimacy (natures secret), a different form of life and experience into universal visual language, something transformative and palpable to human consciousness. From my own experience, I can say that every time we are allowed to crack through our anthropomorphic limits and peak through the natures prism (under the natures venere), when nature reveals itself to us, it is a transformative experience and it fills us with utmost respect, immesurable sense of belonging/unity/wonder/awe and, for just a moment, a little bit of mystery of life becomes visible to us.

Speaking in practical terms, to move away from poetry, studying your target species and knowing your subject intimately will give you a comparative edge over someone with very little or no previous knowledge of the subject, and it will ultimately allow you to get better images. Simply put, you’ll have a statistically higher probability of capturing that special behavior that you want to document, or capture your artistic vision of an animal. You’ll know the best part of the day when an animal is active and doing certain things, you’ll be able to predict certain behavioral patterns, know seasonal rhythm and what is the best part of the year to photograph it, where and how to find it, when is the breeding season, etc.

This all naturally connects to the subtopic of knowing the location which, in combination with knowing the subject, can give you an incredible advantage of positioning yourself according to the subject's habitual movement, knowing where the Sun is going to be and choosing the best light, also as choosing the best background. If you have the luxury of scouting the terrain (location) beforehand and planning where and how you want to shoot. How? - are you going to walk or you’ll be stationary in camo, waiting? For example when birds take of (fly of) they tend to do so against the wind, so if you can position yourself accordingly you are more likely to capture bird in flight or taking off etc.

Case study 1 - Hummingbird. I wanted to photograph the hummingbird that was quite skittish, I had to find a way to approach it close enough to photograph it while not disturbing it at the same time. I analyzed its movement pattern, it’s territorial range, duration that he would spend feeding at one flower cluster and what perches he would use most often. This gave me all the information necessary to approach and acquire the photograph I wanted. Lucky for me hummingbirds usually have quite robust feeding patterns, spatially and temporally which made my job much easier once I established its behavioral patterns.

Case study 2 - Gecko - Tenerife. I have never been to that location before and I really wanted to photograph the species, I wasn’t able to find a lot of information prior to traveling there so I inferred from similar species - for example, they are crepuscular, or nocturnal, animals, they feed on insects, they are arboreal, insects are attracted by lights, they should be where the food source is.

34 views0 comments


bottom of page