I decided after receiving a couple of questions on 'how to take better pictures', that I would share some of my own thoughts and helpful tips to keep in mind when building an image, whether it be before heading out into the field or perhaps in the moment whilst in a sighting.
I have put together a couple of bullet points below which I hope you find useful.
- Do The Research
When it comes to wildlife photography, it is obviously very unpredictable and difficult to plan your shot, especially when it comes to animals in their environment. But, if you are photographing landscape, sunsets/sunrises or the stars – there is a fair amount that is in your control. Look at the area, identify what you would like in your image, it may be a tree, a mountain or seeing where the sun will set or rise. So, there is plenty that you can do in terms of planning your shot. I encourage you to go out, study the area, identify what it is you would like to photograph, put thought into your image and go out there and do it!
One of the best ways to enhance your subject is to have a simple background. This is not always possible and I always advise that you try in a safe manor to keep the background as simple as possible. Low angles help to create simple backgrounds but it isn’t always possible to be eye level or lower than your subject, but it is something to remember when out in the field and you get a chance to showcase your subject with a very clean and uncomplicated background. What I am trying to get to, is don't just look at your subject, look at the surroundings, look what is in front of the subject and what is behind it - use everything you can to your advantage.
There are a number of ways that you can grab attention in an image. The reason I mentioned this is that it is so important to create an effective image. Sometimes, just understanding this can be as simple as repositioning or understanding your subject and being able to predict their movement.
A couple ways to do this is:
- Dramatic light (this refers to sunrises, sunsets and general landscape shots. Use the light and/or clouds to your advantage.
- Something that has not been photographed before – this is a bit more challenging, especially in wildlife photography but it also relates to having an image in mind before stepping out into the field and understanding how you will be able to achieve this.
- Understand animal behavior – understanding the subject is crucial in getting a really good image. Being able to position yourself in the right spot before the subject has even arrived in the area will allow you to be set up perfectly for the shot with regards to - angle, settings and general positioning.
Be Respectful of Your Subject
This is probably the most important one of all. Having said all the above, it is very easy to be caught up in the moment and the shot, but we need to remember why or what led us into photography in the first place. For me, my journey started with a passion for wildlife. Although I am a photographic guide, nature and wildlife will always come first. It is not worth putting your subject under pressure just to get a good shot.
A good shot should be one that you have put thought into, recognize the opportunity and captured the natural scene in front of you.
I hope that you found this useful and will be able to put it into practice in your own photographic journey...
Until next time,