8 Tips for Up-Close Wildlife Photography

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Getting up close and personal with wild animals can be difficult, but the rewards are worth it.  Whether you’re into photography or just want to enjoy nature differently, this article will provide some tips on how to get closer to wildlife without scaring them away!  Keep reading for eight great tips from Daniel Doyle Pleasantville, currently featured on that will help you take amazing pictures of your favorite creatures.

Find the best time of day for shooting wildlife

Many animals are active at night, so it’s best to avoid taking pictures during this time.  Instead, think about when wildlife is most likely to be out and about: early morning or late afternoon. If you want the perfect shot of a deer eating in your front yard, for example, shoot first thing in the morning before they go back into the woods.

Don’t forget to consider weather conditions when looking for wildlife! If it’s too hot, you’re less likely to find animals out and about. Similarly, if there’s a lot of rain in your area or it recently snowed, creatures might be hunkered down somewhere waiting for better weather before coming out again.

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Be patient and wait for animals to come out in the open

Sometimes you might see an animal in the distance, but they disappear into the forest or brush when you get closer. If this happens, keep your camera ready and stay put! You don’t want to scare them off by running after them if they run away when you approach.

If deer are eating grass in a field 30 feet from where you’re standing, let them finish eating and then take a few shots.  You’ll have much better luck if you wait for an animal to come out in the open where they can be seen well from all angles instead of trying to get closer when they are hiding behind trees or tall grass.

Shoot with a longer lens than you’re used to using

If you’re used to shooting with a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera, try using a longer lens when photographing wildlife.  A telephoto lens is preferred over the long zoom lenses often found on smartphones because it allows for better images at greater distances.

A zoom lens can be useful too, but it will limit you to shooting only as close as the minimum focal length of that lens.  For example, if your smartphone has a 12x optical zoom and a maximum focal length of 36mm (on a full-frame camera), you won’t get any closer than 12 feet from your subject, even though you might be standing much closer.

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Use a telephoto lens when shooting from far away

If you’re trying to photograph wildlife from a distance, using a telephoto lens will allow you to get closer than shooting with the zoom on your smartphone or camera.  This is because lenses for smartphones and cameras (with few exceptions) aren’t as powerful as those found in DSLR cameras.

While you might be able to get fairly close with your smartphone’s zoom, there’s no guarantee that it will focus on the animal if they are too far away.  A telephoto lens (also called a long telephoto lens) used in conjunction with an adapter can help magnify subjects like wildlife without losing clarity or detail at all!

Shoot fast-moving animals with burst mode

One way to capture sharp photos of animals in motion is to use the camera’s burst feature.  This setting will allow you to take multiple shots in quick succession, making it easier for you to keep up with fast-moving creatures. When an animal darts away from your location or begins moving quickly, simply hold down the shutter button and let the camera do its job.

If you’re photographing birds in flight, try shooting while panning along with their movement for best results. This will keep them sharp while adding a sense of motion to your images.

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Get down low

If your subject is on all fours or has small legs, getting down low to the ground will allow you to photograph it from a more interesting point of view than if you were standing up and shooting straight on.  Not only does this create better compositions for your images, but it’s also easier to get closer with a longer lens when compared to taking pictures at eye level.

Avoid making noise that might scare off your subject

If you’re photographing wildlife while standing up, try squatting down or getting on your knees. This will make it easier to get eye-level photos of animals close by and more likely to be frightened if they look up at you instead of just over the top of your head!

In addition, crouching down will help you get more interesting photos of animals on all fours or have small legs.  You’ll want to be sure not to make a lot of noise while photographing these creatures so they aren’t startled and dart away before you can snap a few shots! Finally, some wildlife might be frightened of tall objects like people, so avoid looming over your subject with the top of your head. If you’re photographing an animal that’s on all fours or has small legs, squat down to get closer and then shoot while laying on the ground if possible.

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Try not to use flash photography

Avoid using the flash on your camera if you’re trying to photograph wildlife at night or in a dark forest.  If it’s too dark for your lens to pick up light on its own, turn off all of your lights so you don’t scare away creatures with sudden bright flashes of white light!

If you’re photographing in a well-lit area but your subject is moving quickly, switch to the burst mode on your camera and let it shoot photos while you track the animal.  This will help ensure that at least one photo comes out sharp when capturing quick movements from fast animals!

With these eight tips in mind, you should be able to take some great photos of wildlife with your camera. However, if you’re still struggling to get the shot, don’t worry! We have just the thing for you: a photography workshop at our lodge in Costa Rica where we’ll show you how it’s done. Join us next month and learn from professional photographers who work on animal documentaries full time. It is an opportunity not to be missed!

Written by Ana Weaver