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20 Tips for better bird and wildlife images

  1. Get up early with the sunrise, stay out late with the sunset, this is when the light is at its best

  2. If you have a choice, try to shoot early morning and late afternoon sunlight, this light is very soft and warm compared to midday.

  3. Unless you are going for side or back lighting, make sure that the sun is behind you when photographing your subject

  4. If you point your arms outwards 45 degree angles to both sides of your shadow, anything in that path should be properly lit when you have directional sunlight

  5. If your shadow is shorter than your body length, the sun is too high in the sky for premium light and you will get more shadows and washed out colors

  6. When possible, try to shoot at eye level with your subject

  7. Always aim your focus point at the subject’s eye/s

  8. Keep your shutter speeds high as possible to help freeze movements

  9. When you are photographing your subject, be aware of what is behind it and if there are distractions such as branches, poles or leaves, try moving your position to eliminate the clutter.

  10. Try to isolate your subject as much as possible.

  11. When composing for your image try to remember to leave “positive” space for you subject to move or look into.

  12. When you have a co-operative subject, keep shooting until the opportunity is gone. Don’t spend too much time looking at the one image you just took, keep photographing!

  13. Move slowly and quietly whenever you can to not startle your subjects.

  14. If your intended target/s fly or run away, sit down and don’t move, they may come right back

  15. Try to research your subject and it’s habits, the more you know about them, the better your chances of photographing them will be

  16. Learn your camera’s different modes and how to use them, if you shoot in Auto mode all the time, you will blow a lot of images, get to know manual and Av

  17. Use a tripod when you can to help ensure sharp images

  18. Always dress properly for the weather, nothing worse than being too cold or even too hot when you are trying to photograph wildlife

  19. Be patient, the subject will come to you if you exercise patience and smarts

  20. Enjoy the moment, it is all about appreciating wildlife and capturing it to share with others.

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Written by: David Hemmings. David owns and operates Natures Photo Adventures and has been published by National Geographic and many other magazines and books.

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