Animals are, without a shadow of a doubt, a fascinating photography subject. They're at their most intriguing when they're unpredictable and wild, allowing you to capture something of their very nature. This collection is a look at some outstanding shots of animals, of every kind, in the hope that it inspires and encourages you in your endeavors to immortalize something of the creatures with which we share our existence.
Whether it be the fierce look in the eyes of a lion, the majestic swoop of an eagle, or the gargantuan size of an elephant, animal photography, more than any other, is often capable of provoking a distinctly visceral reaction. In addition to that, the effort and perseverance that goes into capturing the perfect creature-based shot only adds to the impact of the images.
Before we delve in, it's worth thinking about a couple of simple things that can be done to increase your chances of capturing something truly memorable.
In all but the most sterile of situations, it's impossible to dictate what an animal will do, or where they will go, while you're trying to take a shot (with your camera, I'm not advocating hunting the animals first). This lack of control and element of sheer unpredictability should be seen as nothing more than an exciting challenge to flex your photographic imagination.
Be prepared to have to capture something on the fly, or at a seconds notice. Have your camera set up correctly, taking your surroundings and available light into consideration. This is a far cry from landscape photography. You may only get one chance at the shot you want.
Practically, you also need to think about your settings in regard to movement itself. Use shorter shutter speeds and moving your camera along with your subject. It's a fiendishly difficult move to get right but can produce stunning results.
This is a simple one. There must be millions of blurry distance shots of lions out there, getting closer can help you set your photograph apart. The closer you are, the more detail you're able to capture, the more interesting your final result will be; attempt to capture the glint in the eyes of the beast (just be careful it's not about to pounce).
It will be easier to get close to some animals than others, but always keep your composition in mind. If there are other animals around, or a fantastic vista to get in the shot, it might be worth sacrificing on some proximity.
I left this until last, but it's definitely the most important aspect of trying to photograph animals, especially in the wild! While the taking of your shot may last a fraction of a second, the patience required easily matches up to the patience of a thoughtful landscape photographer.
If you find the perfect spot, be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait. Hold your position until that bird lands or those penguins make a move. I remember waiting what seemed like an age for a lion to look up, only to eventually capture a shot of him yawning!
Finally, it's worth making sure you're patient with yourself. The fact is that sometimes you just won't be able to get the shot you're looking for, it's just part of trying to capture wild animals.
Here are a few links to really useful tutorials and articles that will teach you more about this type of photography:
- Quick Tip: Taking Stunning Wildlife Photos
- A Guide to Capturing Zippy Zoo Photos
- The Magic of Wide Apertures: Technique, Lenses & Settings
- The Photographer's Guide to Preparing for an African Safari
- Four Tips for Better Wildlife Photography
- 10 Essential Tips for Wildlife Photography
Share Your Own Images!
I hope you've enjoyed the above photographs and that they've inspired you to go out and capture something amazing for yourself! We'd love to see your favourite shots of animals (and insects, etc.) - just post a comment and link below. Also, feel free to link to any resources that you've found particularly helpful in this area.