Professional Photographer to the Rescue: animal photography tips for any species

Professional Photographer to the Rescue: animal photography tips for any species

Final tips from our professional photographer

Final tips from our professional photographer: re-focus with AF point selection

Refocus with AF point selection
Dave didn’t realise he could manually set the AF (autofocus) point to focus on something positioned at the edges of the frame. “Ben showed me how easy it is to switch the AF point from the centre of the frame,” says Dave.

“This enabled me to focus on an animal’s head or eyes and to create a more interesting composition with the focal point off to one side. It also meant I didn’t need to focus by half-pressing the shutter button, then move my camera to recompose the shot.”

Final tips from our professional photographer: animal behaviour and better backgrounds

Animal behaviour and better backgrounds
“I talked to Dave about observing the animals’ behaviour to see which areas they preferred – the spots they walked past, where they sat down and interacted with the pack, played and ate,” says Ben.

“While watching, I’m always searching for backgrounds – foliage, bushes, trees and so on – that aren’t too close to the animals. That way when I use a wide aperture (around f/4) I can blur them out to isolate the subject.”

Final tips from our professional photographer: the right moment

The right moment
Although Ben’s EOS-1D can capture 8.5fps in Burst mode, he generally prefers to use patience and perseverance to get the shots he’s after. “I wait for the right moment to take wildlife shots,” he says.

“Sometimes I manually pre-focus on the spot I’m expecting the animal or bird to appear in, rather than always relying on Continuous Shooting mode to catch a fluky photo. I have a much higher success rate this way and it saves time trawling through stacks of potentially out of focus images on my PC later.”

Final tips from our professional photographer: add impact in post-processing

Adding impact in post-processing
“It was amazing to look through the viewfinder and see the very human face and eyes of a silverback gorilla staring back at me! I decided to try and capture his immense power by focusing in around his head and muscular shoulders,” says Dave.

Final tips from our professional photographer: add impact in post-processing

Ben later suggested that he improve the shot by cropping it in Photoshop to create a tighter composition and moving the eyes towards the top of the frame. I then selectively lightened the face by boosting its Levels slightly.”

Final tips from our professional photographer: making the leap to professional photographer

Making the leap to professional photographer
After the day with Ben, Dave was inspired to turn his hobby into a profession. “I’ve just signed up to a course to gain a photographic qualification,” says Dave.

“And I’m currently building a website portfolio.” Ben advised Dave on how to start earning from his photography. “Speak to your local wildlife park, as they may want good animal shots for their promotional material,” he said.

“Also speak to your regional Wildlife Trust (www.wildlifetrusts.org), local newspapers and county magazine – mine is Cheshire Life. Get a contact, explain what photos you have and then email or send a disc with a targeted selection of shots that suit their editorial style. Don’t ever give your photos away for free. Agree a fair rate so both parties are happy.”

PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Animal photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day

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