7 top tips for capturing the decisive moment in nature
Check batteries and re-format CF cards before you set out. Leave enough time to get to the location and pre-visit likely shooting spots. Get into position with the camera set up before the action begins.
Anticipate decisive moments
Anyone can shoot a landscape under a blue sky, or a static animal, but to capture one-off events you need to anticipate what might happen. A slither of open sky on the horizon may herald a dramatic sunset, or a waking animal might become obvious with a yawn or a stretch.
Don’t be disheartened by poor results or an inaccurate weather forecast. Keep at it! Return to locations or subjects that offer potential on a regular basis. Remember that the more time you spend out in the field, the better your chances of capturing something really special.
Observe your subject
Look out for any telltale signs that might signal imminent action or interesting behaviour. An alert pose may mean that the bird or animal is about to fly or run. A returning mate or parent will induce courtship, bonding or feeding.
Take a chance
Sometimes you have to be prepared to take a gamble with the weather. The most dramatic conditions can often follow a storm or last just a minute or two between heavy showers. It’s worth bearing in mind that great light is worth getting wet for!
During long periods of inactivity or when waiting for the light, it’s very easy to switch off or start to do something else, but this can cost you the shot you’ve been waiting so long for. Keep concentrating until you’ve captured the shot – or after all hope has gone.
Keep your eye to the viewfinder
Wildlife can explode into action in a split second and be all over by the time you’ve brought your eye to the viewfinder. So keep the subject in view and in focus at all times with your finger poised ready to release the shutter.
PAGE 1: What is the decisive moment in nature?
PAGE 2: Reacting quickly to the decisive moment
PAGE 3: 7 top tips for capturing the decisive moment in nature
PAGE 4: Decisive moments – photographing birds in flight