The most frequently asked question that I get from my followers is “How do I get started in wildlife photography?”. There’s no definitive set of rules and no specific camera gear requirements. All that’s needed is passion. If you love being outdoors and you love capturing what you see and experience with your camera, then you already have a good start in becoming a wildlife photographer.
Whether you use your phone’s camera or a DSLR camera, you can photograph wildlife. While the DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with a good lens is the preferred camera for wildlife photography, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice photo with your phone’s camera. You just have to know the capabilities of your camera. For instance, I know I’m not going to get a nice head shot of a bald eagle or a good image of a bear running through the woods using my phone’s camera. But I do know that I can capture a beautiful sunset or a self portrait in the field with my iPhone to share with others when I don’t have my DSLR handy.
I want my photograph to not just capture a good likeness of my subject but also reflect what I’m feeling when take the shot. On a photo shoot of Bald Eagles in Alaska on a cold, snowy morning, I addressed the technical aspects of the shoot like which lens to use, what should I set the ISO & f/stop to prior to going into the field. In the field, I’ll experiment with various compositions, but ultimately I want to capture just enough of the subject and its environment to convey what I’m feeling when I take the picture. In this particular photo, you can feel the cold snow and you can sense the power of the Bald Eagle. To me, it’s much more than just a picture of a Bald Eagle. It’s my way of sharing the beauty and the thrill of photographing wildlife at that particular moment in time.
For those of you that don’t know where to start, I suggest you “practice” like I do when I’m not out in the field shooting. You can be in your backyard or a local park. You don’t have to photograph wild animals. I practice quite a bit by photographing my dogs playing in the backyard. I experiment by shooting from different angles, I use different lenses and I vary my depth of field. Probably the most important thing to consider the quality of light. The majority of photographers prefer shooting either early in the morning, late in the day or when it’s overcast for a good reason. If I shoot at noon on a sunny day, my photos will lack the detail and the warmth I’m looking for.
So the next time you’re out with your camera, try to think beyond the technical aspects of photography and challenge yourself to capture the passion of the moment.