Ready, Set, Shoot. (Part 1)

More than 10 tips for capturing wildlife and nature photos

We are not only wildlife enthusiasts here at PlanetWildlife, but we are also avid photographers. We have some pretty talented shutterbugs on our staff, who have captured many beautiful wildlife and nature shots. So get your cameras fired up and take note of their best photography tips in the first of a two-part series!

Name: Mallik Reddy
Tip: Shoot birds in continuous mode with shutter priority @ 5fps. Start shooting continuously from while they are perched to when they fly out of range. You are assured of getting a spectacular picture or two. Do this for large birds, especially storks and raptors.

A painted stork preparing for flight. Image © Mallik Reddy

A painted stork in flight. Image © Mallik Reddy

Explanation of Image: as above

Tip 2: This is not really a tip for shooting, but a practical way of keeping your camera clean in dusty environs in Africa and India. On a safari, pick up laundry bags (cloth ones are better) from your lodge to keep your camera with long lenses dust free when not shooting.

Favourite Photography Location: Lake Nakuru in Kenya and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, India

Name: Kashif Ali

Tip 1: If you want tackle sharp landscape photographs, then figuring out the ideal hyperfocal distance for your lens is the way to go. To get you started, try this very useful DOF calculator and you can also download a chart here.

Pangong Lake, India. Image © Kashif Ali

Explanation of Image: This is a shot taken in Ladakh of the famous Pangong Lake that spans India, China, and Tibet. I wanted to capture the curvature of the lake in front of me, and the mountains behind it, with equal clarity. So at a really narrow aperture of f16, I focused at one third in to the scene to get uniform clarity from the foreground to the background.

Tip 2: Always carry samples of your photography with you. It’s very helpful for capturing those candid street photographs. Showing your photos helps put the locals at ease and build a connection with them. I also make it a point to take down their postal or email address, so I can send them a copy of their photograph if they want one.

Man walking across Nubra Valley, India. Image © Kashif Ali

Explanation of Image: This man was carrying a 1000 litre syntax tank on his back (empty, of course!) and seemed to be walking away into nothingness. I wanted to get the scale of the landscape of Nubra Valley around him and a sense of how the human spirit perseveres regardless of how desolate an environment might seem. People around me were curious to know who I was and why I was photographing this man. I showed them a couple of pictures from a binder I carry with me and this seemed to satisfy their curiosity.

Favourite Photography Location: Anywhere I can wake up to the mountains. At the moment, it’s a small village, Munsiari, in Uttarakhand on the Indo-Nepal border.

Name: Sachin Agarwal

Tip: Try and get the golden hour: the first and last hour of daylight at any location. The most obvious reason to shoot during the golden hour is the beautiful light that you can get. However, because it is often early in the morning, chances of getting other unusual captures are also very high. These include fog or mist, locals preparing for the day, or simply the lack of other people. The golden hour is your best bet for capturing a different image of sights that have already been extensively photographed.

Sand dunes in Namibia. Image © Sachin Agarwal

Machu Picchu, Peru. Image © Sachin Agarwal

Explanation of Image: Early morning fog makes Machu Picchu in Peru seem even more magical than it already is. The clear morning light accentuates the form and red colour of the sand dunes in Namibia. Washington, DC’s Lincoln Memorial has an air of serenity before it is run over by tourists later in the day.

Washington Memorial, USA. Image © Sachin Agarwal.

Favourite Photography Location: Dead vlei in Namibia, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, and the Taj Mahal in India.

Washington Memorial, USA. Image © Sachin Agarwal

Name: Talia Salem

Tip:When nature surprises you and animals are moving fast, switch your camera into action mode.

Flying manta ray. Image © Talia Salem

Explanation of Image: This is what I did while travelling in Cabo Pulmo in Baja California. A group of manta rays surprised our boat and I was scrambling for my camera. I quickly shifted it into action mode to score a few shots of these animals leaping out of the ocean.

Favourite Photography Location: I love to shoot while I travel, but Wadi Rum and Petra, Jordan made a lasting impression on me. I love the way the sun lights up the beautiful coloured rocks, it is especially gorgeous at sunrise and sunset.

Name: Prabhu Podipireddy

Serpent eagle. Image © Prabhu Podipireddy

River Tern. Image © Prabhu Podipireddy

Tips: Here are some of my tips for capturing images of birds:

1. 400mm lenses and above are ideal for bird photography.
2. As you will usually shoot from a low angle, an ND filter is useful.
3. For birds perched on high branches, a high aperture is suitable. Whereas for birds in flight, high ISO with a high shutter speed is recommended. For example, for the serpent eagle picture I took, I used high aperture and shot the majestic bird as it was constantly in search of its prey, such as snakes and lizards.
4. Catching the light is very important in bird photography.
5. Breeding season is the best time for bird photography as the birds remain close to their nests.

Favourite Photography Location: My personal favourite places in India for photographing birds are the Rangantittu and Bharathpur bird sanctuaries.

Have your own photography tips to share? Comment below or start a discussion on Facebook or Twitter with us!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where our CEO, a professionally qualified photographer, shares some of her best photography tips!

Interested in photography? Check out these tours ideal for capturing wildlife and landscape photos:

Exploring Spitsbergen: Basecamp Plancius (Arctic Tour)
Photo Tour: Birds, Elephants and Spices (India Tour)
Discover Sri Lanka