Do and Don’t of Wildlife Photography

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  • 10 min read
Do and Don't of Wildlife Photography

Good afternoon friends. Every day photography is becoming more widespread among the masses, and more and more people are joining in the field of wildlife photographers every day. As a rule, many birdwatchers start out with a simple one – random photographs of birds in parks or near their homes. Gradually, the photo hunt becomes addictive, and photographers begin to look for new objects for shooting, to explore new territories. Here the following questions arise before them:

  • Where can I find animals for wildlife photography?
  • Where to photograph animals and how to organize photography event?
  • At what time of the day and year is it better to shoot (and just find and, at least see) this or a certain species?

Of course, each individual species requires an individual approach, which begins with the study of the lifestyle and habits of this particular animal. But the general principles are the same here, and in this article, we will look at them.

It must be remembered that the animal is tied at certain moments of life to certain places, whether it is a feeding place or a watering hole, a chasing or current place, a path, a migration route, etc. At certain times and under certain conditions, it is more likely to see an animal in these places than in others. Let’s now take a closer look at each point.

Where do you need to find and photograph birds & animals?

1. At Places of Feeding and Watering

The surest way to find an animal, because he needs to eat and drink constantly. Here, the scheme is as follows – we select a specific species, study its diet, and then look for suitable places for feeding. For example, in winter, the waxwing feeds mainly on mountain ash, and it is more likely to be found near this tree. Is the principle clear? If you know the places, then you can arrange an ambush and take pictures of animals or birds near the feeding place. In addition, you can arrange a feeding area for animals yourself or equip a bird feeder or watering hole. After the animals learn about it and get used to regularly visiting such a place, you can safely put a shelter nearby and take pictures.

2. Mating Places

In any animal, once a year (for some, several times), the breeding period begins. At this time, animals can gather at certain places (current in wood grouses, black grouses, great snipes, rutting places in elks), where, in fact, the entire mating process takes place. Other animals simply choose a certain area for themselves, where mating, mating games and the mating process itself take place. As a rule, during this period, animals are less careful, more excited, many of them are slightly transformed. And in general – in animals, the period preceding reproduction is usually a beautiful action, and often the best pictures are taken at this time.

At this time, you can shoot in two ways.

  • On the race or current place, if this species has one. As a rule, such a hunt requires shelter, and, of course, you need to know where such a place is;
  • If the animals do not have a certain current place in which mating games take place from year to year, then you can take a photo hunt, beckoning the animal with the voice of a male/female. Here, as a rule, camouflage is also always required, as well as a voice reproduction device, although some photo hunters will be able to successfully lure the animal with just a voice;
  • The currents or rutting places often do not change – be they capercaillie, black grouse, moose rutting places, from year to year pass in the same places (sometimes they shift a little), so finding them once, you can be sure that in the future it will be here (unless the animals are driven out by the hunters, or the habitat is disturbed – fire, flooding, deforestation).

But when shooting at this time, do not forget about caution – for example, moose are extremely agitated during the rut and in some cases may even attack a person.

2. Period of Rearing Offspring

After the current or race period is over, and the animals have cubs, the animals will be tied to the nest, burrow, den, etc. Knowing the location of such places, it is possible with a high degree of probability to watch for the animal itself and take pictures of it. It is worth remembering that near the nest or den you should behave as quietly and carefully as possible – do not disturb the animal or cubs/chicks in vain, do not touch or frighten them, and generally try to behave so that the animal or bird does not notice your presence. For example, you can shoot fox cubs near a residential burrow or chicks on a nest. You can also artificially create conditions for such shooting. For example, by hanging a birdhouse, nesting house or other artificial nesting place and making sure that the birds have settled in it, you can then successfully shoot near it, and be sure in advance that

3. Migration Routes of Animals, Routes of Flight of Birds, Animal Paths

In these places, you can also watch for the animal and try to take it off. Whether it is a sowing field or a forage reservoir, which are in the path of birds’ flight and where they can fly to feed. It can be some high point of the terrain, which is located exactly on the route of bird migration or migration route. For animals, this can be a favorite path, which they regularly walk, for example, to a watering hole. In any case, here you must first carefully study the behavior of animals and routes, and then start photographing.

4. Bio-technical Measures (Salt Licks, Feeding Grounds, Pebbles, Artificial Nests, etc.)

In such places, animals can also be successfully filmed. Of course, the arrangement of such places is associated with time and material costs, but your chances of seeing and photographing the animal increase. True, places such as salt licks or pebbles are visited irregularly by animals, and the percentage of populating artificial nests, of course, is not always high. But in any case, biotechnical measures can be considered by the photographer as an excellent method of attracting animals to the right places.

In addition to this, you can note the installation of stuffed or dummy birds to attract birds or just build their trust. A scare crow or dummy can work especially well in conjunction with a bird’s voice.

5. Tracking, Tracking and Photographing

The most time-consuming method, but sometimes effective. It is also worth taking note of it. To do this, first it is advisable to study the tracks of animals and birds, try to understand who is really to track down the trail, and then act.

So, now we know where to photograph animals and in general where to find them. Now let’s talk a little about the nuances of searching and shooting.

Some Behavior of Animals When Filming

When studying animals, special attention should be paid to such points as nutrition and reproduction. They are the key ones when organizing a photo hunt. Animals eat regularly, which means that the easiest way is to organize a photo hunt at the place of feeding or watering. Well, reproduction is an important and mandatory process in the life of animals, you cannot do without it smile. But do not forget that during the breeding season, animals are not so careful and very agitated, and it is often during this time that you can get breath taking pictures. In addition, at this time, many animals and birds, silent for the rest of the year, begin to give a voice, and the process of searching for a photo-hunting object is greatly facilitated.

More often young animals, who are not yet so afraid of humans, are more trusting.

Photographing animals in parks, squares, garden plots – in general, in those places where animals live next to a person and have long been accustomed to his presence and economic activity. In such places, animals are gullible and let the photographer very close.

Do not forget that sometimes an excellent or rare photo can come out by accident. Many photographers and just birdwatchers carry a camera everywhere with them, and rightly so.

Sometimes it is worth refraining from taking a picture in order to allow the animal or bird to calm down and get used to your presence or the presence of the tent.

It should be remembered that many animals are nocturnal, some animals can be very shy. It has its own photography technique. Perhaps artificial lighting (as, for example) will help here, when photographing owls, mice, bats. You can try to shoot some overly shy and cautious animals with a camera trap, which is installed near the animal path.

Also, the behavior of animals will largely depend on what method you use to photograph this species – from an approach or from a shelter. Photo hunting from the approach is more difficult than from the shelter, the hunter has a great chance to be noticed or to scare the bird away. Perhaps, approach photography is to some extent more emotional and trains the photographer in the skills of concealing potential prey. But as a rule, a photo-hunt from a shelter or a concealment is more effective.

With such shooting, the photographer can fully prepare and control the process – choose the most suitable distance and background for shooting, clean the place, using ingenuity and ingenuity, make the animal do as the photographer wants. And although it is not often possible to get an artistic and planned shot on a popular photo-hunting, it requires more activity, trains a person, and at the same time makes it possible to study the habitats of animals. In any case, it is always useful to just walk around the area, and at the same time explore the area, look for trails, nests, current or rut places. Be sure to take your camera with you – who knows, maybe today an unexpected and memorable meeting with a rare animal that you have dreamed of filming for many years will happen.

Just smartphones or tablets, portable radio tape recorders, phones or tablets with bluetooth speakers will help to reproduce the voice. You may even be able to simulate the bird’s voice on your own without using any devices.

Well, of course, in order to photograph animals feeding or drinking, on paths or rutting places with currents, you must first of all find out where the wanted objects live. It would be foolish to look for a white-hare in a city park, and a heron in the middle of the steppe. Therefore, the hunter has to study not only animals, but also habitats, plants, reservoirs, etc. Gradually, photography stops being just photography and turns into an exciting process of studying nature and the world around us smile.