1. Always shoot in RAW image format
Becoming a wildlife photographer is an adventurous journey. When you start wildlife photography, you will be looking for things like - which is the best camera for wildlife photography , what are the wildlife photography books to read. Most importantly what are the wildlife photography settings and wildlife photography tips which you should apply to take best wildlife images.
Well...topics to learn are overwhelming. To simplify, we will learn wildlife photography step by step. Lets get started with Wildlife photography guide. In this photography guide we will learn top 10 fundamental tips to enhance your wildlife photography skills. No matter if you are a beginner or semi-pro wildlife photographer , this wildlife photography guide will tremendously help you to take a better wildlife images and enjoy a journey of wildlife photography.
I will share with you, my personal story when I started my voyage as a wildlife photographer -
It was summer of 2007, when I headed towards India’s most celebrated Tiger reserve - ‘Bandhavgarh National Park’. Since this was my first visit to Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve I was full of excitement and enthusiasm . Yes , even today as well I am super excited when I travel to National park and Tiger reserve :) ! I packed my camera bag with Nikon FM2 Camera , Nikkor 80-200 lens and about dozens of Velvia 200 camera rolls with sparkles in my eyes :)
In the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve I had great sighting of legendary dominant male tiger named B2. The forest of Bandhavgarh was teeming with wildlife! I was so excited in capturing images of Tigers, Deers, sambar and langurs that I forgot a camera roll comes with only 36 images, phew ! I blew off all my Velvia film roles and I was happy to get so many images from Bandhvagarh.
I came back to my hometown dancing and dreaming about “my once in a lifetime trip !”
I rushed to photo-studio. Photo-studio developed and printed the images which I captured during the trip. I looked at those images… and I couldn’t believe that these are the images which I captured.
Pictures were awful … some images were too dark or too bright, some images were appearing blur and out of focus and some images appeared very uninteresting even though rest things were ok.
Holy crap! What to do now ? I talked to myself. I missed all the best images from Bandhavgarh Tiger reserve. Hell yes - it was all gone.
Sounds similar to your own experience ?
If Yes - Hey No sweat! I will help you thru enhancing your wildlife photography skills. Based on my field experience in wildlife photography over a decade, I have summarized Top 10 fundamental wildlife photography tips which I use personally. I promise you with confidence that if you practice and apply these techniques for your wildlife photography- the quality of your wildlife images will massively improve!
If you haven’t had a same experience like me, still these tips will be helpful and handy for your next wildlife photography expedition !
Lets dive right into first photo tip -
1. Always shoot in RAW image format
Now a days most of the D-Slr and compact mirrorless cameras come with RAW image format. RAW image format records the scene not as an image (.jpeg) but as a digital file.
Since image is captured as a digital file there is a huge possibility for improvements while post-processing the image. You will get following advantages of shooting RAW over jpeg during post processing step
Images captured in low light and high ISO such as 1600,3200 or 6400 are prone to noise. Noise reduction in RAW format helps to clean up the image noise ( Both color and contrast noise ) to a significant level
There are endless possibilities when you process RAW images.But above mentioned steps are usually sufficient when you do wildlife photography. I personally use all of the above steps during my post processing workflow.
I highly recommend you to start shooting in RAW format. Once you start processing your RAW format images - you will start exploring bigger opportunities in post processing step. This will definitely help you in producing beautiful final image.
Initially you may find larger file size of RAW images and less FPS-Frames per second ( Less as compared to jpeg format) as a compromise. But once you start shooting the RAW images you will realize this compromise is totally worth it !
I will give you a real world example. I had an exciting encounter with Leopard In Dandeli wildlife sanctuary during late evening time. Leopard gave me just a thirty seconds to click the image. I Was able to capture 3 images during that time. Below image is the best image I could get.
You can see the originally captured image. As it was almost dark the image is underexposed and dark. As I have set ISO to higher value such as ISO 2500 image noise was high. The colors of the leopard were dull and dark.
As I have captured the image in RAW format I was able to recover the details. You will see in the second image how precisely I was able to recover it - thanks to RAW format. I was able to recover the dark tones and colors. I did noise reduction on the image and optimized the sharpness of the leopard. Here is beautiful elusive leopard looking straight into your eyes even in challenging light conditions !
Shooting in the RAW format vs jpeg format will be a real game changer for you !
Stay tuned for second wildlife photography tip !
Image Details :
ISO 2500, Aperture f/5.6 and shutter speed 1/30 s
( Vibration reduction ON )
Camera : Nikon D7100
Lens : Nikon 200-500 f/5.6
Memory Card : Sandisk Extreme pro 32GB SD card
Support : Nature Lounge bean bag
Software used for post processing : Adobe Lightroom
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