Camera Settings for the Wildlife Photographer

You have a digital SLR camera and want to photograph wildlife. If you’re ready to go on safari with your camera, read on. These suggested camera settings for wildlife photography will help you get great shots.

When you photograph wildlife, you need to know something about the animals you’re photographing. Before you get your digital camera, you need to know where they live, when they feed, when they mate, and what type of equipment and settings to use when you photograph these beautiful animals.

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When you photograph animals, if you spend time fiddling with camera controls, you lose the shot. Make sure your camera is ready before you see an animal you want to photograph. Then it’s a simple matter of raising the camera to your eye and taking the picture. Here are settings to use when photographing wildlife:

  • Camera shooting mode: Choose Aperture Priority mode when photographing animals at rest or Shutter Priority mode for animals on the move. These controls are on your camera dial. If you know your camera well, you can switch gears quickly and change camera modes if resting animals move and vice versa.

  • ISO setting: Choose the lowest ISO setting for the available light.

  • Auto-focus point: When photographing wildlife, choose a single auto-focus point in the center of the frame. A single auto-focus point enables you to pinpoint your focus on the animal. This is especially important if you’re photographing close-ups of an animal, in which case you focus on the eye closest to the camera.

  • Drive mode: Choose Continuous Drive mode. This enables you to squeeze off several shots in succession, which can make the difference between getting a great shot and capturing a ho-hum image. For example, if you photograph a great blue heron feeding her offspring, press the shutter button when the feeding begins and you’ll get a lovely sequence of images.

  • Tripod: Mounting your camera on a tripod ensures you’ll get a sharp image. While this is not practical for shooting animals in motion, it works very well if you happen upon a herd of deer grazing in the wilderness.

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