Wildlife 101: Shooting Creatively

Wildlife photographs can easily become very ordinary.  Here are some of my favourite ways to make your shots different from everyone else’s:

Quite simply, put them in black and white:

As with most black and white photography, look for pattern, texture, repetition, and even emotion in the scene. I always prefer to turn my photos into black and white in post processing – it leaves you with many more options as to how you would like the end product to look.  Perhaps it would look better in sepia? Or maybe you want to increase the amount of green in the photo?  I find Picasa works well for a simple, quick edit, or else I use Photoshop Elements.

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Add a message behind your photo:

IMG_8353 copySometimes you want your photos to do more than just look pretty; you want them to actually say something about the world we live in.  While these shots may not be all sunshine and daisies, I find their authenticity very appealing.  One way of taking this kind of shot is by including the enclosure fence at a zoo, thereby evoking feelings of entrapment, abandonment, and loneliness.  I find turning the photo into black and white afterwards can accentuate these emotions.

Zoom in and make your photo an abstract:

This is my favourite way to photograph wildlife; choose your centre of interest (COI), zoom in very closely, and simplify the shot.  Your COI can be anything that catches your eye – perhaps the animal has interesting feet, or particularly long eyelashes, or a beautifully patterned coat.  Use your imagination, and think about the end result before you press the shutter.

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Frame the subject:

This always makes the photograph more interesting.  Frames can be anything, from burrows (as in my photo) to the car window.

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Catch-up on the previous posts this month:

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