Digital Wildlife Photography Tips
1--Follow the PEQ rule of nature photography. Be Patient, Be Early and Be Quiet.(Click on the link above for more on this important rule).
2--Be ready. Have your camera settings adjusted and be ready to shoot. If you are photographing from a car be sure that you are setup and ready to go before getting to your prime viewing area. Always keep your camera handy and ready to go. If you are hiking or walking have your camera out and ready so you can quickly capture a photo when the opportunity comes up. It is easy to miss an opportunity because you were not prepared.
3--Keep a safe distance. Wild animals no matter how cute they might look can be dangerous. If you are in a National or State Park be sure to follow all rules and be careful approaching large animals who often are very used to humans that you can get closer them than what is really safe.
4--Focus on the animals eye. Eye to Eye contact between the photographer and the animal can make for some dramatic photos. With smaller animals you might need to get lower to the ground in order to get that desired eye to eye contact.
5--Practice makes perfect. Practice your digital wildlife photography skills as often as you can. Use your backyard or a local park to practice photographing squirrels, birds or even pets so that you get used to taking pictures of animals that are moving. Learn to quickly follow moving subjects so you have a better chance of capturing wildlife in motion. Use these "practice sessions" to learn your camera settings, experiment with different settings and learn to quickly frame your subject. Whether it is a deer that is running or a bird that is flying, animals in motion make some of the most powerful wildlife photos.
6--Keep your camera steady. Since digital wildlife photography often involves using a telephoto lens it is important to keep the camera steady to avoid motion blur and other sharpness issues. If possible you should use a tripod or a monopod or some other form camera stabilization. When you do need to shoot hand held be sure to use proper techniques for holding the camera steady.
7--Try to blend in with your surroundings. Shooting from some type of well designed and placed blind provides the best opportunity for getting truly amazing photos of animals but if you move slowly, be quiet and have patience you can still get plenty of opportunities for great photos on hiking trails and even from many roads. In many areas animals become very used to cars and in those cases your car can serve as your "blind" and allow you to take photographs of animals that will flee if you get out of the car.
8--Learn about your subject. Read field guides. The more you know about the animals you will be photographing the better you will understand how to be in the right place at the right time. Understanding their feeding habits, natural habitat and most active times will help you be prepared and in place at the optimal viewing times.
9--Take advantage of the "Golden Hours." The golden hour is the time just before and right after sunrise or sunset. It is at this time that many animals are the most active as well as providing some excellent light for digital wildlife photography.
10--Remember the basic rules of composition. Using good composition is as important for digital wildlife photography as it is any other subject matter. Use the "rule of thirds" as your guide but don't be afraid to experiment with different angles and framing when possible. Try to capture your subject as it is moving into the photo with rather than moving out of it. Of course carefully composing the image is often not possible but you can allow enough area to be able to crop the photo for the best composition.