Whether it’s a bee sucking nectar from a flower, a lion stalking its prey, a shark taking a bite at a seal or an owl sweeping up a rodent, still photographs of such events look breathtaking and surreal. It takes an expert photographer to capture such images, and this delicate type of photography is called wildlife photography.
Wildlife photography has been in existence from the past few decades however with the increase in TV channels and viewership, as well as conservation measures of various species of the world, it has gained prominence. And with advanced camera technology now readily available, this stream of photography has grown in leaps and bounds in terms of popularity.
At first glance, this might look like any other form of photography. However wildlife photography is one of the most challenging forms of photography, for various reasons.
a. Sound Technical skills – Photographers need to have sound technical skills to capture that key moment of animal behaviour or life. Timing plays a key role and one click too early might ruin months of hard work. Important elements like light, exposure, focus are components known to a photographer but while shooting wildlife these components have to be handled far more expertly.
b. Astute Field skills – Wildlife photography is all about capturing a moment. And one has to patiently focus to wait and capture such moments. During such times a little bit of military skills come into play. Camouflage is a skill a wildlife photographer has to compulsorily master. Without it no wildlife photographer can be successful. Similarly hiding, stalking, pattern observing, trail following are some of the important areas of expertise.
c. Right equipment – Based on what needs to be photographed one must choose the correct equipment like camera, lenses, tripods, monopods etc. An insect to be captured needs a high focus camera while a leopard’s hunt needs a camouflaged lens. A very slight mistake in equipment selection will not give the desired result.
d. Knowledge – Just the knowledge of photography is not enough in this form of photography. One must be aware of the animal being photographed and should gain knowledge through research of its behaviour. It is hard work and there are no shortcuts. Not having knowledge about animal behaviour might delay your project and one might not succeed in capturing the right images. For e.g. going close to a female African elephant tending her newborn, for a close-up shot might prove disastrous due to the mothers overly protective tendencies.
e. Keen sense of timing – Without timing wildlife photography is a difficult task. Call it being at the right place at the right time or old fashioned gut feeling, timing makes wildlife photography easier. Many professional photographers have observed that this a skill one learns on the job through harsh experiences.
With the advent of digital technology, wildlife photography has got a major boost. Multiple freeze shots can be gained of animals in motion and slowly technology is taking over key components of the photographer’s skills.
Wildlife photography is one of the joys of the modern world. It helps us appreciate nature and promotes the sense of conservation, which is of paramount importance today.