Of all the forms of photography to do with your Fuji XT1, not many are as difficult as wildlife photography. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward. Unlike when you’re in a studio setting or during a photo walk around the city, there are many things you can’t control out in the wild.
The animals that you’re photographing, the natural light from the sun, the weather; these are just a few of the uncertainties you face when trying to photograph wildlife. You can’t tell animals what to do, and you can’t flip a switch for better lighting!
So, how do you capture those astonishing wildlife photographs that you often see in magazines like National Geographic? Well, having the right tools is important, of course. The Fuju XT1 is a great camera that will definitely offer you loads of value in this photography genre. Still, you also need to make sure that you’re familiar with your camera, probably more than most people.
On top of that, you’ll also need to know at least a little bit about your subjects (i.e. the animals) and the environment that they live in. Don’t underestimate either one. If you don’t know the basics before heading out to snap your photos, you might miss an opportunity to grab lifechanging images. Or, worse yet, you might either scare or anger your subjects unnecessarily. So, in this article, you’re going to learn five top tips of how to improve your wildlife photography with the Fuji XT1.
Know The Animals
No matter what kind of photography you do, you need to know your subject. Food photographers need to understand food, portrait photographers need to understand people. So, before you go out with your Fuji XT1 to pursue wildlife photography, you’ll need to know a little bit about that wildlife.
Different forms of wildlife, like birds and elephants, they tend to behave differently. You don’t have to become world expert on them before taking pictures of them. Still, you need to know at least a little bit. Birds, for example, will require more patience. That’s because the exact species you’re hoping to capture might not appear immediately. Elephants and other large animals are easy to photograph, but they’re also easy to scare or anger. You don’t want them to suddenly get angry and start chasing you!
But what’s the best way to learn what you need to know? Well, a quick read of the animal’s Wikipedia page might help. Unfortunately, doing it that way will force you to read through a lot of information that might not be relevant to your photography. Instead, a faster method would be to search for photography forums online. That way, you’ll have an easier time finding other wildlife photographers interested in the same creatures as you.
Once you find those photographers online, you can learn exactly what you need to know from them. Their experiences and mistakes will be your guide, and you’ll get better at wildlife photography very quickly. Don’t be afraid to send them a message and ask any questions you might have, too!
Know Your Camera
Understanding the animals that you’ll want to photograph is only one part of the process. The other part is knowing your own gear, specifically your Fuji XT1 camera. If you were to take a test about that camera, could you answer all the questions correctly? Most people probably not. Still, the reason you need to be very familiar with your camera is so you can use it to your advantage. When faced with the wildlife that you’d like to get snapshots of, you don’t want to waste time trying to figure out how to operate your camera. So, practice with it beforehand.
Getting familiar with your camera is easy. You can take the old-fashioned route by studying the camera’s user manual. That will list down every single feature, as well as every single button on the camera. If you’re much better at learning through audiovisuals, try hopping on Youtube and looking for videos on the Fuji XT1. There are plenty of photographers online sharing their tips and tricks for this camera.
But the most important way to develop familiarity with the XT1 is to use it. Constant practice is very important for photography in general. Still, your practice will benefit you the most when it comes to wildlife photography. When you practice with a hands-on approach, you’re also developing muscle memory. That means that your fingers will know exactly how to move to set the camera a certain way, without you even thinking about it in your mind.
When the perfect photo opportunity appears in front of you, you’ll know what to do without a moment of hesitation.
Understand Natural Lighting
Another aspect of wildlife photography that is beyond your control is the lighting. It’s safe to assume that most of your photography will be done in the daytime. Depending on the exact hour that you’re there, the light coming from the Sun may be too harsh for your images. So, you’ll need to set the Fuji XT1 in such a way that your subject is still clear, and your pictures aren’t over-exposed.
Always remember: you don’t control much when it comes to wildlife photography. You can’t bring your flashes with you, nor can you even use the built-in flash on the camera. Not only will it ruin the image, you’ll probably scare the animals away as well!
Out in nature, even the lighting can go from one extreme to the other within moments. You may be experiencing harsh, bright lighting thanks to the hot Sun. Moments later, dark clouds may roll in and leave you in the dark, quite literally! Wherever you decide to do your wildlife photography, be sure to learn a litlte bit about the weather. That’ll give you a rough estimate of what your lighting conditions will be.
With enough understanding and a little bit of planning on your part, these changes in natural light won’t bother you much. You can just adapt and adjust your camera to make the most out of what you’ve got. See, that’s the key to doing wildlife photography with the Fuji XT1. You have to learn to make the most of whatever Mother Nature throws at you!
They say that patience is a virtue. That’s true. But when it comes to wildlife photography, patience is probably one of the most important things you need to bring with you. Patience can mean the difference between a productive day out in nature, or you returning home empty handed.
Patience can’t be bought, but it definitely can be trained. You may not have much patience the first few times you do wildlife photography. But over time and with practice, you’ll find that it gets much easier to be patient when attempting to capture your next impressive wildlife photo.
Still, what does it mean to be patient in the context of wildlife photography? It means that when you are standing there out in the open field with your Fuji XT1, you need to understand that things may change. As a matter of fact, you should expect things to change, almost as if its a certainty.
Most importantly, as discussed with the previous tips above, you should try to understand HOW those things may change.The animals you’re tracking might suddenly run away from you. A storm may suddenly kick in, trapping you under a tree. It’s much easier to be patient when these things happen if you anticipate them ahead of time.
So, one of the best ways to increase your patience is to do your homework. Understand your gear, understand your animal subjects, and understand the environment you’re going into. That way, your patience will last much longer than that of someone who came unprepared.
Let’s be honest. If it’s not fun to do, it’s not worth doing at all. The same is true when it comes to wildlife photography. After all, you didn’t buy the Fuji XT1 just to be miserable using it, right? No, you want to capture some great photographs but have a fun time while doing that.
Having fun with wildlife photography isn’t always easy. As you can see from the tips above, it takes a bit of work to get it right. The challenges are plenty, and the rewards aren’t always guaranteed.
One piece of advice here is to imagine the positives. Yes, I know this sounds like another piece of ‘look on the bright side’ kind of advice. But the truth is, if you imagine things going right, then at least you know what you’re working hard for.
So, what does it look like when wildlife photography goes right? What does it look like when it’s really fun to do?
Well, wildlife photography is fun when you’re out in the wild with nothing holding you back. You can play around with how you frame your shots and try out new things you normally wouldn’t do. Better yet, you get to photograph some of nature’s most beautiful animals. While you do that, you might even have some fun interactions with your animal subjects up close!
Wildlife photography is anything but easy, and it’s not always comfortable. Still, it is an incredibly rewarding form of photography, which is why so many people do it. It’s definitely worth the effort you put into it.