Some forms of photography are much harder than others. That’s just a fact of the photography lifestyle. A perfect example of that is wildlife photography. Don’t get me wrong; anybody can start wildlife photography, but few can truly master it. Having a fantastic camera like the Fuji XT2 will be of great help, but as anyone will tell you, the camera is only a tool. The rest of it is up to you, the photographer.
So, how does someone like you become an expert at wildlife photography? Well, the most important thing you need is practice. Doing your research and reading articles like this one will help you a lot, but you have to be careful not to succumb to ‘analysis paralysis’. That’s when someone reads articles, watches videos, and overthinks wildlife photography before actually going out and trying it out for themselves.
Still, before you head on out, it’s best to equip yourself with some tried and tested tips for how to be better at wildlife photography. Learning tips that are specific to wildlife photography will significantly increase the speed at which you develop your skills. That’s because it’s a way for you to learn from other people instead of doing it the hard way all by yourself.
So, in this article, we’re going to look at the top five tips you need to start doing wildlife photography like an expert. In short, you’ll need to be familiar with your equipment, study your animal subjects, play around with wide shots and close-ups, practice a lot of patience, and above all, have fun!
Be Familiar With Your Equipment
As a photographer, you should be very familiar with your equipment, especially your Fuji XT2 camera. While that’s true for any kind of photography you’re doing, it’s especially true when you’re out in the wild. After all, you don’t want to miss out on a great photo opportunity just because you don’t know how to set your camera!
Of course, that familiarity doesn’t just happen overnight. Instead, you need to develop it over time with loads of practice. Work with what you have. Take pictures of flora and fauna around your home, or go to your neighbourhood park. Don’t be afraid to practice on human subjects instead of animals, too. Remember: photography skills are transferable. What that means is that even when you practice taking pictures in urban environments with human subjects, it’ll still help your wildlife photography.
Still, there’s much more to it than practice. You will also need to figure out what the Fuji XT2 can or can’t do. That means actually sitting down and doing your homework on your camera. You could read the user manual or even watch Youtube videos. Still, the best thing to do would be to communicate with other Fuji XT2 owners, especially those engaging in wildlife photography. That way, anything you learn from there will immediately be relevant to your wildlife photography with your XT2.
The better you are at handling your camera, the easier it will be for you to capture the kind of wildlife photography that you see online or in glossy magazines. Becoming an expert means mastering your gear!
Study Your Animal Subject(s)
Just as you should develop a familiarity with your equipment, you should also do the same with the animal subjects that you wish to capture. There’s a unique challenge here: each animal behaves uniquely. So, capturing photos of them doing something visually appealing will require a certain degree of understanding on your part.
No, you don’t need to become a world-class expert on the animal itself. You just need to know enough so that you can figure out when and where you can find them out in the wild. For instance, if you’re photographing birds, you’ll need more patience than usual. Firstly, it’s because they’re high up and move faster than you can. Second, even if you have a good vantage point with your Fuji XT2, you’ll never know if the species you’re interested in will even cross your path.
Birds are just one example. Larger animals are easier to spot, though they might be dangerous if they think you’re a threat to them. Tiny subjects that are closer to the ground, like worms and insects, are also tougher to spot. They might even be tough to get close enough to take a good photo.
So, as you can see, the challenges are unique to the wildlife subject that you’re trying to capture. To be successful, you’ll need to know a little bit about how those subjects behave. You can do that with the same steps as the previous tip. Read up on them, watch videos about them, and talk to other photographers who have interacted with them. More importantly, develop your own experience in trying to photograph those subjects.
Go Wide Or Go Close
There is endless beauty out there in nature, just waiting for you to capture it with your Fuji XT2. But sometimes, you need to see things from a different perspective to capture that beauty. Experts in wildlife photography know that to get great photographs, you sometimes have to play with extremes; either by getting an extremely wide shot, or an extreme closeup.
Wide shots with animal subjects in them can be quite breathtaking. That’s because they demonstrate to the viewer just how vast nature is. It’s even more impressive if you frame it correctly and capture the sky or other flora in the background.
Still, don’t be afraid to do the complete opposite. Despite what was mentioned earlier, many animal subjects are quite approachable. For those animals, you should try and experiment with extreme closeups. Think of it as portraiture photography, but out in the wild. What you’ll capture is a point of view that most people don’t get to see. Most people don’t get a chance to see the finer details of a wild animal’s face, for example. Because that perspective is so rare, people will find your photo to be even more captivating!
Whether you’re doing a wide shot or capturing an extreme close up, don’t forget about the importance of colour. With a wide shot, people get to see all the many beautiful colours that the environment has to offer. When it comes to a closeup, the unique colours of an animal subject’s face or fur will also be much more vibrant, especially with the Fuji XT2’s high-resolution.
Always Be Patient
Even with a fantastic camera like the Fuji XT2, the right skills, and the best angles, that’s not enough. When it comes to wildlife photography, one of the most critical skills an expert needs is patience. That’s right! The ability to sit around patiently while hoping to get that perfect snapshot; that’s what separates the amateurs from the experts.
Professional wildlife photographers are used to this. Some would camp out in the jungle for days, or hike up a high mountain, all just to capture pictures of their animal subjects. Do you need to go to such extremes? Maybe not. But what those professionals show us is that if you genuinely want to be good at wildlife photography, you’re going to have to develop a strong sense of patience.
Why is patience so important? It’s because you have very little control when it comes to wildlife photography. You see, photographing wildlife involves animal subjects which behave any way they want. They won’t respond to your instructions, let alone your hopes. Trying to influence animal subjects in any way may just end up spooking them away. On top of that, you’re not in control of the environment, either! The natural lighting, the weather, the way the wind blows; all of this is beyond your control. Often, they can be quite unpredictable as well.
Because of all that, you need to be exceptionally patient. Your photo opportunity will come sooner or later. You just have to hope that it comes sooner.
Remember To Have Fun
Experts at wildlife photography might seem like a serious bunch. Well, that’s because they are. Still, even professionals and experts remember that they need to have fun. After all, if you’re not having fun doing wildlife photography with your Fuji XT2, then what’s the point?
You can have fun with wildlife photography in many different ways. For starters, break your own rules! After a while, photographers tend to follow specific rules to keep the quality and style of their photos consistent. Wildlife photography gives you a chance to break those rules and try something new. Like the previous tip, have fun doing extreme closeups or taking wide, panoramic shots that you’ve never done before!
Another way to enjoy wildlife photography is in your interactions with the animal subjects. Yes, some animal subjects are indeed dangerous, and others are easily scared off. Still, there are animals which are very approachable. Get close to them! They’re probably as curious about you as you are of them. Don’t be afraid to capture some candid shots, like a selfie with those animals. Sometimes, those are the kinds of pictures that people love the most.