Orange-blue iguana at the Wakodahatchee wetlands in Delray Beach, Florida

​Animals – Capturing fauna
is almost always incredibly exciting

Animals are great models for photographers in general but obviously not all species are "easy to work with"​. Even though taking photos of animals can be exciting and lots of fun, the result will depend most of the time on the willingness of the model to cooperate. No different than shooting people. Cats and dogs are great models, ideal for home “snap-shots”, no great preparation necessary. Dogs are easier to "shoot" since most of them listen to basic commands and more or less "work with the photographer". Cats are a bit more difficult “to work with”, since they don't listen but rather ignore and never really cooperate. You have to know cats well to be able to anticipate their behavior, in order to achieve great results. I've tried shooting other house pets, like birds, bunnies and hamster, but they just never really excite me much. Animals in zoos parks are great models, they are used to people and especially monkeys always deliver some form of action and always put up a great show. Insects are also cool to shoot, especially with a macro lens.       

Patience is key when shooting animals
A pond or a little lake will give you also lots of great motives when it comes to animal photography. Lots of little critters can be found around a pond. But don’t get too eagerly, patience is key in this kind of shoot. Slow motions, no noise – even putting the shutter on “quiet mode” would be a good idea. A good quality tele lens or a macro lens, if you're going for detail, are obviously necessary to end up with nice shots of little crawling bugs, harvesting bees, or resting dragon flies. Even birds occasionally come to the water’s edge for a quick bath. Cool shots can be taken of a scene like that. Freeze the action! Once you know the drill and got used to moving in on animals, you will capture great moments and shine with incredible shots. A little advise: use a lower aperture and play with the light and the background.

The eyes of animals bring the magic into your images
Real wildlife photography happens where real wild life is. Unfortunately not everyone who loves to take pictures of animals in their original habitat will have the opportunity to do so. To meet these beautiful and majestically animals out there somewhere in the wilderness, wherever this might be, is not even close to comparable with a ticket to Disneyland when it comes to money. But even if money is not the issue, not everyone is cut out for a safari with nights in a tent or in a lodge, let's face it. I am not a big fan of mosquitos and spiders and snakes and many more. Therefore also on my bucket list the safari shooting in Africa is still unchecked.

Nevertheless I love to see elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos and monkeys of all kinds and sizes now and then through the finder of my NIKON. And so I make a trip to a zoo once in a while. The huge advantage there is, that all the animals I would like to see and photograph are in walking distance and always there. No need to ride in a Jeep for hours and not knowing if I will be lucky enough to make use of my photo equipment. Just saying. Of course to see real wild animals through your finder is undoubtedly the ultimate thrill for any photographer, but to practice your animal photography the zoo seems a perfect location to me. By the way: my best shots in a zoo are almost always of primates. I just love the expressions of Gorillas and chimpanzees for example. They never disappoint and always deliver some action my NIKON seems to love.

Another quick piece of advice: make sure when you photograph animals that you focus on the eyes. The sharp eyes of an animal will bring the magic into your image. Oh and one more thing which might be helpful to know, when shooting animals behind fences, use a long-range tele lens and a low aperture with focus on the animal’s head obviously. The fence will become very soft and almost disappears.

GALLERY

  1. German Shepherd "Grace" in Red Rock Mountains in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
  2. Little mouse in sawdust
  3. Zebra at the zoo Hellbrunn in Salzburg, Austria
  4. White storks of Fagagna, Italy
  5. Little squirrel
  6. Giraffe at the safari park in Palm Beach, Florida, USA
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