May 18

Getting ‘Wild’: Top 10 Photography Tips by Shannon Wild

May 18, 2017

It’s always good to learn from the pros. So sit down and read these insightful photography tips. No wait, stay there, now turn to the left and hold that position… beautiful. Now that might work for humans, but apparently photographing wild animals is a little more tricky. They don’t quite listen to what you’re telling them to do or wait until you’re ready either. Shannon Wild, a judge for Africa’s Photographer of the Year, knows a thing or two about this. She’s an expert in capturing wild animals by adapting herself to their environment. She is more than willing to get down on the ground and work for that perfect shot.

Based on her experience and knowledge she has been inspired to write a 70-page e-book to share some of her tips with the world. She was kind enough to give a sneak-peek for our readers, giving those passionate novices out there the ability to develop their skills. So we wanted to find out what she thought goes into creating that perfectly ‘Wild’ shot. We hope you enjoy her top 10 tips:



“2. CAPTURE THE ACTION: Capturing wildlife behaviour can be some of the most rewarding and challenging images you’ll ever take. The higher your shutter speed, the better you’ll be able to capture movement sharply, such as this Verreaux's Sifaka running in Madagascar. The middle focus point on your camera is the most accurate, especially in low contrast or low-light situations. Use single-point focus, press the shutter half way and then recompose your shot to frame it how you want. If your subject is moving, switch to AF-C, which is Continuous Auto-Focus on Nikon (known as AI-Servo AF on Canon) and the camera will do it’s best to track the moving subject as you follow it. And don’t be afraid of Manual Focus, sometimes it’s best if your camera is struggling to find focus for you.” – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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“3. COMPOSITION: Composition is so important to a strong image. When getting used to shooting with composition in mind it can help to shoot slightly wider and experiment with cropping options after you’ve downloaded your shots. You will soon learn what is pleasing to the eye while looking through the viewfinder. Don’t forget to really ‘look’ at your whole shot when framing through the viewfinder. Utilizing ‘negative space’ can really add impact to an image, such as this Ostrich in the distance. I made sure to consider the ‘rule of thirds’ when composing this shot so that the Ostrich is ‘looking into’ the frame and if you put a grid (two vertical and two horizontal lines) over the image you will see how I’ve placed the Ostrich in the bottom right third of the image. Most cameras will let you set these lines to be visible in your viewfinder as you shoot to help you compose, a very handy tool when starting out.” – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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  1.  LIGHT:

“4. LIGHT: When it comes down to it photography is all about how to capture light. Early morning and late afternoon provides some of the most gorgeous light to shoot in and as you become more confident with your gear and understand how Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO all work together in harmony you’ll learn which settings are best for any given situation in low light such as dawn or dusk like this Springbok that I photographed after 7pm in South Africa in April, which is the middle of Autumn. When working in low light stability is also really important, I used a beanbag on an open car window to stabilize my long lens (Tamron 150-600mm) for this shot.” – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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“5. GET LOWER: Perspective is so important and I give more examples of why in my next tip, but one point I am constantly making is to ‘get lower’! If it’s safe to get down to the subjects perspective it will open up a whole new world to your wildlife photography. By laying down on the dirt to capture images of this Leopard Tortoise in Namibia I was able to get a tortoises perspective, as well as give a sense of its environment and nice separation of subject to background. If I had of shot this image from standing, or even crouching height the image would have been full of just a dirt background and nowhere near as visually engaging.” – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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  1.            THE DETAILS

"7. THE DETAILS: Not every wildlife image has to be a full body or even portrait. Remember to capture the details! I shot several different ‘close-up’ detail shots of this zebra, including the mane, the ears, a tight if it’s beautiful striped pattern and this one of its muzzle. This stands out as a favourite to me because of that one little piece of dry grass in the lips, which gives the image another point of interest." – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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  1.            ENVIRONMENTAL

"8. ENVIRONMENTAL: Variety is key and that includes capturing wildlife within its environment using wide-angle lenses such as this Giant Malagasy Chameleon crossing a road in the iconic Baobab Alley in Madagascar. You can probably tell I also laid down on the dirt for this low perspective and note the eye contact of the chameleon. Be sure to combine several of the tips I’ve outlined here to create really strong images." – @shannon__wild #RAtakeover #AfricasPhotographerOfTheYear __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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  1.            BLACK AND WHITE

  1.         SLOW SHUTTER

10. SLOW SHUTTER: Photography is supposed to be fun and creative. Using a slow shutter speed on a moving subject can give you some really interesting results. Not only that, if your light has faded to where you can no longer take a sharp, steady shot then switch to purposely shooting with a slow shutter and get creative! What have you got to lose? Not only are these Wildebeest in Kenya moving but I also moved the camera to ‘track’ with them as I shot to emphasis the motion blur on the background. I’ve used a shutter of 1/8 second here and tried to keep the viewfinder on the front Wildebeest as I pressed the shutter. It will likely take several shots to get one that aesthetically works so be patient and keep trying … and remember … it’s supposed to be FUN! __________ #rhinoafrica #rhinogram #wildlifephotography #safariphoto #safari #safariphotography #travelgoals #africa #travel #wildlife #wild #photographer #photography #photofeature #phototips #apoty #photographytips #photographytipsandtricks

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For more incredible tips, buy her 70-page Wildlife Photography How-To eBook.

To channel Shannon’s photography powers, visit her jewelry line to for that fashionista edge or visit her website here.

Image: Shannon Wild


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About the author 

Jennifer Southwell

Jennifer is happiest when life is filled with good gin, strong coffee and great adventure. She makes leather bags and rock climbs for fun and relishes in life's little peculiarities. She is passionate about Africa and its animals and has been lucky enough to have been to the most amazing safari destinations such as Moremi, Okavango and Kalahari in Botswana as well as Kafue and South Luangwa in Zambia and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Give her a gin and tonic in the heart of the bush and she will reach maximum level bliss.

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