Wildlife Photography – The Basics


A Field Guide at Bushmans Kloof, Gerhard Thom gives us the tips on how to take great wildlife photos. 


28th June 2013

Bushmans Kloof

 Wildlife Photography Basics

As a Field Guide at Bushmans Kloof, Gerhard Thom spends a lot of time interacting with the local wildlife. Here, he shares his top 5 basic tips to capture these incredible moments, don’t worry it’s not just for snakes!

1. Know your equipment
Get to know your camera and its capabilities. Wildlife photography only gives you a couple of seconds, so you need to know your settings.

2. Know your subject
Studying your subject and its behaviour will put you at the right place at the right time.

3. Composition
Your subject needs to be positioned in your frame. Remember the rule of thirds and avoid putting your subject in the centre.

4. Work with light
Light can be very harsh especially at midday. Try to avoid taking photos at midday when the sun is at its brightest. The best time to take your photos is early morning or late afternoon.

5. Patience
Wildlife photography is all about patience. Don’t give up.

6. Eye contact
Eye contact gives life to your subject. Get down to an eye level perspective of your subject.

Wildlife Photography Tips 

How I took this photo of a Boomslang

A Boomslang (tree snake) is a tree dwelling, venomous snake. Its colour may vary from leaf-green, bright green or black with dark grey, black-edged belly scales or brick-red to rust-red with an orange-pink belly. They are usually very shy and seldom bite but taking a good photograph of these snakes can be difficult. This particular snake was probably waiting for something to crawl or fly by when I spotted him. To get close to snakes is difficult without scaring them; you need to know how close the snake will let you come to him. (Be careful, study and know your subject).

Eye contact was key in this photo; it makes a huge difference to the end result. For eye contact with snakes you need to either get down on your stomach or stand on your toes to get the lens parallel with its eyes. You need to show the snake from the same perspective as its prey will see it.

For this photo, I used a macro lens for the sharpest results. The light helped me a lot and because there was some shade in the tree, I had to adjust the ISO (measures the light sensitivity to the image sensor) and shutter speed (controls the length of time the camera’s shutter is open), which is why it is important to know your equipment. The snake is also slightly off-centre and not right in the middle.

Enjoy your wildlife photography adventures!

See more incredible wildlife pictures from the Field Guides at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat here.


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