Covid has been very hard on all of us, and if there is one profession that Covid has affected the most, it’s wildlife photography. Fortunately, the world is coming to terms with it, and doors are opening everywhere. If you have been itching to go on a wildlife safari, now is a perfect time. There’s no better way to connect with nature than photographing wild animals in their habitat. Take tigers, for instance, these ferocious beasts can devour any prey, yet their grace is unmatched. But unlike still photography, wildlife is undeniably wild, and you need to adapt to it.
Let me show you some tips and tricks that will not only teach you how to photograph the tiger but other wildlife as well.
Essential Wildlife Photography Gear
Let us start with the equipment that you are going to need while shooting wildlife. You can use any camera you like, but it should preferably have good ISO performance, and a fast burst mode, since you will be shooting in dynamic conditions. You will also be well off with a crop sensor as it increases the focal length to some extent.
Next, coming to lenses, a telephoto lens is a must for wildlife photographers. Although you can take a wide-angle lens with you as well, you will need the long-range telephoto. And don’t forget to put the teleconverter in your photography bag. This small piece of equipment can help you take quality images from very far away.
To get the best images, you might have to camp at some location. In that case, you cannot survive without a tripod. It will not only add stability to the camera but will also take the weight off your shoulders. However, you might prefer a gimbal if you want to maximise the flexibility of your setup. Now if you are in the car you can use a Monopod or a Bean Bag.
As you know, conditions can get pretty challenging in the wild, so always keep some rain covers for yourself and your equipment, especially your long lenses. Lastly, you will be shooting some fast-paced action there, so make sure you get fast memory cards.
Understanding the Animal
Now that you have packed your photography bag, you might be eager to go on that safari. But just wait a minute, and let us tell you the most overlooked, yet most important aspect of wildlife photography.
We talked about tigers earlier, and we talked about how graceful and majestic they are. Yet, we cannot forget they are beasts of the wild, and their behavior can be very unpredictable. So, the one aspect that you must not overlook is understanding the behavior of the animals.
If you have ever done portrait photography, you know that to capture the person’s personality and character, you need to spend some time to know them. The same principle holds for animals, especially tigers. They have been photographed for decades, yet the best images are those which capture their true spirit.
It is said that a photographer must know his camera inside out to capture those once in lifetime moments. There’s another thing for wildlife photographers, they must know as much as they can about the animal to capture those amazing fleeting moments.
Say you are shooting a tiger; you would not dare jump in front of it and say cheese. No, you will observe it from afar and see what it does, where it goes, and how it interacts with its pack. Undoubtedly, you will find the best images after this observation and practice.
Techniques for Photographing a Tiger
While approaching wildlife photography, especially tigers, you must know that it is mostly a waiting game. You cannot act like a machine-gun and shoot whatever. If you are not on a safari, you might have to settle down at a location near the animals and wait. Wait for them to move in that perfect lighting and that perfect pose.
Speaking of lighting, your technique will certainly be important but the lighting will truly make or break your photo. Ideally, you should not miss the golden hour, but you can’t play ball with the weather. So, the best chance is to be ready for anything and just do your best.
If you are shooting big cats, such as tigers, you will have to adapt to their movements. There are numerous techniques that you can use but the staples include eye contact. Wait till they get perfectly aligned with your lens and capture at the right moment.
Settings for Photographing Wildlife
The following settings are perfect for tigers, but they can be used for other wildlife as well. But keep in mind that there are no perfect settings; you will always have to adjust a little bit according to the conditions.
I would recommend either Shutter Priority, Aperture Mode or if you are more advance Manual Mode for shooting wildlife. Secondly, adjust the ISO according to the light, but choose the lowest setting for available light. Check Exposure Compensation.
If you do not want to fiddle around too much, you can use the priority modes; aperture for resting animals whereas shutter for moving animals.
You will also want to enable the Continuous Shooting mode as it will help you take photos quickly.
Getting the focus right is the first step, and isolating the animal is the next step. For this purpose, you can set your aperture to get a shallow depth of field. The smaller the number of the aperture, the more isolated the animal will be.
Personally, I use my camera in Manual mode, I just like to control everything on my camera.
One more advice, take always a test shot and check your histogram, light can change quickly.
There you have it, our guide on how to photograph a tiger. I hope that you will now be better equipped to get some masterpieces, and I also hope that you will shoot responsibly. Nobody would dare disturb a tiger but if you find yourself disturbing other wildlife just for that one photo, try to think of them as living beings as well. Be responsible and be creative; you can get amazing images without even disturbing them. So be creative!
Wildlife photo safaris are great for amateur, professional and non-photographer, it’s not about only taking a picture , it is also about observing the behaviour… If you wish to join me on my next workshop, please feel free to contact me.
A Little bit about me, why not?
My name is Dalida Innes, I am originally from France and I live in Sydney Australia. My true loves are wildlife, landscape, travel photography and everything between. I travel as often as I can and try to see the best of the world. I enjoy my encounters with nature, this often takes me to incredible places where I meet fantastic people.
Adventurous spirit with camera in hand, I try to capture moments of wonder and serenity.
I am self-taught have a sincere passion for all things photographic.
Capturing images for me is like freezing the time and by looking back over my photos, I can get back to this whenever I need. I try to get that precise moment that your eye doesn’t have time to remember.