You don't have to travel far to shoot decent wildlife photos. Other than spending some time practicing at the zoo or with your pets, why not take your camera to a nearby park or hiking trail? Birds and squirrels and lizards and the like may not be as charismatic as zebras or pandas, but they make for interesting subjects all the same. Like the pigeon I snapped on a recent trip to San Francisco (above), or the Western scrub jay that I photographed in a friend's backyard (below).
Of course the best thing is just to practice. Knowing how your camera works, and how to adjust the settings without too much attention, will allow you to put your effort on framing a great in-focus photo instead of fiddling with the ISO or aperture. But if you're looking for some more specific tips, there's some good stuff in a new article at Mother Nature Network:
- Go to parks that have plenty of trees, shrubs and walking trails. Places with ponds and lakes are especially ideal. These are areas where there is likely to be a larger diversity of wildlife, since there are more nooks and crannies to hide, hunt, nest and den.
- Go early in the morning or in the early evening just before dusk. The benefits of this include more active wildlife, better light, and best of all, fewer people.
- Go on weekdays. Weekends are prime time for humans to enjoy a city park so try as much as you can to photograph on weekdays when there are fewer people and the animals are more abundant and relaxed.
- Walk the same trails every day. Not only do you get familiar with the trails, and can spot any new animal activity more easily, but you never know what you're going to see in the same locations especially as the seasons change. You'll learn more about the seasonal patterns, like mating, nesting, denning and migration, which will make it easier to plan for when to go out for certain types of shots of certain species.
There's lots more, including the critical reminder not to harass wildlife. Look, but do not touch.
If you have any tips of your own, be sure to drop them in the comments.