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The Manual: How to Shoot Wildlife Photography

Find and frame animals perfectly with this wildlife photography primer.
compose perfect photocompose perfect photo

Shoot Like a Pro
Zoom Point-and-shoot: Choose a camera with an optical, not digital, zoom of at least 10X for crisp close-ups. Digital SLR: It’s not just about the focal length (but 80-400mm is a good bet). Also look for a lens with the largest aperture (lowest f/stop) you can afford. This lets you shoot at faster speeds in dim light.

Tripod Use the six- to 10-inch-long, flexible Gorillapod ($20-$50) to steady your camera on logs, trees, and rocks. Or try an adjustable trekking pole with a built-in camera support (such as Trek-Tech’s TrekPod Go! PRO; $230) for quick stability on the go.

Lighting Get the perfect shot by taking the same photo with several different ISOs (a measure of the camera’s light sensitivity). In dim light, try 400 to 800. Dial back to 100 to 200 in bright light.

Movement Pan your camera with the subject. Adjust shutter speed (1/30 to blur the surroundings and capture a sense of motion, 1/500 and up to stop the action), track the animal as it approaches, press the shutter gently, and continue panning for a few seconds after the shot.

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