Canon 1DX / 600mm 1.4X / 1/3200 @ F/5.6 / Common Babbler

Composition Tips for Wildlife Photography – Part II

Continued from Composition Tips for Wildlife Photography – Part I

Canon 7D Mark II / 600mm 1.4X / 1/1000 @ F/11 / Jungle Babbler

Canon 7D Mark II / 600mm 1.4X / 1/1000 @ F/11 / Jungle Babbler

Embrace the tight composition – After reading the last tip, this may seem contradictory. Tight compositions do not always work, though they are well-suited for shooting bird or wildlife behavior and portraits. They not only allow the viewer to get an intimate look at the subject, but they also add a human touch. In the image above, my goal was to direct the viewer’s attention to the two birds’ close interaction; therefore, I composed a frame-filling scene by getting close to the busy birds.

 Canon 1DX / 600mm 1.4X / 1/3200 @ F/5.6 / Common Babbler

Canon 1DX / 600mm 1.4X / 1/3200 @ F/5.6 / Common Babbler

Avoid distracting backgrounds – A distracting background can make your subject superfluous in the context of the whole frame. For example, in the image above, the birds’ interaction and feeding action stands out against a clean background rather than compete with it. This entails moving around, getting high or low, and finding uncluttered space. Frame the bird and pay close attention to the background.

Canon 1DX / 600mm 1.4X / 1/1600 @ F/5.6 / Black Buck

Canon 1DX / 600mm 1.4X / 1/1600 @ F/5.6 / Black Buck

Avoid chopping off body parts – Either by design or in post-processing, body parts are cut off when you are too close to your subject or if the images are poorly cropped. This leaves your subject looking unattractive and handicapped. Here is an important point… we often come across a situation where the animal is partially hidden behind foliage, making the lower part of the body invisible. Invariably, you forget and lose track of their feet while shooting, cutting out this essential element. In the image above, I saw the animal behind the foliage and framed it to ensure I had enough space at the bottom to let the viewer sense the location of its feet.

To be continued… Composition Tips for Wildlife Photography – Part III

About Author Gaurav Mittal

Gaurav Mittal is a professional bird photographer and a blogger who grew up with a passion for nature and wildlife in his native birthplace of New Delhi, India. Gaurav migrated to the U.S. at the age of fifteen. After completing his college, he pursued a career in tax consulting in the Washington D.C. area. It was, however the love for the birds that eventually brought the focus back in his life and a determination to follow his heart, to be a bird photographer. Gaurav’s passion for photographing birds began in 2011 in Bosque Del Apache, New Mexico where observing the Sandhill Cranes brought a sense of harmony and a new vision to him. A moment he captured and fondly calls, “Kissed in The Mist” left him with a vision to continue on further and explore and learn about birds and how he can present their beauty through photography. His desire to be a top class bird photographer has led him to places such as Bharatpur, Bosque, Alaska, New York, Costa Rica and Florida.

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