Tips for spotting and photographing wildlife
G’day, I’ve been a eco tour guide for the past 10 years, people are sometimes amazed how I’m able to spot and photograph wildlife when walking in natural areas. So I thought I’d share some of my top tips.
Find out where the wildlife is
I know that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised. Byron Bay for instance, doesn’t have any kangaroos, it has swamp wallabies. Find out what you can expect to see in the area you’re in and what kind of habitat they live in and good places to see them. What I usually do is, go to the local Visitor Information Centre or ask knowledgeable locals to point out where I might find particular wildlife. I did that when in Far North Queensland and found, 7 cassowaries, tree kangaroo and platypus.
2. Stop, look and listen
I go on several bush walks a week, I’m always amazed when other people rushed past us, while talking loudly, some people even play music. If you want to see wildlife, you have to walk as quiet as possible and slowly. I often tell my clients “I’m not saying you can’t talk, but keep it to a minimum and use a soft voice”, we also use a clicking signal to help get each others attention if we see something. We are also keeping our ears open to anything moving around and or calling. And if we hear or glimpse something we stop, look and listen to try and get a good view.
Life is about the journey not the destination
3. Use the right camera
Smart phones are handy, but are not great for wildlife photography, they don’t have enough zoom. DSLR cameras are awesome but you have to have the right lens, and it can get quite expensive to get all the right gear, which can get quite heavy when on a bush walk. I use a Canon SX60HS Powershot. Its a handy, light hybrid camera with an amazing zoom. My camera allows me to act quickly to photograph wildlife as they do often move around quickly.
My Canon SX60HS does have some draw backs, sometimes it focuses on strong lines (which means it sometimes focuses on the branch behind, instead of the animal). So I often start with a wide shot, then shoot, zoom, shoot zoom, until I have a nice close picture. If the animal flys or runs off, then at least I’ve got a wide shot, I might be able to crop later.
You should adapt the settings for the environment you’re in. I quite often shoot in low-light rainforest with, well camouflaged and shy wildlife. I set my camera in Program mode for cloudy and vivid colours and leave the ISO on auto. That helps with with low light situations and brings out the colour.
6. Go on a course
Enrol yourself in a photography course, I’ve been on several. It will give you invaluable opportunity to practice with your own camera with expert tuition. I’ve been on some at Byron Community College recently that have been really helpful.
Hopefully these tips will help on your next bush walk. Or you can out with a local guide like me, if you want to increase your odds of seeing and photographing wildlife Walks and Wildlife Tours. Enjoy your journey