Wildlife Photography Tips & Tutorials: The Complete Guide

Wildlife photography is an incredibly popular pastime that gets you outdoors and amongst the natural world. It’s also one of the more difficult genres of photography, and that’s where Nature TTL is here to help with a wealth of wildlife photography tutorials.

We have hundreds of tutorials on our website that are completely free for you to read! They’re written by professional wildlife photographers from around the world, and cover everything you could possibly ask about this addictive pursuit.

We’re calling this The Complete Guide to Wildlife Photography, because we really have covered everything! Take a look at the following wildlife photography tutorials to get started and develop your skillset today.

What is wildlife photography?

Firstly, what actually is wildlife photography? It’s a genre of photography that captures animals living in the wild. Sometimes this involves human-wildlife conflicts, which is a particularly “hot” area of conservation photography right now.

wildlife photography
Photo: Stanislav Duben/Shutterstock.com

What it doesn’t involve is domesticated animals, but documentary photography following wild animals that have been taken captive would fall under the remit of wildlife photography.

Wildlife photography has a broad spectrum. Anything that documents the natural world and the challenges it faces falls into this genre.

So how do you do it well? Read on…

Recommended wildlife photography tutorials

These tutorials should form a cornerstone for your reading selection. They cover some of the most sought-after techniques and subjects, and will give a really solid baseline that you can work from.

1. How to Photograph Birds in Flight

One of the more popular targets for wildlife photographers, capturing photos of birds in flight is challenging.

The most tricky part of this is achieving proper focus. Birds move fast and, understandably, change their positioning relative to your plane of focus rapidly.

Understanding how to utilise different focus modes and readily frame up your subject is paramount to a good bird in flight image.

Discover the technique behind photographing birds in flight.

wildlife photography bird in flight

2. The Most Common Mistakes in Wildlife Photography

If you’re relatively new to wildlife photography, it’s important to learn the mistakes that you should’t make.

Instead of struggling with trial and error, learn from those that have already gone through it! This wildlife photography tutorial will show you exactly what you should not do when taking photos of animals.

Learn the mistakes to avoid in your wildlife photos.

3. How to Create a Beautiful Bokeh

We’ve all seen those amazing wildlife photos with beautifully soft, out-of-focus backgrounds. This is known as the bokeh of the image, and describes the look of the background.

Capturing a good, attractive bokeh is relatively simple. There are a number of different factors that affect how the bokeh looks, and this guide will show you exactly how to do it best.

Get dreamy bokehs in the background of your wildlife photos.


4. How to Photograph Wildlife in Low Light

Most animals come out at dawn and dusk. As well as this, many live in woodlands and areas of shade.

Capturing good photos in low light is tricky, and is one of the reasons that wildlife photography is so difficult. After all, light makes or breaks a picture.

This guide will show you how best to optimise your settings and make the most of the light available to you.

wildlife photography

5. The best aperture to use in a wildlife photo

Surely you should just shoot completely wide open, right? Wrong! That isn’t always the best choice, and you’ll want to know when you should be using a more narrow aperture.

Letting in the maximum amount of light possible isn’t always the way to do things.

6. Wildlife photography tips for beginners

This wildlife photography tutorial is one of the first you should read as a new photographer.

There are plenty of tips here that will help you to jump-start your wildlife photography and skip a few “levels” of experience.

Learning how to take sharper photos

Do you find that your wildlife photos aren’t sharp enough? Well, you’re not alone. Here are a number of tutorials that cover a lot of the issues you may be running into with regards to image sharpness. Don’t worry – things will be crystal clear in no time!0

1. The Real Reasons Your Photos Aren’t Sharp

Capturing sharp photos is important in all genres of photography, but in wildlife photography that is particularly challenging.

Whilst portrait photographers have the ability to tell their models to keep still, animals rarely adhere to such instructions.

This wildlife photography tutorial looks at the most common mistakes and reasons that render your photos not as sharp as they could be.

2. How to Get Sharper Photos Without Expensive Lenses

Most of us don’t have the pleasure of shooting with expensive £10,000 lenses. Does that mean that you are doomed to achieve mediocre images? Not at all!

Whilst budget lenses typically have inferior optics, in particular with longer lenses, you can still achieve reasonably sharp images.

This guide shows you how to get the best of your equipment.


3. The Secret to Getting Sharp Photographs

There are a number of best practices that you should be employing when taking wildlife photos.

This tutorial will show you all of the best techniques to use when taking a wildlife photo.

4. Back Button Focus: When and Why to Use It

Have you heard of back button focus? This advanced technique involves a simple reconfiguration of your camera’s button layout.

Once done, you will be separating the focusing action from the shutter button. Working the shutter independently from the focus is a great way of capturing action photos with better focus.

Learn all about the technique and how best to use it in this wildlife photography guide.

back button focus

Using Light to Improve Your Wildlife Photography

Once you’re happy with your results in general, it’s probably time to step it up a gear. One of the best things you can do to improve your images is learn how to harness both natural and artificial light to really ramp up your style and creativity.

If you look at any great wildlife image, it is probably making use of light in a more unusual way. These wildlife photography tutorials will show you how to become a master of lighting!

1. Choosing the Best Lighting for Wildlife Photos

Light comes in various forms, depending on the position of its source. Learning how this will affect your images, and what types of light to use, is important for creating a stunning shot.

Ultimately, you will learn how to be more creative and think beyond taking a simple portrait shot of an animal. Learn how to take your photos to the next level.

This wildlife photography article looks at all the different types of light that you can harness in your work.

2. Backlighting in Wildlife Photography: Creative Use of Light

Penned by a real master of lighting in wildlife photos, this article is a must-read.

Backlighting is a very popular style of lighting used in all genres of photography, but it is particularly affective in wildlife photography.

With a beautifully golden rim-lighting around your subject, the shot takes on a magical atmosphere. However, it is a particularly challenging form to work with.

This wildlife photography tutorial will show you how to spot opportunities to backlight your photos naturally, and show you how to do it best.

wildlife photography tutorials
Photo: Kevin Morgans

3. A Guide to Using Flash with Wildlife

Using flash is a very advanced technique in wildlife photography. Learning how to do this properly is extremely important, including when not to use it.

Flash can provide the necessary fill-light to remove ugly shadows and add a subtle, but natural-looking, punch to your photos.

Also, it can be used effectively at night – in some situations – to provide a view of the nocturnal world.

Learn how to change things up with artificial light in your wildlife photos.

4. Does Flash Photography Harm Animals?

Following straight up from the previous article, this piece looks at the ethics behind flash photography with wildlife.

Instead of jumping to conclusions, we look at the science and see what evidence there is to show whether or not flash is harmful to wildlife.

For anyone using flash with wildlife, or those who are completely opposed to it, this is both an interesting and necessary read.

Getting Creative in Wildlife Photos

Thinking outside the box with regards to your photo’s composition and framing is a great way to stand out from the crowd. But true creativity can be difficult, and you need to get into the right mindset. These wildlife photography tutorials look at some ways you can do that.

9 Creative Ways to Drastically Improve Your Wildlife Photos

Similarly to harnessing different styles of light, being creative in your photos will set your work apart from the rest.

There are plenty of wildlife photos out there on the internet, many of which are perfectly lovely. However, it is the truly creative shots that stand out and get noticed.

This guide will provide you with a foundation of ideas to draw inspiration from, hopefully setting you on the path to more creative wildlife photography.

2. How to Get Rain & Snow Streaks

The rain doesn’t necessarily mean your shoot is doomed. Working with precipitation in your wildlife shots is a good way to create mood and create something different.

Using a slower shutter speed, amongst other techniques, will help you to record the weather on camera.

Adding drama to your image is easy when you harness the bad weather conditions!

wildlife in the rain
Photo: Peter Cairns

3. Choosing the Best Foreground and Background

Do you ever pay much attention to your background, let alone your foreground?

You should be thinking about all elements of your photo, and not just what the focus is locked onto.

This wildlife photography tutorial looks at how you can use your background and foreground to your benefit, and develop all parts of the image.

4. 7 Advanced Techniques to Improve Your Wildlife Photos

Moving away from the basics, this tutorial looks at the techniques you should employ once you have got to grips with wildlife photography.

For the more experienced shooters, both amateur and professional, this guide will help you to break out of the mould and start developing your own style.

Choosing the right equipment for wildlife photography

Perhaps more than with other genres, the gear you are using does play a part in the type of images you are able to capture. It’s not a limiting factor, but it can open doors a little wider to you if you’re armed with the right equipment.

1. What’s the Best Lens for Wildlife Photography?

Photographers are constantly debating what the best lenses are for their work, and it is of course very subjective.

However, there are a number of lenses that are – on the whole – the best choices for wildlife photography.

This guide will show you what to look for in a lens, and make some very good suggestions as to what you should be going for next.

wildlife photography
Photo: WildMedia/Shutterstock.com

2. The Best Camera for Wildlife Photography

Even more controversial than lens choice is the camera body. Photographers can get very precious over their choice of camera brand, but ultimately it is what you do with the gear that matters.

Some brands have better features on their cameras that may make them more attractive to wildlife photographers.

This tutorial looks at a number of cameras on the market, across all price ranges, and will help you to make your next purchase.

3. Choosing Your First Telephoto Lens

Never owned a zoom or telephoto lens before? Things are very confusing – what focal length should you go for, zoom or prime, and what brand?

This tutorial will decode the mystery around telephoto lenses and help you to make the right choice for your first purchase.

Essential reading for anyone yet to pick up a telephoto!

Making Money from Your Wildlife Photos

By now you are well on your way to taking truly great wildlife photos! So it’s about time you got rewarded for it, right?

Making money from your wildlife photos is a great way to fund your hobby and potentially turn things into a career choice!

1. Breaking Into Business – How to Make Money from Nature Photos

Our most popular digital download, this eBook looks in-depth at the world of business for wildlife and nature photographers.

Learn from a photographer with 13 years of experience selling photos. This is a great way to fast-track your business and learn what to do – and what to not do.

4 Ways to Become a Professional Wildlife Photographer

There are a number of ways that a wildlife photographer can earn a living.

This article looks at the different ways and revenue streams that you should consider exploiting to put food on the table.

This is, of course, covered in our Breaking Into Business eBook in more depth.

In conclusion

We have plenty more wildlife photography tutorials on Nature TTL. This is just a taster of some of our most popular articles, but there is plenty more! Make sure that you subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get our latest content sent straight to you.

For now, good luck! Let us know in the comments if there is anything troubling you and your photography, and we’ll point you in the right direction.

wildlife photography tutorials

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