Animals in Action

Photographing wildlife can be invigorating and rewarding and most nature photographers relish the opportunity to grab a unique image of their favorite animal. But what makes a photograph of an animal compelling?

Black bear close up eating berries in a tree.
Black bear close up eating berries in a tree.

As with most forms of photography, there are many variables that make for an interesting wildlife image. Its the combination of these variables that determines how appealing the image is to the viewer. While certain aspects are requirements for a good wildlife photo, such as, is the image sharp, is the composition pleasing to the eye, is there a nice background?  The question remains, what makes a compelling wildlife image?

A large bison jumping over a board walk in Yellowstone National Park.
A large bison jumping over a board walk in Yellowstone National Park.

To me the answer is simple… Animal Behavior. This can actually mean a number of different things depending on the subject and environment. It could mean action, like a predator chasing its prey. Or it could be a nurturing moment such as a mother feeding her young. It could even be a moment of emotion or a simple expression captured.

This sounds simple, but photographing wild animals is never simple or predictable. Often you have to be careful, always watching your back. Other times, the glimpse you get of an animal is just a fleeting moment that you have to do your best to capture. But once you have captured the sharp, contrast filled closeup, if time allows, take a closer look at the environment and the actions of your subject and combine them to make a compelling image.

A Red Shouldered Hawk enjoys a large snake, the spoils of his early morning hunt.
A Red Shouldered Hawk enjoys a large snake, the spoils of his early morning hunt.

Try to make the viewer look twice. Add an extra element such as the animal eating so the viewer looks to see what the meal is, catch the subject in the act of something abnormal such as the bison jumping, or grab a wider lens and add an interesting background element or patterns from the backgrounds or animals themselves. Just make sure you don’t forget the basics of creating a sharp image of your subject.  You will be surprised how these extra details add to the image.

Give it a shot and share your outcome with me!

 

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