How to Shoot Wildlife Photography and Stories

Lizard photoTaking wild animal pictures is a fun challenge. When you see an awesome animal picture, you wonder how on earth the photographer took that picture. Because animals can’t communicate with us and seldom see us, they are fearful and curious about us when humans approach. Though not a professional, I try my best as an amateur. The story behind each of the wild animal pictures is mainly for making you laugh and at the same time giving you a few photography tricks that may be useful to you one day.

Deer Family

deer family

deer mom and kid lounging and eating in my backyard

Knowing what the animal thinks can help you take wildlife pictures. A quiet morning after the night of a spring storm, I walked across my sliding glass door and vaguely saw something like a big stuffed toy in the backyard. At first I thought, “Oh lord, did someone put a new statue there?” But upon a closer look, I realized with great excitement, “A deer! A real, live, wild deer! And wait, what’s more? She has a baby deer along with her eating my yard!” Hurrying to get my iPhone, I captured a few pictures. Then I tried to shoot a video, but I was too far away, so I opened the sliding door. Now the deer mother noticed me, staring intensely, trying to see what I was going to do. I knew from experience that when animals got tense, they would run away, especially with kids to protect. That deer probably thought something like this, “Of course, humans again… What do you want? Come any closer, and I will run away with my baby.” So I stood right where I was and continued to shoot my video. Then quietly running to another room with a better, closer view, I captured the picture shown here. Though not very clear, that’s the best you can get from a not-so-great-iPhone 4 camera.

Dolphin Family

Dolphin mom and kid

Dolphin mom and kid swimming off Na Pali coast, Kauai

Capturing wild animal photography is hard, but it’s even harder when it comes to sea creatures. The sun, the waves, the long distance, and many other factors make taking a good animal picture very challenging but not impossible. Off Na Pali coast in Kauai, the captain of our catamaran ride spotted some bottlenose dolphins. He carefully maneuvered the boat closer to the pot, leaving a safe distance, and stopped the boat for people to watch and take pictures of those awesome creatures. Seeing the dolphins swimming in and out of water, I very much want to capture a few pictures to record the moment. Having a good camera is critical to shoot long distance animal photography. Though my camera is not in the best money can buy, it’s good for travelling. It’s a Nikon PIX S8000, small, simple, light, 10X zoom, HD video. Based on prior experience, I knew that the closer you zoom in, the harder it is to take a clear picture, so I zoomed in only around 50%. You can always zoom in the picture later you know.

Sea Turtle, Na Pali Coast Catemaran Ride Kauai, Hawaii

Sea Turtle, Na Pali Coast Catemaran Ride Kauai, Hawaii

On that sunny day on the sea, I couldn’t make out anything out of the camera view screen. I could only blindly shoot pictures in the direction of my vision while using auto focus for each picture. The dolphins only stayed for a short time before they got shy and left. However, I got a few pictures I was happy with. On that same day, I also got a few good shots of a sea turtle using this method.




Curious Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis at night using only flash

Sometimes the curiosity of a creature makes wildlife photography easy. Walking out to the car one night, I saw a slightly green thing on the ground. With my good eye sight and knowledge about insects, I figured out that that thing was a big praying mantis. Like a kid without any fear, I picked it up out of instinct. But unlike a kid, I didn’t poke or harm the insect. Gently putting it onto my hand, I took out my camera and set up the flash setting while the mantis got curious about my hand’s warmth and unusual texture. It stayed on my hand contently, allowing me to take as many pictures as I what. Shooting in the dark, my camera couldn’t auto or manual focus. Only the flash worked. Thus, the picture below is a little out of focus. When it was time to say goodbye, I leaned my hand onto another car, and gave the mantis a gentle push from the back, and it walked off my hand.

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September 10, 2011
By Shunie

Related Reading: Kauai Guide: Things to do in Kauai Poipu Area
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