Beginner's guides to digital SLR Photography

The easiest way to get better wildlife photos

I mention this a few times throughout these photography guides, but I’m devoting a whole page to it this time because it’s worth stressing and it’s also such an easy thing to do. I’m talking about just getting down (or up) to the subject’s eye level to take your shots.

cane toad

Lying on the ground in front of this Cane Toad allowed me to get a more interesting shot.

I’m amazed when I watch most people takes photos of small animals. Ninety percent of the time (that statistic is now on the internet so hey, it must be true!) people will walk up to the animal, point their camera down to it and take a shot of the top of its head. I must admit that I used to do that too. I’d be so happy to have an interesting critter in the viewfinder that I’d forget to make the photo interesting or attractive. Or in other words, I’d forget to think like a photographer.

Noisy Miner Rainbow Bee-eater Red-backed Fairy-wren

Most bird photos are taken from above or from below, with the result being a bunch of boring shots. Meeting them at their eye level, as I did in the third photo, provides a much more engaging shot. 1: Noisy Miner 2: Rainbow Bee-eater 3: Red-backed Fairy-wren.

As humans, we’re very familiar with certain ways of seeing animals. For example, we’re used to looking down on a pigeon walking along the ground, or looking up at one flying overhead. So it’s going to be much more difficult to make our images look fresh and original if we also photograph them from those angles.

Wolf Spider Wolf Spider

Even some of the smaller creatures can be photographed at eye level, as you’ll see when you compare these photos of Wolf Spiders. However you should obviously take special care when working with venomous creatures.

Dragonfly Dragonfly

I chose an eye-level angle for the first of these dragonfly photos but obviously I didn’t for the second one, because in the second shot I wanted the photo to be all about the colours in the wings. So as much as articles like this one offer suggestions, you should always make up your own mind at the time about how to take your best photo.

By getting down onto your knees or even lying down in front of an animal a few things happen:

Does this mean animal photos should only be taken from their eye level?

No, of course not. I certainly don’t want to be giving you rules on how you’re supposed to take all your shots. And, quite often the occasion will dictate that a much better angle can be used. The important thing is that you let the unique situation surrounding each shot decide which is the best angle instead of letting old habits make the choice for you.


Beginners’ guides to digital SLR photography


Before you start


The essential basics


Making sense of technical stuff

Photography words

Photography words explained


Sneaky stuff


Common problems and their solutions

Preying mantis

Taking things further


Photography at night

Other photography stuff

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