Tips For Better Wildlife Shots First, it’s not about the lens! A long lens is only a tool and a tool is only useful if you know the basics. It alone does not guarantee you’ll get great wildlife shots. Use whatever lens you have and practice, practice, practice. 1. Practice. I recommend you practice with animals that tolerate your presence. This could be at a neighborhood park where the ducks or other birds hang out. You can even use the zoo, if you have one nearby. You can use deer that are habituated to your neighborhood or find other animals that are used to your presence. Even prairie dogs might be habituated to humans. 2. Be aware of your background. Make sure the background is not distracting, but instead adds to the image. A fantastic subject against a distracting background creates a confusing image. Take that same subject and put it against a clean background and it’s a winning shot. How do you get a nice background? Wait for the subject to move to where the background is neutral or dark. If you want to get good wildlife shots, patience is essential.Don’t be afraid to move slightly to get the clean background you are looking for to create that perfect image. Think outside the box here. Get on your belly, stand on a ladder or move one direction or the other. When a good subject and background line up, get the shot. 3. Avoid animals overlapping or hitting the edge of a frame. Don’t let the subject touch the edge of your frame. Leave space for the viewer to get the feeling that there is room for the animal to keep walking or moving out of the photo. Don’t let animals overlap each other. Practice your patience and give the animals time to move apart. Will it always happen? No. But when it does, you’ll be super happy with the results and forget about the time spent waiting. For example, these pelicans were swimming next to each other for a quite a while. I waited for them to separate to capture the photo. Think it helps? 4. Keep the angle of the head in mind. You spot an animal. You get excited. You shoot away. That’s ok. Be aware that a great photograph is never made from a butt shot. Get the animal’s head towards you, preferably at 45-90 degree angle. This allows for a connection to the lens and photographer and in the end, the viewer. If the animal turns to walk away, put the camera down and enjoy the beauty of the scene in front of you. I promise you’ll be happy with the results if you practice your patience and only take photos when the animal is looking at you. Who wants to see a butt photo? 5. The eyes are where it’s at with an animal. You need to get that eye in focus and preferably, looking at you or in your direction. It helps us connect to the animal and really feel its presence in a photograph. Take a few shots and see which ones you relate to better. I guarantee it will be ones where the eye is clear and looking forwards. Got a tip to add to the mix? Did I miss anything? Have a question? Ask away!