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Taking impressive photographs of animals can be a real challenge, especially if you’re shooting in the wild. For one, you can teach a cat to climb a tree but you can’t tell a tiger, "Hey you, please go stand beside that rock, show your claws and say cheese." This article offers some helpful tips to help you capture great photos of your furry, feathered, or scaly friends.

Snap quickly and often

Snap plenty of photos to go with the unpredictable movements of the animals. When you have the opportunity, get an exposure and focus lock on the animals and snap very quickly and often.

Their movements are random – they may move without warning, shake their heads, groom themselves, run away, fight with other animals, etc. You increase your chances of getting great pictures by taking extra photographs.

Use a fast shutter speed

You can capture movements at incredible speeds – animals attacking each other or flying away – with a fast shutter speed. For example, when you’re taking shots of flying birds, the shutter speed should be as fast as possible with the available light. A shutter speed of only 1/30 of a second is likely to ruin what could have been an incredible image, reducing the photo into a garbage-worthy blur.

Disable flash and camera sounds

Don’t use flash whenever possible to prevent animals from getting startled. In addition for the potential for red-eye, the flash could agitate an animal. Camera sounds may also scare animals. Agitated animals may run away or even worse, attack you. You don’t want that to happen, do you?

Use your zoom

Use your camera’s optical zoom in capturing details. This is a show of respect to the wildlife. If you want to take a close-up photo, rather than encroaching on the animal’s space and scaring it away, use your zoom in taking a shot from a safe distance.

Shoot at varying angles

Shooting at different angles can create amazing effects. Taking a picture of an animal at varying angles can modify the overall look of the shot. If you shoot downwards, the subject can appear diminutive.

When you point your lens upward, the subject appears to have ends to have an imposing stature. Even insects could appear larger than their actual size. Taking a photo at an animal’s eye-level shows the animal’s perception of its environment.

Get the focus right

Getting the focus right can be a big challenge considering today’s auto focus cameras. Since there are often vegetation, grass, and branches veiling the animals, your camera can focus on these things instead of the subject. So be very careful that your camera doesn’t focus on that branch of tree in front of the elephant.