How would you like to go on safari with me?  Perhaps to the Kenyan Masai Mara or the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness!  Even though dream photography destinations are amazing, you generally don’t have to go very far from home to get amazing wildlife photography and I’ll tell you how.

Take advantage of your nearest zoo, local nature reserve, and even the wildlife that comes into your back yard.  The 10 essential tips we’re about to learn will leave people thinking you’ve been hiding in camouflage for a week in a far and distant land!  The truth is, the modern zoo goes to a lot of trouble to give its animals a natural habitat and the animals are used to people in close proximity.  Nature reserves provide animals protected habitat and they are also used to people passing through.  There are usually great hides to visit as well.  It’s all already set up for us…we’ve just got to get out there!

Strap your camera around your neck and let’s get cracking!

1: Choose a Natural Background

Unless manmade obstructions add to the composition and message of the photo, try your best not to include them. Sawdust, wood panels, cement, plastic…they all shout ‘Zoo Shot!’ at the top of their lungs.

NATURE RESERVE:  I visited a local nature reserve where there were a couple of small fox cubs playing around in a small enclosure. The walls were cement and there was a tacky painted background.  By adjusting my angle to include foliage in the background, it looks as though I took this shot in the woods.
NATURE RESERVE: I visited a local nature reserve where there were a couple of small fox cubs playing around in a small enclosure. The walls were cement and there was a tacky painted background. By adjusting my angle to include foliage in the background, it looks as though I took this shot in the woods.
ZOO:  This Siberian chipmunk was eating a nut on a very natural looking stick.  By using a shallow depth of field I blurred out parts of the image that would have made it look unnatural and kept the focus on the cute little critter.  There is no indication that I wasn't tucked away in the forest taking this shot.
ZOO: This Siberian chipmunk was eating a nut on a very natural looking stick. By using a shallow depth of field I blurred out parts of the image that would have made it look unnatural and kept the focus on the cute little critter. There is no indication that I wasn’t tucked away in the forest taking this shot.
ZOO:  The zoo put some hideously unnatural fake, bright aqua leaves in the common marmoset's habitat.
ZOO: The zoo put some hideously unnatural fake, bright aqua leaves in this common marmoset’s habitat.
By waiting a moment for the marmoset to move, I was able to frame the shot with a more natural background.
By waiting a moment for the marmoset to move, I was able to frame the shot with a more natural background.

2: Don’t Be Afraid to Crop

Building upon the first tip, if you can’t help but snap unwanted objects in your picture, don’t be afraid to crop them out.  You can get creative with the angle and composure of the crop too.

ZOO:  I couldn't seem to get a shot of the meerkat without the little wooden stumps in the way.
ZOO: I couldn’t seem to get a shot of the meerkat without the little wooden stumps in the way.
By cropping the stumps out, it focuses on the meerkat and not the fact that you snapped him in a confined area.
By cropping the stumps out, it focuses on the meerkat and not the fact that you snapped him in a confined area.

Click on page 2 below for tips 3 & 4!