elephant - Okavanga Delta - Africa

Composition is one of the most important aspects of photography and many wildlife and nature photographers struggle with it. When you look at a landscape or animal, you see its beauty in full form and colour.  However, it’s not easy to capture the beauty you see with the camera and this is where composition matters. You need to set up the picture carefully to ensure you get the right shot at the right time and that’s what makes the image interesting. Here are four tips to help with your composition in wildlife and nature photography.

#1 Consider the Lines

Lines might seem insignificant but they have a big impact on the feel and mood of the picture. Straight horizontal lines represent order and calm and can make the picture feel peaceful. A flat, plain horizon is a great example of this so if you use it as a reference point in your picture, the overall effect would be very calming. Vertical lines, on the other hand, represent majesty and power and can leave a person feeling a sense of awe. A great example of such a picture would be a photograph of eucalyptus trees from the ground. Consider the lines in your frame and use them to your own advantage the next time you are out photographing.

#2 Pull Back a Little

If you have a zoom lens, it’s tempting to zoom in and take a close-up, especially of animals you would never dare get close to. However, sometimes it’s a good idea to pull back and capture the animal in its environment. This can be done in many different ways to get many effects. You can showcase how large an elephant is or how small an insect is by including their environment in the picture. Pulling back allows you to put things into perspective and that adds depth to the picture.

#3 Catch the Eye

There are very few things that can be more compelling than direct eye contact with the animal. There’s always a raw, primitive intelligence in the gaze that can make for a stunning photograph. If you’re not sure about how you want to compose the shot and want to take a picture quickly, focus on the eye and click. If you’re lucky, you might get a picture of the animal looking back at you. You might also capture a shot of the animal gazing intently at its prey.

#4 Don’t Place the Subject in the Dead Centre

Most professional photographers will follow this rule and not place the subjects in the centre of the picture. Such pictures are often mundane and don’t show depth or contrast.  It’s safer to place the subject slightly off-centre, when framing your image.

If you have a passion for wildlife, nature or travel photography and would love to go on a small-number, professional photography adventure, please get in touch with Michael Snedic at WildNature Photo Expeditions. You can call him on 0408 941 965 or fill in this Contact Form and he will get back to you ASAP.

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