Blog Gallery: 9 Examples Of Wildlife Photography

June 2020

I don't know about you, but I love wildlife. Seeing beautiful animals in the wild and observing their behavior is one of my favorite pastimes. My love of wildlife came long before I knew anything about photography, so of course as I became a photographer, it was natural that one of my most sought after subjects would be wild animals in their natural habitat, making images of wildlife a large part of my collection.

Of course everyone has already seen numerous images of animals, so it is the challange of a wildlife photographer to capture something new and unique, something that can capture the eye of the viewer and keep them engaged, asking questions and looking for more.

In this in-depth guide, I will share 9 photographs of wildlife. For each image, I will give an overview of the shot, the subject, and what about the image makes it compelling (in contrast to a mundane snapshot). By reviewing these wildlife photography examples and reading the explanations, you will start to understand what is fine art wildlife photography and how wildlife photographers create engaging images of wild animals.

This will help you to discern if the products for sale in a photogrpahy gallery are truly fine art worthy of display on your wall, or if you just want to use the photography tips below to improve your own image making.

I have also provided links to several non-profit organizations involved in protecting many of these animals through wildlife conservation. It is important that we ensure their survival, and donating to these groups is one of the best ways to help out. Especially now, with tourism almost non-existant due to travel restrictions, these organizations are really struggling and need your help, so please vist and consider making a donation.

Or better yet, plan a trip and visit them in person once we are all able to travel again! Send me an email, and I'll give you the inside scoop for free on visiting any country where I have been.

Note my favorite images are for sale as luxury fine art prints (sublimated aluminum metal and Lumachrome acrylic wall art) on my online photography gallery that you can access here.

You can also purchase directly from this page by clicking the 'Prints Available' link under the available images.

giraffe photo, unique image, giraffe center, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, giraffe eye, image of giraffe, photo

giraffe eye to eye

The first wildlife image I want to share is of a Rothschild Giraffe taken at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi, Kenya, next to the famous Giraffe Manor Hotel (the giraffes are the same as they walk back and forth from the hotel to the center).

At the center, you can buy food and feed these docile giants. I made this image by feeding the giraffe with my left hand while holding the camera (with functions preset) in my right. It only took about 500 tries, but the giraffe and I both had a good time! Patience is key when photographing wildlife, as animals will not always do what you want them to do to get the perfect shot.

I hope you find this photograph unique and captivating. It is a different way to look at a giraffe, and I wanted to share the experience of being eye to eye with this beautiful animal. Changing our poit of view is an excellent way for a photographer to take a 'common' subject like a giraffe, and turn it into a compelling image.

Although you cannot see the entire giraffe, you know what it is from the pattern in the background. Keep in mind the length of the neck, so the eye is about 6 ft in front of the body, allowing for sharp focus on the eye and somewhat out of focus background of the body. Selective focus allows the photographer to draw the viewer's attention to a desired subject, in this case the eye of the giraffe. The background is clean and adds to the overall image by helping the viewer understand what they are looking at, even if it takes a second or two to figure it out.

Another technique used in this photograph is composing the image using the rule of thirds, where the eye is placed in the left 1/3 of the image instead of in the middle. This helps the eye wander through the image and keeps the viewer engaged.

elephant, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa, elephant eye, wildlife photography, close up, eye to eye, photo

elephant eye to eye

The second image in this series is another 'eye to eye' shot, this time of a young African elephant in Kenya. The subject is more obvious in this image, in part because the elephant's neck isn't as long! Again, I used the rule of thirds composition to place the eye in the right 1/3 of the image, helping the viewer stay engaged by moving the eye through the photograph from right to left, then back to the eye on the right.

One reputable NGO supporting elephant conservation in Kenya worth a visit is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, where they have a nursery of orphaned baby elephants that you can visit in Nairobi. Watching baby elephants play around for an hour is definately worth the time and the small entrance fee, so check it out!

leopard, AfriCat Foundation, Namibia, Africa, big cat conservation, image of leopard, photo

image of leopard 1

We spent a full day looking for one of the elusive leopards that live in the AfriCat Foundation park, which works on the conservation of big cats in Namibia.

These animals hunt and feed themselves, even though they are in a protected area. They do have radio collars, so to find them you drive around with a radio receiver, and when you are close and pointing the receiver in the right direction, it will beep. However, leopards are still very difficult to find, even when you are staring straight at them as you can see above!

In this third image, even though the leopard is partly hidden, the eyes are visible and in focus. This is critical when photographing wildlife, as it helps create a connection between the viewer and the subject. The play of light and shadow also helps to create some mystery around what you are seeing, which emphasizes the fact that the leopard is hidden and difficult to see, making it something special to make eye contact with one.

Bhutan, rhesus macaque, monkey, portrait, wildlife, Dochula Pass, telephoto, Asia, monkey photo, image of monkey, photo

image of monkey

The fourth image is of a monkey that was of one of a group of rhesus macaques on the side of the road near Dochula Pass (+/- 10,000' elevation) in Bhutan on a recent trip to Asia. They were at the edge of the jungle looking for food. Most were plain brown, but this one had a lovely red color around the eyes that paired well with the green of the jungle behind. Always look for color to make images more interesting; the other monkeys with plain brown faces were not as captivating.

Fortunately I had my super telephoto lens with me (which I almost didn't bring on the trip as it is so big and heavy), so I was able to get in tight to make a nice portrait against the green of the forrest behind. This one shot made carrying that big lens worthwhile!

Even though I was more than 20' away, I was able to get in this close and tight on the monkey's face optically (no digital cropping) by using a 200-500 mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter on a crop frame sensor camera. This type of equipment is quite common and useful while taking wildlife photos where the subject will either not let you get closer or where the subject is dangerous to approach.

Always keep a respectful distance to wildlife for their sake and yours!

giraffe, safari, Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, Africa, wildlife photography, image of giraffe, photo

image of giraffe

The fifth wildlife image is a portrait of a giraffe in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, which is managed by the government's Uganda Wildlife Authority. Giraffe are quite docile and, if not spooked, can be approached to a reasonably close distance for nice close up shots.

Portraits are a nice way to present wildlife photography, as they give a sense of intimacy, similar to portraits of people. Getting close and 'filling the frame' with the subject are important in all types of photography, including when taking images of wildlife. The out of focus background also helps to highlight the subject of the giraffe's face, making the viewer instantly understand what is the star of the show.

One good wildlife conservation organization in Uganda is the Rhino Fund Uganda, where they are working to rebuild the population of wild rhinos in Uganda.

Uganda, bird, kingfisher, Nile River, Murchison Falls National Park, Africa, wildlife, bird image, image of kingfisher, photo

image of kingfisher

I am not normally a bird photographer, as good images of birds are quite difficult to take. Birds are small, skittish, and fast moving, so the photography of birds actually requires a very specialized set of equipment and skills. However, if a bird is brave enough and still enough for me to take an image of opportunity, then I will certainly take it.

This sixth image is such a case, as I was in a boat on Lake Mutanda in Uganda moving around and looking for opportunities to film birds and other wildlife on the lake. This pied kingfisher was brave enough to let me get quite close before flying off, allowing me to get a nice photograph of him against the out of focus background of grass on the island behind him. Here it is apparent that I again used the rule of thirds to place the kingfisher on the left side of the image, rather than in the middle.

So although I'm not a birder, I do have a few good images of birds, including this spectacular image of a kingfisher!

baby elephant, Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa, image of baby elephant, photo

image of baby elephant

The seventh wildlife image I am sharing is that of a baby elephant playing in Etosha National Park in Namibia. In contrast to many of the other photos I'm sharing, this one is not a close-up or portrait, but rather shows the young elephant in his environment. He was full of energy and running around near the rest of his troop by a water hole. Note the bones in the background.

It can also be quite effective to show an animal in its environment to give the viewer an idea of how they live. Action shots can also be quite engaging, as the viewer gets a sense of movement and can imagine the baby elephant running around.

photography tips, Etosha National Park, Namibia, zebra, Africa, wildlife photography, image of zebra, photo

image of zebra playing

The eighth image is another from Etosha National Park in Namibia. While driving down the dirt road through the massive park, I stopped to watch these zebra play. As animal behavior is not choreographed, it is important to be ready with your camera to take advantage of spontaneous moments when they occur.

This tender moment of the zebra 'hugging' is not lost on the viewer. I have many zebra images, but playful/tender moments like this are my favorite and make for compelling art.

An interesting anecdote is that near this location we got a flat tire, so I had to get out and change it right next to a sign that said "Do Not Exit Your Vehicle! Lions are Near!". Fastest tire change I've ever executed!

coyote, California Bay Area, Briones Regional Park, USA, image of coyote, photo

image of coyote

The ninth and final image in this series is an image of a coyote that was taken while visiting the California Bay Area where I took some time to get out and shoot in some of the great local parks such as the Briones Regional Park pictured here.

I saw a few coyotes, but this one was the closest as he was looking to cross the path I was on. We had a standoff for several minutes as he watched me, and I took pictures of him. Finally he ran ahead a ways and crossed the trail in front of me. It was a few minutes later that I came across a woman walking a small dog off-leash. I let her know that she should reconsider unless her plan was to feed the coyotes!. She quickly put her dog on the leash.

Here I combine eye contact with the surrounding environment to make a connection to the viewer. There is no doubt that this coyote sees you, but at the same time you can tell that he is normally well hidden in the tall grass. That helps to make this image reflect a special moment that captures the attention of the viewer.

That concludes this in-depth guide with 9 examples of wildlife photography. I hope that you find this guide helpful in demonstrating how wildlife photographers create works of art. Eye contact, composition, color, background, and other elements of design are consciously used to creat fine art photographs that can be sold in photograpy galleries or online. Next time you see a beautiful photograph of wildlife, you will better be able to understand why it captures your attention, and maybe you will better be able to choose a work of art to hang on your wall at home.

If you like the wildlife photographs above, take a look at my online photography gallery here to see the beautiful fine art images and amazing products that we offer.

What do you think of my wildlife photography? Leave a comment below to let me know your favorite image and why.

Note my favorite images are for sale as luxury fine art prints (sublimated aluminum metal and Lumachrome acrylic wall art) on my online photography gallery that you can access here.

You can also purchase directly from this page by clicking the 'Prints Available' link under the available images.

Posted in Travel, Wildlife, Africa, Asia.

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