Hoping to capture great photographs of Arizona’s fauna? The first thing to do is get out into the field with an experienced wildlife photographer who can give you some tips. In addition, do some research and try to be in the field when the wildlife you hope to capture is the most active. To make your images sharp, use a tripod and a fast shutter speed. It also helps to have the sun at your back and reflecting off of an animal, and to make your photos at the animal’s eye level. Beyond that, just practice and find a shooting style that works for you. Photo by: Eva Micklethwaite (photo contest submission)
In challenging lighting situations, try using bracketing to ensure the best exposure. Usually, this means making three or more images: one slightly underexposed, one with the presumed correct exposure, and one slightly overexposed. Most DSLRs have an automatic setting to do this, but if your camera does not, you can bracket manually by slightly adjusting your exposure for each shot — usually in 1/3 -or 1/2-stop increments above and below the camera's reading. When it comes time to edit your images, you'll have more options from which to choose.
Modes of Operation
There are five main shooting modes on most DSLR cameras: Auto, Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual. In Auto, the camera controls everything to, theoretically, keep your photos mistake-free. In Program, the camera still automatically adjusts aperture and shutter speed, but the photographer can choose from several combinations that will produce the same exposure. Shutter-Priority allows the photographer to control the shutter speed while the camera adjusts aperture, and Aperture-Priority does the opposite of that. Manual leaves the photographer in full control of both aperture and shutter speed. Our advice: Move the dial off of Auto and start to explore your creativity.
At a basic level, photography is about the arrangement of shapes within a frame. A photographer who keeps an eye out for geometric shapes can create interesting images by learning to think more abstractly. Look for silhouettes and shadows that create a graphic composition — whether you find the outline of tall plants against a sunlit canyon wall or the shadows cast by the spines of a cactus. Remember to pay attention to the edges of the frame and reduce distractions before you release the shutter. Photo: Jeff Kida
Backlighting can often be problematic for photographers, but in some cases, it can make for a beautiful image. When the light hits your subject just right, it can create a halo that seems to add dimension and make your subject glow. The halo effect can be achieved with artificial light by placing the light source behind your subject, but you'll also find it in nature, particularly when the sun is low in the sky.
Perspective changes everything. Whether you're climbing up a boulder or crouching in the dirt, it's important to consider angles that aren't just at eye level. While some photographers are naturally tall, others might need some help in the height department. Look around for a structure to climb on, or if you're feeling ambitious, take a stepladder with you. And don't be afraid to get a little dirt on your knees. Sometimes, the most interesting images are found when you get closer to the ground. Photo: Jeff Kida