Top wildlife photographer Tom Mason gives us his top tips on how you can stay ‘photo ready’ and be prepared to take the perfect shot at the drop of a hat.
When heading out on the adventure of a lifetime, coming back with great photographs can help you relive the memories forever. In the excitement of the trip, or when encounters with elusive wildlife happen in a heart beat, sometimes getting those images can be a challenge.
This month professional wildlife photographer Tom Mason shares a few tips regarding how to be best prepared for your next Wildfoot adventure.
As a pro photographer it’s my job to get the shots and so when working on location I want to be as well prepared as possible. Pre planning helps to maximise my photographic opportunities and help me be more creative on location. Below are a few tips for getting the best from your next trip.
1 – Plan your images.
Get onto google and research where you’re going, look thorough images and pull them into a file for inspiration. Looking at possible shots will help you have a bank of ideas ready for when you get to your destination, helping you to quickly find compositions and create more interesting images. The overwhelming nature of incredible places can sometimes put a block in front of your creative thinking, so pre visualisation of images beforehand will help you focus in on great shots.
2 – Pre set your camera.
Wildlife encounters can happen in a flash, so being ready is vital. Preempt encounters and be sure to test your camera settings before the wildlife shows up. Having your settings dialled in means you can focus on the action, rather than having to re set the camera at the key moment.
Learn the controls before you head out and have things set up for easy access to key features for fast adjustments in the field.
3 – Variation
With wildlife photography it’s so tempting to stay zoomed in on your subject, however be sure to vary your compositions and look at the wider landscape. Giving you’re subjects space also makes for more natural images that are often more pleasing on the eye than frame filling portraits. If you have a zoom lens force yourself to work at both the long and short end for a more varied portfolio.
4 – Accessible accessories
When the action is in full swing there is nothing more annoying than a dead battery or full memory card, especially if the spare is in the depths of your camera bag! Be sure to keep a spare fully charged battery and memory card on hand and switch over when the action is at a low point to ensure you’re ready for the next key photographic opportunity. At the end of the day, charge and replace batteries even if you think the have enough juice for the next day.
5 – Back up
Imagine you’ve been away and taken a fortnights worth of once in a life time images and then happen to loose the memory card on route home…(It happens!) Ensure it doesn’t and back up your files whilst away. I always travel with a laptop and multiple external hard drives for peace of mind, however there are also options with hard drives that have inbuilt SD readers for backing up without a laptop, combined with an iPhone and cloud service they can work as a great way to keep your data safe without having to carry a huge amount of extra gear.
With planing and preparation you’ll be ready to make the most of your adventure. Giving you a head start on creating interesting and different compositions, making the most of wildlife encounters and keeping everything safe and protected to get your precious images home.
Tom Mason is a professional wildlife photographer and environmental photojournalist. He has worked around the world on assignment from the Amazon to the Falklands photographing the natural world. Passionate about conservation, his work has been awarded internationally as well as being regularly featured in publications.