How to Capture the “Life” in Your Wildlife Photos, Part One (Guest Post)

PtarmiganIBS and national staff training in Fort Collins, Colorado, are just around the corner. And just around the corner from Fort Collins is Rocky Mountain National Park. Many staff will head there, intent on capturing its abundant wildlife with their cameras.

5 Wildlife Photography Tips

Stop at a ranger station or visitor center. (There are several in the park.) Ask the volunteer rangers questions about the wildlife. They can be helpful in giving you general tips as well as advising you about recent sightings and recommending locations to visit for your photos.

When hiking, always keep a camera where it can be quickly accessed and keep a zoom or telephoto lens attached on it . You never know when something worthy of a photo may pop out of the woods or rocks (see ptarmigan photo). When it happens you want to be ready.

Many critters will be after your snacks. You can photograph them as they look for a chance to grab a wayward peanut (see golden-mantled ground squirrel photo). When you stop and snack by a waterfall or some other point of interest keep a telephoto lens handy (stay tuned… I’ll be doing a post on photographing waterfalls next). It’s also important to remember that it’s against the law to feed wildlife in a National Park.

Respect the wildlife. With the exception of the little rodents trying to abscond with your snacks, and the elk, most of the park’s animals are cautious around people. Treat them as creatures of God’s creation. Don’t harass them; relax and let them come to you.

When you look through your lens wait until you notice light in an animal’s eye. When you do, focus on that catch light and shoot away. Light in the eye brings life to the eye (see marmot photo).

5 More Wildlife Photography Tips

Thanks for following this photography how-to series to enhance your visit to the park. You’ll find the next five tips in Part Two.

Click on the images below to see larger images in a slideshow.


  • Learn and practice new photography lessons from Pat so you can bring home your own awesome Colorado photos. Follow Pat’s CSU2013 Photo Tips series!
  • Meet e4e author, and professional photographer, Pat Mingarelli and read Pat’s posts on e4e. Learn about his ministry, Creation Speaks.

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