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

Wildlife Photo--07This is part two of a wildlife photography tutorial for Cru staff attending IBS and national staff training in Fort Collins, Colorado. Many staff will head to Rocky Mountain National Park on their free time, hoping to find great photo ops of the park’s variety of wildlife. (Read Part One.)

5 More Wildlife Photography Tips

Be patient. Most respected wildlife photographers get their best shots after the average photographer would have packed it in.

When using a long lens it’s best to use a tripod or monopod to help you steady the lens and support its weight.

Do follow the herd and don’t follow the herd (that is, the herd of photographers). Often, you’ll see what is commonly referred to as animal jams. These traffic jams happen when someone spots wildlife from the roadside and pulls over. It won’t be long before many other drivers stop as well (see photo of cars). When you see lots of cars pulled over there’s a good chance something is there that is photo worthy. Do stop at such locations, but photograph the animal in your own way. I’ve gotten some great shots by walking away from the crowd of photographers and shooting something from a completely different angle (see bull elk photo).

Unless more than one animal is being photographed, use a wide-open aperture in order to blur out the background of the photograph. I prefer to do this by setting my camera on aperture priority and setting the aperture on its widest setting. This is done by using an aperture setting like 2.8, 3.5, 4.0 or 5.6. Use the lowest number your lens will allow (see coyote photo).

Some wildlife hotspots include:

  • Trail Ridge Road for elk and marmots (see elk herd photo).
  • Moose can be found around the small lakes along trails near the Grand Lake entrance to the park.
  • The best place to find bighorn sheep (see photo) is actually outside the park on the rocky slopes shortly before you get to the Fall River Entrance to the park.
  • Coyotes can be seen in the Moraine Park area.

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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