Many photographers love buying new gear, in part because of all the marketing hype implying that the key to improving one’s photography is a better camera and accessories. We love using great equipment as much as anyone, but this tutorial is all about seven pro hacks to that will significantly up your game when shooting in the field.
Instructor Peter Bredahl Dam is an accomplished landscape and wildlife photographer who frequently posts concise videos designed to help others capture compelling photos with whatever gear they own. By employing the straightforward tips in this eight-minute episode you’ll be on the fast track to improving your wildlife and nature imagery without spend a buck.
Dam’s first tip is to stop wasting time trying to sneak up on your subjects because, “their senses are too sharp, and they’ll likely hear you, see you, or smell you if you get too close.” And that means you’ll often scare them away before you even raise the camera to your eye. Instead, Dam recommends slowly circling a subject from a safe distance until you find an inconspicuous vantage point and wait for them to come closer to you while sitting as still as possible.
Another trick that Dam uses when photographing waterfowl from the shore is to get as low as possible with your elbows in the mud. This eye-level perspective often delivers the most impressive images, and it’s also another effective method for remaining unobtrusive. He also demonstrates how this approach can help you achieve a smooth and out-of-focus background that adds impact to a shot.
Once you’ve established a proper perspective Dam’s next tip can make a significant difference. The trick here involves a different mindset, which is to “look for gestures and actions instead of concentrating on portraits.” This subtle change in strategy will make a huge difference in your visual storytelling skills.
Dam also discusses what he calls the “magic pill for wildlife photography” that he says will make the biggest transformation in your images; namely, waiting for amazing light. This means arising early and staying out late to take advantage of what Blue Hour and Golden Hour have to offer. Doing this will also reduce the frustration of trying to edit a flat photo to create illumination that wasn’t really there.
The lesson contains three more powerful techniques that will deliver superb photographs, so take a close look and put Dam’s suggestions to work the next time you head out into the field. Then pay a visit to his popular YouTube channel for more powerful advice.
We also recommend watching a tutorial we posted earlier from another accomplished pro, explaining how to shoot outdoor photos with perfect balance that immediately grab attention.