Section 3f Photography_ Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits 512 W Hdr

Wildlife photography can be that amazing experience when you run across a seemingly once in a lifetime moment to photograph, such as running across these two Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) kits.

Photography advice from two experts: Pat Leeson, whose photos have graced National Geographic magazine, several wildlife books and many other publications, and Matt Poole, a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service training specialist who teaches wildlife photography at the National Conservation Training Center.

Aim for feeling: “Any image that captures a feeling you want to save as a memory is a good photo for you,” says Leeson. “If you can get a photo that elicits the same feeling in other people, then you have a classic.”

Look ‘em in the eyes: “Photos are most effective taken at an animal’s eye level,” says Poole, even if that means you have to crouch.

Focus on what matters.

Section 3f Photography_ Female and male grasshoppers on Visitor Center dock 350 W

Reduce background noise.

Go early and return late… and not just for the light: Light is all-important. Pros know it’s best early in the day and late in the day. However Leeson offers a spiritual reason to go early: Being first on the scene “increases the feeling of intimacy with the place and the moment.” Poole has a practical one. “If shooting insects like butterflies is something you’re excited about, you’ll be a whole lot more effective if you get out there early in morning when it’s still relatively cool and when insects, because they’re cold-blooded of course, are still relatively sluggish,” he says.

Section 3f Photography_ Relic cypress tree providing habitat for bears, chimney swifts and bats 350 W

Know your camera’s limits: Leave full-frame bird images to folks with killer optics and giant telephoto lenses. Less expensive cameras work better for landscapes, animals and more approachable things like insects and flowers.

Section 3f Photography_ Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinera)

Steady the camera.

Be patient with yourself.

Respect your subjects: Baiting wildlife and altering wildlife habitat on a refuge is illegal. Additionally, keep a safe and respectful distance from animals.


Section 3f Photography Cottonmouth-Water Moccasin (Agkistrodon piscivorus) juvenile 350 W

Relish your time in nature: The perfect image may escape you. Don’t let the whole experience do the same. “I often worry that people are out there just looking at nature through the camera lens and not enjoying being out there,” says Poole.