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December 28, 2020 2 min read

All hikers know the importance of leaving the trail as you found it. As tempting as they are, taking natural souvenirs like flowers or rocks can harm the ecosystem you’re visiting. One thing you can take, however, is an incredible photo. Whether you’re filling a personal scrapbook or selling your work to renowned publications, wildlife photos are a great way to capture your hike. Snatching the perfect moment—with the perfect lighting, focus, and composition—takes practice. Hone your skills with these three tips for taking pictures of wildlife while hiking.

Start With the Right Gear

You can probably guess that you need a high-quality camera and lens to shoot a high-quality photo. There are many options before you, but try to get a camera with a manual mode, the ability to change lenses, and weather-sealed protection. These features will allow you to adjust to any environment and scene. Plus, a weather-sealed camera will last longer in the elements—a must-have for any adventurous photographer. Finally, choose telephoto lenses that take crystal clear pictures, even across long distances.

Know Your Settings

While your camera might have pre-set modes that capture the perfect photo, these won’t work in every situation. A camera with a manual mode will allow you to adjust shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and more. However, these things only work if you know how to use them. You don’t want to get lost in the settings while your fascinating subject gets bored and wanders off. Before you hit the trail, make sure you’re familiar with the ins and outs of your equipment so that you can use your camera and lenses to their full potential while on your hike.

Take Multiple Shots

Photography isn’t a one-and-done skill. Make sure you get multiple photos of your subjects. Take the time to experiment with zoom and composition. Every potential photo tells a different story. Close, personal shots do a great job of capturing the animal’s personality, while wider shots set the scene of what they’re doing and how they live. The more you capture, the richer your overall camera roll will be. Likewise, don’t just focus on the big, interesting animals. Dedicate some time to smaller, lesser-known details, such as birds high up in the branches or insects marching through the underbrush.

Colorado is full of endless hiking—and photography—opportunities. Make your next trip an artistic success. Arm yourself with quality gear, these tips for taking pictures of wildlife while hiking, and stylish Colorado patches and other apparel from YoColorado.

Paige Pesko
Paige Pesko


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