Take an image using predictive focus mode to capture action (Jonathan and Angela Scott)
Article Words : Jonathan Scott | 14 September

Top 10 photography tips... from the professionals

With just over a month to go before Wanderlust's Travel Photo of the Year competition ends, wildlife photographers Jonathan and Angela Scott reveal their top tips for snapping animals

1. Early morning and late evening light creates warm, highly saturated colours.

In front lit situations, with the sun behind you, always try to offset your position by a few degrees to create some shadows. This models your subject and gives it form.

2. Many of our favourite images are taken with the light coming from the side (side lit) or towards the camera (back lit).

This will give a more creative edge to your images enhancing mood and atmosphere. However, sometimes the camera’s meter may be fooled, causing underexposed “dark” images. To prevent this you may need to open up the aperture, and add light, to provide detail in the subject’s shadow area. The best way is to bracket: taking a number of shots, each varying by a third to half a stop of light, to ensure that you end up with an image that pleases you.

3. Try to be different. Don’t choose the obvious, think about creating more abstract images.

For example: take images from different angles. Getting low allows you to get eyeball to eyeball with your subject, making it look more imposing. Always be on the lookout for dust or splashing water to add a bit of drama to a scene.

4. Photography is all about learning to see with the eye of your camera, using different lenses to create interesting images.

For example, when you're next on a trip get up close to the exotic plants around you by using a macro lens. This will give you a completely different perspective of the world around you and help you see things the naked eye can’t.

5. Diagonals add a powerful visual element to your composition.

One easy way to do this is to tilt your camera at an angle to make the horizon run from one corner of the frame to another rather than parallel to the bottom of the frame. Another option is to try photographing a line of people by tilting the camera to make a diagonal.

On safari keep your eyes open for natural diagonals – lines of animals like wildebeests and zebras walking diagonally through the landscape would make a great shot.

6. The ‘Rule of Thirds’ is designed to avoid pictures with the horizon running through the middle of the frame.

If you are taking a landscape image decide which is the most important, the sky or the foreground, then give the more important element two thirds of the frame. This draws the eye to the most important aspect of your image.

The way the ‘Rule of Thirds’ works is when two sets of vertical and horizontal lines intersect, just like a noughts and crosses pattern. The points of intersection show key places in an image, so you can position important elements of your composition.

7. Don’t put your subject in the middle of the frame, offset it to left or right, giving a sense of space for your subject to look or move into.

A cheetah sitting perched on a termite mound will look more dramatic if you offset it to one side of the frame. This will give the animal, or any subject, space to look into.

8. Predictive focus mode should be used to track moving subjects and capture the action in sharp focus.

We love to photograph birds in flight or a big cat on the hunt (see image above). A predictive focus mode is ideal for these situations as it will help you achieve pin sharp images. Be sure to set your camera’s settings to High Speed Burst so you get a continuous sequence of shots.

9. Use your camera speed setting in a creative way. Speeds of 1/1000 sec will freeze the action of a moving subject.

But using slow speeds and panning with your subject as it moves often create a far stronger sense of speed and movement. Remember to move the Stabilizer mode on your lens to the second position if you are panning.

10. When photographing sunrises and sunsets, take a meter reading of the sky without the sun in the frame or use a spot meter.

Point your camera to one side of the sun and lock the exposure reading before recomposing your image to include the sun. If you meter with the sun in the picture, without compensating, the final image may be too dark. Play around with the ISO settings on your EOS 600D to experiment with lighting and get different effects with every shot.

These top photography tips have been sourced by wildlife photographers, authors and TV presenters Jonathan and Angela Scott, while using Canon's EOS 600D. Last week, Canon was named the winner of the Camera category in the Travellers' Choice Awards.