A Guide to Wildlife Camera Phone Photography


Photographing wildlife is perhaps one of the most difficult things you can attempt with a camera phone. Image elements such as proximity, light and movement are going to pose massive problems for equipment that limits your photographic options. On the other hand, many people manage to get some pretty good images of wildlife with their camera phones. Here are a few things you will need to think about if you want to emulate their success.

Wanted by iZZo.mv.

General Tactics to Consider:

  • Turn Off the Sound – If you camera phone allows it, remember to turn off the camera sound and make it silent as you shoot. This means you can avoid startling wildlife and hopefully take a few shots after that inital capture. It's also far less annoying!
  • Choose A Camera Phone with a Macro Mode – A lot of newer camera phones are coming out with a macro mode. If you are wanting to shoot a lot of close ups then this is a very attractive prospect. Shooting with a macro can produce spectacular results and is especially useful for bugs, lizards and other small animals.
  • Avoid Using Zoom if Possible – The problem is that most camera phone zooms are digital (not optical). That means that the zoom is actually just increasing a part of the sensor's image. That reduces the quality of the image. If possible just get closer to your subject!
  • Shoot in the Golden Hours – Controlling the light becomes even more important when you are shooting with limited capabilities of a camera phone. If you can shoot in great lighting such as early morning or late afternoon, your images will benefit from it.

Now, remember that camera phone photography is still very much a niche when it comes to wildlife shots. So some of the following guides will need to be read while remembering the above tips.

Birds on a wire by ancawonka.

Note – If you click through to the original sources of the above image you will be able to see a suggestion for cropping of this image which would make this good image great.

nat history pet wood by phrostart.

Guide on Nature Photography on Camera Phones

How to: Nature Photography with Nokia Cameraphones – This is a fantastic and recently written overview of what you should be thinking about when taking nature shots on a camera phone. It is written specifically with Nokia users in mind, but the tips are applicable to any decent camera phone. There are also some great shots from Nokia users.

Photographing Birds – Has a lot of general tips that apply to the camera phone user as much as the SLR or DSLR user. Notes on getting to interesting subjects and maintaining an awareness of the bird's environment as well as your own desire to get a great shot.

Compositional Elements – This guide emphasises the composition of wildlife shots and is applicable to camera phone photography as much as SLR or DSLR users. The rule of thirds is just as important for camera phones as it is for anyone else – perhaps even more important due to the other limitations of the equipment.

Closing Thoughts

Make no mistake, taking reasonable wildlife shots on a camera phone is perhaps one of the biggest challenges to using that type of camera. Even the best photographer is going to have trouble with this one. But if a camera phone is all you have available when a wildlife opportunity presents itself then all is not lost. Remember the rules of composition as well as specific advice on wildlife photography and you might even come away with a reasonable shot.

About Author

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography started as a child with a Kodak Instamatic and pushed him into building this fantastic place all these years later, and you can get to know him better here.
Rob's Gear
Camera: Nikon D810
Lenses: Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

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