Monday, 16 February 2015

Tom Langlands - Getting into Their World (Part 3)


In the first two parts of this series of blogs about photographing wildlife I wrote about the importance of getting to the same eye level as your subject and about how to get in close or alternatively to show the wider environment in which your subject lives. With these approaches you will draw the viewer into a different world - one that is occupied by your subject.


Now is the time to concentrate on saying something that is very specific about your subject. The viewer has been drawn into the story. Now the story needs to say something.

In this final blog about ‘Getting into Their World’ I leave you with three key ways of achieving that final part of the story: -

Scottish Wildcat (captive specimen)

Engage the eyes.
Make sure that you have your subject’s eyes in focus. It often doesn’t matter if other parts of your subject go out of focus further back or forward in your image. With the eyes in focus you will have a sense of engagement. Beyond that, how you exchange a look with your subject will draw the viewer into the picture. A subject that is staring directly out of the image at you is more engaging than one that has failed to notice you.

red squirrel

Other subtle nuances of eye contact can also be engaging. A sideways glance or curious or quizzical looks are also captivating. The difficulty with wildlife is that you can’t ask the subject to pose for you. You can however elicit responses. Making a small movement will likely get your subject to pause what it is doing and watch you. That wont work for a breaching dolphin but it may work for a squirrel. The skill is in watching your subject’s behaviour and being ready to capture the moment.  

Black Guillemot

A highlight in your subject’s eye also makes it seem more ‘alive’. When the highlight reflects something of the wider environment that can work well too.

Highlight specific characteristics.
If your subject has unique characteristics (and most do) then try to draw attention to what it is that makes your subject different from other similar subjects. Is it the ear tufts on a squirrel or the exotic plumage on a peacock? Perhaps it is the markings on a goose or the yellow bill of a whooper swan. Whatever it is that makes your subject unique emphasizing it can work well.

Malachite Butterfly (captive specimen)

Capture unique behaviour.
Finally, all animals display certain types of unique behaviour. It may be mating rituals, hunting skills, the way it eats, sleeps or sniffs the air. It may be the way it rotates its eyes or pricks its ears. Try to demonstrate what it is that makes your subject unique.


Over this three part series of blogs I have covered a number of key aspects that will bring your wildlife photographs to life. You will seldom be able to employ all of these techniques at once but using them in different combinations at different times will enhance your wildlife images. Have fun…

…and above all enjoy and appreciate the natural world that we share with so many wonderful creatures.


Tom Langlands


  1. Wonderful images Tom, great compositions and advice.

    1. Thanks for the visit and comment. Glad you enjoyed it. Cheers