Learning Wildlife Photography with Squirrels

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Do you love animals? Have you always had a thing for wildlife photography?
A good news for hobbyists is that now they don’t have to the jungle if they wanna seize a bit of wildlife in their camera.

This article is written keeping hobbyists in mind who wanna try something outdoors. This includes photography tips and pictures for inspiration as well.

Now you must be wondering what’s all this got to do with squirrels. They are one of the very few animals you can find living in their natural habitat, in the cities. They live in your garden, the public park and everywhere trees and greenery is found. There’s only one exception, Australia. There are no squirrels in Australia.

So with the help of squirrels, let’s learn some of the basic techniques and tips of wildlife photography. But first, allow me to introduce this lovely creature.

You might also like our article on Long Exposure Photography
And if you like cats, take a look at these cat pictures.
You can also find some pet photography tips.

Let’s Get to Know our Friend

Type: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore
Size: 5 to 36 in (13 to 91 cm)
Weight: 0.5 oz to 4 lbs (14 g to 2 kg)
Group name: Scurry or Dray.

The tiniest squirrel is the aptly named African pygmy squirrel—only five inches (thirteen centimeters) long from nose to tail. Others reach sizes shocking to those who are only familiar with common tree squirrels. The Indian giant squirrel is three feet (almost a meter) long.

girl feeding squirrel

Squirrels have four front teeth that never stop growing so they don’t wear down from the constant gnawing. The are three types of squirrels. Tree squirrels are the types most commonly recognized, often seen gracefully scampering and leaping from branch to branch. Other species are ground squirrels that live in burrow or tunnel systems, where some hibernate during the winter season.

Did you know: Squirrel babies are blind and totally dependent on their mothers for two or three months.

Flying squirrels are the third, adaptable type of squirrel. They live something like birds do, in nests or tree holes, and although they do not fly, they can really move across the sky. Flying squirrels glide, extending their arms and legs and coasting through the air from one tree to another. Flaps of skin connecting limbs to body provide a winglike surface. These gliding leaps can exceed 150 feet (46 meters).

Squirrel Facts, courtesy National Geographic Magazine.

Things to Remember

Get to know you camera very very well. That’s because the action in wildlife gets over in just a few seconds, so if you have any difficulties in operating the equipment, you shall miss it.

squirrel looking in camera

Highest grade of patience is required for wildlife photography. You have to wait, and wait calmly until something happens. Let’s take the picture below, you’d have to sit on the park bench for hours and hours before something like this can be shot.

2 squirrels

Get to subject’s eye level. You might already know this, it’s one of the most important rules of photography. Just imagine the following picture had it been taking from 5-6 feet above.

squirrel and nut

Take in the environment as well.  The animal itself doesn’t matter as much as animal in its habitat. If you took a picture of a lion, you should not have to tell that he was in a jungle/safari park. The image should speak for itself. Here’s a picture that speaks for itself.

squirrel and flower

Habitat or Environment is very important, yet in some cases you might want to eliminate all the environment to focus on the subject only, like this one below. She has spotted something funny.

squirrel in snow

Basically, there are rules and they are meant to be broken. There’s a rule that you need environment in wildlife photography, but sometimes you might not. So don’t care for the rules too much (speaking only about photography) and break them once in a while.

Enjoy your work. No one can ever be successful in anything if he doesn’t enjoy it. Love your work, enjoy it!

Working with Natural Lights

The best time to take wildlife pictures is “golden sunshine hours”. That’s when the sun is shining bright but it’s not exactly at the top. That means from 10:00 in the morning to about 11:30, and then 1:00 in the afternoon to 4:00-5:00 in the late afternoon.

squirrel on tree

In a perfect world, light would be always be on the right angle, but this isn’t a perfect world. So if you know your equipment well, using the right settings you can achieve magnificent results even when you are shooting into the light. That creates a silhouette of the subject.

 Photography Tips

Let’s have a recap of the above. Most of these tips stay constant for all types of pet photography.

Get to the eye level of the subject.

Shoot wider, take in the environment as well.

Afternoon hours provide the best lighting.

Be patient… no really, be very patient.

Know your camera like the back of your hand.

Use natural light creatively. 

Enjoy!

A Few More Pictures

squirrel reflection photo

squirrel eating in snow

squirrel sniffing in snow

squirrel in home

squirrel photography the best

squirrel and bucket of food

squirrel photo

white squirrel

excellent squirrel photos

squirrel photo bombing

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Further Related Readings

Comments
  1. Treay November 23, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I am from Perth, capital of Western Australia and we do have squirrels here, but they are not native to Australia. I believe they are the descendants of escapees from the Zoo in South Perth. They are adorable little creatures. We also have Flying Foxes, also known as Flying Squirrels, but they are Bats. You would love our native Sugar Gliders. I hope you can find a ‘photo of one. Your photographs are magnificent. I have so enjoyed looking at these dear little creatures. Thankyou for posting them!

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