West Virginia is the perfect state to live if you’re a wildlife enthusiast or photographer. From rolling hills and majestic mountains to lush forests and beautiful lakes, there’s plenty of locations you can enjoy nature and take beautiful photos.

Because helping you enjoy the outdoors is part of our mission, we wanted to share a few tips that should help you take better nature and wildlife photos with your camera.

So, grab you camera and plan an outdoor adventure.

Know your gear

The eagle’s nest you’ve been watching for nearly an hour is finally showing signs of activity. Suddenly, a mother eagle swoops into frame with prey clutched in its talons. What do you do?

Animals move fast, so you’ll more than likely miss the shot if you don’t know how to use your camera properly or aren’t prepared to capture that perfect moment.

So, here’s what you need to do.

  1. Make sure your camera is focused on your subject.
  2. Figure out what shutter speed will freeze the action.
  3. Dial in your ISO and aperture settings to get a proper exposure.

Should you need to make an on-the-fly adjustment, make sure you are familiar with your camera so you can do so without taking your eye from the viewfinder. Practice taking photos of birds or other animals that visit your backyard. Before long, you’ll know your camera like the back of your hand and be well on your way to taking cover-worthy photos.

Know your subject

If you’ve watched animals for any amount of time, you’ll pick up on behavior patterns that can be used to your advantage. If you know when an animal is going to be active, you can give yourself the extra time you need to get ready to snap your photo.

If you aren’t familiar with an animal, do some research then spend time observing them in the wild. As a general rule of thumb, most animals are active early in the morning and late in the evening. Once you know where they like to go, get there early, settle in and wait. And keep a journal to help you remember everything.

Know your limits

Wildlife photography would be easier if we could get close to animals without them running or flying away. The reality is that most animals would rather not be bothered. So, respect their space and approach at a reasonable distance. Try not to make sudden movements that might scare them away. If an animal is showing signs of stress as you approach, back off and give it time to get used to your presence.

As you take photos of West Virginia’s wildlife, don’t forget to enjoy your time outside. Observing wildlife in nature is a privilege. If you treat it as such, your patience will be rewarded.