Taking photographs of the natural world is one of our greatest pleasures in modern times, allowing us to capture beautiful landscapes and mesmerising images of animals that we share our surroundings with, and you don't need a big and expensive piece of equipment.
However, photographing wildlife is not something that can just be done using the snap-and-shoot method as the best shots often require planning and persistence (not to mention lots of warm clothes) in order to get that awe-inspiring image you are after and improve your skills.
Know Your Camera
In that split second when you need to snap that perfect shot, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to locate the different settings. By reading the manual (as long as it may be) and spending time playing with all the buttons and seeing what each one does, will make it much easier to find the required setting when you're out and about.
Plan Your Shot
It is much better to go out and aim to take one amazing picture rather than a few okay ones. By taking time to visualise the shot you are after means that you will be much better prepared and more confident about what you are trying to bring through in your photo (for example, trying to take a picture of a bright orange sky with the sun setting over the sea is not going to happen at midday).
Know Your Subject
Particularly when trying to photograph animals, it is almost pointless simply going out to look for them as you are unlikely to find the behavioural traits (or indeed the animal) you are wanting to capture. By researching your desired subject, you will be better informed about when the animal is most active, what it feeds on and the environments that it inhabits, therefore bringing your perfect image a little closer to reality.
Tricks and Tips
Always use a tripod to steady the camera on ground.
Use a beanbag to support the camera on fence-posts and in cars.
Don't let your images become too cluttered...the more simple it is, the more effective it will be.
Don't be scared of the rain! Just because it's not bright and sunny, it doesn't mean that great images cannot be taken.
Practise...use different subjects in different lights and different settings to improve your knowledge in general.