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Evoking Emotion & Feeling in Wildlife Photos – Part II

In part two of this two-part article, I continue to share my thoughts on the storytelling, mood, composition, and techniques that evoke emotions and feelings in images.

Continued from Evoking Emotion & Feeling in Wildlife Images – Part 1


For both images above, I chose a vertical composition. In the first image, the leading lines from the bottom left of the frame direct the eye up to the bird. I also wanted to show more of the textures of the tree as well as the birds habitat.

As a rule, for a tall bird, a vertical composition is well suited. In the second image, the parakeet hanging on the outside is tall and the vertical frame provides balance.

The dappled light in the images above works well when they have a spotlight effect or bring out details in textures. They can also be composed for an artistic effect.


When photographing timid and shy subjects such as birds, it is often too difficult to get close to them. In these situations, a long prime lens such as a 500mm or 600mm lens or a zoom telephoto lens allows magnification levels that bring the birds closer in the frame.

Because super-telephoto lenses have a very narrow-angle of view and compress the background and the foreground, the depth of field can be shallow even at F/11 or even at F/16. When shooting a bird up close, it is best to not shoot wide open as it may throw parts of the bird out of focus. For this reason, I prefer to always shoot at F/8 or higher. An aperture value of F/8 or higher provides enough depth to keep the bird in focus.

Canon IDX /600mm + 1.4X /1/800 sec @ F/8 / Rose-ringed Parakeet

Canon IDX /600mm + 1.4X /1/800 sec @ F/8 / Rose-ringed Parakeet

In Conclusion

Creating an emotional impact with your wildlife photos requires planning and execution of those elements that help tell a story. A photographer’s goal should not be just to chase after colorful and rare birds in order to show their technical skills but to come up with images that spell-bound the viewer with a strong story and visual artistry. An image of a common bird such a the Rose-ringed parakeet can be far more visually stunning and create an emotional impact if it has a good story, creates a tender mood and is followed up with creative composition and shooting techniques.

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