Whether you opt to relax on your own private patio or balcony or venture out to the many national and state parks located just a short drive from your tiny home rental, you’ll no doubt spot some wildlife during your visit to The Dwellings.

Capturing a Bighorn Sheep grazing in the canyon of Zion National Park or rabbits scurrying through the red dirt of Snow Canyon State Park may just become a favorite memory of your trip, and one you’ll certainly want to capture. Unfortunately, snapping photos of wildlife in their natural habitats is often much harder than it looks.

If you’re eager to prepare to capture some stunning photos during your visit using a camera or even just your smartphone, keep reading to learn a few wildlife photography tips every beginner should know.

Know Your Camera’s Settings

Even most modern smartphone cameras now come equipped with a variety of settings that help you take better photos. These are great tools that, when used correctly, can help you get a clear, crisp shot of wildlife, or whatever else you’re trying to capture.

Look for settings designed for low-light and bright light, those with a quick “shutter” to help you capture a quick-moving target, and any settings you might have to make a zoomed-in image more clear.

Before your trip, make sure to get familiar with your camera’s settings. The last thing you want to do is waste even a minute of your vacation learning how to use your camera when you could have done so at home.

Consider an Upgrade

While smartphone cameras have come a long way in recent years, it’s important to remember that image quality alone isn’t everything.

If you think that your iPhone or Android is a good alternative to a traditional camera just because it takes high-quality images, think again. If you want more control over the images you’re taking, you can’t beat a DSLR. From the ability to zoom in to advanced settings for your shutter, ISO speeds, and more, you’ll quickly find that a camera that’s designed to, well, take pictures, is always going to beat a smartphone camera.

That said, you can still take some incredible pictures using just your smartphone. By learning how to use any available settings, you can easily capture great pictures of wildlife that’s fairly close by. And your smartphone is also perfect for getting a few selfies from your balcony, with the stunning mountains in the background.

Keep Snapping

Even if you think you got your shot the first time, keep shooting. Taking a continuous stream of pictures until the animal disappears will greatly increase your chances of getting that perfect picture.

Don’t stop to check out your pictures until the moment has passed. Otherwise, you may wind up missing your chance to get another picture if the first one didn’t turn out how you hoped.

Practice at Home First

You don’t have to have exotic wildlife prowling your backyard to practice your photography skills at home.

Practicing before you’re on your adventure in Southern Utah gives you a chance to get familiar with your equipment, and more comfortable taking photos of a moving target. If you have a household pet, this is a great starting point. Practice taking photos of them doing regular everyday activities, like playing, walking, or eating. Get used to quickly adjusting your camera’s settings, and learn which ones work best for capturing clear shots of moving targets.

If you don’t have pets, head to your nearest zoo or farm. While animals in pens are far easier to capture than those in the wild, this is still a great chance to get some practice in between your outdoor adventures. Even a busy bird feeder in your backyard can offer some great shots—and excellent practice.

Be Patient

Even after learning some strategies and practicing at home, you may not capture that perfect shot on your first try, or for many tries after that.

Shooting pictures of wildlife is never a guarantee. You may expect an animal to move a certain way or wish that they would hold still long enough to get your shot, but that won’t always be the case. Even getting close enough to get a clear picture isn’t always possible. Conditions outside, like rain or dusk, can also affect your ability to get a great shot.

That’s why it’s important to be patient and not stress about getting that perfect shot. Doing so is not only unlikely to land you that shot, but will also cause you to miss out on enjoying an incredible moment during your trip.

Planning a Photography Adventure in Southern Utah

Whether you’re dreaming of spotting Bighorn Sheep or Jackrabbits, or are on the hunt for a glimpse of even rarer creatures, like Desert Tortoises, foxes, or coyotes, The Dwellings is the perfect base camp for your next photography adventure. Book a weekend and spend it hopping around to local wildlife hotspots. Or, spend a week or more exploring the area and honing your photography skills. Regardless of your skill level, we’re certain you’ll return home with a camera full of photos you’ll cherish.