If you are invested in wildlife or nature photography it’s highly likely that you have seen a picture someday that has completely taken your breath away. Maybe it was an image of a sweeping landscape washed in the golden light of the dying afternoon sun or a close-up of some small natural miracle that you had never noticed before that moment. You might even have asked yourself, “How were they able to capture that?”

Be as informed as possible before you ever make a photo. Doing your own research is one of the most important, yet loathed parts of wildlife photography. It never pays to walk into a situation and be completely clueless. Though you can never be totally prepared for every challenge you will face (that’s part of the fun) you can educate yourself so that you safely make the most of your outing.

You should pick your best zoom lens in case you’re approaching animals that may represent a danger to you and threaten your physical safety. Shooting landscapes or scenes where safety is not a concern? You might consider bringing a wider angle lens to get the best capture possible of your scene. In the end, there is no definitive secret and no true all-in-one lens to cover every situation. Do your homework before you leave so that you can do the best captures possible with the gear that you have.