Photo Tips

Our Top 13 Moose Photography Tips

  1. Most wildlife photographers I know are after the classic moose picture portraying a bull moose with a spectacular set of antlers with Fall colour that blurs into infinity.  Given most species shed their antlers early winter your window of opportunity to capture that shot is ideally September through November during breeding season as the bulls (male moose) are most active during this time.
  2. A word of caution, a bull moose can become extremely aggressive during the rut (breeding season) so approach the situation cautiously.  I always make sure I have an escape route planned out and a nearby tree that I can place between myself and them if need be. It is also wise to give a wide birth to a mother with calf as she too can become very protective of her young.
  3. I shoot f/2.8 or f/4 for single moose when I am cropping in tight on just the animal as I prefer the background to be as out of focus as possible.  I am usually taking these shots with my Nikon 200-400mm or my Nikon 600mm.
  4. When the backdrop is a lovely Autumn scene which is frequently the case in the Fall in Algonquin Park I bump up the fstop up to f11 or f/16 to keep the background more in focus.  The f/16 in focus shot is what I use when I want to portray the moose in their natural environment and I will typically be using my Nikon 24-70mm or Nikon 70-200mm for that type of shot.
  5. If things get action oriented try to keep your shutter speed above 1/800 to freeze the action unless you are intentionally going for the blurred motion image which often turns out very nice results but it takes some practice.
  6. Shutter speeds for panning are always going to depend first on the speed (and distance) you have to move your camera.  I’ve found 1/30th to 1/80th gives a nice artistic blur but you’ll need to experiment with every scenario to get a shot you find appealing.
  7. We’ve talked about the rut in Autumn but Summer can be great for moose photography as well.  From May to August is a great time to hop in a canoe and paddle the lakes of Algonquin as moose are frequently found in the water grazing on the lilies.
  8. Moose are active at dusk and are often found close to the shoulders of highways escaping the mosquitoes and black flies. For this reason keep your eyes peeled as you just might spot one from your car. In this scenario as the light drops you will likely need to bump up your ISO in order to get enough light and expose the image properly.
  9. You’ll hear this repeated over and over in wildlife photography but having sharp focus on the animals eye is a must so make that your focal point.  I’ve yet to see an award winning moose picture where the eye was out of focus.
  10. The very best wildlife photography images are usually taken at the subjects eye level or shooting upwards.  Example, the moose is on a ridge above your shooting position.
  11.  Pay attention to the backgrounds.   Coniferous trees with snow, fall colours and rock outcroppings make wonderful backdrops for moose photography.  Sometimes a good shot could have been great if only you had taken a step to the right or the left so pay close attention when you look through the viewfinder not only at the animal but what is behind it.
  12. Plan to take a variety of lenses with you.  I shoot everything from a 24-70 to 600mm.  Shooting with different lenses yields varied perspectives and that makes for a more interesting and diversified portfolio.
  13. Don’t forget to go vertical every once and a while especially with single subjects that are beside tall vertical objects likes rocks or trees.  Often the front cover of a magazine or calendar is looking for a vertical shot so mix it up.