How to See and Photograph Wildlife

image depicting visitors observing horses from a distance of 40 feet and other wildlife from a distance of 150 feet. Shows that 40 feet is about equal to the length of a school bus

Many wildlife species can be found throughout the park. Explore our wildlife pages to find out what you can see.

When you spot wildlife, getting a great photo or video even from a distance isn’t too hard if you follow our advice. Although mobile device cameras are convenient, you may want to bring along a camera that has a zoom lens for better zoomed-in photos of wildlife and horses. Keep at least 40 feet or one bus-length away from horses and deer, and 150 feet or three bus-lengths away from seals.
 
picture of man with elbow on his knee, taking photos
Use your zoom and pull your elbows close to you or rest them on your knee or another stable surface
  • Time your outing when wildlife is active: dawn or dusk. These times also have some of the best lighting for photos!
  • Use binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto lens for a safe, close-up view.
  • Stay quiet and still. Noise and quick movements can threaten wildlife.
  • Look to the edges of the landscape (e.g. where forest trees meet a grassy area).
  • Pull safely off the road, and use your car as an enclosure for viewing and photographing from a distance. Not only do cars provide a layer of protection, they also provide surfaces for stabilizing your camera.
  • Use your zoom, and to steady your shot, touch your elbows to your ribcage, or rest your elbows on your knee or another stable surface.
  • On your mobile device, you can zoom in by placing your thumb and forefinger together on the screen and then draw them apart just as you do to zoom in on a web page.
  • Watch wildlife with your eyes rather than through your viewfinder/screen as you move. It’s easy to miss things in your surroundings that could hurt or trip you when you’re only focused on what you can see on your screen or viewfinder.
  • When photographing from the safe distance, skilled photographers suggest lining up the horizon of the landscape along the lower third of your frame and lining up the animal(s) to one of the four intersection points as demonstrated below:
 
photos of horses grazing in marsh. photo on left shows 2 horizontal and 2 vertical lines dividing the photo into 9 squares
Line up your subject along one of these four imaginary intersections for better-looking wildlife photos from a distance

Learn more about what to do when you see wildlife in the park with our wildlife and wild horses viewing safety tips.

You’ve found your park, now find the safe distance from wildlife to capture great memories. Share your safe distance wildlife photos on social media: #FindYourDistance #Assateague or by posting them to our Facebook Page.

Last updated: July 26, 2017

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7206 National Seashore Lane
Berlin, MD 21811

Phone:

(410) 641-1441

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