Go wild in your local park
1 Time it right
Head down to your local park to find these critters. Our friend Becky knew that the squirrels would be making their stash during the autumn so this makes it the ideal time to take photos of them. Go when it’s dry or wet, as you can create different emotions in different weather.
2 Go long
A common mistake is to use a standard or wide-angle lens without paying attention to the background. The easiest way to get a nice, clean background is to just throw it out of focus with a telephoto lens set to a wide aperture and zoomed in as far as you can go.
3 Get down low
Choose a simple backdrop not massively different in exposure value from your subject. Ideally, you want the background slightly darker, but as long as it isn’t massively brighter than the squirrel this shot will still look great. Get your lens as close to the ground as possible.
4 Support your Nikon
Don’t break your wrists trying to hold that long lens a few inches off the ground; throw a bean bag or rolled-up blanket underneath it to take the weight off. Beanbags also help you balance your Nikon on car doors – great for safari parks. Strapped for cash? Sew one yourself.
5 Open wide
In aperture-priority mode, set the widest aperture your lens allows and your Nikon will change the shutter speed as the sun goes in and out. Choose an ISO of 600 or more to give you a fast shutter. If you find you’re overexposing, even on the fastest shutter speed, turn the ISO down.
6 Adjust as needed
If the sun comes out, use negative exposure compensation to underexpose the image slightly. It avoids inaccurate metering in scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows. Direct sun can work, but it needs to be low in the sky and will look best if backlighting the animal.