Having just returned from Africa, Richard Lane went from photographing lions to capturing wildlife native to Britain. While the latter was very different, it was equally rewarding…
An N-Photo reader shares his experiences of photographing the wildlife of Britain fresh after returning from safari in the wilds of Africa
Having just returned from a long trip to Kenya photographing the fabulous array of wildlife that it has to offer, I went back to photographing one of my favourite closer-to-home subjects, the rabbit. Crawling through the long grass with my Nikon D800 and Nikon 500mm f/4 lens, I created a natural frame around the rabbit using the foliage . I would have preferred the rear rabbit to be in a better position, but you can’t always get what you want. It was certainly a contrast to photographing lions in Africa.
The photo of a fallow deer buck  was the first I took on my new Nikon D500 and Nikon 300mm PF f/4 lens. I had been looking forward to favourable conditions to coincide with the deer rut. That morning saw a nice mist lingering, giving a lovely diffused and muted light that stayed for the best part of the morning. The deer in the forest can be really hard to stalk and they often run a mile at the first hint of people nearby. However, I was in place well before dawn at the edge of a clearing. I knew, from previous experience, that they feed there, and the bucks usually strut their stuff before fighting. As the mist lifted slightly and the light levels grew I could make out a lovely buck feeding in the clearing. He walked in front of me and stood up showing his full antlers, posing beautifully for the camera.
It’s not just the south of England that I photograph around. On a
visit to Scotland I spent three days in a hide renowned for its regular red squirrel visitors. They usually come down from the forest to visit the hide’s reflection pool. But even the best laid plans often go awry when you work with wildlife. It took three days sat in the hide from dawn ’til dusk until I eventually saw a single red squirrel at the pool . Even then it stayed for only 15 minutes. Thankfully though, the light wasn’t too bad and I managed to come away with a few shots using my old, faithful Nikon D3 and Nikon 200-400mm f/4 VR.
The main difficulty with a shoot like this is making sure you are alert and ready when your subject appears after such a long time with nothing happening. I could only imagine how frustrated I would’ve been if I’d fallen asleep during its short visit.
With my lens wide open at ISO1600 I managed to capture the image at a shutter speed of 1/500 sec, which was fast enough to freeze the squirrel’s movement as it ate and drank. I increased my focal length to 290mm to get a tighter crop and positioned the waterline in the middle of the frame, to enhance the symmetry provided by the reflection.
These images just go to show that you don’t need to travel half way around the world to photograph beautiful subjects; sometimes your own back yard is the best spot (turn to page 106 for more back garden wildlife photography).
It took three days in the hide from dawn ’til dusk until I eventually saw a red squirrel. Even then it stayed for only 15 minutes