Port­fo­lio re­view

Rebecca Clark takes a walk on the wild side around Gloucestershire, UK, to pho­to­graph the lo­cal wildlife

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We give our opin­ion on a reader’s shots of all crea­tures great and small taken on a coun­try stroll

My first cam­era was a present for my 10th birth­day, so I’ve been shoot­ing from a young age, but I started tak­ing it more se­ri­ously in my 20s when I bought a bridge cam­era, be­fore up­grad­ing to a Nikon D80. Af­ter shoot­ing two wed­dings I up­graded to the D800, but af­ter shoot­ing my 10th wed­ding, I re­al­ized that this wasn’t the av­enue of pho­tog­ra­phy I wanted to go down, so I switched to na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy. I sell greet­ings cards of my prints through lo­cal shops, but I also have photographs on dis­play at a nearby gallery. My hope is to be a full-time pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­pher one day.

I strug­gle with cap­tur­ing move­ment in my images, but love the chal­lenge of cap­tur­ing but­ter­flies in flight, and it took me many hours be­fore ac­tu­ally achiev­ing a shot of them fly­ing I was happy with [1]. Achiev­ing ac­cu­rate fo­cus, in­creas­ing the shut­ter speed to freeze the ac­tion and an­tic­i­pat­ing their move­ments were all ar­eas that I found were chal­leng­ing to get right.

I also feel I need more help with pho­tograph­ing in low-light con­di­tions. I of­ten strug­gle, but one evening I was head­ing home from a sun­set walk in

Gloucestershire when I saw some rab­bits at the top of the field, with the bright evening sky above them. I couldn’t ex­pose for them with­out blow­ing out the sky, so Ithought if I shot from low down and ex­posed for the sky in­stead, it would make a good sil­hou­ette [2].

Of­ten of the most chal­leng­ing thing about wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy is cap­tur­ing an im­age be­fore the an­i­mal dis­ap­pears. It’s a lot dif­fer­ent to wed­dings! For my fi­nal im­age

[3], of a roe buck munch­ing on cow pars­ley, I didn’t rush over be­cause I didn’t want to scare it off, and I man­aged to get a few shots be­fore it wan­dered away.

N-Photo says

Rebecca, your images are de­light­ful and have a cheery, fun qual­ity that tran­scends the quick snap­shot many of us have tried when out on evening walks. Your but­ter­fly shot [1] is by far our favourite im­age of the three you sent in. To the un­trained eye it might seem like any other but­ter­fly shot, but the tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise re­quired to pull off this sort of im­age is con­sid­er­able. Firstly, shoot­ing up into the sky brings with it a whole host of ex­po­sure prob­lems; you need to un­der­ex­pose the clouds enough to not clip the high­lights, but then you run the risk of un­der­ex­pos­ing your sub­ject in the fore­ground. You’ve man­aged to over­come that here by shoot­ing brightly coloured but­ter­flies. Also, get­ting them in fo­cus while in flight is an art form in it­self. It seems you’ve pre-fo­cused on the sta­tion­ary but­ter­fly and waited for an­other to fly in, which is the best way of achiev­ing this kind of shot: no more chas­ing them around the field fol­low-fo­cus­ing – you can just sit and wait for the shot to come to you.

Your de­ci­sion to stay low and shoot the rab­bits against the sky [2] was a great choice. You re­ally worked with what you had and the colours in the

The most chal­leng­ing thing about wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy is cap­tur­ing an im­age be­fore the an­i­mal dis­ap­pears. It’s a lot dif­fer­ent to wed­dings!

sky are fan­tas­tic. The pos­ing of the bun­nies is also im­pec­ca­bly timed: if they were ly­ing flat on the ground it would’ve been harder to dis­cern their shapes against the grass. Fi­nally, your shot of a roe buck

[3] is nicely timed; it feels like you’ve caught it mid-chew, with the grass stick­ing out of its mouth. You’ve man­aged to fill the frame with the an­i­mal us­ing your 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens, and con­sid­er­ing you shot it at a shut­ter speed of just 1/50 sec, it’s re­mark­ably sharp! Nor­mally we sug­gest us­ing the law of re­cip­ro­cals, so set­ting a min­i­mum shut­ter speed of 1/600 sec for the 600mm fo­cal length. Your ISO was set at 320, but on the D800 you could eas­ily have pushed it to ISO1600 be­fore noise be­came an is­sue. You must have very steady hands! Con­sid­er­ing you shot it at a shut­ter speed of 1/50 sec, your im­age of a roe buck is re­mark­ably sharp

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