Work at home

In some lo­ca­tions many an­i­mals will make will­ing pho­to­graphic sub­jects

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Some wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers en­joy the chal­lenge of cap­tur­ing wary sub­jects in re­mote lo­ca­tions. But you do not al­ways need to go to ex­treme lengths to take great im­ages: there are plenty of places where wildlife is in­dif­fer­ent to peo­ple and in pho­to­graphic terms this re­moves one of the hur­dles. Se­abird colonies are a good ex­am­ple and there are places in Bri­tain where you can prac­ti­cally stroke puffins and Arc­tic terns. And with­out stray­ing too far from home there are ur­ban parks and gar­dens where crea­tures pos­i­tively seek out hu­man com­pany – gen­er­ally for food. So once in a while make life easy for your­self and hone your wildlife pho­to­graphic skills by tack­ling eas­ily ap­proach­able an­i­mals.

Ac­ces­si­ble wildlife is of­ten ac­cus­tomed to peo­ple and some species will pose beau­ti­fully for you. Where you have oblig­ing sub­jects the chal­lenge is to be cre­ative and imag­i­na­tive with your pho­tog­ra­phy, and to make sure your light­ing is per­fect. It is tempt­ing to snap the easy pic­ture, but take ad­van­tage of your sub­ject’s in­dif­fer­ence and aim for can­did shots with at­mo­spheric light­ing, per­haps taken at ground level; or try to cap­ture un­usual be­hav­iour or in­ter­ac­tion be­tween species, and mem­bers of their own kind.

Of course, you need to do your home­work when it comes to ac­ces­si­ble wildlife to find out the best times of day and op­ti­mum sea­sons for pho­tog­ra­phy. For ex­am­ple, there is no point ex­pect­ing to pho­to­graph the rut in a deer park in July – Oc­to­ber is the month for that. Re­mem­ber that even with oblig­ing an­i­mals, field­craft and nat­u­ral his­tory insight will al­ways help you achieve nat­u­ral-look­ing im­ages. Knowl­edge of how an­i­mals be­have and their pos­ture when re­laxed or ag­i­tated is im­por­tant: know­ing when to back off can make all the dif­fer­ence to your re­sult­ing im­age.

Lastly, do not for­get to work with the weather and turn it to your ad­van­tage. Fall­ing rain can pro­duce amaz­ingly at­mo­spheric re­sults with large, rel­a­tively static sub­jects such as deer. And if there is a good cov­er­ing of snow, this can turn an other­wise mun­dane pic­ture of a com­mon crea­ture into a won­der­fully orig­i­nal im­age. Fur­ther­more, snow is re­flec­tive and hence great for un­der-light­ing fly­ing birds. So con­sider vis­it­ing a rap­tor feed­ing sta­tion to pho­to­graph red kites in a snowy win­ter.

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