Work at home
In some locations many animals will make willing photographic subjects
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.