Entries in the ‘Photography Tips’

Favourite Places

Filed in Photography Tips, Wildlife on Jun.20, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have found myself almost tied to my desk either compiling my four-coming trips to India and Kenya and so forth,editing images and making submissions,and processing images.So to find some peace and quiet away from these tasks I like the least I have found myself drawn to some of my favourite places within nature,places I have been so,so many times over the years.So on the odd days I’ve had spare I’ve replaced the pen for my camera and visited the coast,my Barn Owl and my Dipper sites to which I have committed myself to capturing these animals over a twelve month period,through the changing seasons.

Where I have resisted in parts the temptation to fill the frame with the subject on most occasions,instead capturing my style where I love to include some of the surrounding habitat.By doing this I feel the image can tell more of a story about the animal and it’s relationship with the environment.Where the subject itself may be very small in the frame,this helps to illustrate the scale of the landscape and something I have always been drawn towards in my work.But as shown below a large in the frame image works in giving a close up into their world.



Composition plays a key role in this type of image so its important to remember the Rule Of Thirds that I covered in a previous post on‘Composition’ remembering to place the subject away from the centre of the frame.

I have three Dippers sites I am visiting quite regular,time permitting at present,compiling images throughout the year, where all birds are all doing well in different ways within the Peak District,Derbyshire.These birds as you know if you are a regular visitor to my blog have amazed my from when i was a small lad,and they still amaze me to this day,with their character and constent  ‘Dipping’ behaviour ever present when you first see these birds in and around freshwater.Dippers nest early and in alot of cases can have a second brood of chicks throughout the season.One pair I have watched are feeding around three at present,when their parent lands the cries and screaming from the chicks in the nest is deafening,piercing through the noise from the fast flowing water close to their nest.



I run Dipper Of The Dales one day workshops,where I take you to the best site depending on the time of year within the Peak District.Giving you the chance to see and photography these Master’s Of The River

Also on the same stretch of river is a family of Grey Wagtails,where I have enjoyed watching their intense and frantic movement gathering food for the chicks,with the male pausing for a second in these lovely shaped tree branches below before he entered the nest,with a bit of a chance shot of the bird taking off using a slow shutter speed below this,beautiful to watch all this happening as its a great time to go out and watch wildlife now,with parents feeding young,juveniles having left the safety of their homes all happening around you as you immerse yourself in nature.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

I have also been able to have a few days at the coast photographing Seabird’s,with the Puffin being high on my wish list again.I just love the clown-like faces on these beautiful birds,which apart from the four months of the year they come ashore to breed they spend the other eight months,living and feeding at sea,now that’s a very hardy bird.



My image called Fighting Puffins made the final round of this year’s BBC Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010,where I was chuffed to bits as it was the first year I had entered this highly prestigious competition,with ten images in the semi-finals,and one in the final round,below is the image of two male Puffins fighting over a woman.

Fighting Puffins

Where if you click onto the link here it will take you to the site,put in craigjones00@hotmail.co.uk and the code 223682 and you will see the fore mentioned images.Good luck to all those that have won there respective categories and now go forward to the big prize..co.uk

With my most enjoyable time of late being in photographing Barn Owls in the lovely evening light we’ve been afforded lately.This is the male I have photographed from the beginning of the year who survived the prolonged cold spell,he’s doing really well and has young to feed at the moment.Here he is seen small in the frame with the surrounding habitat turning this beautiful red and orange-yellow colour as the sun had almost set,just beautiful.

Barn Owl

A big thank you to all the interest I have had in regard to my Limited Edition Tiger prints,that are now officially on  21 Century Tiger website,promoting these images,where 50% of the profits go to helping Wild Tigers as I really wanted to help these amazing animals that I was privileged to see earlier this year in India.

My Tigers Of India photo-tour is now live on my workshops page,which promises to be an amazing adventure over the 8 days,also my Amazing Africa photo-tour is now live also .Where I am running a Photo-Tour to Kenya to photograph the Masai Mara Migration this year and next year alongside Paul McDougall who runs PhotographyKenya another amazing trip for wildlife photographer’s and enthusiasts alike.What ever you’d like to photograph it is really, as said a great time to go outdoors to photograph wildlife right now,where nature will always be challenging but when it all comes together there can surely no better feeling and satisfaction as a photographer in getting your images,good luck.


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Wildlife Photography- My Tips

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Photography Tips on Nov.30, 2009

Nature and wildlife photography is challenging but extremely rewarding,the creative side of things is a great challenge but also a lot of fun. If you like animals and learning about their characteristics and habitats then this photography is for you.Do your homework first!,taking the time to learn about the animal or subject is likely to pay off for you in creating opportunities for some great shots. Learning about an animal’s behaviour and routine will allow you to plan the best time for you to capture them. I tell people that learning about your subject is by far the most important discipline in wildlife photography far more important than the make of camera or equipment you use.With the weather in your favour you can capture nature in stunning light at dawn and dusk.
Don’t forget that patience really is a virtue when it comes to wildlife photography. Don’t expect to go outdoors and immediately find the creature of your choice,don’t expect it to stand still for you.,quite often the photographer has to wait in a un- comfortable spot for some time until there are signs of life. Animals cannot be forced to appear, or to stay for your pictures. All you can do is work with the situation when it is presented to you and be as fast and efficient as possible.When using a telephoto lens, use a higher shutter speed even if you are outdoors,a longer lens requires a decent shutter speed in order to get a sharp image and you may only have one opportunity. Also to help the sharpness of the image, choose a decent ISO, at least 400 since you will be dealing with a moving image.I teach people when and where possible to always use  Aperture priority– F4,F5.6,F8,F11 are the key ones to use.Focus on the eye of the subject every time,birds in flight focus on the centre of the body between the wings @F8

 Time of day

Although there are times where you may want to try night time wildlife photography,the chances are you will mostly be working in the day.Each situation is different but it is better to avoid the bright afternoon sun (unless it is a cloudy day) and the bright sun can affect how the camera interprets the image,animals may also hide away when it is too hot, looking for shade. As the sun goes down, you can also be treated to amazing light but you must remember to use a tripod because low light will result in camera shake without proper support. Different creatures may be accessible at different times of the day so bear this in mind


There are no hard and fast rules on composition although the general consensus is –get close.Check the background to make sure that it is interesting but not fighting for attention from the main subject,small distractions make a big difference to photographs and if you are trying to use the images for sale or a competition, you will definitely need to check there are no unwanted items in the picture. One of the most popular ‘rules’ in photography is the Rule Of Thirds,It is also popular amongst artists, It works like this:
Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, You place important elements of your composition,”the subject” where these lines intersect, the diagram below shows you these 








 Compositon of the subject should be placed on one of the four inter-sections as shown in the diagram      

Shown here perfectly with this Brown Hare running towards me and right on one of these inter-sections


 Most of us will have Wildlife around where we live or have some kind of park where wildlife is rife. This doesn’t mean that they are any easier to shoot though! the key is being very patient and quiet, and remember to use a long lens.To begin with you may want to visit a zoo or bird sanctuary where the animals are tame or you can set up a bird table and put plenty of seeds on it and place the table close to where you want to shoot. If you sit there quietly waiting, sooner or later nature will appear. A 500mm lens is ideal if you want to crop out most of the background and frame the subject tightly. These lenses are very expensive so there is nothing from stopping you from using the lens you have and cropping the image down afterwards (although you will lose some quality).Morning or afternoon light is ideal for wildlife photography,It is bright but not harsh, morning light can have a beautiful,warmth to it that adds a dramatic effect,and animals can be stunning  in this light – if you are shooting in your garden then you will probably attract some standard animals and birds, In this case, remember to be very observant,don’t just shoot mindlessly, look at what the animal/bird is doing that is interesting,is it drinking or eating?

Water droplets are nice to capture, so make sure you put out clean,fresh water for them. Photographing the birds landing and take off in your garden is brillant, capturing the movement of the wings looks stunning when done right,and looks so dramatic and beautiful.If you are trying to capture a bird in flight, you want to use the continous servo auto-focus feature on your camera since it will be too fast for you to focus on manually, combined with this function, where the camera will take photographs one after the other, you are more likely to get a good shot. If you take the time to study the birds behaviour and patterns then you may be able to accurately predict the place where the bird will fly to, so you could pre-focus on that spot and wait for the bird to pass through the next time.

Red Deer

And where possible try to get as  level with the subjects eye(s) to give you a more level point of view and I feel making for a much better and balanced image as shown above


All in all, shooting wildlife and nature is both an extremely rewarding but a difficult task. The pictures you see in magazines and in adverts are not shot on a magic whim,they are most likely the result of many hours of investment,someone had to wait for the right weather conditions in the right spot possibly for days in order to capture the best shot. Patience is absolutely the key to getting good pictures of any type of creature.Don’t forget to select the best tools you can afford. If you are focusing on animals you may want to buy a telephoto lens first, If you are interested in plants and insect you may want a macro lens, It is always useful to have a standard lens, something that covers the 50mm mark, whether it is fixed focal or zoom, with a standard lens you can always choose a macro lens or less expensive alternatives such as an extension tube, which can work for macro or long distance work.

You will be spending alot of time outdoors and probably quite a lot of time low down, you should think about buying items like a roll mat, foldable chair, or some waterproof fabric you can place on the ground before you spend time with your knees in the grass, have little comforts too; wear comfortable clothing and footwear, carry some hot water with you for a cuppa,it warms you up from the inside and can lift your spirits if its really cold, and wear a hat if it is sunny and hot, keep warm if it is the winter the more comfortable you are, the longer you will be able to stay out and take more photographs,and the more photographs you take, the more chance there is that you will have a great shot and you will be getting better.Patience and luck is the key!  I hope these few tips have helped you in some way and please feel free to contact me should you have any other queries.


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After The Rain

Filed in Photography Tips on Nov.03, 2009

A photographic tip for when you are out and about in the field photographing wildlife and you get caught in a rainstorm is, firstly protect your camera equipment I use Wildlife Watching Supplies, first class camera,lens covers/hides.Then try to sit out the storm or take shelter because after the rain has passed it will present you with some beautiful light in which to capture your subject.In the four images that acompany this article you will see During the storm and After.

Bar-Tailed Godwits


During-These Bar-Tailed Godwits are seen here enduring the harsh condition of this rainstorm



Afterwards -The rainstorm has passed and the Bar-Talied Godwits are having a clean up

After this amazing rainstorm had passed the light and air changed,the rainstorm acted almost like a purifier in ‘Cleansing’  the air and light and it becomes a magical time to get photographing your subject who will be preoccupied cleaning themselves,so with some good fieldcraft skills in approaching your subject you should be able to get a close and different image in pleasing light,

Rain effects visibility by changing the amount of light reflected  from the subject,back to the photographers eye and after rain that ‘Cleansing’ of the atmosphere create’s this clear,warm light perfect for photography.

Bar Tailed Godwit


As shown here with this juvenile Bar-Tailed Godwit feeding among the reed beds .With the same rainstorm having passed, the water became like glass creating an almost perfect reflection in the water and there was a sharpness to the atmosphere all as a result of  ‘After The Rain’

Singing In The Rain











 If it does’nt stop raining you can always have a little fun and try to catch your subject in an amusing manner as I have done here with this Sedge Warbler in my version of  ‘Singing In The Rain’





In closing I would just like to say where possible and with your safety and that of others first and foremost, just try to sit out the storm,you will be rewarded for your efforts afterwards by the beautiful light on offer.I hope this Photographic Tip has helped you.Good Luck

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