Photography Blog

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.
 
Avocet
 
  
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
 
Buzzard
   

 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

Composition

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 

Grid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 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

Hare 

 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

Summary

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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Lone Poppy

Filed in Charities on Nov.21, 2009

Help

The charity Help for Heroes was launched in October 2007 in response to the desire of ordinary people to do something practical to help our wounded servicemen and women. As individuals we are powerless to prevent war and we feel helpless that we are unable to stop our men and women from being killed and wounded. By joining together as Help for Heroes, we are doing something practical to help; we are doing our bit. Help for Heroes is very simple; we are strictly non political, we recognize that wars happen under any government, and we are non critical, preferring to get on with the job rather than talking about rights and wrongs

Lone Poppy

 My image  ‘Lone Poppy’ has been donated to the charity Help For Heroes’  by myself to help raise money for this brilliant charity which helps wounded servicemen and women when they come back home to their loved ones.As an ex-soldier myself  I have wanted to help this cause for sometime and capturing nature as helped me do just that. ‘Lone Poppy’  is a poppy on it’s own in a field full of wheat,for nearly a mile square there was no other poppy growing,its bright colour shone amongst the colour of the wheat almost like a symbol of hope,and remembrance.Its a small step for doing my bit to help these injured servicemen and women who have given their all and now need a little help back.All money from the sale of this image on my website will go direct to this charity,and you will be able to purchase it with a choice of 3 frames.The image is also available as a canvas in 3 different sizes,and each photo/canvas will be seen by myself and signed to ensure the highest standard

Their message is simple: it does not seek to criticise or be political, they simply want to help and to do so by asking everyone to do their bit to raise money. Once that money is raised, they go to the experts in the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force for guidance as to how best to spend it. It’s then their  intention to spend all they raise on the practical,and direct support of those wounded in the service of our country. So if you can help please click on the following link;  Doing Your Bit’  and read through the various different ways you can help out.Thank You

Craig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A funny photograph of me in my army days just enjoying a laugh with my comrades during a break while on active service, I have replaced the original text with the name of this image and where you can buy it from, just a bit of light hearted fun.But I hope you can help this great cause and Thanks again.

Help


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“The Owl” By Gorden J.L.Ramel

Filed in In the Press on Nov.08, 2009

 

I was contacted my a gentleman called ‘Paul Haeing’  :

 
   Dear CraigMy name is Paul Haemig. I live in Sweden and run a free website at www.ecology.infoI am writing to request your permission to use one of your photos (Barn Owl with Breakfast) to illustrate a new nature poem that will be published on http://www.ecology.info/. The poem is titled “The Owl” and is written by Gordon J.L. Ramel.We selected your photo because it best fits the poem written by Gorden J.L.Ramel

 I agreeded as I love to help out where I can and especially with projects that help/highlight the natural world.To view the photo click on http://www.ecology.info/ and click on ‘Poems’ then ‘Owl’ and you will see my image and the lovely poem,the image is one of my favorites and very pleased to help with their cause  and I hope it goes from strength to strength.

 Hunting Barn Owl

 

Here is another photo I took of a Barn Owl hunting in the very last light of the day and here he is seen ‘Lifting’ off with something he had caught.

 

 


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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

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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Changing Seasons

Filed in Advice On Wildlife on Oct.30, 2009

With the on set of winter around the corner and the days getting shorter and colder spare a thought for the animals and birds this time of year as their food become’s less available and some mammals shock up before they go into hibernation.If you have a garden place some bird feeders out,fat balls,peanuts etc  and clean drinking water in a shallow bowl, very important in hard weather when other water sources may be frozen.Ensure you are not marking it easier for predators to catch the birds, place them away from fences and dark corners ideal places for ‘next doors’ cat to be lurking and waiting for an easy meal.

Robin

 

Make your garden a paradise for birds/wildlife and you will reap the rewards by being able to watch them all year,plant berry-producing bushes and trees,also  plants that enhance insects as they are key foods iteams for tits and sparrows in the spring.Use old fruit from local markets and shops to feed thrushes through the winter,spread the fruit out onto your garden in different sizes to give all the birds the chance before the thrushes monopolise it.

A key thing with feeders is to make sure you clean them out regularly as good hygiene is imperative as Salmonella is widespread in wild birds,and wooden bird tables are difficult to clean and best avoided, also don’t put to much seed/food in them as it can go mouldy increasing the risk of disease,so aim to top up your feeds regularly when they have almost become empty . The RSPB do some brillant feeders with 100% of the profits going to helping birds and wildlife.

 

Great Tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeding the birds and animals in your garden can be so rewarding and offer you a chance to see these beautiful creatures up close and give you a vision into their world while in the comfort of your own home. So its an important thing to remember that feeding birds/animals in your garden is part of the overall management of your garden and planting trees,plants to provide natural sources of food to sustain the wildlife in your garden all year round is the key, but at this time of year you need to supplement this with more artificial sources ‘Fat Balls,Peanuts,Food Waste,Sunflower Seeds,etc,never put out desiccated coconut as it swells inside the birds.

The birds will get use to you feeding them so please try not to break the circle of feeding  as it will be a place wildlife will see as somewhere they can rely on in harsh times. Hopefully you and your family will get some much enjoyment out of watching these birds/animals feeding, seeing the characters of each different bird played out in front of you.

Great-Spotted Woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good luck and if you need any further help and advice on how to feed and what to do please click here ‘RSPB’ and this will help you.Thank you and good luck


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“Dippers Of The Dale” Workshops

Filed in In the Press, Workshops on Oct.28, 2009

My ‘Dippers Of The Dales’ workshops have started and I had a brillant time showing Tom and Ken around my site as they love the Dipper, I met Ken through my  ‘Flickr’ site.Both Tom and Ken are very keen wildlife photographers who where keen on seeing the Dipper  having read my article in October issue ‘Birdwatching Magazine’.

WORKSHOP

The picture above shows us altogether with a mini-waterfall as the backdrop,it was taken by remote trigger (Ken,Tom,Me) in that order,and it was a real joy to show them around and teach them about the Dipper, a bird that has amazed me from a small boy. Knowing where to go and how to appoach the Dipper makes all the difference for me and as I have been coming to this site from a small boy it would be nice to think the Dippers know me quite well now!. We had the whole day there,before Tom and Ken departed for home and a  sample of Ken’s work from the day can be seen here ‘Ken’ and Tom’s work from the day  ‘Tom’.

Very nice to meet you both and so glad I was able to show you around and share my love of the Dipper with you both and since have become good freinds. My next workshop is planned for ‘Monday 16th November’ see my workshop pdf below for details or drop me a line on my contact page if you would like to go.

Details on my “Dippers of the Dale” Workshop
You will need Adobe PDF to view this attachment.  This can be downloaded for free at Adobe’s website.

Dipper portrait

A Dipper in the setting sun I took at the same site.


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Whooper Swan Project

Filed in Projects on Oct.28, 2009

I have been working on a project for a few weeks now where I have been trying to capture one of my favorite birds,the beautiful ‘Whooper Swan’. This shy bird is the biggest of our swans and on the north-west coast there is in places a high population of these birds.with its long,flat forehead and yellow bill its a beautiful bird. I have been spending as much time as possible watching these birds,where they go,where they fly to and feed,the way the sun sets hoping to capture them in an almost ‘Watercolour’ painting effect inspired by my friend and wildlife artist Ian Griffiths (Griff) who paints wildlife for a living and has some amazing work,click his name and see his beautiful work

Whooper Swan

 

whooper swans

 

I watched for some time how they made their approach into their roost and tried where possible to get level with them so I could give the impression I was level and flying alongside them.One of the key things I tell people is the need to get to know your subject and how they move, how/where they live, all key factors to getting that all important photograph.Mother Nature gives clues to us and I show people how to read these and get close without impacting on their lives and in turn making for better ‘Wildlife Photography’

 Red Deer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They where so beautiful to watch and for such a large bird where very graceful when flying and landing.I also heard their loud trumpeting call  ‘Whoop-Whoop-Whoop’ hence there name ‘Whooper Swan’ I hope you enjoy some of the images I took and this time of year they live on large lakes,marshes,rivers,estuaries and fields so look out for these beautiful Swans when out out and about

WHOOPER SWAN


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WildPhotos 2009

Filed in Exhibitions on Oct.25, 2009

Wildphotos

 

WildPhotos 2009 is a UK-based conservation charity working to promote conservation through wildlife imagery and media and yesterday I traveled to The Royal Geographical Society in London to spend the day listening to the many great wildlife photographers who give up their time for this great cause.They take you through their present work,share their knowledge and offer insights into ‘Life In The Field’

wildphotos

I was very impressed by all the work and met up with some photographers I’ve met over time.The day started at 9.30am and went until 6.00pm with lunch included, and it was brilliant and would recommend anyone who has a interest in the natural world to go next year. My two favorite shows where byBritta Jaschinski’ and Vincent Munier’.

Britta photography’s wildlife in an unconventional way using black and white to convey their beauty.The images that made the most impact for me where the haunting images of animals in confined spaces resulting in here book called Zoo breathtaking images. Vincent Munier’spresentation was nothing short of breathtaking where he showed a series of some of his finest work with a beautiful soundtrack of operatic music.

I love his distinctive style of photography,so simple and breathtaking to view.He told me that he regards photography as a way of remaining close to nature and his images as having great power to move people,his approach,and manner is inspiring and for me he is the best wildlife photographer around. Click on his name and it will take you to his sight and just enjoy.

I had a brillant time and I wish everyone I met all the best and I hope thatWildPhotosgoes from strength to strength.


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