Where did the time go I asked myself as yesterday came to an end? Two wonderful days showing eight clients ‘The Beauty of Wildlife’, firstly at Calumet Manchester in their brilliant studio/classroom and the second day out on the moors of the Peak District, Derbyshire, on my wildlife workshop in conjunction with Calumet. The aim of this workshop is to demonstrate the simple techniques that I apply to my own photography and to then share these with the group.
I demonstrated to the group how to approach their subject using fieldcraft skills without causing any distress to the animal, this in turn lets them relax, which will present you with the best opportunities to photograph their beauty, expressions and behaviour.
The first day was a mixture of talks, slideshow presentations and photographic tips and advice, followed by a cup of tea and biscuits. After which I went through each clients camera showing how to get the best from each make and model in readiness for the second day out on the moors, where those tips could make all the difference to a well composed image while at the same time learning more from the wildlife that live in this part of the world. All the information and advice we discussed was contained in a handout I’d prepared for each client as seen above, this would help once the group had gone home to use as a reference guide.
Photographing wildlife in ‘the wild’ is the only real and true way of learning about behaviour and fieldcraft, so it was very important for me to show the group on the second day how I work and go about getting the images that I achieve, while working with subjects that are free to come and go as they please and have fear for humans, where you have to work the land and the environment to try and obtain an image, straight from the wild so to speak. The group was a great mix of people, from all over the UK at varying levels of competencies and were really good company.
We had some amazing light on the second morning of the workshop. We met at 5am in the pitch black of the morning and there was a low lying mist, but above I could see the world’s atlas as I call it, the stars, so I knew this would clear as we made our accent. I had gone through some key elements to wildlife photography the previous day in my presentation to the group. One of those elements was ‘light’. Find it, work with, and create your image alongside what light you have. So after a 40 minute accent in total darkness, guided by our small tourches we reached the area in which the grouse, hare and other wildlife of the Peak District make their home in.
Straight away over to the east the sun was just beginning to force its way up, burning off that surrounding mist and exposing a warm, wonderful glow to the area. I quickly saw a silhouette of a Red Grouse, let the whole group know and watched as they all used fieldcraft, slow movements and got themselves into place, went through the settings, checking shutter speed and so forth, using the key skills and elements I’d touched on the previous day.
The images above show that wonderful moment and all of the group had at least one image, capturing several elements that came together during the few minutes this grouse allowed us into his life. Light, colour, silhouette, composition and exposures all working together to produce a lovely and different image, what a great start to the day. I couldn’t have asked for more for the clients. I wanted to try and capture some of the colours and shapes of the clouds during this amazing moment so I used a wide angle to try and focus on the bird while showing the colours. He took off not long after and you can just make him out over to the left, very small in the frame with blurred wings. It gives you an idea though of the wonderful site the group had that morning.
During the morning we were all treated to many different encounters as the heathland and moors came to life. Grouse flying, landing, settling down on rocks to call and state their claim to a given area, wondering who these shadowy figures were at that time of the morning, moving around this beautiful and unique environment. Rain and mist came in afterwards, so we all took shelter and waited for the visibility to improve and for the mist to go away, which it did sometime later and the sun shined all day there afterwards.
The group followed the advice I’d given the day before on another real key element within wildlife photography, fieldcraft! Approach with care, stay low, and see and read the signs on the ground in front of you, look for light and above all respect the subject more than any photograph. All the group were brilliant and got some amazing encounters and images through their hard work , ‘you only get out what you put in’. This is the key.
After lunch the group were free to explore for themselves, put into practice skills and tips I embedded throughout those two days and it was really good to see them all going about their own work and capturing some lovely images with strong composition, good use of natural light and above all listening and watching wildlife to build a picture of whats happening around you.
Being in the wild really showed the guys how to capture images using fieldcraft and watching and listening to wild animals in their own environments. This is the only true and real way people will learn this key skill I believe. When I met up with the bosses at Calumet Photographic I stressed that I would only like to work among nature, showing people key elements you must learn and use to be able to photograph wildlife. After the two days I think the whole group enjoyed those two days, learning and benefiting so much this way, which is my main aim when delivering this beauty of wildlife workshop to the public.
A big thank you to all the clients for your time and efforts during the two days. I really hope you got a lot from the days and learned something new. You were all great on the second day and looking back now you can see through the images you captured why the early start was so important to capturing lovely images of wildlife.
I have another two wildlife workshops planned in conjunction with Calumet Photographic, Saturday 21st & Sunday 22nd January and Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th March, with other ideas for the spring including a 2 day workshop in the beautiful county of Norfolk, photographing the spring coming alive with wildlife. More details will be posted on Calumets events site very soon and I will update my blog when they are finalized.
Also many of the workshop participants hired camera equipment on the day from Calumet which worked really well for the clients, so if you’d like to attend and hire your equipment then just speak to Calumet, Manchester and it can all be arranged for you when you turn up as their service is excellent. The same goes with the many wonderful workshops I run here in the UK and abroad where you can hire from your nearest Calumet dealer before you come on any of my workshops should you wish to hire. For details of prices and rates contact your nearest branch on the link here.
Calumet, Manchester have a Autumn open day on the 9th November where I will be in attendance to help or answer any queries or questions about wildlife photography, they have lots of other things going on that day including a free camera sensor clean, special offers along with some brilliant companies offering advice and help. So if you are in the area pop in to say hello.
These workshops have been included in this months BBC Wildlife magazine as part of their photographic tours/trips, again for the second year running along with one of my favourite images of a Barn Owl hoovering and hunting as their main image, covering two pages 112-113 of the October issue, it looks amazing, or you can view online here and last years, where have the last 12 months gone. Many thanks again to all the clients who booked, it was nice to meet you all and thanks for a great two days.