Whatever the season you can get great wildlife shots, but research is essential. Consider your subject, the weather, light, time of day and year, and always think outside the box

Interactions

Credit: Oscar Dewhurst

Interactions

Oscar Dewhurst

Young birds can be great photographic subjects because there will be interactions such as feeding between them and their parents. However, it is really important to make sure that you don’t disturb them. If the birds start alarm calling then it would be wise to retreat, as your presence is clearly unsettling for them.


Think landscape for wildlife

Credit: Ann and Steve Toon

Think ‘landscape’ for wildlife

Ann and Steve Toon

Resist the temptation to shoot all your subjects up close on safari just because you can. We often like to pull back and do ‘animal-scapes’; showing off ‘small’ foreground subjects. This works especially well for Africa’s iconic big game set against the wonderful scenery or a simple backdrop of a vast sky.


concentrate on composition

Credit: Victoria Hillman

Concentrate on composition

Victoria Hillman

Amphibians and reptiles have beautiful and intense eyes so make them your focal point. Try composing with your subject off-centre for a different perspective, and photograph at eye level. To give your subject more context and create a more complex image that tells a story, look at incorporating the surrounding habitat.


use backlight for wildlife

Backlighting particularly suits the translucency of butterflies. Credit: Ross Hoddinott

Use backlight

Ross Hoddinott

Backlighting really suits insects, as it tends to highlight their form, detail and intricacy. Low early-morning or late-evening light is perfect for shooting backlit subjects – the light’s quality is warmer and softer too. Position yourself carefully, so you sandwich your subject between the light and your camera. TTL metering can be fooled in tricky light, so check your histogram and apply positive exposure compensation if images are underexposed.


Plan for the weather

Spray foliage with water the night before a heavy frost is forecast. Credit: David Tipling

Plan for the weather

David Tipling

When photographing garden birds, keep an eye on the weather. If snow or frost is forecast ensure your perches or any other props are in place the night before. If you know a heavy frost is on the cards try spraying a perch, as well as any attractive berries or foliage, with water to emphasise the frosty look the next day.


Don't take record shots

Credit: Chris Weston

Don’t take record shots

Chris Weston

Before you press the shutter, ask yourself the question, ‘How would I caption this image?’ If the only answer you can come up with is the species name: a tiger, a bear, an eagle, etc – stop! Wait for a better shot. Avoid the standard record shot and try to say something more about your subject.