Sometimes I can spend hours sitting in a place I have visited before and where I have found specific forms of wildlife and yet I see nothing. Wildlife photography is a patience game as no matter how much research I do I cannot guarantee that (in this case) Mr Fox will show up to order. It is not only about patience though for it is also about not disturbing or frightening to creatures away.

There are several things I do in order to up my chances of success. The first seems obvious and entails me, my clothes and my equipment being as quiet as possible. Squeaky rain clothes are not an option and shooting in silent mode is mandatory as is keeping sudden movements to zero. Try to get in a position too where the sun if it appears does not reflect on the lens giving away your position instantly. 

With foxes I will sometimes spend weeks in the area which they frequent letting them get used to me – it is not about them learning to trust me but more in that they no longer see me as a threat. Then, and only then, will I go with a camera.  Alternatively if you get a chance to use a hide life can become simpler although this too often requires a long and patient wait with animals and birds more aware of your presence than would be expected.

I don’t often get the chance to use a hide so keeping my distance is important too which means having access to a good, long telephoto lens: it has an added advantage with its shallow depth of field that it allows me to throw an animal into sharp relief against an out of focus background.  Much more dramatic and vital – make sure the central focus point is the animal’s eyes. I use a Sigma 150-600mm zoom lens.

If you are venturing out alone and are going any distance make sure you tell someone where you are going and carry both water and a mobile phone.  Wear the right clothes and shoes for where you are going. Don’t wear recently washed clothes which smell of detergent – animals have very keen noses.

I live on the coast of Wales where there is a stunning coast path for hundreds of miles and am constantly both horrified and annoyed by the lack of preparation visitors sometimes take – they walk in flip flops on treacherous paths wet and slippery with recent rain or they don’t keep their dogs on leads. I am constantly told their dogs don’t chase sheep when actually that is not the precise danger I have in mind (although it is one) what concerns me is that every summer several people lose their dogs over the cliff whilst walking as the grass hangs over the edge and whilst the dog thinks he I still on safe ground he/she is already in mid-air and nothing can stop the subsequent fall.  Apart from the trauma of losing a loved pet every incident like this involves making a report to the coast guard and someone having to abseil down the cliff to see if the dog is dead and to bring it back up. Sorry rant over and I guess if you are out taking wildlife photographs you are unlikely to have a dog with you.

Check weather forecasts too and don’t endanger yourself or any potential rescuers by taking risks either with extremes of weather or environment (no cliff climbing for instance).

Try taking some black and white images whilst you are out there – fur and feathers come out well in mono prints. Alternatively use RAW and change to monochrome in post-production.

Remember it is the animal’s world too and try to disturb them and their habitat as little as possible.

Telephoto Lens
Telephoto Lens
Telephoto Lens