Photographing the natural world can be both frustrating and immensely rewarding. Here is a chance not only to learn new techniques for greater enjoyment of your wildlife photography, but also an opportunity to have your images appraised by leading professional Heather Angel. Becoming an observant field naturalist will ensure you gain a closer approach to wildlife before they take evasive action.
Whether in your own garden or in more remote locations, learn how to make the most of available light for taking wildlife portraits. Also learn how to meter high key and low key subjects. Understand when to use flash and how useful fill-flash can be for animals of any size.
Learn when and how to get dramatic action shots of animal behaviour using fast shutter speeds and slow ones by panning the camera. Invest time working with baby animals, because although a challenge, it will be very rewarding. Learn how to use a house as a hide and about hide etiquette in public hides.
Tips and hints for getting in close to minibeasts and also for photographing life in aquaria are included - with much more detail in my Macro course. Having found your target species, thought needs to go into how best to compose the shot and to select the most appropriate shutter speed and aperture. Discover how to get dramatic silhouettes at dusk and dawn and how to plan a photo story. Finally, learn how to edit images and to retrieve them at a later date.
On completion of the 4-week course you will have a good all round knowledge about how to approach wild animals in their natural environment whether at home or abroad, as well as consistently achieving correctly exposed images, eye-catching portraits and arresting action shots – from beetles to large mammals.
Lesson One: Making a Start
This lesson covers how to approach wild animals using the equipment which is best suited for getting photographs of birds and mammals as well as macro shots of insects. There is also guidance on metering – including tricky subjects such as white birds in the snow as well as shots with large shadow areas. Examples of different types of lighting – front, side and back, including silhouettes – are all illustrated and explained. Finally, there are examples of how to best to frame different subjects so as to achieve a striking composition.
Lesson Two: Animal Portraits
Taking frame-filling animal portraits, whether large or small animals, requires care and thought about the lighting and composition We will look at ways to light animal portraits, including using fill-flash to in-fill shadows and gain a catchlight in a black eye surrounded by black fur or feathers. Your own garden can be a rich resource of wildlife subjects especially if a bird bath and a bird feeder are provided. If the feeder can be positioned near a window in the house, this makes a handy hide – especially on wet days! Finally, guidance is also given on how to photograph mini-beasts, including insects, frogs and toads.
Lesson Three: Animals in Action
Taking action shots of birds and mammals – including baby animals – is more difficult than static portraits, but great fun when they work. Baby animals are particularly rewarding – whether playing on their own or with their parents or siblings. Action can be frozen by using a fast shutter speeed and in poor light it may be necessary to increase the ISO. Moving animals can also be captured in creative ways including panning the camera in the same direction as the animal is moving and by using a slow shutter speed.
Lesson Four: Nature Tamed and Wild
This final week looks at taking wildlife in cities, collections and zoos as well as in wilderness areas. The pros and cons of taking captive versus wild animals is also covered. Advice is given for photographing animals in aquaria, how to compose images of wildlife in the habitat and points to look for when selecting a wildlife photo tour. Finally, ideas are given for shooting photo stories as well as keeping an open eye for a humorous wildlife shot.
For wildlife in habitat and wildlife portraits
Camera with a zoom lens so can stand back to take wildlife. A DSLR is not essential, but it will be easier for action shots because the focusing is faster.
For macro shots
Some means of getting in close – either with a macro setting on a zoom lens or a true macro lens for a DSLR camera.
A flash - either in-camera or a separate flash
Camera support - a tripod or monopod is not essential but could be useful if need to set up the camera and wait for wildlife to arrive/ behave.