Summer’s wildlife in close-up
PUBLISHED: 11:47 14 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:38 14 July 2015
Wildlife watcher and photographer Kyle Moore offers tips on photographing the season’s flora and fauna
Summer is now in full swing, and with it comes the peak of activity for flora and fauna.
Many birds and mammals have been, or still are, busy rearing their young, flowers are in full bloom with spectacular colours, and daylight hours are long, providing plenty of time to capture this wonderful season on camera.
With so much on offer during the summer months, it can be a little overwhelming knowing what to point the lens at, so here are three of my favourite subjects, along with my top tips and techniques for bagging that perfect shot.
Although the month of March is famously known to be good for spotting hares, I much prefer to photograph them during the summer months in lush green fields, which results in more pleasing images.
Hares are very difficult to approach, but with a few simple techniques it’s possible to capture a shot to be proud of. Locating hares in Suffolk is easy enough. On a typical country lane drive you can spot a number of them. As a general rule look around areas of pasture, arable land, or even field boundaries. But remember always to get permission from landowners and farmers first.
Once located, you need to spend a short while figuring out favoured feeding sites and the pathways the hares use from field to field. With this knowledge it makes photographing hares much easier – trust me.
Then, let them come to you.
Flowers make perfect subjects to hone photographic skills, whether in the garden or among a wildflower meadow. Almost every compact camera offers a fantastic macro setting – it’s even possible on some camera phones, so you don’t need to own dedicated macro equipment.
There are a few simple techniques that can turn an ordinary image into something extraordinary. The main focus of the image should obviously be the main section of the flower head, so try to isolate it against a clean, uncluttered background. Depth-of-field can also affect the sharpness of backgrounds. As a general setting try shooting at F4 to F8 (aperture) as this will result in a shallow DOF and give clean distraction-free backgrounds, making the flowers ‘pop’ out of the image. Make your flower photos stand out by spraying a few droplets of water over the main part of the flower using a spray bottle, creating a dewy look without getting up at the crack of dawn.
With over 20,000 species of insect found in Britain alone, there’s no shortage of subjects to photograph. As when photographing flowers, use a macro lens, or macro (close-up) facility on your camera or phone.
The biggest challenge is avoiding camera shake, resulting in blurred images. To prevent this always remember to select a fast shutter speed, ideally faster than 1/250th. It helps to shoot on bright days.
It isn’t always essential to be working as close as possible – many telephoto zoom lenses such as a 70-200mm are great for larger insects such as butterflies and dragonflies.
When searching for insects it’s usually much better ‘photographically’ speaking to go searching before or shortly after sunrise, when many insects are least active, due to their body temperature.