by Peter Lewis
As an amateur wildlife photographer, the one thing I have against me is time with my subjects, so this is where my preparation is key. Knowing what I hope to achieve in following and photographing my subject, which is the Red Fox in this feature. These animals are not like their urban cousins and will hightail it as soon as they sight or sense something different. The sense of achievement in finding and photographing these animals outweighs the time and effort put into finding them.
So here are a few tips that will cover most of our wildlife in the UK.
This will include:
- Finding them, in this case, the Foxes’ Den(s) which is not an easy task as these animals are elusive at the best of times.
- The kit I will require, lenses and camouflage.
- The best time to photograph them.
Get to know about your subject
The more you learn about your subject, the more insight you will have in trying to catch your perfect images. The cubs will appear in late April/May possibly and come out at varied times. This is a great time to photograph foxes and cubs, but if the vixen sees people she could move the cubs to another Den area.
Low and Slow
Be in the place you want to be and well camouflaged. I use camouflage clothing and also netting, which I find it easy to carry around over my pop up hide which fits into a golf-sized bag. The key is to be at eye level with your subject. If you need to readjust your position, do it very stealthily and when it is a good time to do it.
Most photographers will know about the rule of thirds and leaving a bit of space with your image. But if you are a beginner this is a very good element of your photography to learn, but also remember that rules are there to be broken too.
Camera and Lens
Use your longest telephoto lens you have to start with as this will mean you can be farther from your subject to start with. If you visit the site regularly, then your subject may become more confident in you, and I have been lucky enough to use my Sigma 10-20 lens with a fox last year.
Also it is good to understand being off auto setting on your camera. This will help you work with your ISO, shutter speed & F stop settings. Practice these in your garden or local parks on more common subjects to gain an insight into the settings of your camera.
Some people will have bridge cameras or compact cameras so work to the best of your equipment as the main aim is enjoyment of our wildlife.
This is one of the key factors for me as I think it is well worth the wait to get even a glimpse of some of the UK’s Wildlife. Remember these animals will do things at their own pace. Even where people go to paid hides, there is no 100% guarantee on seeing the subject turn up.
Go out in all conditions
Don’t be afraid to go out in the rain as this may be when you can get a great image, just make sure your gear and yourself are protected from the elements.
I think this is why we all do it as a hobby. There is no pressure to get that the perfect image, yes it would be nice but for me not essential. The fun is in going back time after time trying to get the image of something you want.
I had planned to follow our fox family this year after a lot of hard work and hours with my friend over the winter months, but alas I think this Covid-19 has put paid to this. A shame but safety and health come first.
Canon 80D; 60D backup, Canon 50mm F1.8 Canon 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM, Canon 2 x converter, Canon 24-105mm F4, sigma 10-20mm F3.5, Sigma 105 F2.8, Sigma 150-600mm contemporary, Alta Pro 2+ 263AB 100 Tripod with Ball Head and Multi-Angle Central Column and a Vanguard Alta Sky 53 Backpack.
Peter is from the Northeast of Scotland and got into photography 13 years ago after a car accident and although he enjoys all aspects of this new hobby, wildlife is Peters passion. Find more of Peter's work on Facebook.