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Photographing hares

Photographing hares - Site member Mark Davies (Enmark) shares his hare photography tips

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Category : Animals / Wildlife
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Image and tips by Mark Davies (Enmark).

Hares are great photographic subjects but unlike rabbits, they won't be back in 20 minutes if you spook them. In fact, you'll be lucky to see them 24 hours later so having your technique spot on and camera ready to shoot is vital. Now, because vegetation is lower at the start of the year March is a great time for photographing hares, particularly in fields with fresh wheat and barely crop, but they do continue to breed and box after March so you can still photograph them.

Photo by Mark Davies (Enmark).

Gear
You need a long lens, the longer the better, but not everyone has a 500mm lens so your 70-200mm will do nicely. As you're using longer lenses a tripod is a must and you'll find a Wimberley Sidekick will make tracking the hares a lot easier. Camo scrim is good for keeping your lens hidden but as long as you stay quiet and still you won't need a full suit of it.

Technique
First of all you need to find them. A good drive round in the car will help but make sure you don't enter private ground without asking permission first. You can also get out of the car and ask people. Locals will often have a rough idea of where hares are.  Just make sure you explain you're a photographer and are not out to harm the hares.

Hares have a fantastic sense of smell as well as big ears and phenomenal eye sight. There's no way you'll creep up on a healthy young hare so you need to be in position early, say 5am for a morning shoot and three hours before sundown if it's in the evening and just wait. During the day they tend to hide in woods or thick cover and if it's windy they lie down in the grass and they won't move so you just have to wait for the wind to stop blowing or return on a less windy day.

Just because you find one hare doesn't mean you'll find more. Try looking for groups of hares as there'll be a better chance of a female who's in season being nearby which means there will be boxing for you to capture. Look out for older hares too as these are generally easier to approach then younger ones as they'll freeze when you come across them unaware but if the animal seems stressed you must back away slowly.

When you find hares take time to survey the light/wind directions and positions to shoot from. Very rarely are hares a turn up and shoot animal. They need at least a couple of days to sort out their runs. But they are pretty much creatures of habit as long as the group doesn't get disturbed constantly.

Position sussed, lie down and place the camera lens axis, camo in place, at the same level as the animals eye but don't start shooting as soon as one turns up as they will know something out of the ordinary is there but as long as you don't move or make a noise they won't be bothered by your presence for long. Wait long enough and one will start eating and the rest will soon follow. When you start shooting, short bursts on the camera is required as the hares will look at you to try and figure out what it was but as long as you pose no threat, they'll stay.


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