Winter can be a great time to photograph wildlife. With the trees bare, it can be a lot easier to spot illusive species such as deer and foxes.
A telephoto zoom lens will be a necessity, and you'll need a tripod and possibly a hide, too depending on what you intend to look for. Here are some tops tips for winter wildlife photography:
- The first thing is to make sure you look after yourself when you're out in the field. You will get chilly waiting around for animals to show unless you wrap up warm, take extra layers just in case, and make sure you pack some snacks and a thermal of hot drink to keep you going.
It helps to make sure you're in the rough vicinity of where the animals you're looking for have been sighted before. Do some research, ask around and it's also worth scouting out destinations, looking for footprints and evidence of animals passing through. Then, you can return with your kit another day.
- Food for yourself, but also for the animals. If you're photographing birds, for example, putting up bird feeders will help to attract winter species to your garden. If you're looking for more natural shots, try utilising a log and filling the nooks and crannies with berries and seeds to attract birds to land.
Be alert and patient
- Keep you wits about you if you go out shooting in the field and remember that animals could turn up at any moment, so try and be as still and quiet as possible. Some nature reserves will provide hides that you can stow away in, too.
Quick shooting -
Wildlife can be unpredictable and so it's a good idea to use a fast shutter speed to ensure you get a blur free shot. You should be able to up your ISO to around ISO 800 to make sure the image is still well lit without using a slower shutter speed, which could blur the image.
- When you set up your shooting position make sure that you check composition and make sure there are no major distractions in the background that may take emphasis off the animals. If you can, throw the background out of focus by using a wide aperture. This may not be possible if you're shooting with small subjects, however.
Be aware of popular shooting areas -
Yes, it may seem like a great idea to head to the popular spots, but every wildlife photographer probably had the same idea which can lead to overcrowding. Make sure you respect the wildlife and give them plenty of space so as not to stress them. It's worth doing some research into places close to home where wildlife can be seen as they'll most likely be less popular and you won't have as far to travel in the wintery months.
Often, getting down to the level of your animal can yield a better image, so make sure you take a ground sheet if you're planning on photographing small forest animals like squirrels foraging around, to avoid you laying in the snow.