Seal photography is a popular subject and it's something that's often covered at this time of year as their breeding season runs from October to December, giving photographers the chance to capture frame-filling shots of these creatures as they come inshore. You can photograph seals all year round if you want and there are spots around our coastline where you can go. Many companies offer boat trips in such spots but you can find animals on land too. Whatever method you choose, please put the animals' welfare first.
If you are a regular seal photographer, why not post your shots in our Photo Month forum? For those who are new to the subject, read on:
We have two species of seal – common and grey – native to this country, and they offer the keen photographer a great chance to try nature photography without too much specialist gear. After all, unlike garden birds and insects, for example, they are quite large and do not move that quickly.
Photo by Peter Bargh.
It’s very important you make a note of the tide times if you’re venturing out onto the sand and keep an eye on it – you don’t want to be swept out to sea or get your kit flooded with water.
Please put the animals' welfare first and respect them and the safety of the pups you’ve gone to photograph. Never walk between a mother and its pup and if you are out on the sand with them, make sure you approach them slowly and if one starts to move, make sure you stop walking and allow the seal room to leave. If you’re at a location popular with photographers, don’t overcrowd a single seal.
Try to avoid standing and shooting from how you see the seal as you’re walking along. You’ll get a much better photo if you get down to the animal’s level and it’s a great way to avoid messy or boring backgrounds. Working lower to the ground will help you get the seal-eye-view shots you’re after while your longer lenses will allow you to capture frame-filling shots of the seals without having to get too close.
When you combine strong light with the dark skin of the seal you can have a few problems with contrast so make sure you check your camera’s histogram to make sure you’re not getting burnt out highlights.
As the seals don’t usually move too much you can use slower shutter speeds so make sure you pack your tripod or monopod in the car.
As with any portrait, you need to focus on their eyes, so use focus lock to ensure the eyes are sharp before you adjust your composition. If you’re focusing on one seal make sure you have good depth of field and if you’re including the horizon, do check it’s straight before you take the shot.
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