04 Shoot migrating swans
Chances are you look forward to winter more than any other season if British wildlife photography is your bag. Migrating swans, geese and ducks provide some of the most accessible bird photography to be had all year, and you can get away with using short lenses if you find the right location.
“I find the most interesting wildlife images are those that show the interaction and/or relationship between the subject and its environment,” says professional wildlife photographer Ben Hall. “With this is mind, super telephoto lenses aren’t necessary.
“Rather than going in as tight as possible, look closely at the surrounding landscape and try to use elements within the scene to add to the image. Trees, rolling hills, lakes and clouds, for instance, can be used to good effect, but it’s important to make sure the subject doesn’t become lost in the image. Try to place it against an area of diffuse colour and use parts of the landscape as compositional aids.
“Swans are large birds and relatively slow flying compared to smaller species. In spite of this, a fast shutter speed is still required in order to freeze their movement. I recommend starting at 1/750 sec for birds flying across the frame.
“You’ll need to check that your ISO is set high enough to enable these sorts of shutter speeds. If you are struggling for light, simply return on a brighter day.”
Get started today…
* For close-up flight shots, head to Wildfowl and Wetlands reserves around the UK.
* A lens in the 400mm f/5.6 range provides an excellent lightweight choice for flight shots. Increase the ISO to give you a fast enough shutter speed for sharp images.
* Use both continuous autofocus and continuous drive to catch the peak of the action.
* Swans, snow and cool, clear skies contain mainly light tones – expose so the histogram is humped towards the right, but not clipped.
* Wait for cold, clear days to capture colour in the sky at dusk and twilight. Grey, overcast conditions will just look drab.
PAGE 1: Shoot frozen water
PAGE 2: Shoot outdoor portraits with flash
PAGE 3: Shoot still life photography with food from your fridge
PAGE 4: Shoot migrating swans
PAGE 5: Shoot frost-covered flowers
PAGE 6: Shoot seasonal bokeh
PAGE 7: Shoot woodland abstracts
PAGE 8: Shoot futuristic city photography
PAGE 9: Shoot light sculptures