Simple secrets for getting close to animals
The hardest part of wildlife photography is finding a subject and getting close to it. In this section we show you how to get prepared to bag the best shots possible before you head out.
Once you’re bitten by the wildlife photography bug, chances are you’ll want to explore further afield. It takes persistence and patience to get close to wild animals – and naturally, a long lens helps too.
However, good fieldcraft and an understanding of animal behaviour make a bigger difference to successful shots than an expensive piece of glass.
Researching your subject is vital. Knowing what time of day that a species will be active, or how good its eyesight or sense of smell is, will all help you to be in the right place at the right time.
The internet is an essential tool in this respect, allowing you to get up-to-the-minute details on the location of winter spectacles, such as mass gatherings of wading birds at the coast, or the spectacular aerial displays of roosting starlings inland.
There are a range of approaches to getting within frame-filling distance of animals and birds in the field, but perhaps the most effective is by using a hide. Talk to local landowners and farmers about the possibility of leaving one set up in a suitable spot on their land, as this way it’s likely to be undisturbed by the public.
The right clobber
If you’re planning on tracking animals on foot, kit yourself out in the right gear. A cottage industry has built up around the specific needs of wildlife photographers and filmmakers, although army surplus stores are good for the basics.
You’ll need quiet, rustle-free clothing, ideally covered with a suitable camouflage pattern – although this is by no means essential. Zips and popper fastenings are far preferable to noisy Velcro, and there should be enough decent-sized pockets to enable you to keep all your camera accessories with you when stalking.
Naturally, the longer your lens, the more distant you can be and still get shots with impact. You should use a monopod to support a large lens when you’re stalking, as it is more manoeuvrable than a tripod – it can also be used to support you when the going gets boggy!
PAGE 1: How to shoot garden wildlife photography
PAGE 2: Best camera settings for garden wildlife photography
PAGE 3: How to set up a feeding station
PAGE 4: Choosing the right wildlife photography location
PAGE 5: Look for frozen water
PAGE 6: Getting the best results from long lenses
PAGE 7: Why you want to get close to animals
PAGE 8: Key techniques for getting close to wildlife
PAGE 9: How to set up a hide
PAGE 10: How to shoot from a car window
PAGE 11: Wildlife photography in iconic locations
PAGE 12: Don’t forget the basics of wildlife photography
PAGE 13: How to protect your gear
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