How to capture stunning winter wildlife – Part 5: boost your creativity

Liberate yourself from photographic norms. You just never know what you might be able to produce (Image credit: Andy Parkinson)
Meet the pro: Andrew Parkinson

Andy Parkinson

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

Andy Parkinson is an award-winning wildlife photographer, regular National Geographic contributor and a recent Nikon ambassador. Working with wild animals only, he often speaks about conservation, animal rights and photo ethics.

The only thought in my head when I’m shooting is, “Does the image work?” I don’t shoot for magazines, or for awards, or in anybody else’s style. Instead I shoot only to please myself, and these images are my own creative interpretation of what I’ve experienced. 

As such I’m free to shoot whatever I feel, whether it ends up working or not. Remember that with digital cameras there is no financial consequence for trying something, and if it doesn’t work then that is what the delete button is for. 

The most important thing is that you’re willing to try new things, and to keep shooting when others might stop.

Pro advice

Andy Parkinson

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

Andy’s 5 tips for capturing more creative images

High-key images are somewhat in vogue at present, with many photographers sharing their various examples on social media. Often, however, it seems that high-key is just another way to describe overexposed images, so there is definitely an art to getting them right. 

Photographed correctly, you’ll end up with a shot with illustrative qualities, almost more reminiscent of an artist’s drawing. Get it wrong, however, and it will simply look like you’re trying to pass off a mistake as ‘art!’

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

1. Focus on the details
If the subject allows, work sensitively at close quarters. I love images with an abstract feel, where the viewer is not immediately sure what they’re looking at, and that’s what I’ve strived to do with this mountain hare. This was photographed at f/14 yet the depth of field appears very narrow.

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

2. View from the rear
Don’t stop shooting just because the animal or bird is facing away from you. No one looking at this image will struggle to imagine what creature this tail belongs to, because it is one of the most recognisable body parts of this iconic species. Does the image always need to include the whole subject?

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

3. Nature's abstract canvas
The white canvas of a snow-covered field is an ideal backdrop against which to produce uniquely creative and imaginative images. This brown hare looks suspended in mid-air, like it has been Photoshopped into the image, but in fact all it is doing is bounding along past the near-frozen photographer.

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

4. Look for symmetry
I often look for patterns or shapes in nature, and winter, with all of its graphic qualities, is the perfect time of year to indulge. Nature routinely throws up beautifully symmetrical moments, and as this swan glided away in threat posture I knew to wait until the head became framed between the tail feathers.

(Image credit: Andy Parkinson)

5. Convey their character
Mountain hares rely on their camouflage in winter in order to stay safe. Using snow holes or depressions in the ground, they lie motionless, trusting the ability of their white coat to blend in and keep them safe. These characteristics can be revealed with a considered, creative approach.

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