Here's the latest from our guest blogger, and ace wildlife photographer, Tom Mason. Enjoy!
So its December… The John Lewis Christmas advert has been on our TVs for a few weeks, people are getting all het up with worry due to the impending family occasion, that will most probably result in much over indulgence, festivities and stress. So why not take a few hours for yourself, pick up your camera and have your own great escape? (Although this one involves a few less daring tunnels and barbed wire fences).
December is a brilliant time for working on a wildlife photography project and due to the harsher conditions and time constraints (because of that aforementioned occasion) its the perfect time to work right outside, in your own backyard or local patch. Photography much like birdwatching is a skill that develops with time and effort and sometimes due to restrictions it can be hard to plan in a weekend in Norfolk or casual trip abroad. Instead, we have to look to our local sites to fulfil our desire to produce beautiful images.
Make a plan
Planning is vital in order to maximise productivity from the time available. Draw out the images you are after and set to work attracting species to your site in order to provide some regular photographic subjects.
Working on something small, such as garden birds, is a perfect winter project for a few hours escapism. Set up feeders and then place a selection of perches along side them, to provide a more natural setting for your subjects. Focus on the perches, using a wide aperture to throw out the backgrounds to remove distracting elements from the frame.
If you don’t have your own outdoor space don't worry, many reserves around the UK have excellent feeding stations that are always stocked up and brimming with species. Locations like RSPB The Lodge, Rainham Marshes and many more are excellent alternatives.
With your set up in place you are ready to get to work. With your location pinpointed and prepared that two hour window when the family are out shopping or the turkey is in the oven becomes a dedicated moment for your photography, that could have so easily been lost without prior planning.
In the winter having a set up prepared also has a huge benefit when it comes to snow. Waking up to snow can seem exciting, but all to often our photographic ideas can turn to mush if we don’t have a fall proof plan in place, ready for the rare white covering! Get ready and know where you will be going, Scout out locations ahead of time and keep your kit bag packed.
Snowy conditions provide a whole new set opt conditions tot set your photography skills on familiar subjects such as robins
A rare treat
Snow doesn't happen all to often in the UK (especially down South) so make the most of it, and by setting up a feeding station in advanced, you will always be prepared with a fall proof back up plan.
Keep in mind that when photographing in snow you will need to over expose to make the whites white. Be careful however, as its all to easy to push it too far and blow out the highlights. If you haven’t already, think about delving into your camera a little deeper and learning how to use the histogram efficiently to help you make sure your exposures are spot on in the conditions you are shooting for.
Hard weather many bring reed bunting s into your garden, so have your camera ready
Take a break
Winter is a wonderful time for photography and by setting up in advance, planning and aways being prepared, even over the most hectic of Christmas periods can yield some perfect photographic opportunities over the yuletide season.
As my next post wont be until after the big day, I wish everyone the best over the Christmas Period and hope that Santa brings everyone some gorgeous photographic opportunities!
I would love to hear how you get on out in the field, so why not Tweet me @TomMasonPhoto? To see more of my work you can always visit my website at www.tommasonphoto.com