It’s over to a familiar face from Nature’s Home magazine to let you know how your wildlife photos could be taking pride of place in the RSPB’s fantastic 2018 calendar. Ace photographer Ben Andrew shares some of his tips, and photographs, to hopefully inspire you to enter.

The RSPB’s 2018 calendar competition is once again open for entries. This year the competition is sponsored by Swarovski Optik and boasts some excellent prizes! We are looking for 12 stunning images of nature and wildlife. This means anything from birds and butterflies, to fungi and forests - as long the photographs were taken in the UK.

The 12 images will be hanging on walls of houses, or above desks, up and down the country so it is important to consider what makes a great image for a calendar, my name is Ben Andrew and I am the RSPB’s Picture Researcher, as well as being a photographer in my free time.

I decided to photograph red deer outside the normal autumn rutting season because I thought they would look interesting using rim-lighting against their velvety antlers.

Ben’s top tips
When thinking about images, I always consider a few things:

• How can I photograph this species in a different or exciting way?
• Can I show the habitat the species is residing in to be the subject in some context?
• Can I make use of stunning lighting conditions?

It’s not necessarily easy to tick all of these boxes with every image you take so I tend to weigh up each of them as I am out photographing. If I can’t get really close to my subject I'll try think of another way of framing it, maybe smaller in the frame but showing habitat. If I can get close can I use the light creatively, maybe trying backlighting? If the subject is very confiding, can I switch to a wide angle lens and create something more unique?

I used a wide angle lens to capture a different perspective on these charismatic eider ducks in Seahouses Harbour where they are accustomed to people taking photographs.

Consider that each month will require an image so does your photograph have something that says “spring” or “winter”? We will be looking for colour combinations and behaviours that are synonymous with the changing seasons and ebb and flow of the British countryside.

But overall, have fun, enjoy entering the competition, enjoy going back over your photographic year and being pleased with what you have taken. We love seeing your shots and we can’t wait to see how the final calendar looks!

With this shot, I wanted to obtain a picture of a cygnet within the protection of the adult’s feathers with the cygnet peering through a small gap.

Enter the competition and send us your shots
For more details about entering the competition including terms and conditions please visit our website.

Good luck!