Choose the best support for your camera

Tripods are one of the oldest and most well-known methods of camera support. They’re the photographers’ friend for a reason. These three magic sticks that allow you to balance and stabilise your camera are the first and most important accessory any photographer should consider purchasing. 

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Pack the right gear for an overseas wildlife adventure

I’ve been lucky enough to travel overseas on a variety of trips and assignments to photograph some amazing wildlife. The chance to see and focus my lens on new subjects is extremely exciting, but packing to make the most of a trip can sometimes pose a number of challenges. With airline restrictions and all kinds of red tape, knowing how to travel with your camera gear is hugely important if you want to arrive on location, kitted up to make the most of your adventures.

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Get closer with remote camera triggers

Want to get closer to wildlife with a wide-angle lens? Tom Mason has the answers...

Wildlife photography is often considered a game of long lenses, with big 500mm telephotos used to capture stunning close-ups and portraits. However, the most intriguing and interesting shots are often those taken with wide-angle lenses, placing the subject into context by adding habitat and a narrative to an image.

Master the basic approach 

For wide-angle images, knowing when and where your subject is going to be is key. Working in a local patch is often the best way to get started, or with familiar subjects to aid in your attempts. Find out where they feed, perch and pass and this will help you to set up your images. 

It's important to survey the scene - where is the animal going to appear in the frame and what’s the relationship between it and its background? Maybe it's a garden bird on a feeder or a seabird near a cliff. Look at the environmental features to work out the best viewpoint - think about whether the image would be a decent shot without the animal in it, making the subject the icing on the cake. 

Just add remote triggers 

In terms of kit, chances are you’ll already have most of it. A standard wide-angle like an 18-55mm is a solid option, as depth-of-field rather than faster apertures is what we’re after. For the best results, lenses with decent close focus are most well suited. I love my Nikon 20mm AF-S f/1.8, as its 20cm close focus makes it ideal for this type of shooting. 

More specialist kit can be used when it comes to triggering the shot. Radio triggers are perfect for when you’re in position and watching, though if your subject is more elusive you might be better off with an infrared or laser trigger. This will allow you to remotely fire the camera when your subject passes through a specific location. However, this approach is far more involved and requires leaving gear unattended for long periods. 

Radio triggers are available at a range of price points, from £15 to £300+. I use PocketWizards, simply because they’re reliable and built to last. Cheaper alternatives will, of course, do the job and are perfect for testing the water before investing heavily.

Set up and wait it out 

Setting up a camera can take a bit of practice to perfect. Firstly, you need to work out your composition (based on where you think your subject will be) before setting the camera for the correct exposure. If lighting conditions are stable, manual mode is preferable, though when conditions are changeable, try working with auto ISO.  

I find underexposing slightly works best to avoid clipped highlights, bringing them back up at the post-processing stage. Focus wise, you’ll be wanting to work manually, with a larger aperture of f/8 or more. Once focused, using a piece of gaffer tape to hold the zoom and focus rings in place can help them from slipping and ruining the shot.

Once you’ve set up your remote triggers, retreat from the camera and wait it out. This technique is great for the back garden, as from the comfort of your arm chair (and with a mug full of hot coffee) you can wait it out in style and still take some first-rate images of your local wildlife. Also, access to Wi-Fi means you could work with remote tethered shooting for even more of a tech happy approach.

So, get out there this month and work wide. Remote photography can be frustrating, but stick with it and in time you’ll get some unique shots.

Tom Mason is one of the UK’s most exciting young wildlife photographers and conservationists. He leads workshops and seminars and writes a monthly blog for the RSPB. See more of his work here

Go mono to capture wildlife images with a difference

Black & white photography has always been a great passion of mine. Since starting out on film over 10 years ago now, I’ve always enjoyed shooting the medium. For wildlife photography, black & white poses a number of challenges in terms of subjects, types of images and how to bring it all together to produce a meaningful shot. Below are my tips for shooting in mono to capture wildlife images with a difference…

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Use a hide to get closer to wildlife

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Learn to be a more ethical wildlife photographer

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Use bokeh to emphasise subjects and remove distractions

Photographers love to rave about bokeh, that dreamy out-of-focus nothingness that creates pleasing backgrounds, emphasising subjects while removing distractions. I won’t lie, I’m a big fan of bokeh too and over the last few years have worked intensively with shallow depth-of-field in my wildlife photography. Bokeh is a great way to produce perfect portraits, but there are a few things to think about if you want those clean and simple shots.

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Select the best AF modes for static and moving subjects

One of the most important aspects of photography is focusing. It allows us to guide the viewer’s eye around the frame, and include and exclude certain pictorial elements. When working with moving subjects focusing can also be one of the trickiest elements to master. Even with modern cameras boasting some of the fastest and most accurate AF systems ever, understanding and knowing how to get the best out of them is an essential skill for the serious wildlife photographer.

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Wildlife in October - the practical photographer's guide

Surrounded by water, our little island is an amazing location for marine life and one species that’s doing so well in UK waters is the grey seal. Ahead of the pupping season, October is a great time to catch up with these wonderful mammals around our shores for some top wildlife photography opportunities.

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Wildlife in September - the practical photographer's guide

Autumn is always an exciting time for wildlife photographers. Gorgeous light, shorter days and some fantastic natural events all come together for some super image-taking opportunities. Our favourite is the deer rut and this month is the perfect time to head out after these mammals.

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Wildlife in August - the practical photographer's guide

Kingfishers need no introduction. A bird that’s top of many photographers list, August is a great time to head out in search of them in your local area. Stunning in colour, with fantastic behaviour and feeding traits, they’re a true pleasure to spend time photographing. Here are a few tips for tracking them down in your local area.

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Wildlife in July - the practical photographer's guide

With the natural world bustling with life, July is a super time to get out and about with your camera in hand. This month it’s all about red foxes, one of the UK’s most charismatic mammals, and one that’s very often busy feeding cubs at this time of year.

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Wildlife in June - the practical photographer's guide

Summer means seabirds, and June is the perfect time to get thinking about photographing these wonderful summer residents. In the UK we are spoiled for choice – from auks to gannets, kittiwakes to fulmars, the British Isles has a stunning array of species to get to grips with. Found all around our coastline, there are numerous sites to head to in search of your subjects and produce some stunning images.

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Wildlife in May - the practical photographer's guide

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Wildlife in April - the practical photographer's guide

With the weather finally warming up and fresh green vegetation starting to appear, spring is certainly taking hold. This month head out in search of water voles and kestrels to get his wildlife photography fix.

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Wildlife in March - the practical photographer's guide

With winter coming to a close (not that it ever really got started), it's time to look forward to spring and its photographic delights, as the natural world starts to reawaken from a few months of slumber. This month we're looking at the amazing brown hare.

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Wildlife in February - the practical photographer's guide

With winter truly in swing, February often provides some wonderful photographic pleasures, the slightly longer days gifting some gorgeous low winter sun that can be perfect for a spot of wildlife photography both close to home and further afield. This month we're getting out and shooting grey herons locally and sanderlings on the coast.

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