Inspired by the British Wildlife Photography Awards?
- Published on Friday, 19 September 2014 11:30
- Last Updated on 14 September 2014
- 0 Comments
Have your children spent any time exploring the local wildlife recently? This month saw the 2014 British Wildlife Photography Awards being announced and the images will really inspire your family to get outdoors and capture some snaps of local wildlife.
Using photography to explore nature is the perfect blend of encouraging creativity in your child whilst teaching them about wildlife – not to mention it’s a fun (and free!) activity! I spoke to professional nature photographer Paul Hobson to find out some tips for getting outdoors and taking photos of nature with your kids.
What are your top tips for parents?
- Before you even get your camera out, make sure you and the kids thoroughly investigate the location you intend to photograph. Explore for a while and talk about all the potential photography subjects you could capture and think about the different angles and compositions before you start.
- The amount of light is very important when taking photos outdoors. In wooded areas, light levels can actually be quite low, especially in the summer. Using a torch is a good way to illuminate leaves without using the flash, and kids can explore all the different veins and close up details of the forest floor. A torch can work really well with fungi and flowers and even can help add light to insects but don’t shine it right into their eyes or you will scare them away.
- If your heart is set on taking photos of woodland animals, then it’s a wise idea to read up and research on the habits of your favourite creatures. There are plenty of books and websites that you and your children can research to find out when your chosen animal is at its most active, what’s the best time of day and, during the year, what behaviour you can expect and how good its senses are. For example badgers have poor eyesight but have brilliant hearing and a strong sense of smell.
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty to get the best shots. Getting the kids to capture the effect of towering trees by using low down angles is a lovely way to capture nature from their own perspective. Playing around with angles and different objects to focus on will naturally lead your child to think creatively about composition.
- Insects are an easier subject to photograph than elusive woodland animals like hedgehogs, squirrels and deer. Nonetheless, butterflies and bugs can be skittish so go slow and keep a low profile to increase your chances of a good shot. Even if you don’t get a winning image, it’ll be fun for kids to watch creepy crawlies close up.
- It’s not wise to try to photograph a bird at its nest or mammals, such as badgers or foxes, with their young. Remember the Wildlife Photographer’s Code – ‘The welfare of your subject is more important than your images.’ Many animals like a few treats, especially in winter when food is scarce. Learn which foods are good for your chosen subject, such as hazelnuts for squirrels. Try to keep the food natural looking or use natural food like acorns.
- Forests are brimming with subjects for close-up photos. Think about patterns such as tree bark or leaves resting on moss. Every season is different – autumn not only adds lovely colours but is the best time for fungi which make brilliant close-up subjects. The main thing is to encourage your children to look at nature in a different way.
What equipment should families have?
- Digital camera or smartphone with camera (that you don’t mind your kids handling)
- Plastic sheet if the ground is muddy
- Comfortable clothes that allow for movement
- A torch
- Natural treats (like acorns or hazelnuts) for squirrels
Where can families take wildlife photos?
Our forests and woodlands are fantastic places to explore nature and capture some amazing images with your family. With everything from wildlife critters to stunning landscape scenery and plenty of interesting things to photograph close up, the amount of photo subjects is endless. Discover where your nearest woodland is on the Woodland Trust website. Find more tips on where and when to take photos of nature with my photo tips from Forest Holidays.
More about Paul Hobson: Before becoming a full time nature photographer, Paul worked at Sheffield University as an Environmental Science Lecturer. Paul has been photographing wildlife for over 20 years and is committed to raising awareness of the tremendous beauty and fragility of Britain’s wildlife. Paul has received many awards for his images and his work is regularly used in BBC Wildlife, Birdwatch and Natural World. Photos courtesy of Paul Hobson