Thanks to everyone who joined Renato at London Wetlands Centre, and sorry for the terrible pun! Over the two weekends we had a variety of weather conditions, and some interesting photographic challenges. Although there was a distinct lack of dragonflies (we only spotted 3!), the otters more than made up for it and were the undoubted stars of the show. Here are a few shots, and for those that couldn’t make it, Renato’s top tips for this kind of photographic situation:
1. Animals tend behave in patterns. If you spend some time watching them you can learn their pattern and predict what they are likely to do next – very important for something as fast-moving as the otters! At Wetlands I noticed that after they had eaten the otters were a lot more sluggish and much easier to photograph.
2. Use your camera’s settings to your advantage. While you might like the complete control offered by manual, in the time it takes to make the adjustments you might have missed the shot. Don’t be afraid to use the aperture priority or shutter priority modes and auto ISO.
3. Get creative. My favourite shot of the two weekends was one where I panned with a shutter speed of 1/15 second. The difficulty here is getting the focus right and panning at the correct speed. It’s a good idea to zoom out a little to give yourself some room for error, and continuous focusing is a must so that your camera will track the moving target.
4. Review your photos and work out what you could have done better. Be harsh on yourself and also get the help of honest friends. It’s sometime very difficult to be objective about an image you have spent a long time on! (check out the Robin joining in on this one!)
5. Think about the background and wait for the animal to enter it. This one is a bit risky, because if you are not chasing your subject around with your camera you are going to get less shots. However, it can often mean the difference between a great image and a mediocre one as the background is as much a part of the picture as the subject so it shouldn’t be dismissed as less important. I personally like a clean background, but one that gives us some context about the animal and where the picture was taken.
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