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Chris Packham: Nature photography

Chris Packham
By Chris Packham
BBC Springwatch/Autumnwatch

No camera ever took a great photograph, it takes a photographer to do that.

Therefore it doesn't matter how posh or expensive your equipment is, if you've got the knack, you can take fabulous pictures.

Even a mobile phone will be capable of producing a ground-breaking image if it were in the hands of a genius!

Most of us are armed with small snappy cameras and as long as you accept the limitations, you can still get good wildlife photographs.

Foula Island by Chris Packham
Add impact to your landscapes by shooting in dramatic light

Firstly you need to concentrate on larger animals that are closer to you, or perhaps if they are further away - give them some context such as setting them into the landscape or habitat.

For this reason it's often useful to practice you skills by visiting a wildlife park or a good zoo. Here the animals are tame, accessible and quite used to being photographed.

Of course, if you don't get any good images you can always go back to try again.

If you're out in the real world why not think about taking a few landscape images, reflecting the countryside in its wider context?

When it comes to these sorts of images you really need some drama, normally in terms of light or weather - so don't be afraid to go out in a thunderstorm or to set your alarm very early to capture a beautiful sunrise.

If your camera is a little more advanced, perhaps a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses, then you can be a bit more adventurous - but whatever you do, you have to concentrate on producing a picture that is unique and reflects your response to the subject.

It has to be special enough to stand alone or perhaps be worthy of a frame and a place on the wall.

This is very easy to write, but very difficult to achieve - indeed, I can't say that I've managed it in all of my years of photography - but I don't like any of my pictures anyway!

Fiddler crab by Chris Packham
Characters will always help to create engaging pictures

Two thoughts: Photograph subjects which most people avoid - I spent a week recently lying on my belly in the mud photographing crabs, while everyone else was turning their lenses on flamboyantly coloured birds.

Secondly, if you make life difficult for yourself - perhaps by shooting into the light or in very difficult conditions such as heavy rain, driving snow or stormy seas - there will be less chance of you overlapping with other photographers' work and your images stand a chance of being far more striking.

Now that we're in the digital age don't be afraid to change your photographs on your computer when you get back home.

I'm not advocating cheating, but many of the techniques that even the most basic of software offers - equates to what people were doing in the darkroom for years. Often, just a modest tweak can rescue or greatly improve one of your images.

Lastly, and perhaps most important of all - although not particularly satisfying - you should be intensely critical of your own work.

Critically analyse all of your 'best pictures' until you find a mistake. You'll never be happy, but you will then constantly be striving to get better and better!

Send us your best nature photos
10 Dec 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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