Not just photography: My Wildlife Tours
There are numerous disciplines in nature- and animal photography, wildlife being the most challenging though. Why?
The most popular way to take pictures of animals is in a “controlled” environment. This is for instance in a zoo, wildlife park or even with tamed “wild animals”. Through constant exposure towards humans, the animals are forced to adapt their behaviour, thus changing their primal and natural ways. Any photo that has been taken in a controlled environment, must be declared as such. The fact that no animal has been influenced for the picture, increases the photograph’s value. Nevertheless, zoos offer the perfect setting to gain experience, routine and practice. The value of understanding your camera and gear when in the field is immense. The first step in wildlife photography is always to successfully approach the animal, or if possible, have it come towards you. In order to do so, one must understand the animal’s natural habitat, its behaviour and movement patterns. Depending on the shyness of the animal, quite a bit of patience is required in this step. The long summer days offer the perfect opportunity to photograph nocturnal animals, as there are more daylight hours.
Wildlife photography is much more time consuming and complicated, yet when done properly, it is the most respectful and rewarding type of animal photography. Each picture is unique and has a certain documentary value; it tells its own story about the animal species’ habitat, behaviour or feeding. A main point in my photography class will be to look at the different obstacles you will encounter and learn how to deal with them. My goal is to teach you how to use the given “uncontrolled” environment to your advantage for an unforgettable photography experience. Despite (or precisely because of) the difficulties one encounters during wildlife photography trips, make it to be one of the most challenging, but also one of the most rewarding and interesting types of photography. Taking a break from our hectic life and paying attention to the small things we fail to see in our everyday lives is important. My classes focus on what types of habitats different species prefer, how they behave, how to track them and last but not least how to get close and photograph the animal.
The importance of the technical aspect to photography is not to be underestimated. During my tours, I will teach you how to achieve desirable photographs on a regular basis. With the help of targeted intervening, which will be kept to a minimum, I will teach you how to place sticks in photogenic ways, place camera traps, and bait animals (without making them dependent on humans). We will also use various regional offers for instance, the “Red Kite Centre” in Doune, where one can take pictures out of a hide, which helps to improve our skills. The goal in such practices is not to win “National Geographic Photographer of the year”, but apart from enjoying a thrilling experience, to learn about the birds’ behaviour, and to properly adjust the camera. Wildlife Photography is not the easiest way to achieve beautiful animal photographs, as patience, knowledge, a trained eye, experience and a bit of luck are always necessary. Such a photograph is worth so much more than any ordinary picture, though. It is a documentation, a unique moment between photographer and animal. One that can never be recreated.
Join me on an adventure, here in Scotland, and learn about our flourishing nature.
We will be adjusting our techniques and approach, depending on each situation and animal species (and not vice versa). An animal’s behaviour, habitat and even appearance can change drastically depending on the season. Wildlife photographers use this phenomenon to their advantage. Examples are the Scottish Red and Black Grouse; both birds are known for being difficult to find, let alone photograph. During mating season, the black grouse gather in so called leks, where they display and show off their strength in an attempt to impress watching females. One can observe this phenomenon from a hide, as they dance around each other.
Otters, seals, giant sharks, whales, dolphins, eagles and even the charming puffins, aren’t animals that are generally thought of in context with Scotland. With the help of a local guide, and a keen eye, all of these animals can be found here during the summer! An autumn spectacle, that one does not want to miss, are the red deer during mating season. They walk about proudly with their imposing antlers showing less fear than normal. The winter offers its own phenomena. Snow hares and ptarmigans turn white, adapting to the snow-covered scenery. With a bit of practice both animals can be distinguished in the landscape, despite having perfect camouflage. I am offering at least one photography tour per season, each varying in its emphasis and animal species.
My wildlife photography tours are designed to help you make wonderful pictures during the tour, but also to teach you how to apply different photography methods and for stunning results to carry on when you get back home. We will be looking at the technical aspect of wildlife photography, learning about the animals’ different habitats, training the eye to find the rather sneaky species, learning about their different natural instincts and how to apply your new knowledge when out in the field.
In summer, I am offering a wildlife photography tour on the island of Mull, located just off the West coast of Scotland. Mull is known for its diversity regarding different types of shores, charming villages, hilly areas and fascinating history. A range of different bird species have their largest breeding colony in all of Great Britain on this island. Swallows, razorbills, gannet, guillemots and the unmistakeable puffins belong to these breeds. Due to the many birds breeding in a relatively small area, one can get close to the animals.
Mull is also home to about twenty pairs of white-tailed sea eagles, being the fourth largest eagle breed. Additionally, this island is known for having a very healthy population of the European otter, Mull being one of the best places worldwide to glimpse (and photograph) one of these elusive animals. Some coasts have playful grey and common seals along the beaches. The oceans are full of dolphins, whales, basking sharks and sunfish. With the long summer days, we will be taking full advantage of the sunlight. Would you like to join me on a wildlife photography adventure?