For many parts of the world, Winter provides a beautiful backdrop for some of the best landscape and water scape Photography out there. Snowy hills, Frosty trees and more help to convert a world of vibrant Summer or Autumn into subdued yet awe-inspiring Winter. But what about the wildlife? Extreme weather conditions can make it more challenging to get out and about with the camera, but can also give you more opportunity to capture those elusive animals.
When I first started investigating Winter Wildlife Photography I thought that I would have to aim for things like Foxes, Deer and other wild and sometimes elusive animals. But actually, wildlife Photography and in particular in the Winter - can start right in the back garden.
Birds in particular get hungrier and needier during Winter months in England. I'm sure this is true for many parts of the world too. Depending on the kinds that frequent your garden, you could encourage them to linger pretty quickly or it might need to be built up over time. Bird Feeders strategically placed work wonders and even an old tripod with a little food for a Robin on could encourage that Christmas Card perfect shot to be captured. Check out Ten Tips for Photographing Robins for more ideas.
So Winter brings animals closer as they search for food and nourishment, but it also provides the perfect setting for moody, atmospheric and emotive shots. Early morning mist framing the outline of a Deer in a field makes a much prettier scene than usual. Early morning sunrises and early evening sunsets, especially on snow, can prove incredibly beautiful.
Winter is the fantastic time for capturing birds flying en masse. I've been lucky enough to see it just once, and not in any grand scale. But seeing birds dip and fly in formation, in a huge group, is just something else entirely. Starlings are the perfect candidate. Grab your telephoto lens and have your wide angle handy in case you're lucky enough to get a huge spread of birds flying, and snap away. To freeze fast moving flocks, a shutter speed of 1/500 seconds or faster is useful and use a large aperture and increase the ISO where necessary. If light levels are low, don't be disheartened. Choose a slower shutter speed and get a fantastic blurring effect.
If you don't have a garden, or you're not a haven for the animals of farthing wood, then don't despair! Many areas have lots of nature reserves that you can head to and utilise for the best shots ever! Many reserves set up feeding posts, wildlife cameras and hides so that there are plenty of chances to hunker down and get shots of incredible animals and nature.
Keep an eye out for the Squirrels. Here in the UK, they start to come into the gardens sometimes half a dozen at a time. They move fast, but if you can catch them flying, or eating - then it can work out quite well. Get creative with angles, get closer or use a wide angle to show your environment and your animals.
Winter means that a lot of animals have a thicker coat, birds have their most beautiful plummage and generally they can be at their best in terms of Photography. Make the most of this, find out if a local wolf trust has any open days for the public and see if you can tag along with the camera - this time of year is the best for photographing wolves as naturally as possible due to their coats often hiding collars.
As with all photographic subjects, the key is to get to know them before you start shooting. You'd do the same for a Wedding, a portrait shoot or even shooting still life. You learn your subject and work out how to capture it best. Spending time looking into the habits of the animals you want to shoot can sometimes turn out to be quite useful.