Largest British Birds of Prey by Wingspan

I was surprised to find that nowhere on Google could I find a list of UK Raptors by size. So here is a table compiled from RSPB Maximum sizes. 


RAPTOR                                    LENGTH (cm)   WINGSPAN (cm)   WEIGHT (kg)

WHITE TAILED EAGLE             90                      240                          7.0

GOLDEN EAGLE                      88                       220                          6.6

RED KITE                                  66                       195                           1.3

HONEY BUZZARD                   60                       150                           1.1

BUZZARD                                 57                        128                           1.3

Red Kite

Let Your Voice Be Heard...

Let Your Voice Be Heard...

How to improve your wildlife photography

September 6th 2020

A common question I get is .."How can I get photos like yours?". The short answer is lots of hard work, thousands of photographs and lots of patience! But as always its a little more complicated than that and for sure the old adages "No pain, no gain" and 10,000 hours are very true when it comes to Wildlife photography.


In the last couple of years I have refined my opinions on the key skills that you will need on the journey to wildlife excellence by speaking to professionals, social media tips and all the free knowledge on YouTube. 

I love a catchy little acronym to help remember it so here goes .... get  C.L.O.S.E.R

How to improve your wildlife photography

So lets go thru them in a little more detail:-


Camouflage

If you're like me this may be a tough one for friends and family, with you wandering round looking like an SAS operative , but a little bit of ribbing from your kids will pale to insignificance when a deer looks straight through you from a few yards away! Its true - all you really need is to avoid brash bright colours and remove the head shape and eyes that spooks animals. 

A balaclava is mandatory IMHO and this alone will help you a lot with deer and birds. Going further depends on you.  A hide is the next step and that can be addressed with personal hides, tents or using custom built hides in reserves. To get started just buy a £5 balaclava and a green sweater and you're off!

Lens

I don't want to dive into the confusing world of all the "tech" , but lets be honest , you are unlikely to get great shots of birds or animals 50 yards away if you have anything less than 300mm lens, so invest in something that will get you closer. Roe Deer would always run at 50 yds so I had to get closer and I couldn't get a shot of a Kingfisher on the far side ofteh river with a 300mm.

I jumped in with a Sigma 150-600 Zoom and it has been great especially if coupled to a good quality camera body. I was fortunate to be able to get a Nikon D850 which is awesome and the two together powered all the images on this site - and hope you'll agree they are not bad. 

Observe

You can have all the best kit and be almost invisible , but if you dont know where to go , what time and what the animal will do when you get there you'll have a boring time. Go out and snap a few shots and try to watch how your target behaves. I spend 2 weeks seeing a Barn owl every morning with grainy horrid shots and gradually worked out they fly the periphery of a field , so I could lie in wait. I worked out they werent (that) bothered by me as long as I sat still and wore a balaclava to not be too obvious.  Daytime shooting was out of the question due to work and teh Owl would often be around early in low light at 7:30'ish hunting over a certain set of fields. 


Last I had to study the flight , the speed and low light settings to balance freezing motion with  light. Put it all together about a week later- one flew right over my head and I got a good set ( see right ).

Barn Owl in Flight 20 Yards away

Take it SLOW

Settings

You simply MUST know your camera and how photography works or life will be sooo hard.  Learn teh exposre triangle balancing ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture ( you'll find some great YouTube Videos on my links page )

Read the manual on autofocus settings and bone up on back button focussing. I wont go into all the details , but trust me get all these factors in your head and things will improve whatever you are after !


Endurance

You could say this is really Patience but its more than that. Perseverance and a bit of "attitude" that will make you clamber through the bushes,  fall in a ditch , get soaked or lie in a tractor rut for 2 hours.  Its all those factors that help you to put yourself in the right place and ready to take your moment if & when it comes.

Repetition

As the famous golfer Gary Player used to say "the more I practice the luckier I get".  I firmly believe in the 4 steps of mastery. think about driving a car we all get through it :-

(1) UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE you are blissfully unaware that you don't have a clue! 

(2) CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE you become aware that work has to be done and you address the shortfalls to improve

(3) CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE With concentration and thought you CAN do it! You have cracked the problem.

(2) UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE You are so good at this skill and comfortable that you don't have to think about it. Like tying a shoelace or changing gear after 10 years driving - you "just do it" and your body just executes. Only the 10,000 hours or heaps of photos can help you achieve proficiency. 

Put all these steps together and you are ready to take great wildlife photos! Dont panic - the journey is wonderful and learning is fun so take your time and enjoy it as I still do . Truth is you will NEVER be able to say you have cracked it and there will always be a new challenge or a slightly sharper Kingfisher or a more interesting Kite or that extraordinary shot that nobody else has captured!


Hope this help and be sure to contact me if you want to discuss. Regards Simon

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