Never Fight The Light
While I was out walking along Ayr's beach with my camera the other day the light was terrible so instead of fighting the light I chose to work with it as you'll never win if you want to manipulate the light to suit you. You have to treat her gently, if you start fighting with her your images will come out looking poor and not what you hoped for and waste a days shoot. The best thing is to sit down, relax and look around at the landscape around you. What is the light telling you? Is it saying you will have to increase your ISO to 10,000 so your camera can just about freeze the motion of a bird in flight or that you need to think for a second and try something new and creative, that's what it tells me!
When the conditions are hard to work with the first thing I do is put my camera to around ISO 800, F/5.6 and look at the shutter speed and I then scan the scene looking at the shutter speed change. If the shutter speed isn't exactly what I want to see then I try to think of what's the best solution for capturing images of wildlife with what I've got. I'll never give up until I've got an image I'm happy with which sometimes means shooting way past when the sun has gone down (just like with the images shown here).
I love using slow shutter speeds when photographing birds, you can really capture some interesting shots that are quite unique and not seen before. Lately I've been really inspired by the work of Swedish photographer Brutus Ostling who has taken some really great shots of wildlife with a slow shutter speed. The only problem with this style of photography is that it's quite hit-and-miss, I usually end up deleting 80% of the images because they look a mess and you can't even tell what I photographed!
These four images are my favourites taken from about 400! When I took these shots the sun had been set for about 20 minutes so I was shooting with very little light but the D3 did amazing job of still focusing on the birds and keeping the focus locked in! I love the ghostly atmosphere that these images portray, the blurring of the wings really shows the birds movement as it flys through the air.
My top tips for photographing wildlife in bad light is to relax, think how you could photograph the subject now that you are limited on what sort of images you can take. Stick your camera in manual mode so you can have complete control on how you use the light. Never stay in the same spot too long, keeping moving around to get different backgrounds or put your camera as low or as high as it can go. Remember there is no such thing as 'bad light' it's how you create with the light that Mother Nature offers you that makes you stand out from the crowd.