Every week we are going to get the Distinctions Chairs to share their top tips, tricks and best kit with us. This week we speak to Mick Durham FRPS, Distinctions Natural History Panel Chair:
Know your camera - modern cameras are extremely complicated but it pays to know how to handle it ‘with your eyes closed’. When you need to change settings you need to be able to do it quickly and without taking your eye off your subject. Work out exactly what it is you want your camera to do and learn how to do it!
Know your fieldcraft - it is possible to go to set ups where someone else has ‘done the fieldcraft’ and take great pictures but if you really want shots that are yours and different to other photographers then you need to get out in to the field and ‘do it yourself’ Setups are great to practice photographic techniques and maybe work on a subject that you couldn’t do for yourself but there is something very satisfying about getting your own shots. this means learning fieldcraft, learning all about your subject and putting in time and effort. Get to know your own locality well, what wildlife there is, how it behaves and how you could photograph it with out disturbing it. Time spent out in the field will pay dividends.
Have patience - it takes time to get good shots. Learn from mistakes, learn from other photographers but above all keep at it!
My favourite bit of photographic kit is a lens - a 200-400 f4 zoom lens. Now I know that zoom lenses had a reputation for not being as good quality as a prime lens but these days that is much less the case. The flexibility of a zoom lens - for instance when stuck behind a rock photographing an otter that is moving towards you - is a real boon. I also never go out without a pair of binoculars (that fieldcraft thing again!). It’s so important to know what is going on around you and it can be very rewarding watching distant wildlife when you are waiting for something to happen in front of you!
I have just been given the latest BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year book for my birthday so that is what I am reading.
To learn more about Distinctions please visit the Qualifications page.