|Misty morning at the C S Lewis Reserve|
There is probably no better time than Spring to explore the numerous BBOWT reserves around Oxford - and one of the delights of that exploration is to share it with family and friends. You can always tell them what you’ve seen, but they’ll get an even better flavour of your visit if you’ve got some photographs to share with them.
So, how do you go about taking the picture that shows the best of your local BBOWT reserve?.
When you first get into one of the reserves there is often a temptation to rush round trying to capture an image that says “I’m here!”, but once you’ve done that it’s worth slowing down, taking a deep breath and just watching and listening to what’s around. What birds or mammals are there? What flowers are in bloom? What’s the light doing - is there bright sunlight or is it a more overcast day?
The next step is to quietly explore the reserve. If it’s a reserve you’ve visited before, you might already have an idea what you want to photograph. If it’s a new reserve to you, wander around so that you can start to get an idea what photo opportunities it might provide. I’m particularly drawn to ponds and streams - so I’ll always look for some water when I’m exploring a new reserve.
|Rivermead Nature Park|
Once you’ve seen something that looks interesting, you can then start to think about how to frame the image in the camera (or on your phone). If it’s sunny, try and make sure that the light is behind you (so that the sunlight is on your back rather than on your face) - your eye is very good at adjusting to dark and light areas in an image, but the camera isn’t so good. If you have the light behind you’ll have the best chance of getting a well lit picture. If you’re taking pictures of other people make sure that their faces are in sunshine rather than in shadow.
Try holding the camera at different heights - there’s a temptation to stand with the camera at head-height, but there might be an even better picture if you kneel down or even (if it’s not too muddy) lie down before you press the shutter. You might want to try turning the camera sideways - people with camera phones often take ‘portrait’ pictures and those with traditional cameras usually take ‘landscape’ images - in both cases it’s worth experimenting with holding the camera the other way round.
When I’m framing up an image on the camera, I often try and imagine the story I’m going to tell about the picture once get home. In some cases you might want to zoom into the image - was it the little group of moorhens in the middle of the image that you wanted to be able to show in the picture. In other cases, it might be the sweep of the trees along the riverbank that was the main feature in your story so you would want to zoom out to show lots of trees.
If you’ve got a camera where you can adjust the settings, you can fine tune what the camera is doing. If you want to capture a fast moving insect or bird, you will need to set a very short exposure time (or some cameras this will be called a ‘sport’ mode) - that will freeze the action in your picture.
My final tip for capturing a great image on a BBOWT reserve is to visit at different times of day - the light will be different at dawn, in the middle of the day and at dusk. If you’re lucky (or pick the right day) you’ll get to take pictures in the soft light that photographers call ‘the golden hour’. You’ll also get to see different wildlife early and late in the day - and you might just capture that special image.