Wildlife photography is about as far removed from studio photography as you can get. Your clients don’t turn up, you have to stalk them and then they don’t pay. If this sounds an appealing lifestyle choice, then here is an insight into capturing an image of this Fallow Deer (Dama dama).
Every species you photograph requires a different skill-set; with deer, camouflage paint is better than a hide. Learning the shape of deer prints, droppings and couches is helpful but knowing what territorial marking looks like and the sound of the buck is key.
The “lek” is where fallow deer congregate to mate and fight for mating rights. Finding this is essential. I found mine by listening out for the clashing of antlers. You then have to overcome every natural instinct and walk towards that terrifying sound.
Once the lek was found it gets easier but scarier. This is the bit that requires getting up close and personal and hoping not to become collateral damage! On this occasion I had 5 adult bucks sparring whilst I sat metres away.
Preferably, it's a process of building trust over time. Every return visit requires a ridiculously early start and a long walk through the forest at night to arrive at the lek before sunrise.
Many hours were then spent sitting in the dark, rain, cold and midge infested forest before this buck trusted me. So much so I have footage of him sleeping between fights!
Grey Seals (Halichoerus grypus)
The UK is home to 40% of the world's population of Grey seals, making locations such as Donna Nook in Lincolnshire of great international importance.
If you want to photograph grey seals, they come on land annually to pup in November and December. Pups are born with white coats and stay on land suckling from their mothers for up to 3 weeks before heading off to sea.
This year I photographed a seal at Donna Nook called Ropeneck. She had been rescued in the year 2000 by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust staff after being discovered entangled in abandoned "ghost" fishing gear. This year saw her give birth to her 17th pup.
Modern commercial fishing gear is made from durable synthetic materials making drowning, starvation and injury the most likely outcomes of this 'ghost fishing'.
An international charity called Ghost Fishing is seeking to redress such environmental damage by collecting lost and abandoned fishing nets and recycling this litter into Econyl yarn . This is then used to create textiles and carpets.
This red squirrel was photographed on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, UK. The best time to see squirrels is in the Autumn when the leaves are falling and they are collecting nuts for the Winter.
This small red population is isolated from the mainland and therefore the grey squirrel population. These are larger and stronger foragers, and therefore more successful and can out-compete red squirrels for food.
However, a large and powerful funding network for the red squirrel has established in the UK. Their rhetoric hinges on the false premise that reds are being decimated by the Squirrel Pox Virus (SPV) spread by the greys.
Although the greys are immune to this virus, The Interactive Center for Scientific Research About Squirrels states that only 2% of red squirrels die from SPV. Statistics reveal that, on average, 53% die from traffic.
Due to this misconception, large funds are being directed to grey squirrel extermination instead of constructing squirrel bridges in the treetops.