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by PhotoBox

by PhotoBox UK in Guest Bloggers

Tips on Wildlife Photography

Today we introduce you to Lynne Newton – an avid PhotoBox fan, Somerset habitant and wildlife photographer. Lynne will be sharing some of her great wildlife photography and tips below, with a majority of the photos in her portfolio having been taken around the area of the Somerset Levels.

As many of us know, there has been severe flooding in South-West England, and Lynne is involved in a charity auction to help raise money for those affected. Lynne is auctioning off her most famous photograph, ‘A Murmuration of Starlings’ at the auction, which will be taking place at Othery Village Hall, at the Somerset Levels on Friday 21st March 2014. She will also be auctioning a collection of her images in a PhotoBox photobook too. Over to you Lynne…

My name is Lynne Newton and I live in the stunning county of Somerset where I spend much of my time photographing wildlife and nature. Sadly, the Somerset Levels where most of my wildlife pictures are taken is suffering from flooding so extensive it’s hard to describe. Village after village has been hit, and the water continues to rise as I speak. However, the community here is strong and residents along with volunteers from far and wide have been resilient and continue to fight on in a way that I cannot explain!

About my photography:

I have always had a passion for the countryside, but over the last seven years I have taken my love of nature a step further, by re-kindling a hobby from years gone by. I am now a Wildlife Photographer!

There are three words that I use to describe my photography and me, and they are:

PASSION       PATIENCE         PERSEVERANCE

If you can relate to these words, you may well be successful with wildlife photography and if not, then you will need buckets of luck!

If you are thinking about giving wildlife photography a try, here are a few top tips:

1)     Look up your local Wildlife Trust and find out what creatures you have in your area. The wildlife on offer will vary from one nature reserve to another. This is due to many creatures having specific habitats that they rely on for their food source. For example, you may find that a particular butterfly will only survive on one specific plant to feed and lay its eggs on. This plant may only be in flower for a few weeks, so it is important for the photographer to be aware of the short time that the species of butterfly will be around for.

2)     Invest in a few identification guides. I would suggest one for birds, one for mammals and one for butterflies and insects.

3)     If you have a garden, start off there – you’ll be surprised at how many creatures are living under your nose when you take the time to look. This will build up your confidence for your first field trip out into the big wide wild world!

Here is a selection of images from my collection.

A Murmuration of Starlings

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This is my most successful picture ever which was taken several years ago. The Somerset Starling Roost is one of nature’s spectacles, which takes place every winter here in Somerset. Millions of starlings fly in at dusk to roost together overnight. They sometimes form weird and wonderful shapes in the sky before they descend; this is called a Murmuration, the collective noun for a large flock of starlings. After several thousand frames, I finally had the picture I was after – but this was only after several evenings of clicking the shutter.

This picture won first prize in its category in the major Currys Our Lives photo competition in 2007. Photographer and idol, David Bailey, presented my award.

The Somerset Starling Roost

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Dragonflies (Four-spotted Chasers)

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Dragonflies are a great subject to get your wildlife photography portfolio started with. If you get up early in the height of summer when the temperature is still low, you will find them motionless.  This is because they rely on the warmth of the sun to energise them. These are Four-Spotted Chasers and in the morning you will also find them drenched in dew, making the subject even more interesting.

Damselflies

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Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies

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Summer months will give you no end of pleasure photographing butterflies, and you don’t have to go further than your back garden if you have the right flowering plants to attract them. The above butterflies are nestled on Purple Loosestrife, a favourite of the Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.

Peeping Weasel

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I caught this cheeky weasel peeping up through the chicken wire. Weasels are tiny and very quick, so I knew this was going to be a difficult image to capture. This is a typical example of my motto “Passion, Patience, Perseverance” springing into action.  Several hours later, this was my result.

Water Vole with apple

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Water voles are Somerset’s most protected wild mammal, due to the fact that numbers are dwindling due to habitat loss. I had seen this one briefly before, but hadn’t been able to photograph him. I visited the same spot several times to try to establish what time of day is best to spot him, and to observe his habits.  I knew that water voles loved apples, so one day I took him a treat and within seconds, this shy little creature swam out from his hiding place in the vegetation and claimed his apple.

Short-tailed Vole

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The short-tailed vole is a tiny little creature, and is the barn owl and kestrel’s favourite food. Look out for them around bird-tables, as they like to scavenge about on the ground beneath them to forage for anything that gets knocked off. But be warned – to photograph this little creature you will need pots of patience!

Stoat

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If you are lucky enough to spot one of these creatures, it’s worth following them. They spend a lot of their time hunting for voles and other creatures in the undergrowth, so they are likely to lead you to other animals to photograph. As you can see by the picture, they are inquisitive little rascals – so remember – perseverance!

Otters

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The otter is probably the most illusive of all British wildlife.  However, they are now present in every river in England, so chances of spotting them are increasing.

Hares

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Once you have located these beautiful creatures, keep going back to the same location, find a quiet spot and keep watch. Late spring is a great time to look for them, as they love to feed in the fields of crops – so look out for them running between the furrows.

Rural Fox Cub

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If you live in an urban area you are more likely to come across foxes. You are also much more likely to get closer to them, as they tend to be much bolder than their country cousins. Cubs are always a bit more curious, and can be easier to photograph – this is actually a rural fox, taken here in Somerset. I come across them from time to time, but find them more difficult to locate at the same spot regularly. This is probably because they search for food in a larger area than the urban fox.

Roe Deer

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Here in Somerset we have lots of roe deer around the Somerset Levels, with red deer up around the Quantocks and on Exmoor. They are very timid creatures and are off at the slightest noise.

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Deer are great creatures to incorporate into a moody landscape picture outline, particularly in a silhouette.

A Magical Moment at Sunrise

This picture was taken at the crack of dawn during the winter months.

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Glastonbury Tor, Somerset

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I had to include this one, as this is one of the most iconic scenes here in Somerset!

Do you have any tips on taking great wildlife photography? If you have any great examples, please share with us below!

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All images © Lynne Newton

Check out Lynne’s website here.

Also, please check out the photo book that is being auctioned here.