How to improve your British wildlife photography

Pro photographer Laurie Campbell explains how he got this gorgeous badger photo – and shares his top tips.

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Badger photograph by Laurie Campbell

Pro photographer Laurie Campbell explains how he got this gorgeous badger photo – and shares his top tips.

I’ve always been fond of badgers, and this image of a juvenile inside a hollow log was taken in late summer, near a sett that I discovered in my early teens.

It wasn’t until much later, when I was commissioned to illustrate a book on these mammals, that I began to explore new ways of photographing them. I needed more variety, and decided that the best way to achieve this was to habituate a litter of cubs to my presence.

Every evening for many weeks, I sat quietly on a raised bank overlooking the sett. Gradually, the youngsters began to trust me, and I was able to follow and photograph them behaving naturally.

I increasingly thought about getting shots of them underground, but it was much too risky to put cameras into the sett, even under licence. So, I simulated an underground environment instead. I propped a hollow log against an opening in a wooden shelter I’d built in the wood, and encouraged the badgers to walk through it by offering them a handful of raisins.

For me, the highlight of the whole project was being scent-marked by one of the juveniles – badgers only do that to other badgers. 

 

Laurie Campbell’s top wildlife photography tips

  • Get to know your own patch
Wherever you live, even if it’s in a city, there will be places nearby that offer opportunities for nature photography. Visit them regularly at different times of day and in all seasons until you can predict which animals will be present and the best times to photograph them. When you have repeated contact with a subject, great pictures should follow.
 
  • Become a better naturalist
     
Choices over which camera or lens to use are not hard to make, and are never as important as spending time observing your subject. Become a generalist and, as well as aiming to record one particular species, pay attention to the others inhabiting the same habitat. Then, you will gain an understanding of what makes entire ecosystems tick.
 
  • Think laterally, then obsess
Think about what hasn’t been widely photographed in nature. It needn’t be a portrait of a rare species – more an aspect of a subject that you have never seen recorded successfully. Once you’ve identified an idea, stick with it obsessively until you obtain the picture you want. The promise of success can be highly motivational.
 

 To enjoy more of Laurie's spectacular British wildlife photography, click here or visit his website.

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