27/11/2020 Jenny’s topical Nature tips for December

Hi everyone, these blog’s come around very quickly, however, before I start I want to say how absolutely chuffed that I am for David Ward and myself, that our suggestions and ideas are being attempted and used by you, all the members. Thank You.

In the last pdi competition, Novice Nature was so well supported and third place went to a non-animal nature image, the judge even remarking about the fact that more flower and berry etc. images should be seen in Nature.

I understand that we firstly wish to take and show animal /bird images and that is fine if you are lucky enough to get them but there are alternatives if you cannot. He also showed pleasure in the snowdrops, so well done.

Do remember, if you are taking a non animal/bird image for nature, the Nature Rules still apply. As with the berries, he was looking for a pattern so you still need to study the chosen image. With the berries a wider aperture of possibly f4 and a smaller composition section with a twig positioned within the image so that it hits a diagonal position would have impact.

December is not the greatest month for Nature regarding animals. They are all still out there but light is poor and days are short. The foxes and badgers can be lured out by food but usually still under the safety of darkness. Lighting spooks them, so bird photography is more available to us and here we have huge encouragement from a BPS member going out and purchasing a portable hide and luring the birds in with food. Dave Ward is to be congratulated on his encouraging talk.

Again we have a wonderful range of birds in Britain with a few who migrate. Also squirrel. So it’s well worth setting up a set of logs and twigs with hidden food offerings in return for a photo.

Be warned! when you encourage the little birds into your garden it won’t go unnoticed. The birds of prey watch so keep your eyes sharp you could have a Sparrow Hawk visit as well.

Buzzards tend to eat dead carrion, so possibly won’t come down but you never know. We actually have permanent mouse traps in our vegetable patch and all mice are offered as dead carrion to hopefully bring down Buzzard and Kestrel in to feed.

The Peregrine Falcon is also a small bird feeder but we don’t see them as frequently here this time of the year, but never say never.

We still have the Deer so with locations already mentioned they remain a possibility for December.

Fungi will mainly have finished now with the onset of frost but some fungi including Bracket fungi will still be possible to see, but a fungi expedition will be much less rewarding at this time of year, but not impossible.

The weather however becomes a strong Nature work contender, frost especially. Get up early and just walk a short distance to the garden or a hedge and look for amazing frosty cobwebs.  A Macro lens is best but a wide or basic lens will capture a pure nature spectacle. Make sure when you take the image that you walk around it to find the best angle that no strong colours or whites appear within the cobweb maze. Again, it’s essential you do use a low f number to block out detail beyond the web, e.g. f4 or less. It doesn’t matter that the spider is not there.

Leaves look amazing with a frost on them – especially if a haw frost, trees look amazing and don’t forget water, it steams on a frosty cold morning. They all make great nature images. A frosted Bracket fungi is a great image.

I don’t know if snow is forecast yet but of course snow is a Nature weather image. So be prepared. Always a challenge, remember when shooting with snow you will need to increase your exposure, at least a whole 1 stop. The reason for this is the camera will be confused and react to the brightness so you need to use ‘plus’ exposure to compensate and you always need to set the exposure for the actual item you are photographing. That snow will possibly also trigger the warning highlighter on your camera but still you should trust the golden rule to compensate with ‘plus’ when shooting with snow.

The flowers we can enjoy will be snowdrops and crocuses. They do grow wild and are a little bit of a grey area in pure Nature but wonderful if we have snow and quite a challenge with white snowdrops. With snow, again, make sure you get the exposure correct for the snowdrops by using ‘plus’ exposure compensation. Crocuses with the rich colours can be a powerful image. Make sure you get low down, don’t shoot downwards on these flowers unless you are after a particular personal look.

Catkins are out right now on hazelnut trees – pure Nature – so try to place them naturally artistic within the photo and as always with any images intended for Nature, remember Nature rules apply regarding post processing. 

Mistletoe, Holly berries – pure nature – images totally enhanced in haw frost and snow mornings.

Mist is another exciting nature weather addition, usually in early morning. It’s a chance to possibly get mono or colour images for your portfolio if people walk out from the mist. A landscape mist image is very eligible for Nature if no human or human evidence is in the image.

The seals on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast have now got fencing to protect them from us. Photography is still possible but limited. They are still there and will be for a few more months. Meanwhile they continue to give birth and raise their pups. With the strains of travel this year possibly best to stay local however it’s worth mentioning for those who wish to go.

That’s all for now. Plenty of Nature images to get.

Good Luck.

Jenny Webster

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