6 tips for better Wildlife Photography

If you’ve been watching the latest David Attenborough moments in Planet Earth II, you may be wondering how you too can photograph the illusive snow leopard or soar with the eagles. While most of us won’t get the chance to film tigers in the wild, there’s plenty of fun to be had photographing wildlife in the woods or parks near where we live, as I discovered at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey.

6 tips for better wildlife photography

I was at a workshop hosted by Panasonic UK, learning how to improve my wildlife photography using the Lumix GX80 camera, under the expert tuition of top wildlife photographer, Phil Gould. Phil told us about the 4 P’s of wildlife photography: Passion, Patience, Perseverance, Practice, as well as giving us his top tips, before we were let loose to photograph the different animals around the centre. Read my review of the Lumix GX80 here.

If you’d like to capture better wildlife photos, here are 6 things to consider;

1. Get down low

For the most natural photograph, your camera needs to be at the eye level of the animal, so that it feels less threatened. I quickly noticed that the wildlife pro-photographers in our group, like Jason of Wildlife Gadget Man and Ben from Ben Porter Wildlife were down on the ground, trying to get at the same level as Elwood the otter.

Otter at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tip: When photographing wildlife get down low Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

As the grass was wet and muddy I don’t think any of us wanted to go as far as actually lying down, but the Lumix GX80’s tilt screen meant that we could rest the camera on the ground and still be able to compose the picture on the screen. I noticed that Ben took some lovely shots with blurred grass framing the animals, which you can see in his article from the day here.

Panasonic Wildlife Masterclass

Tip: When photographing wildlife get down low Photo: Phil Gould Photography

2. Get up close and personal

Phil showed us some close-ups of wildlife that he’d taken, and I tried to capture something similar with this photo of Florence the Tawny Owl holding me in her inscrutible gaze. In order to capture the close up shots, I needed to switch the standard 12-32 lens for a zoom lens like the 45-200, which I had the chance to try during the workshop. This photo was taken from a few metres away and then I cropped it further – the original is at the beginning of the article.

Owl at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tip: Get up close and personal Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Here’s another photo of the Scottish wild cat taken by Phil which shows how getting close up with your lens or even cropping your shot can really add to the impact.

Scottish Wildcat Photo by Phil Gould

Tip: Get up close and personal Photo: Phil Gould

3. Capture the story

When you’re out photographing wildlife, the most memorable shots can be those that tell a story about the true nature of the animal you are photographing, or capture an illusive moment. Phil told us to observe the creatures we were photographing, to understand what they were likely to do next and use that knowledge to anticipate the best shot. For instance deer are naturally curious and will often come towards you if you stand patiently and wait.

Fox at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fox at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With this in mind I used the 4K option on the Lumix GX80 to take a series of shots of Biscuit the fox as she swung around and then picked the one that I felt captured the moment. I was trying to capture an image of the fox as if out hunting, at that moment when she had just spotted a rabbit.

4. Take advantage of the natural light

When photographing wildlife outside, you can’t control the lighting as you would in a studio, so you need to be much more aware of the natural light. You need to keep the sun behind you so that it will be lighting up your subject in the photograph and keep an eye on any patches of light and shade that can be used to good effect. I liked that way the sunlight lit up the face of McAverty the Scottish Wild Cat and the blades of grass, while the log in front of him was in shadow.

Scottish Wildcat at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Tip: Make use of the natural light Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

5. Watch your background

While we were out photographing during the workshop, Phil reminded us to keep an eye on the background behind the animals we were photographing. Ideally you want a clean background without too much distraction so that you can focus on the animal itself. By just shifting your position slightly you may be able to move that pole or bench out of shot.

Red squirrel with Rope Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Red squirrel with Rope Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

I was trying to do this when I photographed Dale the red squirrel but although I succeeded with a nice background of foliage, the rope kept popping into shot behind him. When I got home I was able to crop the photo to the image below, cutting out the rope and some of the metal pole to improve the image. Don’t be afraid of a bit of post-processing to improve your shot!

Red squirrel at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Red squirrel at British Wildlife Centre Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

6. Use the camera settings to your advantage

Although I confess to not being a very ‘technical’ photographer and mainly shooting on auto, if you want to take your photography up a notch, it’s worth experimenting with the camera settings. Phil’s photo of the squirrel below shows how he has used the aperture mode to create a depth of field, blurring the background to make the subject stand out more clearly. It’s a useful technique for portrait photography generally which Hannah from Make do and push, who was at the workshop, uses to capture lovely shots of her children.

Red Squirrel by Phil Gould

Tip: Use Aperture priority to focus on the animal and blur the background Photo: Phil Gould

You can buy the Panasonic Lumix GX80 on Amazon here

Discovering Lumix Unmissable Moments

If you want more inspiration on how other photographers are using the Panasonic Lumix G range, check out the Lumix Experience website where you’ll find galleries and video tutorials to show you how you can get the best from your Lumix camera. You can also follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #UnmissableMoments.

Wildlife photography at the British Wildlife Centre

All the wildlife photographs were taken in a wildlife photography workshop at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, where you can see and photograph some of the wild animals that are native to the UK. The centre also runs regular photography workshops where you can improve your wildlife photography, with tips from the experts. The workshop I attended was specially arranged to enable our group to try out the Panasonic Lumix GX80 camera.

British Wildlife Centre, Eastbourne Road, Newchapel, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6LF, Tel: 01342 834 658

About the Panasonic Lumix GX80

You can read my review of the Panasonic Lumix GX80, which is ideal for travellers and photographer who want to get great pictures without having to carry a large, heavy camera around. I loved the smaller body and the ability to change the lens to suit the situation, for instance you really do need a zoom lens like the 45-200 if you’re photographing a lot of wildlife.

The body is sturdy, with a textured and slightly retro feel and has a comfortable finger grip at one end. The 4K feature enables you to take a series of photos and then choose the best one and there’s in-body stabilisation and fast auto-focus to enable you to capture those #unmissablemoments, whether it’s a squirrel in your garden or your kids having fun.

This camera would make a fabulous gift for anyone who’s a keen photographer but wants a camera that’s light and easy to use – or why not treat yourself? You can buy the Lumix GX80 on Amazon here.

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with lens extended

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with lens extended

Key information about the Panasonic Lumix GX80

  • 16-million-pixel Four Thirds sensor, no optical low-pass filter
  • ISO 200-25,600 (ISO 100-25,600 extended)
  • Dual IS: 5-axis in-body stabilisation working with 2-axis in-lens
  • 4K video recording and 4K Photo mode
  • 76-million-dot equivalent EVF (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 04-million-dot 3-inch tilting touchscreen
  • New low-vibration shutter: 60sec – 1/4000sec (1sec – 1/16000 sec electronic)
  • £509 body only, £599 with 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens

Buy the Lumix GX80 on Amazon

Thanks to Panasonic UK who invited me to the workshop and gave me a Panasonic Lumix GX80 for the purposes of this review.

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Read about 6 tips for better wildlife photography

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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A Weekend in Eastbourne – with cliff walks & fresh air

One of my favourite weekend getaways is to go walking along England’s unspoiled coastal paths. Those sea views, wind and fresh air seem to blow away the cobwebs and leave me rejuvenated to tackle the challenges of daily life. My sister lives on the couth coast, so I was interested to see that Eastbourne have teamed up with TV presenter Michaela Strachan to highlight some of their food, culture and coastal walks.

A weekend in Eastbourne

They have a great series of videos which will inspire you with ideas for your next weekend break, if you’d like to breathe in some of that fresh coastal air. You can explore Eastbourne with Michaela Strachan and watch more videos like the one below.

If you can’t see the video above, watch it on YouTube here

Eastbourne makes the perfect base for an out of season weekend break, with an unspoiled Victorian seafront and 300 metre long pier that was completed in 1872. With colourful beach huts, fish and chip shops, a Victorian tea rooms as well as a wide range of restaurants and cafés, Eastbourne seems to bring back the nostalgia of all those childhood holidays sheltering behind the windbreak, pestering Dad for a 99 ice cream – with flake of course!

The beach at Eastbourne Photo: Visit Eastbourne

The beach at Eastbourne

At the western end of the seafront you’ll find Holywell beach, which is set at the foot of the South Downs, with a popular café and pretty Italian gardens. At low tide the rock pools are revealed, teeming with marine life, so you may want to bring your wellies and fishing nets to catch a few crabs. From the Sovereign Harbour, with its large marina, you can take boat tours along the coastline, for fishing, diving and to see the famous lighthouse at Beachy Head.

Walking the South Downs Way from Eastbourne Photo: Visit Eastbourne

Walking the South Downs Way from Eastbourne

For me, one of the biggest attractions of Eastbourne is its access to the South Downs National Park and the walks up onto the cliffs at the start of the South Downs Way. I’ve walked the Winchester end of this long distance path with my sister but would love to do the whole thing, with breathtaking views over the English Channel. A walk up onto the cliff tops will soon bring you to Beachy Head (it’s also accessible by bike, car or open-top bus tour) with those iconic white cliffs and the striped Beachy Head lighthouse.

Visit Beachy Head from Eastbourne Photo: Visit Eastbourne

Visit Beachy Head from Eastbourne

A little further along the cliffs you’ll reach Birling Gap, an unspoiled pebble beach enclosed by cliffs, where the low tide exposes rock pools and marine life – it’s a marine nature reserve. The beach is managed by the National Trust and there’s a visitor centre, shop and café, so it’s a good place to stop and admire the white chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

Birling Gap Beach close to Eastbourne Photo: Visit Eastbourne

Birling Gap Beach close to Eastbourne

If you have a few days to spare you might continue your walk along the South Downs Way, through an unspoiled English landscape of rolling hills and picturesque villages, ending a hundred miles later in Winchester. For our weekend break we might just continue as far as Alfriston for lunch in a country pub or refeshment of afternoon tea, before we head back to Eastbourne.

Pub lunches close to Eastbourne Photo: Visit Eastbourne

Pub lunches close to Eastbourne

Giveaway

If this taste of Eastbourne has inspired you to get out and breathe in some fresh air, why not enter my giveaway in partnership with Discover Eastbourne. You could win a £100 Ultimate Gift Card which can be used to buy some great outdoor brands including Berghaus, from stores like Blacks, JD, Scotts, Millets and Tessuti. The giveaway ends on Thursday 1 December. To enter you need to:

  • Watch the video in this post and leave a comment below this post to say which attraction/sight featured in the video you’d most like to visit.

For additional chances to win you can;

The giveaway has now ended – thanks so much to all who took part

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Walking the South Downs Way Photo: Visit Eastbourne

Walking the South Downs Way

Disclosure: This article is brought to you in partnership with Visit Eastbourne

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Plan your weekend in Eastbourne

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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Easy ways to improve your photography – Panasonic Lumix GX80 review

When it comes to photography, I admit that I’m a bit of a technophobe. I enjoy photographing my travels, but can’t seem to get beyond shooting in auto. All those instructions about F-stops and shutter or aperture priority go in one ear and out the other. When Panasonic UK invited me to a wildlife photography workshop, I was pleased to discover that their Lumix GX80 camera has a few functions that help you take better photographs without having to master all those knobs and settings. You can also read my 6 tips for better wildlife photography here.

After trying the Lumix GX80 out during the workshop and back at home, here’s my review;

Panasonic Lumix GX80 Review

Let’s Start with the camera body

As a travel blogger, camera size is a big deal for me. I travel light and don’t want to carry a big camera around, so the micro four-third compact body of the Panasonic Lumix GX80 suits my travel style perfectly. It’s smaller than a normal DSLR – ideal to hold with one hand, tuck into a medium size handbag and be reasonably discreet when you whip it out in a restaurant or marketplace.

Panasonic Lumix GX80

Panasonic Lumix GX80

I liked the slightly textured and retro look of the body with a wider grip at one end, making it easy to hold one-handed, when juggling a phone and notebook. Most of all I love that the micro four-third size bodies take a range of interchangeable lenses, so you have the flexibility to go wide angle for a hotel interior or zoom for wildlife shots.

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with lens extended

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with lens extended

Looking at the lens

The Panasonic Lumix GX80 comes with a standard 12-32 lens which is fine for taking landscapes and shots of people and places. The Panasonic lens on this camera is also interchangeable with the Olympus range, which is great as I already have an Olympus wide angle lens, so I can swap them over for my hotel interiors.

When I tried out the Lumix GX80 during the wildlife photography workshop I quickly realised that the standard 12-32mm lens would not cut the mustard for wildlife photography. The clue was how quickly the pro-wildlife photographers changed up to big zoom lenses, so I followed suit and tested out the 45-200 lens which allowed me to get some nice close-ups of animals a few metres away from me. Read my 6 tips for better wildlife photography here.

Trying out the Panasonic Lumix GX80 camera

Trying out the Panasonic Lumix GX80 camera

For those safari shots with animals in the distance I would have needed an even bigger zoom lens. Since my travel photography tends to be a complete mixture of landscapes, portraits, food shots and the occasional wildlife shot I need a lens that will be versatile. I’m always trying to pack in a lot and don’t have time to change lenses. On the advice of top wildlife photographer, Phil Gould, who taught our workshop, I’ll be looking at a 14-140 lens that will take give me all the standard shots with the option to zoom in that little bit closer, all in one lens.

Tawny owl at the British Wildlife Centre photographed with Lumix GX80

Tawny owl at the British Wildlife Centre photographed with Lumix GX80

Screen and Viewfinder

Another feature I love about this camera is that it has both a viewfinder and a viewing screen that pulls out from the body and can be tilted at different angles. You flip between them with a press of a button. Using a viewfinder helps you compose a shot more accurately in sunny conditions when there’s too much glare on the screen.

However, the angled screen was very useful when you are taking a shot that’s high or low. For instance you can take a shot of your food from above, while easily composing the shot on the angled screen. I noticed that the pro-wildlife photographers at the workshop were using this feature by setting their camera on the grass to photograph animals from a low angle, while using the screen to monitor the composition. The only downside is that the screen does not swivel round completely, meaning that you can’t use it to position yourself for selfies or vlogging.

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with tilt screen

Panasonic Lumix GX80 with tilt screen

Another feature of the Lumix GX80 is the inbuilt stabilisation and fast autofocus which really helps in some travel situations such as busy public places where you are trying to capture the action and atmosphere of the situation.

So far so good, but now to those features of the camera that can help you take better photographs without having to master all the technical settings.

Testing out the 4K feature on the Lumix GX80

I enjoyed trying out the 4K feature of the Panasonic Lumix GX80 which allows you to take better action shots. Essentially the camera takes a burst of images or short video, but unlike most video, each individual frame is high quality, giving you an 8MB file that can be blown up to A3 size. As technology develops it’s likely that even higher quality 6K cameras will be available in the future. This feature is a game changer for action shots, since you can take a burst of photos, then review them on the camera to pick out the best one and save that individual shot, deleting the rest if you wish.

Red squirrel at Bristish Wildlife centre taken with Lumix GX80

Red squirrel at Bristish Wildlife centre taken with Lumix GX80

I tested out the 4K feature at our wildlife photography workshop and enjoyed trying to catch the perfect shot of a squirrel running across a branch or a wildcat jumping in the air. I set the 4K to stop/start mode, which meant that like shooting video I pressed the button to start the burst and pressed again to stop. As you can see from the squirrel photos above, a fraction of a second can make all the difference when your subject is moving quickly.

I found that the 4K function is best suited to situations where you can anticipate the action, since with 30 frames per second you don’t want to be taking more than a few seconds of the 4K video. You also need to allow for some delay as each 4K burst takes a few seconds to save before you can take your next photo. I can imagine using this function to capture someone jumping or running, a child on a swing or blowing out their birthday candles, informal portraits in a restaurant, musicians or dancers, or of course wildlife. For family photography it would be ideal if you have young children who can’t sit still, to enable you to capture their expressions or movement. Take a look at my 4K series of photos of the wildcat jumping in the air – which would you choose?

Wild Cat photographed with Lumix GX80 4G

Wild Cat photographed with Lumix GX80 4G

The Post-focus function on the Lumix GX80

The post-focus function is another feature that allows you to increase the range and quality of your photographs without having to master all the technical settings or change lenses. Like the 4K function, the camera is effectively taking a burst of photos that focus on different elements of the composition. Once you have switched on the post-focus function and taken your photos, you then review and tap the screen to choose the focal point that suits you best.

I can imagine using the post-focus function to take shots in a restaurant then decide later which elements on the table you want in focus. Other examples could be a landscape where there is a flower in the foreground and mountains in the background, or a person stretching out their hand where you can’t decide whether to have their face or hand in focus. The post-focus is best for static scenes where you can control the composition, like the flower and orange photos I took below.

Panasonic Lumix post focus function

Panasonic Lumix post focus function

Thank goodness there’s wifi!

Since I post a lot of photos to social media I knew that my next camera would need to have wifi function so was thrilled to find this is a feature of the Panasonic Lumix GX80. While I’m happy with the quality of the photos on my iPhone, I’ve heard from serious instagrammers that the higher the quality of the photos they post, the better their engagement. I love that the Panasonic Lumix GX80 allows me to take the highest quality photos and still share them easily and quickly on social media, which is a large part of my work as a travel blogger.

Biscuit the fox at the British Wildlife centre taken with Lumix GX80

Biscuit the fox at the British Wildlife centre taken with Lumix GX80

I tried out the wifi by downloading the Panasonic image app onto my iPhone, then putting in the password given when prompted. Once you’ve done this the first time, the camera connects via wifi to the iPhone whenever you press the wifi button and select the correct wifi network on the phone. Via the app I can review all the photos I’ve just taken on the Lumix GX80 on my phone screen. I can check they are sharp, just as if they were on my phone, then select whichever I want and they are immediately transferred to my phone memory. Unfortunately only the still images are transferrable this way and the 4K videos have to be downloaded to your computer via the memory card – which is a shame as some of these short clips would be great to post ‘live’ on social media.

Panasonic Image App

Panasonic Image App

The Panasonic app also means that the phone can become a remote control device for your camera so you could set it up and then take photos from a distance. I can also review the photos in the phone app and delete any duds immediately, freeing up more space on my memory card. There’s also a collage function within the app although you don’t have the same flexibility to reposition photos as I do with an app like Picframe, which I currently use to make collages on my iPhone.

With the wifi function to transfer photos quickly to the iPhone, I will probably take more of my photos in future on the Panasonic Lumix GX80 and hopefully increase the quality of my social media photography in the process.

Battery life and charging on the Lumix GX80

The camera comes with a charger lead that plugs into the side of the camera. The USB fitting at the other end can be plugged into any USB charger such as a portable battery pack or a car USB charger as well as the plug that comes as standard. While I’m sure I could buy a separate battery charger, this approach will probably prove more flexible for keeping my camera charged on the move.

If you’re using a lot of the functions such as 4K, be aware that the battery may not last very long. After a couple of hours constant shooting in our wildlife photography workshop, my battery was dead, so I’ll need to buy some spares. You also need to make sure that after using the wifi function, you disconnect it, as this also drains the battery. I suspect that if you are shooting a lot of 4K images, this will eat also into your memory card space, so you need a memory card with plenty of space for all the high quality photos.

Tawny owl at the British Wildlife Centre

Tawny owl at the British Wildlife Centre taken with Lumix GX80

The Panasonic Lumix GX80: my recommendation

I am really pleased with my new Panasonic Lumix GX80 and will be using it in conjunction with my iPhone in the future. I love the smaller body size, coupled with the option for interchangeable lenses, as well as having both viewfinder and tilt screen. The wifi now enables me to transfer high quality images to my phone so I’m expecting to improve the quality of my social media posts, especially for Instagram.

I think the 4K and post-focus are fun features that I’ll be playing with to enable me to take better photos without having to worry about which technical setting or lens I’m using. For travellers I’d recommend the Lumix GX80 as an excellent all-round camera that will help you take better photographs when you need something that’s a step up from your camera phone.

For more information about the Panasonic Lumix GX80 – Visit the Panasonic Website and you can buy the Lumix GX80 on Amazon here.

Otter at the British Wildlife Centre taken with Panasonic Lumix GX80

Otter at the British Wildlife Centre taken with Panasonic Lumix GX80

Discovering Lumix Unmissable Moments

If you want more inspiration on how other photographers are using the Panasonic Lumix G range check out the Lumix Experience website where you’ll find galleries and video tutorials to show you how you can get the best from your Lumix camera. You can also follow the conversation on social media with the hashtag #UnmissableMoments.

Wildlife photography at the British Wildlife Centre

All the wildlife photographs were taken in a wildlife photography workshop at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey, where you can see and photograph some of the wild animals that are native to the UK. The centre also runs regular photography workshops where you can improve your wildlife photography, with tips from the experts. The workshop I attended was specially arranged to enable our group to try out the Panasonic Lumix GX80 camera. Read my 6 tips for better wildlife photography here.

British Wildlife Centre, Eastbourne Road, Newchapel, Lingfield, Surrey, RH7 6LF, Tel: 01342 834 658

Key information about the Panasonic Lumix GX80

  • 16-million-pixel Four Thirds sensor, no optical low-pass filter
  • ISO 200-25,600 (ISO 100-25,600 extended)
  • Dual IS: 5-axis in-body stabilisation working with 2-axis in-lens
  • 4K video recording and 4K Photo mode
  • 76-million-dot equivalent EVF (16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 04-million-dot 3-inch tilting touchscreen
  • New low-vibration shutter: 60sec – 1/4000sec (1sec – 1/16000 sec electronic)
  • £509 body only, £599 with 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens

Thanks to Panasonic UK who invited me to the workshop and gave me a Panasonic Lumix GX80 for the purposes of this review.

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Read about the Panasonic Lumix GX80

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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