Category: Photography (Page 1 of 2)

2021 5th Annual Photography Competition is now open!

Mission:

An exhibition of photography to highlight the wonderful nature and wild spaces on our doorstep, celebrating the important relationships between people and local wildlife in Ealing.

“Wake me up before you go go” by Steve Morey Overall 1st place winner 2020

Judging criteria:

We want to explore what nature and wildlife means to you. Everyone sees their surroundings through a different lens, so we want to celebrate diverse personal journeys and individual relationships with nature.

This is not purely a technical photography exhibition; equally if not more important is the portrayal of images that will engage the public with the natural world at a local level in Ealing.

We will judge each photograph impartially, without bias and keeping the mission of the exhibition in mind.

The judging panel consists of a panel of wildlife and/or photography enthusiasts, including members of Ealing Wildlife Group, Ealing Council Park Rangers as well as amateur and professional photographers.

Candy-Coloured fly by Sennen Powell 2020 2nd place Up Close and Personal

Categories:

  1. Community Conservation: Showcase people, projects or places coming together to care for, protect, enhance and conserve Ealing’s natural spaces. Or tell a story through an image that captures what community conservation means to you.  
  2. Abstract Nature: Capture the artistry and magic of nature, which could be the play of light and shadows creating fascinating patterns and shapes, or an abstract image exploring an object’s natural shape and form. This category is wide open so let your creativity go wild!
  3. Urban Nature: It’s incredible what creatures and life shows up in urban environment, so show us where the man-made environment meets the wild.
  4. Relationships with Nature: Capture the meaning of nature and wildlife to you and tell us why it makes your heart sing.
  5. Up Close and Personal: This can be taken literally if you’ve captured incredible detail, it can cover macro photography or you can interpret it as imaginatively as you wish.
  6. Young Wildlife Explorers: This is the under 16s category and seeks to celebrate our young wildlife enthusiasts and engage other young people with nature.
Mike Calden, 2017 1st Place Overall Winner

Submission guidelines:

  1. All submissions must be your own work and by entering you declare you have the legal rights to that image.
  2. Each entrant can submit up to three photographic images to be judged for competition
  3. Submission of entries does not guarantee inclusion in the exhibition.
  4. Entries will be eligible for a first, second and third award in 6 categories as well as placing in the overall winner category.
  5. You should specify which category you are entering; judges will appraise each entry using the categories as judging criteria but may award your photo in another category if deemed fit.
  6. High res original jpeg files to be submitted online at https://ealingwildlifegroup.com/2021-photo-competition/  by midnight on Wednesday 13th October 2021.  Maximum size of images is 15MB.
  7. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be eligible. Late entries cause extra admin and will NOT be accepted.
  8. Excessive manipulation of images is not allowed and will be grounds for disqualifying a photograph. 
    • Types of editing that are not allowed:
      • Excessive vignettes.
      • Artificial borders. 
      • Extreme changes to colour, saturation, light, or contrast.
      • Adding, moving or removing objects, animals or parts of animals, plants, people etc. 
      • The removal of dirt, highlights, backscatter, bubbles, debris and similar.
      • Composites.
      • Painting the foreground/painting out the background 
      • Anything that could be viewed as rendering the image a dishonest representation will be disqualified.  
    • Types of editing that are allowed:
      • Digital adjustments including tone and contrast, burning, dodging, cropping, sharpening, noise reduction, minor cleaning work (e.g. removal of sensor dust or scratches on transparencies/scans, removal of chromatic aberration),
      •  HDR, stitched panoramas, focus stacking are permitted providing that they do not deceive the viewer or misrepresent the reality of nature, or what was originally captured by the camera.
  9. No photos of staged wildlife shots, no captive animals, no dead creatures posed as if alive are allowed.
  10. Photographs must have been taken within the Borough of Ealing within the last 5 years; the exact location is to be included in the submission details.
  11. Please include your camera or phone details (e.g. ‘iPhone 10’ is fine, we have winners every year using phone cameras). List the settings if you wish so others who are interested in technical details can learn.
  12. Your description of the photo is just as important as the photo itself and is part of the judging criteria so please fill it in with more than just a name of species or subject and location. We want to hear the story of the photo and perhaps what it means to you. Failure to provide a good description that will be displayed with your entry may lose you significant points in judging.
  13. By submitting your photo to the competition you agree for EWG to share the image in promotional materials in future, with credit to you, the photographer.
  14. Winners will be announced at the opening of the exhibition in Walpole Park this Autumn and a list of winners will be posted online afterwards on Facebook and our website. We cannot guarantee all winners will be informed individually afterwards, and certainly not before the opening of the exhibition. 
  15. Political agendas are not factored into any part of the judging criteria. Photos win on their own merits.

Good Luck everyone! 🍀😊

EWG’s 5th Annual Wildlife Photography Competition opening soon with brand new categories!

It’s that exciting time of year, for you to go back through your photo archives or get out hurriedly snapping more. Because our photo competition is about to open for entries very soon indeed, for the 5th year running!

And this year we are changing it up a little with some new categories alongside some old favourites. Here they are, so get thinking about what photos you enter. As usual 3 photos per person, they must be from within the Borough of Ealing and taken in the last 5 years. All levels and ages welcome, under 16s have their own category. And many previous winners have been taken on phones so you don’t need expensive gear to take part.

  1. Urban Nature
  2. Relationships with Nature
  3. Up Close and Personal
  4. Young Wildlife Explorers (Under 16’s)

And brand new this year…

5. Abstract Nature

6. Community Conservation

More info to come soon! Watch this space.

Using Telephoto Lenses

Nigel using his telephoto lens in the New Forest

Telephoto lenses have long reaches and are great to ‘bring the subject closer’ to achieve detailed, frame-filling photographs. They can be tricky to use and there’s a huge range of lenses available. Here are six tips and hints to get the best out of your lenses.


Prime lenses – these are a fixed focal length and for wildlife 300mm to 500mm or longer work very well. They are fast (have wide apertures) and sharp (can resolve fine detail). They can also be very expensive and heavy.


Zoom lenses – these have the flexibility of getting a frame-filling shot or a wider composition that shows the subject in its habitat and can be particularly useful for when the subject moves nearer or further from the camera such as birds in flight. Typical zoom ranges are 70-200mm, 100-400mm and 150-600mm. Many have a variable aperture through their zoom range: my 100-400mm lens has an aperture of f4.5 at the 100mm end and f5.6 at the 400mm end. Some zooms have a constant aperture throughout their zoom range but these are more expensive than the more affordable variable aperture lenses. The image quality can be almost as good as a prime lens –  you might be hard pushed to tell the difference and they are lighter.


Teleconverters – teleconverters or extenders go between the camera and the lens to multiply the focal length by, typically, 1.4x or 2x. Other magnifications are available but these are the most common. They don’t add much weight and are reasonably small and are an affordable way to make your lenses more flexible. They can work very well with prime lenses and with high quality zooms but the image can be degraded a little. I use a  1.4x with my 100-400mm zoom with some success but the 2x can make the image too soft. Not all lenses are compatible with them so check before you buy. The downside to using them is a loss of light and a slower auto focus. A  1.4x teleconverter reduces the light falling on the sensor by 1 stop and 2 stops with a 2x. If you are shooting at f5.6 that will become f8 with a 1.4x and f11 with a 2x. Beware that some cameras may not auto focus beyond f8.


Support the lens and camera – Some telephoto prime lenses can be hand-held and most zoom lenses are light enough to do without a tripod. When using a big, heavy lens, especially at lower shutter speeds, a tripod is all but essential. Choose a high-quality tripod that will easily cope with a heavy payload of camera and lens. A flimsy tripod will vibrate and wobble. You will also need a tripod head which sits on top of the three legs and into which the camera/lens is mounted. Gimbal heads are great as are ballheads. I have recently ‘converted’ from a gimbal to ballhead. When properly set up the camera/lens is balanced on the tripod and seems ‘weightless’ in use. Long telephoto lenses usually come with a foot mounted on a collar that fits around the lens. It is this that is mounted in the tripod head rather than the camera so as to protect the camera’s lens mount. Consider using a monopod. This can be easier and quicker to use than a tripod – it is lighter and usually does not have a dedicated head. I mount a camera/lens directly to a monopod. 


Steady as you go – telephoto lenses amplify small camera movements as well as subject movement so it is essential to employ good technique when taking the picture. If hand-holding support the lens with your left hand and tuck your elbows against your body and ‘tighten up’. Take a deep breath and hold it – this stops your chest moving and helps keep the camera steady. Squeeze the shutter rather than stab at it. If using a tripod or monopod press the back of the camera against your face and drape your left arm over the lens to dampen any vibrations. Some tripod heads have a little hook on the underside. This can be used to hang your backpack to add more stability. I keep a small cloth bag which I fill with rocks, clods of earth or half-bricks etc. Hanging a weight in this way really helps to dampen vibrations. I often use spikes on the end of the tripod legs when on soft ground in a wood or meadow rather than the standard rubber feet. A fast shutter speed is essential to freeze action and to overcome camera movement. As a rule of thumb use the lens focal length to determine the slowest shutter speed to use: 1/300th second with a 300mm lens and 1/500th second with a 500mm lens etc. It generally needs to be faster than this to freeze wing beats: 1/2500th second is a good starting point. Image stabilisation should be used, too. This can be incorporated in the lens or the camera body. It’s a high-tech system that either shifts lens elements or the actual camera sensor to help compensate for small accidental camera/lens movements. It will not compensate for subject movements.


Calibrate for pin-sharp accuracy – telephoto lenses and wide apertures make for a wafer-thin depth of field so it is essential that the focus is where you want it to be. Slight variations in manufacture of the lens and camera can result in a lens focussing a little in front or behind where you expect. For instance, if a bird is sideways on and you focus on the eye but the folded wing is sharp and the eye is blurry the lens is focussing in front of where you expect and the auto focus needs adjusting. Mirrorless cameras don’t have this potential problem because they use the actual imaging sensor for focussing but DSLRs use a separate sensor dedicated to this important task. Most DSLRs have an AF calibration feature in their menus to correct for this. It’s straightforward but a little time-consuming. I use a special target to calibrate the auto focus. Essentially you focus on one particular point and then see how far off your focus might be and make the appropriate adjustments. Here’s a link to the process, and you can use a clearly marked ruler set at an angle instead of a special target, copy and paste the entire line into your browser:

Adjusting Focus With Datacolor Spyder LensCal (digital-photography-school.com)

There are lots of other resources on YouTube and the Web, too.


This is a basic guide to using telephoto lenses. If you have any questions just drop me a Facebook message via Ealing Wildlife Group and I’ll do my best to help.

Night Skies over Ealing: The Winter Circle

I’m trying something new, a night sky guide for us city dwellers. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Ealing and most of West London is very light polluted, on the Bortle Scale ( a scale that ranks light pollution) we are a Bortle class 8 out of 9. Class 1 is true dark skies like you get in the middle of the Sahara or the Atlantic Ocean and class 9 is the greatest amount of light pollution (think central London, NYC, Hong Kong.) As you can see, this is not an ideal place to see deep sky objects or anything faint. However having said that, there are things to see in our skies!

The Winter Circle

The lovely British weather

One thing I should mention is the weather. The weather can really ruin a celestial event if it takes place over a few nights and you end up with clouds the whole time. Fortunately, the Winter circle is something that is in the sky all winter so you can still get a chance to see it at some point even though it feels like the clouds are never going to go away!

The Stars of the Winter Circle

The Winter Circle (or Hexagon) is the name of an Asterism that encompases some of the most prominent stars and constellations in the winter night sky. Seen rising in the Southeast and making its way across the southern sky over the course of the night, it consists of Sirius, the dog star of Canis Major and the brightest star in the sky, Rigel, the foot of Orion, Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, Capella in Auriga, Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini, and Procyon, the little dog star of Canis Minor. The Pleiades appear to the upper right of the circle and the Milky Way almost perfectly bisects it (that’s not something you will be able to see in Ealing though.) The moon makes a monthly trip though it as do many of the planets, which is something that makes it interesting to observe the whole season.

Deep Sky Objects

There is also one deep sky object you can see from Ealing within the circle, the Orion Nebula found in Orion’s sword. It can be seen with good binoculars and small telescopes, and I even got a snap of it using a telephoto lens. There are loads of nebulae and star clusters in and around the circle, I plan on trying to observe them all from here and see what I can see. I will keep you posted if I find anything good! Please let me know in the comments if you have had any luck with any deep sky objects here in Ealing!

A few other exciting things to see in December provided the weather cooperates!

Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn (Hat tip to Kish Woolmore for the link)

Geminid Meteor Shower

Zen and photography – mind over pixels.

At the mention of Zen, a Buddhist monk in search of enlightenment might come to mind. When I think of Zen, I think of an approach to photography, especially my own wildlife photography. For me, Zen is a state of mind. A state of quietness and stillness and contemplation when engaging with the natural world and finding beauty in all things. I try and remember that Zen photography is more about mindset than the subject matter.

I completely absorb myself in the process of photographing wildlife and nature and think of nothing else during the process. Time slips away like a flowing river. All that matters is the subject, the light and the creativity. It’s a way of meditation. A way of Zen. Nothing else seems to matter.

Observe.

Look at the light. See how it forms the shapes, lines, textures, patterns and shadows of the world around us. Notice the colour and quality of the light. Listen to the sounds and the smell of the location. Observe your intended subject. When photographing fungi emerging from the leaf litter, I get down to their level. I can smell their habitat. I can smell the fungi. Feel the wind and sun on your skin. Become part of the location. I spend several minutes getting into a Zen mindset, a Zen zone before setting up the camera.

Set up your camera.

When photographing fungi or botany, I will generally use a tripod or a beanbag. It slows me down. It makes me think. Don’t just point and shoot. Don’t think that you have the definitive shot and fire the shutter. Take your time and really look at your subject through the viewfinder or on the camera’s screen. Try different compositions or exposures or focus adjustments. See everything within the frame. You will almost certainly be more creative and come up with better ideas by resisting the urge to fire the shutter and quickly get the shot.

Look closely at the world every day.

For me, Zen-like observation works very well when photographing wildlife and nature but it’s something that I like to undertake every day. I can’t do it all the time – I’d be walking around in a complete introspective trance. Whenever I am in a wood, meadow, park or wildlife situation I ‘switch off’ and observe. I make mental notes, or use a notebook, to return if the light isn’t right or if the subject ‘isn’t ready’. Or I may have a camera with me and begin my Zen photography process. When you truly open your eyes and your senses there is so much to see. And photograph.

Getting Closer – Macro Photography

Long time EWG member and nature photographer extraordinaire Nigel Bewley has put together two new photography tutorials for us! This one is about macro photography, perfect for up close shots of insects and other small creatures. The previous one is about photographing birds in your garden. Check out his other tutorials Birds in Flight and Photographing Wildlife in its EnvironmentThanks Nigel!

Macro photography generally means close-up photography, usually of very small subjects such as insects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is the same or greater than life-size. It’s a specialist area of photography and special kit is required, but it needn’t cost the earth. Remember that most compact cameras have a macro mode, allowing the lens to focus at a short distance. Many standard lenses, fixed focal length or zoom, will focus close enough to photograph natural patterns, groups of flowers and fungi and larger insects etc. No further kit is required. Interchangeable macro lenses for DSLRs come in different focus lengths and most can be used as ‘ordinary’ lenses. I own three macro lenses: a 100mm which I use generally. I also use it for other applications: portraiture and for photographing large format vintage glass negatives in order to digitise them. I have a 180mm macro lens which is more unwieldy than the 100mm but has the great advantage of having a longer minimum focus distance: I can stand further away to get a macro shot – ideal for skittish subjects that will flit off if I get too close. My other macro lens is very specialised and difficult to use. It’s a Canon MP-E 65mm and can go up to 5x life size.

Use extension tubes – these are simple metal tubes with no glass, weigh very little and are easy to use. They fit between the camera body and lens and increase the close-focusing of the lens with no effect on optical quality. It’s best to use ones with contacts between camera and lens so the metering system still works. Autofocus remains but it is always best to use manual focus with macro photography. If you buy extension tubes, make sure you get ones for your camera system – Canon, Nikon etc. Mine are third-party but work very well. If you are unsure buy ones made by your camera manufacturer.

Use a supplementary close-up lens – These are magnifying lenses that fit onto the front of standard lenses to facilitate close-focusing without any significant decrease in image quality. Canon make excellent two-element close-up lenses that can be used with any manufacturer’s lenses and work very well with telephoto zoom lenses. Make sure you buy one with the correct filter diameter to fit your lens and they come in different focal lengths. Canon make single element lenses, too, but these aren’t quite as good. Look for the identifier “D” which signifies a two element lens. Supplementary close-up lenses can also be used with macro lenses to great effect. I use a Raynox DCR-250 close-up lens. It clips to the front of a macro or zoom lens to magnify the image by about x3 and works very well.

Invest in a macro lens – The greatest benefit of a ‘proper’ macro lens is that they will provide at least a life-size magnification (1:1). Some will go beyond life-size, up to 5:1 (which makes a spider look very scary). Supplementary close-up lenses can be used with them to great effect and can increase the magnification of the bare lens tremendously.

Choose a focal length that suits you best. 50mm macro lenses have limited use as they force you to set up very close to your subject which isn’t always practical. Your subject may be scared off, for a start. Mid-range 100mm lenses are probably the most versatile and the most cost-effective. Lenses in the range of 150mm to 200mm allow a greater working distance and will also provide a more diffused or blurred background to make the in-focus subject stand out. Macro lenses are designed to provide the best image quality at close-focusing distances but will also focus to infinity, so can be used as ‘ordinary’ lenses.

Tips – Try and use manual focus rather than auto-focus. The depth of field is often very shallow and the camera’s auto-focus system can be confused and doesn’t know what you want to focus on. Use your camera’s depth of field preview button to see what’s sharp and what isn’t. If your subject is moving around, try continuous auto-focus. You may get lucky, especially if you fire a burst of shots. Firing a burst may be a good option when using manual focus, too. When in manual focus once the focus has been found try moving your body, and therefore the camera, very slightly closer and further away to fine tune the focus. Take a breath, breathe out slowly, lock your arms, brace your body and gently press the shutter. If the subject is still consider using a tripod. If you are using a tripod enable mirror lock-up. This means that when the shutter is first pressed the camera’s mirror flips up (the viewfinder goes black), then wait a moment for any in-camera vibrations to subside and press the shutter again and the photograph is taken. Consider using a cable release to reduce vibrations further. Often it is best to photograph butterflies, dragonflies, other insects and spiders first thing in the morning when it’s chilly. They tend to keep still at such times and may also have a coating of dew which can be visually very interesting. Wait for a still day, too. Choose a fast shutter speed, 1/500 sec is a good starting point with an aperture of f/8 to f/16 to get a reasonable depth of field and try and get your subject in the same plane of focus – that is to say parallel to the camera and not at an angle. If your subject is parallel with the camera you stand a good chance of getting the head and tail sharp otherwise it will be one or the other. Practice, practice, practice. Bring a small flower indoors and in a bright room practice with that.

Nigel Bewley

Photographing Birds in Your Garden

Long time EWG member and nature photographer extraordinaire Nigel Bewley has put together two new photography tutorials for us! This one is about photographing birds in your garden and the next one is about macro photography. Check out his other tutorials Birds in Flight and Photographing Wildlife in its Environment. Thanks Nigel!

First, attract birds to your garden! – Provide bird food in regularly cleaned feeders positioned near to shrubs or trees high enough to be out of a cat’s leap and fresh, clean water in a bird bath. Check out the ‘how to attract birds and wildlife’ advice from the RSPB.

Your garden is a wildlife stage – If birds come into your garden it can be straightforward to photograph them. With a little craft and guile you can get some very pleasing shots.

Set the scene – I use interesting and natural looking sticks and twigs as well as larger pieces of wood to serve as perches for garden birds. These can be positioned on a workbench – the vice is really useful, tied to something in the garden like railings or a garden chair, or otherwise bodged somehow. I have a couple of articulated arms with jaws at each end that are really useful. Position perches near food: the birds will soon come in.

Get to know your birds – Watch their behaviour. They may prefer to be very close to shrubs or other cover, or a particular sort of perch in a particular place in the garden.

Use props – Consider using props for the birds to perch on. Clay pots, interesting looking watering cans and tool handles etc. Use your imagination to set up an interesting scene.

Go natural – Birds will use natural perches, of course. Keep observing and get to know their behaviour and favourite spots in the garden at different times of the day.

Choose an interesting background – I like plain, out of focus backgrounds without any intruding clutter. If you are using moveable perches, do just that and move the perches so that the background is uncluttered and a few feet at least behind the perch in order to throw it out of focus. Move the perches around or take up a position to vary the background. If a shrub is in flower, make use of that. Sometimes moving the perch or camera a just a little makes a big difference to the composition and the background.

Clock the light – My garden faces east, which means that the sun is behind me in the morning and I’m looking into the bright light in the afternoon and evening. Both front-lit (with the sun behind you) and back-lit (with the sun behind your subject) photographs can work really well. Side lighting can work well, too, to bring out texture in the feathers.

Find a spot – I photograph from both inside the house and from the garden. Often I shoot through an open door and sometimes through the glass. Window glass isn’t optically great and can soften the shot and it must be clean! If the door is open, I’ll be inside the house by a few feet and largely ignored if I stay still or move slowly. If I’m in the garden I’ll usually sit or stand covered with a bag hide. This is a like an unstructured tent which covers me and my camera with a hole for the lens and a netting window for me to see out. It can get hot!

Cameras and lenses and such – One of the benefits of photographing garden birds is that they can come quite close, so you won’t need a very long lens. A 100mm to 400mm zoom is ideal, even a standard 50mm lens can be used to good effect but won’t let you ‘fill the frame’. A tripod can be a good idea because you can set the camera up, pre-focus on the perch where the bird will land, make some test exposures and then simply fire the shutter when the time is right. One you have pre-focused, switch the lens to manual focus so that the focus is locked in. You can always tweak the focus manually if necessary.

Otherwise, use auto-focus set to subject tracking. Canon calls this function “AI Servo”. Nikon calls it AF-C or Continuous Servo. As long as you have the camera’s focus point or points on the bird, the camera will do its best to keep it focused.

Set a fast shutter speed whether you are hand-holding or using a tripod. The bird will sometimes oblige and sit still, but it’s usually a fast-moving ball of feathers. Use a minimum of 1/500sec and the faster the better to freeze the action.

Set an aperture of around f/5.6 or f/8 to achieve a good depth of field to get the bird in focus without having the background anywhere near sharp. For an uncluttered, blurred background try and keep a separation of at least three feet between it and the perch. More is better.

Try setting your ISO to Auto. The camera will continuously adjust it’s sensitivity to the changing conditions.

On an overcast day, typical settings would be 1/500sec at f/8 at ISO 500. Bright sun these might be 1/1000sec, f/8, ISO125. Use aperture priority to dial in a particular value or shutter priority to put the onus on speed. I always shoot in manual: I dial in the shutter speed and aperture I want and with the ISO in Auto, the camera looks after the exposure.

Set the camera’s drive to continuous high-speed to increase your chances of getting a ‘keeper’. A downside to this technique is that the shutter may make a bit of noise and this could scare the bird.

Finally, always keep a camera handy. You just never know what might come in to your garden and if you have a camera nearby you stand a chance of photographing it.

Keep practising and keep well and safe.

Nigel Bewley

Ealing Wildlife Group Photography Competition is open!

‘Incoming’ by Paul James

Mission:

An exhibition of photography to highlight the wonderful nature and wild spaces on our doorstep, celebrating the important relationships between people and local wildlife in Ealing.

‘A Perfect Camouflage’ by Malgorzata Sikora

Judging criteria:

We want to explore what nature and wildlife means to you. Everyone sees their surroundings through a different lens, so we want to celebrate diverse personal journeys and individual relationships with nature.

This is not purely a technical photography exhibition; equally if not more important is the portrayal of images that will engage the public with the natural world at a local level in Ealing.

We will judge each photograph impartially, without bias and keeping the mission of the exhibition in mind.

The judging panel consists of a panel of wildlife and/or photography enthusiasts, including members of Ealing Wildlife Group, Ealing Council Park Rangers as well as amateur and professional photographers.

‘Life is full of winners and losers’ by Nigel Bewley

Categories:

  1. Beautiful Ealing: celebrate the wonderful natural spaces and landscapes on our doorstep
  2. Fantastic Flora: showcase the beauty and importance of our plant life (fungi count here too!)
  3. Relationships with Nature: capture the meaning of nature and wildlife to you and tell us why it makes your heart sing
  4. Up Close and Personal: this can be taken literally if you’ve captured incredible detail, it can cover macro photography or you can interpret it as imaginatively as you wish
  5. Urban Wildlife: it’s incredible what creatures and life shows up in urban environment, so show us where the man made environment meets the wild
  6. Young Wildlife Explorers: this is the under 16s category and seeks to celebrate our young wildlife enthusiasts and engage other young people with nature. 
‘Onwards and upwards’ by Julian Oliver

Submission guidelines:

  1. All submissions must be your own work and by entering you declare you have the legal rights to that image.
  2.  Each entrant can submit up to three photographic images to be judged for competition
  3. Submission of entries does not guarantee inclusion in the exhibition.
  4. Entries will be eligible for a first, second and third award in 6 categories as well as placing in the overall winner category.
  5. You should specify which category you are entering; judges will appraise each entry using the categories as judging criteria, but may award your photo in another category if deemed fit.
  6. High res original jpeg files to be submitted online at https://ealingwildlifegroup.com/2020-photo-competition/  by 8pm on Wednesday 30th September 2020. 
  7. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be eligible. Late entries cause extra admin and will NOT be accepted.
  8.  Excessive manipulation of images is highly discouraged and will not be judged favourably. Moderate processing and cropping is allowed, but should not include removal or addition of objects. Excessive vignettes, artificial borders, extreme changes to colour, saturation, light, or contrast that could be viewed as rendering the image a dishonest representation will be marked down. 
  9. Photographs must have been taken within the Borough of Ealing within the last 5 years; exact location is to be included in the submission details.
  10. Please include your camera or phone details (e.g. ‘iPhone 10’ is fine, we have winners every year using phone cameras). List the settings if you wish so others who are interested in technical details can learn.
  11. No photos of staged wildlife shots, no captive animals, no dead creatures posed as if alive are allowed.
  12. Your description of the photo is just as important as the photo itself and is part of the judging criteria so please fill it in with more than just a name of species or subject and location. We want to hear the story of the photo and perhaps what it means to you. Failure to provide a good description which will be displayed with your entry may lose you significant points in judging.
  13. By submitting your photo to the competition you agree for EWG to share the image in promotional materials in future, with credit to you, the photographer.
  14. Winners will be announced at the opening of the exhibition in Walpole Park this Autumn and a list of winners will be posted online afterwards on Facebook and our website. We cannot guarantee all winners will be informed individually afterwards, and certainly not before the opening of the exhibition. 
  15. Political agendas are not factored into any part of the judging criteria. Photos win on their own merits. 
‘Being a bee’ by Daniel Hatch (age 10)

Photograph Wildlife in its Environment

Long time EWG member and nature photographer extraordinaire Nigel Bewley has put together two photography tutorials for us! This one is about Wildlife in its Environment and the previous one is Birds in Flight . Thanks Nigel!

Take a step back

It’s lovely and impressive to fill the frame with your subject and make a photograph that is a close-up portrait full of detail but without much of the environment – the place where your subject lives. Just by showing a little of the environment puts the photograph into context. Two goldfinches on a feeder? We know straight away that it was likely to have been taken in a garden with the inference that goldfinches are garden birds.

A portrait often works well. But what of the environment in which your subject lives?

Set The Scene

If you have wildlife in your garden, set yourself up with your camera, make yourself comfortable and be prepared for a wait. It could be that your subject has become used to you or is so busy that it doesn’t care about your presence.

Try using a piece of material to cover yourself as a disguise. It is always a good idea to keep quiet, move slowly and don’t wear perfume or aftershave. Foxes, amphibians in the pond, birds flying into nest boxes or even rats make great subjects that are right on your doorstep.

Patience is often a key to getting the shot or you might just get lucky.

Use Props And Build A Set

For this photograph of a coal tit I set up a wooden carry-box and various garden tools and scattered some peanuts. Wait for the right light – you will know when the sun makes its way around the garden and is behind you. Some wildlife photographers can be a bit sniffy about this technique and don’t consider it “proper”.

Many, many successful, published wildlife photographs use props and bait. A fox investigating a tipped-over dustbin? A kingfisher perched on a sign that reads “No Fishing”? A squirrel looking through a camera’s viewfinder? All artifice, guile and imagination.

Go Wide In The Wild

Composition often plays a key role in environmental photographs. Get away from placing your subject in the middle of the frame. A successful environmental photograph may simply be a landscape shot where the subject plays an important role in acting as a focal point.

By including some of this red deer stag’s habitat the image tells more of a story about the animal’s relationship with the environment. We can immediately see two things: it’s a stag and it’s in the mountains.

You don’t have to go to the Cairngorms for this kind of photograph. A nearby green space will works just as well. There’s plenty of wildlife around – like this muntjac. Go and look for it. It will be there.

Include People

Wildlife exists alongside us and we exist alongside wildlife. Our lives should be in balance with nature. It never ceases to amaze me how wildlife can be part of our lives – it’s all around us and it’s quite valid to document that with people or buildings etc. as part of the photograph. Wildlife, people and buildings. It often works very well.

A shaggy parasol mushroom in my local park
A barn owl and Ealing Hospital

Tell a story

Consider a series of photographs of the same subject taken over a period of time to tell a story. It could be of a particular tree seen over the year from bare branches to full leaf, a family of foxes and their cubs or the adoption of a nest box – not necessarily by birds – with their comings and goings.

Use your imagination. Use your love for wildlife.

Please obey and respect the current lockdown rules and advice.

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