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Learn the key field skills and techniques you need to photograph badgers in the wild.
Tags:Photographing a Bagder,GoWildTV,photographing animals,andy langley,animal photography,go wild tv,how to photograph a bagder,how to photograph mammals,peter cairns,photography tutorials,wildlife photography
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From a distance, this remote hillside looks very much like any other; close-up we can see the earthworks of one of our most fascinating mammals, the Badger. These telltale earth works outside the Badger Sett Entrance; vegetation, and sometimes old foods props in them. During the day the Badger is fast asleep, snuggled on its warm bedding on the ground. But as day turns to night it takes a sniff of the earth, checks for any sign of danger and then sets out long one of the regular hunting tracks. Badgers use a series of Badger Path that they have grudgely warmed through the vegetation over many years. It’s so fairly easy to spot from the direct lead from the Sett Entrance to the Badger’s favorite feeding grounds. One of our most popular and charismatic mammals is of course the Badger but from a photographic point of view, it brings along its own challenges, mainly that it’s nocturnal. I’ve been photographing this particular group of Badgers near to where we sit for very few years now, and although we’re not going to photograph at the sett to avoid any disturbance, I’m going to take you down and show you where it is. So you can see the spoil heap just outside the Sett Entrance just down below me here, we’re not going to go down any further because stomping around on the Badger sett even during the day is this bit like some big entry in your living room unannounced, so the badgers are on the ground at the moment fast asleep, we’re going to leave them that way. We’re also not going to photograph them coming out or anywhere near the sett because again that puts them on this amount of stress and on disturbance, what we’re all going to do is move up the hill to the height that we have erected and photograph them hopefully there when they come out tonight. So we’ve come along to the height here, you can see this well-established path coming in to the feeding area, it’s been used over a number of generations of Badgers and this is the feeding area where we’re going to try and attempt the Badgers to come tonight when they come out. It has to be said there’s some discussion over the merits, the rights, the wrongs, the ethics of feeding wild animals. To my mind, as long as it’s done with appropriate amounts of food, to act as the supplement with the natural diet rather than to replicate it and as long as the appropriate type of food is used in, this case we used a mixture of peanuts, eggs and raisins, then it acts as nothing other than the tree to little bit of a taste rather than to try and make more to dependent on it or to try and replicate their natural diet. So we’re going to the height now and start to get settled. To be honest, this height is a little bit over elaborate, it was built predominantly for group viewing, I used it really just to keep myself comfortable while I’m waiting for the Badgers but you don’t actually need to hide this so as the Badger’s eyesight is not particularly good so as long as you keep yourself concealed, a lot of people photograph Badgers just from sitting at the base of the tree, perfectly adequate. Okay, so what we’re going to do now is get the flashlights out and get them settled in preparation for tonight. What I’m doing now, going to set up two independent flashers, both approximately 45 degrees to where I want the Badgers to appear; I’m going to put the second one in again at 45 degrees but this time, it’s just a little bit higher to give it slightly different perspective. So we set both flashers trained on this Birch slough, bit sliding on the floor, that’s the stage if you like, that’s where we want the Badger to be. So at the back of that Birch slough, we’ve got a couple of open tents that we’re going to put peanuts and raisins inside, maybe a bit of peanut butter smeared on the top of the log to encourage the Badger into here exactly where we want him so the flashers illuminate him appropriately. Okay so we’ve got the log baited, we’ve got flashers in place, I’m going to be sat here on this deck of the height, this is going to be my main flash, this is set to ISO 200, it’s important that the camera is set the same. It’s set at f8 and this going to be plugged in to the camera by this cord here, okay? This flash is going to act just a little bit of a filling flash, this is set at 5.6, again ISO 200, and this is going to be operated by the slave unit, so when that flash activates, this one will automatically do so, too. Okay so camera on tripod on the step, we’re going to use a torch tonight to illuminate the sett to allow us to focus when we press the shutter, both flashes should fire simultaneously. As day turns to night we’re going to switch to infrared cameras, it’s getting very, very dark now, I almost can’t see my hand in front of my face so, camera’s on the tripod we’re going to check the torch and that’s what I’m going to use to activate the ultra-focus or use with the ultra-focus, and I can actually hear the Badgers coming up the hill from the sett. Okay that was quick, one and almost straight away; very, very important to allow the Badger to settle don, 2, 3 4 minutes even that much, the more you allow them to settle down, the more relaxed they are, and I’ll gradually, very slowly and quietly move into position and sit down on the step. I quite used to be doing this, and nevertheless any certain noises will frighten them, and even now, just to spend awhile just letting them settle, I’ll get more confident. The temptation is to get a shot in the bag just to get an insurance shot but much better to allow the Badger to settle, take the photograph on its terms; just looking for to look up not so little expression would be nice. That, that’s the look we want, there. We’re also looking for a little bit of variety if we can get it so we can probably zoom in or zoom out if we see them out we’re going to get more habitat into the shot and take them more to the forest, kind of a variety, the Badger’s very, very comfortable now, settled and feeding, and there, just a little bit more information about its habitat in that shot, as ever with Badgers, it’s not been particularly easy, there’s been a few challenges but thankfully we’ve got one or two shots to share of our efforts.