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Second nature: how to take the best wildlife photos

Whether it's a tiny field mouse or an imposing stag, taking stunning photographs of our resident wildlife can be as rewarding as it is challenging. Get Creative is helping you capture nature at its best as Countryfile once again looks for your captivating shots for its annual photography competition.

This year's theme is Colours of the Countryside and if that means you want to photograph the red breast of a robin or the majestic wings of a Purple Emperor butterfly here are handy hints on framing the best wildlife stills. Here, professional photographer Jo McIntyre, a member of Dumfries Camera Club, shares her tips and inspirational shots.

Always carry your camera to get photos like this leaping squirrel. Photo: Jo McIntyre MPAGB photography

1 Try taking photographs standing at different heights

Fighting mountain hares. Photo: Jo McIntyre MPAGB photography
Respect the wildlife, and give them space to relax in your company
Jo McIntyre

Don't be afraid to get down to the same level as the wildlife as an image where the camera is the same level as the eyes of the wildlife will help the viewer engage more with the photograph.

2 Have a look at what's behind the wildlife you are photographing

Check there is nothing distracting in the background which will take away attention from the wildlife you are wanting to show in your photograph.

3 Have a look at the direction of light on the wildlife you are wanting to photograph

The image will look quite different depending on if the sun is behind, to the side, or in front of the wildlife.

4 Try and understand the key points of the Wildlife and Countryside act

Respect the wildlife, and give them space to relax in your company, before taking a photograph. Seek advice from groups like the RSPB or wildlife trusts about which wildlife is protected, and understand where and when you can't photograph protected wildlife in the UK, to make sure you are always within the law.

Get down on the same level as your subject
Osprey fishing in the mist. Photo: Jo McIntyre MPAGB photography

5 Expect the unexpected

Check for distractions in the background. Photo: Jo McIntyre MPAGB photography

Always carry a camera with you when you are out and about in the countryside, as often the best photography opportunities are seen when the camera is left at home.

6 Don't just photograph in good weather

If it is safe to go out and photograph the wildlife, often bad weather such as heavy rain or mist or snow etc can really add impact to a wildlife photograph - but always put your own safety first.

7 Try and understand the basics of your camera

Understand how you can influence the output from your camera by changing the settings - or join a local camera club affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, as many camera clubs include beginner tuition nights and the club can be a great informal place to learn from like-minded people even from the basics of how to "turn the camera off automatic, to take the photograph you want it to take".

Weather can add a new dimension to your shot. Photo: Jo McIntyre MPAGB photography

How-to guides from Countryfile Magazine

Colours of the Countryside

  • BBC One's Countryfile wants you to go out and capture nature's palette of colours
  • The theme is open to your interpretation but the judges are looking for beautiful photographs that will show off the huge spectrum of colours you find in the British countryside throughout the year
  • Chairman of the judges is John Craven who will be joined by bird lover and comedian Bill Bailey and new judge for 2015, children’s wildlife presenter Naomi Wilkinson
  • The judges will choose the best twelve which will then make up the Countryfile Calendar 2016, sold in aid of BBC Children in Need
  • All the details on how to enter can be found on the Countryfile website along with the terms and condtions

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