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Location checklist including pitfalls and how to avoid them

Location photography can be wildly unpredictable. At home, or in a studio, you can control just about everything from lighting to props to models.

When on location though, light, weather, heavy equipment and even safety, can be completely out of your control and require you to think on your feet.

But all of this is even more exaggerated when it comes to wildlife photography. Inevitably your location will be in a countryside or rural area and depending on the animal you are focusing on, quite often outside of the UK.

Shooting outside of the UK

If you have the opportunity to go on a safari for elephants in Africa or see tigers in India, itís likely that you will be taking a light aircraft at some point and restricted to hand luggage weighing around 12kg -15kg. This will have an effect on the type of equipment you can take with you.

Hand luggage will be weighed before it goes onto the plane, so itís a good plan to carefully weigh your camera bag before you get to the airport. But if you can bag a window seat from the plane, the views from the air will be incredible so remember to make the most of the flight!

Approaching wild animals without scaring them away can be difficult and a typical problem is getting more wilderness in your shot than wildlife. One way of getting around this is by taking the best telephoto lens you can comfortably carry. A long focal lens of over 200mm is ideal.

But remember, the longer the lens the more likely you are to suffer from camera shake. Always take a small travel tripod to fix this, particularly when you are using your maximum focal length.

If youíre shooting overseas youíre likely to be coming into contact with dangerous, wild animals. The biggest pitfall you can make therefore is getting attacked. Ideally you should always travel with a local guide and you should never approach a wild animal directly.

If they see you, avoid looking them in the eye, frightening them, or look like you are getting between them and their lunch!

Shooting in the UK

But if you donít have the budget for glamorous trips overseas, there are lots of great locations in the UK to get some exceptional wildlife photography.

If youíre based in Scotland, the Aigas Field Centre is a huge Victorian garden planted in the 1880s with giant sequoias and a whole host of local wildlife including red and roe deer perfect for photography.

Transport all the way to the south, Brownsea Island in Dorset is famous for its wildlife including red squirrels and wildfowl during winter.

Remember though, even travelling in the UK can have its pitfalls. Good weather in the UK is notoriously unreliable and therefore itís recommended to not only bring decent kit bags to protect your camera gear, but also a few disposable plastic bags for when it really gets wet.

But wherever you are in the UK, there will be a fantastic national park or trust area that you could visit. Our recommended list of locations is below.

Scotland

Algas Field Center - http://www.aigas.co.uk/
Scottish Seabird Centre Bass Rock (near Edinburgh) - https://seabird.org/wildlife/webcams/bass-rock-3/12/28/62

Yorkshire Dales

Red Squirrel Jumping Hide - https://www.northshots.com/hide-rental

Northumberland

Farne Islands - https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/farne-islands

Kent

Bar Brook on Big Moor, East Malling - http://bigmoor.co.uk/

Lincolnshire

Donna Nook - http://www.lincstrust.org.uk/donna-nook

Gloucestershire

Slimbridge - https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/slimbridge/

Countrywide

Natures Hides - http://www.naturephotographyhides.co.uk/

Dorset

Brownsea Island - https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island

London

Bushy Park - https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/bushy-park

Buckinghamshire

Tom Way Foxes Hide - http://tomwayphotography.co.uk/fox-photography-workshop/

Devon

Broughton Burrows - https://www.northdevon.com/nature-wildlife/braunton-burrows-biosphere-reserve

Bristol Channel

Lundy Island - https://www.landmarktrust.org.uk/Lundyisland

Wales

Gigrin Farm - http://www.gigrin.co.uk/
Skomer - https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer/

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