Get down low

When photographing plants and flowers get down to the subject’s level rather than shooting from above. This may require getting down on the ground – a mat might save you from getting dirty.

Distracting backgrounds


Avoid distracting backgrounds by careful choice of viewpoint and by using a wide aperture to blow them out of focus. Try carrying a sheet that you can use as a portable background by placing it behind the subject, beyond the focus zone.

Photograph birds in your garden


Get good shots of birds in your own garden by establishing a bird table and either finding, or creating a small branch or twig nearby that the birds will go to before flying to the table. Don’t photograph them on the table itself, as this will look unnatural. You can either shoot from a window in your house, or set the camera up outside, closer to the subject, and fire it remotely.

Grow plants to attract wildlife


Certain plants and flowers attract bugs, birds and butterflies. Buddleia for example, attracts butterflies. By planting them in your garden you will encourage nature to come to you. Also, plant flowers that are worth shooting in their own right.

Head to arboretums and public gardens


The UK has hundreds of landscaped gardens open to the public filled with plants that attract a wide variety of wildlife all year round. Look on the web or contact the National Trust to find ones that are close to you.

Use a macro accessory


Your camera is unlikely to enable you to get close enough to fill the frame with bugs, butterflies and flowers, so you need to buy an accessory to help you. If you can afford it invest in a macro lens, which will enable you to get 1:1 lifesize reproductions, as well as general shots at infinity.

Use a telephoto lens for wildlife

For subjects such as birds, deer and other wild mammals a telephoto lens is a necessity. Most pro nature photographers use lenses between 300mm and 500mm, but these are expensive. Tele-zooms in the 70-300mm range are more affordable. Although they have smaller maximum apertures and the quality isn’t quite as good, you can still get excellent wildlife shots with them.

Use a tripod


Whether shooting macro flowers or far distance birds, a tripod is essential for keeping your camera steady. Get one that can spread its legs wide for low-level shooting, or has a removable centre column.