Dawn light can be incredibly, bathing a whole area in a golden colour, transforming an image while adding a beautiful atmosphere with lots of impact. The direction of light will dramatically affect the way shadows fall in a scene within nature or on a subject. Remembering these simple points, then twin them up with a bit of luck in one of your favorites places in the UK, add a relaxed, beautiful subject and the results can be magical.
The image above is a personal favorite from three brilliant, bespoke one to one days in the Peak District National Park with my client Ulrich. He’d come from Vienna in Austria specially to have time in this beautiful place staying in the historic town of Buxton. After a very early start and a thirty minute walk up to the upper moors we were in place just before first light. I heard a call of a Golden Plover in the distance and we closed into where it was coming from. Once we got nearer I could see the female and she was calling.
We got our gear ready, I helped my client with camera settings to make the most of back lighting, I also went through fieldcraft and moving over open ground. We then advanced forward towards the sunrise, keeping low, moving slowly and using natural cover. I positioned us both facing the light with the Golden Plover to our front, this image above was the result of that thinking and work. Ulrich got the same if not better images also.
On the first of the three days in the beautiful Peak District National Park we visited one of my favourite Dipper sites. River levels are very low at the moment due to little of no rainfall but I managed to find them. We came across fledged young from this year with their trademark bid just starting to show and also we saw the adult birds so my client could see the clear difference. Over the course of the first day we had many wonderful encounters with these amazing songbirds that swim underwater.
We then spent the next two days on the moors in different locations I know well throughout the Peak District. On both days we had amazing light once more and there were lots of subjects around throughout both days and my client got very lucky with sightings and images. From a bird called the Twite , seen below to Red Deer with young, Mountain Hares in summer coats, Red grouse, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel and many more.
The time we spent with the female Golden Plover at first light though was very special as the sun came up in front of us, warming our faces as this gorgeous moorland bird just fed and moved around not far from where we were laying flat with the ground. A stunning bird with incredible feather markings, it was just magical. The following images from that morning I hope show you why.
I instilled that fieldcraft and respect have to be the first priories of any photographer when taking images of wildlife because if the subject has to move to avoid you and this carries on there’s no telling the animal will be able to recoup those spent calories and energy avoiding you. Which in turn means your actions may result in the premature death of your subject should it struggle to find enough food.
Over the three days in their Peak District I came across the head gamekeeper of the Moscar Estate, Stephen Lloyd out on his rounds at dawn. Emptying traps and all sorts as I took this image. I support a vast movement of people trying to expose cruelty in our countryside.We all should stand together to rid our communities of such cowards as cruelty underpins so much that is wrong in our society today.
We saw so much during the three days in the Peak District with my client who had picked a bespoke trip with each day offering different species he’d like to see. If the subjects are close you can choose to see a mixture of subjects on the day if that’s possible. There is no promises though as I only deal with wild animals. The one to ones I offer can be found on the following link.
I love nature and I don’t class it as my job it’s a way of life for me because nature has always been part my life. It’s even better when I’m sharing what I love and the places I know with clients. Thank you Ulrich for your time and the many laughs and good luck with your own wildlife photography.