Capturing nocturnal animals in low-light photography

Expert wildlife professional photographer Tesni Ward shares her low-light photography tips photographing badgers and reflects on her career so far catching nocturnal animals.

There is no rejecting that being a full-time wildlife photographer is no easy trip, and it took a good couple of months to get momentum and start being able to support myself.
Capturing nocturnal animals - low-light photography
The greatest difficulty was getting my name out there, and while I may not be a home name yet, I’ve found that social networks and word of mouth are highly important. With platforms such as Instagram focused heavily on photography and images, it’s a simple way to develop a following.

It’s also crucial to recognise that your time can not be focused exclusively on photography, as the work that goes on behind the scenes is likewise vital in order to be successful.
Capturing nocturnal animals - low light badger sitting still
A rare moment caught as a badger sits still. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, 300mm, 1/200sec at f/4, ISO 1250, Credit: Tesni Ward

Capturing nocturnal animals– photographing badgers

Prior to I made the decision to become a full-time photographer, I started a short-term project photographing badgers that quickly turned into a somewhat unhealthy fixation.

European badgers are extremely misconstrued and can be very challenging to deal with due to the fact they are nighttime, but I was identified to picture them in natural-light conditions. It took numerous months before I was even able to find a suitable location, however the genuine difficulty began when the badgers began appearing.

Rewarding time

We know more about whales than we do about badgers, as badgers live an extremely elusive life. This has made them even more enticing to work with.

Greatly maltreated given that the early 1800s, badgers still suffer greatly at the hand of man in spite of being afforded a few of the highest levels of protection in the UK. With little factor to trust human beings, it makes the time invested with them all the more rewarding.

Deep in the forest extremely little light reaches the ground, so regardless of the badgers emerging relatively early while the sun is still relatively high in the sky, this light hardly ever reaches the badgers. This has forced me to develop a strategy that masters the art of low-light photography.

Operating in low-light photography can be more tough with wildlife than with static topics. You can only do so much with your shutter speed prior to any topic’s movement becomes an issue. The offered light can likewise change drastically with the smallest modification of an animal’s position.

Badgers do not sit still for long, as they like to snuffle around and explore their environments. Their pigmentation can also be a concern, with their contrasting black and white markings making it challenging to expose each shade properly.

While some individuals select flash to compensate for difficult or dark conditions, I like to work with the natural light readily available. This leaves me with a few choices on how to attain well-exposed, usable images in such tough low-light photography conditions.

low light badger early in morning


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