Professional Photo Contributing Editor Matty Graham heads for the Lincolnshire coast armed with Olympus’ newest O-MD camera…
Wildlife photographers should never be short of subjects to capture in the UK, regardless of the time of year. And come November and December, something very special happens along a remote stretch of coast in Lincolnshire where grey seals move onto the dunes to deliver their pups. Packing a E-M5 MkIII and Olympus’ mega-sharp 40-150mm Pro lens, I ventured out in search of images and here’s a number of Pro tips that may help you….
First-up and most importantly, the days of venturing way onto the beach are long gone. This causes stress to the seals and is an absolute no-no. For the good of the wildlife, photographers are expected to stay behind the dune fence line so a long lens is essential. I used the Olympus 40-150mm, a compact lens weighing just 760g, which I occasionally paired with the 2x extender. With the 2x crop from the Micro Four-Thirds sensor, this delivered a maximum focal length of 600mm, which was plenty for capturing the images I was trying to capture.
Watch out for behaviour
One route to elevating images from simple shots to more crafted, pro-level photos is to observe and capture behaviour from the seals. During November and December, seals in close proximity can lead to fights and this can lead to some dramatic frames. Alternatively, a mother interacting with her new pup can also provide additional interest to the scene. While I enjoy using primes, the versatility of the 40-150mm Pro lens to zoom in on the squabbles proved incredibly useful.
Look out for eye contact
Seals are intelligent creatures and are curious about their surroundings. An image that includes the seal offering eye-contact with the viewer will always be stronger as it provides a connection between the two parties. Taking up a shooting positions, and then simply taking a few steps to the side can be enough to tweak the seal’s attention so they look your way. I set the E-M5 MkIII to single point focus, which locked on accurately very time.
Vary your shooting heights
While many other photographers opted to use monopods (and tripods) I much preferred shooting handheld, reassured by the advanced IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) system within the E-M5 MkIII. Adjusting your shooting height will bring variation to your imagery and, as the Olympus is compact and lightweight, it was easy to get low and shoot through the fence.
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