How to photograph badgers

Wildlife photographer James Warwick explains how to capture the perfect badger picture. 

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Badgers by James Warwick
© James Warwick

 

1 Put the time in Once you’ve located a suitable active sett, visit as often as possible to learn the badgers’ routines before taking any photos. Which exits and paths do they use? Do they play near the sett before dispersing? Don’t expect to take winning pictures on the first evening!

2 Master lighting At dusk you can get away with shooting at a high ISO setting, but as light levels fall – especially at woodland setts – the use of flash will be unavoidable. Consider using more than one flash positioned off-camera (practise different set-ups at home). Add diffusers to create more attractive lighting and avoid eyeshine.

3 Shoot remotely It’s a good idea to trigger the camera by remote control so that you don’t have to be near the badgers yourself – their sense of smell is superb.

4 Go wide-angle Don’t just fill the frame with badgers – tell the whole story by including details of the habitat. If the animals are used to you, try using a lens as wide as 18–20mm or even 16mm.

5 Select small apertures When using flash, you can afford to choose small apertures (that is, high f-numbers) to increase your depth of field and chances of sharp images.

6 Get down low A low perspective, using beanbags or a tripod with its centre column removed, creates a much greater sense of intimacy in your pictures.

7 Use bait wisely Lure badgers with peanuts, seedless grapes, baked potato or the cheap pig-food pellets known as ‘sow rolls’. Use small amounts of food so that they don’t become dependent on you.

See more fantastic wildlife photography by James Warwick. 

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