How to take great wildlife photos - and enter them into CJ's competition!

How to take great wildlife photos - and enter them into CJ's competition!

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Thanks to the wonders of new technology, we're never too far away from a camera these days - and as a result, outlets like Facebook and Instagram are full of people's happy snaps of everything from the view on a long walk to their grandchildren baking.

As a wildlife lover though, we bet you've got lots of brilliant images of the world around us - so why not combine your enthusiasm for nature with your affinity for photography and make good use of your snaps by entering one of the many wildlife photography competitions out there?

Lots of different organisations run contests now and most are open to everyone, including complete beginners. Some have some fantastic prizes and prestige too, such as the popular BBC Countryfile calendar comp that's held each year - and CJ Wildlife is running its own for 2015. Details on how to enter are below.

It's fun for all the family to get outdoors and observe the wonders of nature, particularly as the warmer weather arrives. But if you want to increase your chances of winning, what can you do? Well, we've put together some top tips that might help, whether you're snapping away in your own garden, out on a rural walk or elsewhere.

1.    Do you want a topic or theme?

'Nature and wildlife' is such a diverse subject that you might get spoilt for choice when you pick up your camera. It might help to narrow it down a little and collect images on a theme instead. For instance, try just looking at birds, or head to nearby farmland and focus on the animals there. Urban dwellers might like to think about capturing the visitors in their gardens in the evenings, so British mammals might be a nice idea here.

2.    Watch and observe

Getting good shots of wildlife can be really tricky, as ideal scenes can be very fleeting. However, you might be ahead of the game if you know a little bit about your subjects' behaviour first. For instance, if you have a nest of Blue Tits and you know both parents are around for feeding duties at a certain time of day, you can set up your equipment and lie in wait. One of our helpful books or charts could help with this stage.

3.    Encourage wildlife in

If you're staying in your garden to take photos, you can maximise your chances of seeing wildlife by creating the ideal conditions for a variety of species. Bird feeders should allow for some brilliant shots of our feathered friends grabbing some dinner, while nest boxes might provide heart-warming images of chicks and the breeding season. Try a Butterfly and Bee Box for some sweet insect-themed pictures too.

4.    Get to know your equipment

You don't want to be presented with the perfect wildlife shot, only to miss it because you're not sure how to work the settings on your equipment, so have a practise in advance. Look at whether macro or other functions work best for what you want - and if you know you've got a wobbly hand, steady the shot with a tripod!

5.    Try some crafty techniques

You could try some clever tricks that photographers use to make your entries stand out. For example, there's the rule of thirds that advises you to imagine your photo divided into nine sections and then place your subjects and scenery where the lines cross. There are also the golden times of sunrise and sunset to consider - this is when the light offers up more texture and an orangey appearance, whereas midday can be too harsh.

6.    Close up or far away?

Try a wide angle on your images if there's a fascinating backdrop, or encourage people to see your subjects in a new light with an extreme close-up. The latter can work especially well for insects (which are really amazing up close) and farm animals, which people never normally get the chance to observe in such great detail.

7.    Don't forget the little things

There are some things that lots of people want to take pictures of, such as cute hedgehogs and Robins - but there are scores more that everyone forgets, and it might be these images that really appeal to judges. How about a snap of a frog basking in the sun, or even a close-up of a shiny beetle on lichen in the woods? It might help your photos get to the top of the pile.

8.    Be patient

We can't stress this last one enough, as you might need to be out and about for a while before you get that dream shot. Pick a spot and sit patiently so the wildlife forgets you're there, or wander around and look for ideal habitats - either way, dress appropriately for that day's weather and pack your lunch if necessary. Just don't give up!

Enter CJ Wildlife's annual photography competition

Now you're a veritable expert, we want you to send your best wildlife photos to us here at CJ Wildlife so you can be in with the chance of winning our latest photography competition and featuring on our widely-circulated e-newsletter.

Just select your best image and send it to us via our Facebook page by the closing date, which is Monday 15th June 2015.

We'll then choose our favourite and feature the winning picture on our e-newsletter after the lucky photographer has been announced. Good luck!

Terms and Conditions

The promoter of this competition is CJ Wildlife Ltd, whose registered office is at: The Rae, Upton Magna, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4UR
Employees of CJ Wildlife Ltd, or their family members and anyone else connected with the competition or its establishment shall not be permitted to enter.
No entry fee is required and there is no purchase necessary.
The competition opens on Monday 11th May and the closing date for entries will be Monday 15th June. After this date, no further entries to the competition will be permitted.
Entrants must be UK residents and over the age of 18. Only one entry per person. 
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or otherwise associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking site. Your information will be provided to CJ Wildlife, not Facebook.
The organiser accepts no responsibility for entries that are invalid, incomplete, illegible, lost or delayed and proof of sending does not constitute proof of receipt.
Winners will be chosen from all entries received after the closing date.
Winning images will be featured on a CJ Wildlife e-Newsletter.

The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding the winner. We reserve the right to substitute the prize for another of equal value should the need to do so reasonably arise. 
Any changes to the competition or the terms and conditions will be highlighted to entrants by the promoter as soon as possible.
No cash or credit alternatives to the stated prize will be offered and the prize is non-refundable and non-transferrable.
If the promoter is unable to contact the stated winner within 14 days, we reserve the right to offer the prize to another competition entrant.
Entrants will be automatically added to the monthly newsletter database for CJ Wildlife, however, they can unsubscribe at any time using the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of each email correspondence.
The promoter complies with the standards and procedures outlined within the UK Data Protection Act and your personal information will be secure. We will not pass on this information to third parties under any circumstances.
The winner agrees to the use of his/her name in publicity material relating to the promotion. 
Entry into this competition will be taken as acceptance of these Terms and Conditions, which are subject to and governed by English law.