Photographing Brown Hares
The biggest piece of advice I can give for any budding photographers is to always look around you (especially back the way you have come) and go prepared. I go out looking for specific shots and always come away with something unexpected. I went to my favourite spot for hares and got my best pictures of barn owls (3 swooping around in a field adjacent). I went looking for water voles and managed to get the best of my macro dragonfly pictures to date. Both of these experiences would have been lost if I did not have a couple of contingency lenses with me that I did not expect to use.
When unprepared it is still possible to get some great shots, for example, my best hare picture came when I had the wrong lens attached. I had taken my general zoom lens so I was ready for any birds that I may see in the hedgerows on the way. I had got to the field early and was approaching my chosen spot to get set up when a hare walked out of the long grass about 10 meters ahead of me. I froze, and slowly sunk to the floor. I watched whilst slowly trying to adjust my camera settings. I managed about 15 shots, freezing between every release as the Hare looked around for the source of the noise. I was lucky, the wind was blowing towards me, the light was great, the Hare was having a tolerant day whilst demonstrating some typical behaviour and I was able to grab some shots before he went on his way. If I had been prepared for the layup position I had identified, I would have had my 150-600mm lens on, which would have been too big to take the quality of pictures I managed.
I set myself a 5 year project last year, to take pictures of wild badgers, water voles, barn owls, kingfishers and otters. So far I have 4 of the 5…….just wild otters to go. As I have been out and about I have been grabbed by more species and I now have a much longer list, including dragonflies and swallows in flight. I am also looking at a project involving abandoned man-made objects in nature, but that project is still in its infancy.
Tips for photographing brown hares:
Research their behaviour and where to find them, get there early and find somewhere downwind from where you expect them to be.
They love arable farmland next to woodland or hedges.
Wear dull coloured, rustle free clothing.
Get low (wildlife pictures look great if taken at the animal’s eye level), get cover and keep movement to a minimum.
The hour before dusk and dawn give best chance to see them, and also the best light, but the conditions change fast so keep taking test shots and adjust your settings accordingly.
Hares come in two types, the type that freeze if they are spooked and the type that flee. If your hare pauses when they hear the shutter, stop and wait for them to continue with their lives before you take the next picture.
If you are after the iconic boxing shots then March and April are the best times for this.