If you ever needed more proof that you don’t have to jet off to exotic locations to take impressive photographs, then photographer Ola Maddams is the perfect example. Ola captures the nightlife of her local wildlife from her garden in Amersham using infra-red technology to set off the camera traps.
Ola was first inspired by a chance sighting of a hedgehog as she sat in her garden during the pandemic lockdown last year. She had previously photographed exotic wildlife abroad in Kenya and was itching to get back behind the lens. A fascination with remote camera technology meant that Maddams soon started experimenting with a passive infra-red sensor and two off-camera flashes to see what she could document in her own garden.
Much of the UK’s wildlife is nocturnal and it’s often surprising how active animals are at night when there is little evidence of them during the day. Ola has regularly captured foxes, fox cubs, hedgehogs and of course a number of local cats. She recently ventured out to a local wood where she was able to capture a badger, deer and a buzzard.
“We learned that just like humans, hedgehogs and foxes are creatures of habit, showing up in our garden at specific times and following certain routines,” she says, adding that “what has always been most important is the welfare of my wildlife models – the quest to get the ‘perfect’ shot should never come at a cost to wildlife.”
With this in mind, Ola has researched the animals that visit her garden and doesn’t leave food out regularly for the foxes in case they should become too dependent on her as a food source. The cameras are triggered by heat and motion, and Maddam has made sure that the flashes are positioned in such a way that they are above eye level and set to the lowest possible output setting. “To make sure the animals are not spooked by the clicking sound of the camera, I place it in a case lined with sound-absorbing foam,” says Maddams.
It took about a year for Maddams to perfect the set-up, but now the resulting images are a wonderful depiction of the private lives of the UK’s wildlife. The images are very lightly post-processed, just simple colour correction, exposure balance, and perhaps a slight vignette added for effect.
“The night photography gave me something to look forward to every morning when checking photos on my camera, in a year when every day felt the same,” she says. “I have proven to myself that you don’t have to go far to take fantastic wildlife shots – in fact, you don’t have to go further than your garden.”
[Via BBC News photos courtesy of Ola Maddams]