Martin Mere is a beautiful nature reserve in Lancashire owned and run by the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust. We’ve been visiting as a family for around 10 years now, and I’m sure will continue visiting into the future. For the dedicated wildlife photographer it’s a superb place to visit, with opportunities for great shots across the whole of the centre.
Although I’ve taken a fair few close-up wildlife shots at Martin Mere, it’s still not really ‘my thing’ and instead I have always wandered the reserve looking for opportunities to shoot landscapes and wildlife in context. What follow in this blog are some my favourite captures over the years, with some associated discussion.
In Autumn and Winter one of the things you can never escape from is the sheer abundance of wildlife. The arrival of the pink-footed geese and whooper and bewick swans fill the mere with waterfowl, and looking out of the hides provides quite a sight. Shooting at wide to moderate focal lengths with stopped down aperture fills the frame with wildlife and detail.
On snowy and icy days it’s well worth spending some time looking for details on the ground – patterns in the frozen ice and the footprints of the waterfowl give some good opportunities for more abstract shots and compositions.
Autumn at Martin Mere provides a rich tapestry of warm colours and the opportunity to look for details in woodland areas of the reserve. When working close to your subject in the undergrowth you need to be prepared to either throw the background out of focus or use a tripod to give enough stability to stop the aperture right down and maintain depth of field.
My visits over the last few years have typically been with my young family, and carrying a tripod together with the paraphernalia required to look after toddlers hasn’t really appealed, so in both of the examples below I was happy to exploit a narrow depth of field.
The reserve is scattered with various hides, and whilst they are excellent for watching the wildlife they also make for good photographic subjects themselves. As with all things photographic it’s a case of looking for the good light and then using it appropriately. The Harrier Hide is an excellent subject, with some intentional use of lens-flare being used below to add some rich colour. The 2nd shot shows the United Utilities Hide silhouetted against the sky.
If you’re not into long-lens photography then within the reserve there are still some good opportunities for shooting wildlife in context with their surroundings. The flamingos always make a good subject, and even the local flock of pigeons are worth looking for.
When the geese and swans leave spring time slowly arrives at Martin Mere. Blossom flowers and hints of new leaves begin to appear across the reserve. The excellent canoe safari normally opens up around Easter and also offers electric boat tours for those not wishing to paddle themselves. Well worth the small fee, a trip out on the water can provide a few alternative view points of the landscape.
I still look for new opportunities each time we visit, and putting together this blog post has made me realise that we haven’t tended to visit much of the summer – something to rectify this year, with the chance to capture some summer sun. Of course one thing you do have to remember is that Martin Mere is in Lancashire – and that means that despite best endeavours the rain will sometimes thwart your trip – the perfect excuse to head into the cafe for some coffee and cake.
Thanks for reading,