Nature photography isn't just the luxury of those living in the countryside. Look in your garden, in the streets, under the rocks, around ponds and in city parks, and you'll find the perfect opportunity for nature photography in the city, right on your doorstep.
Young Finnish photographer Ossi Saarinen has built up a six-figure following on Instagram, photographing nature in the city – adorable squirrels, mice and foxes that look straight at the viewer, and funny-looking, round birds full of character. Here, he shares his top tips for photographing nature in the city, including the best places to find foxes, his favourite camera settings and the composition that best captures quirky characters in real life.
In Helsinki, Ossi sometimes chances upon animals, but by understanding how the animals he's trying to photograph behave, he knows where to look, and when. "In the spring time, I try to find foxes' dens in places that aren't quite in the city centre, but are still near people. I try to find holes in the ground where they might have a den, and then I look for traces of fur, and for their strong smell," Ossi says.
"I think one of the most important things in animal photography is to know the animal's habits. If I've found a fox den with small cubs in it, I know that they spend all their time there, so I can just lie down nearby and photograph the fox cubs playing. Adult foxes walk around during the night and sometimes, even in the afternoon. They usually use the same road again and again so I can follow them to see what roads they use – and next time, I can go to the middle of that road and wait for the fox to come."
The bustling city streets, busy roads and the sounds of civilisation are at odds with photographing nature – but it doesn't mean it's not there, waiting to emerge as the humans retire. "I never photograph in the middle of day," says Ossi. "Many animals are more active at night, but it's harder to take photographs in the dark, so I shoot around sunrise and sunset. The light is better at that time, so the photos are stronger."
Although a full-frame camera (such as the Canon EOS 6D) will perform better at high ISO settings, you can still take great nature photos with a cropped APS-C sensor camera (such as the Canon EOS 7D Mark II), says Ossi. "For birds and bees, if you can't get very close, cropped sensors can even help to make the animal appear larger in the frame," owing to the restricted field of view with a cropped-frame sensor.