Posted by: photographytuition | October 6, 2011

How to photograph otters

I saw an otter last week in the Elan Valley, mid Wales. I’ve seen literally hundreds of otters in Scotland but I’ve never seen one in Wales or England before.

Photographing otters isn’t easy!

Probably the best places to photograph otters are the Shetland Isles and the Western Isles of Scotland. (see note at bottom of blog). There are experts on these islands who will help you to find otters. Personally I like to track them down myself – it’s part of the fun.

Otter footprints in snow, mid Wales. Panasonic compact FX01. ISO 100, 86mm, 1/250 sec f5. exposure +1 stop to keep snow looking bright.

It really helps to know what an otter footprint and their spraint (poo) looks like. Once you’ve learnt this it should be possible to find the areas that they frequent – the rest is a question of keeping upwind, quiet and being very patient.

Wild otter cubs North Uist, Scotland. Nikon D80 with 70-300mm at 250mm. ISO 200, 1/350sec f8.

It’s not unusual to find otter tracks in the sand on Scottish beaches. I followed tracks from a beach in North Uist up into the dunes behind and found an otter lying in the grass. I don’t know who was more surprised! Quick photo and I was off.

Otter, North Uist. Nikon D70 with 55-200mm at 55mm. ISO 640, 1/60 sec f8.

As you can see from the lenses I’ve used it’s not a case of having a super telephoto but of knowing your subject and being able to move fast – lightweight gear and no tripod is strongly recommended.

Otter mum and cub, South Uist. Nikon D70 with 55-200mm at 185mm. ISO 500, 1/1000 sec f9.5. Exposure -1/2 stop.

This is my favourite otter photo. It shows an otter mum with her cub bowling along behind. I watched them for ages and this is probably the most distant shot I got yet I like it the most as it shows the otters and their environment. A closer view wouldn’t have worked so well – in my opinion!

There are plenty of places around here (mid Wales) that otters frequent – if anyone would like an otter day with me I can show you otter signs and tracks,the type of places they like to hunt and hide, the best places and times to see otters, techniques and equipment for photographing otters and everything else to do with these wonderful, elusive animals.


From 9th to 23rd June I’ll be in the Western Isles of Scotland with a serious chance of seeing and photographing otters, basking sharks, minke whales, eagles and many other birds. Let me know if you’d like to join me for a day or so – usual rates apply.

You can book a Photography Tuition session any day of the week, any month of the year. Nikon cameras and lenses are available for use, free of charge!

To find out more see or email me


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: