Behind the Lens with Roger Wilmshurst FRPS

20 April 2020 | Posted in Emma Chaplin , wildlife photography
Behind the Lens with Roger Wilmshurst FRPS
Wood Mouse © Roger Wilmshurst

Tell us a bit about yourself  

Wildlife has fascinated me since early childhood - my mother used to say I watched birds from my pram. I was fortunate to have been brought up on the side of the South Downs in West Sussex, where I spent a great deal of time exploring the Downs as a boy. 

Web Broad bodied Chaser SW

Broad-bodied Chaser

My first job was with the British Trust for Ornithology in the 1960s, organising census work.

I bought my first camera in the late 1970s but changed to the much lighter Panasonic micro four thirds system in 2011. Today, I use the even lighter, more versatile, bridge camera the Sony RX10IV. 

I have always worked mainly in the UK because British Wildlife is my first love. I like Scandinavia too, and have also worked in some southern European countries.

I was granted a fellowship in the Royal Photographic Society in 1992. I have submitted pictures to wildlife libraries for over 30 years, but my interest in wildlife photography is more a passion than a commercial enterprise.

As far as wildlife photography is concerned, the great joy of it is that it gets photographers out in our wonderful countryside, and frequently are privileged to see things that otherwise they would no experience.

Collared Dove (Steptopelia decaocta)

Collared Dove

What’s your favourite shot?

This (below) has always been my all time favourite. I took it in the early 1980s, early on a cold winter's morning. It shows a lake by our house that I created about 46 years ago.The water comes from deep in the ground, so it is fairly warm, hence the mist over the water. The duck is a female Pintail. Wild ducks drop in during cold weather. 

Pintail frost email

Pintail

What are you trying to communicate with your photographs?

Any artist tries to communicate to others what they feel about the subjects. It is the same in photography. If it's driven by commercial effort, then it is unlikely to have the right feel about it. 

Web Peacock, Blackthorn SW

Peacock on Blackthorn

Who do you admire in life and photography?

I think during every stage of the development of wildlife photography the equipment available at each had its own challenges, and masters such as Eric Hosking, produced wonderful work, in spite of the limitations of equipment. He followed enthusiastically later developments, and I know that, if he was alive today, he would revel in today's digital photography. The fact is we are in the middle of a golden age of wildlife photography.

Web Goldfinch flight SW

Goldfinch in flight

What do you find most challenging to photograph?

I find photographing birds in flight most challenging. It is not my favourite way of working, because of autofocus difficulties, but, a bird in flight against a blue sky does not have much creative merit as a picture. 

Websize Kingfisher 3 email

What’s the most unexpected thing that’s ever happened with your photography?

I remember some years ago, when I had a licence to photograph Woodlark at the nest, I had followed advice about how to locate a nest. I watched the male go to the female on the nest, look a line on what I saw, and started slowly and gingerly searching. To be honest I felt I had very little chance of finding it. What joy, only a few feet away, my eyes lit in the sitting bird. She did not come off, just sat there looking at me. I will never forget it.

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)

Hawfinch

Roger has been kind enough to contribute a huge body of incredible photographs for Sussex Wildlife Trust to use over many years. For more of Roger's work, see his website 


 

Comments

  • Janet Daly:

    21 Apr 2020 15:55:00

    Brilliant pictures As Roger says we are very lucky with digital cameras etc which are available. Just my hard luck but I have left most of my camera skill behind due to advancing years but still have wonderful memories of the things I have seen in many different countries

  • Sue Miles:

    22 Apr 2020 06:24:00

    Wonderful photos

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