Tell us a bit about yourself
I've lived in Shoreham-by-sea for the past 14 years. I grew up in Pontefract, went to London and ended up in Sussex in 2001. I'm a Children’s Centre Manager.
When did you develop an interest in wildlife photography?
As a child in the 1970s, I spent a lot of time outside, exploring nettle beds on local waste ground with a magnifying glass, looking for frogs and toads in the local park, playing in the woods and fields. I felt connected to the natural world. When I was eight, I used my birthday money to buy a fishing rod and my dad agreed to take me fishing. I became passionate about it. It was great training for sitting and observing all manner of wildlife.
In 2015, I was feeling disconnected and in need of something to do in short periods of time. So I bought a camera and headed out. On my first trip out, I only ventured down the road to an area of shingle beach where I knew there were lizards. These trips grew longer, up the South Downs, to Woods Mill and other local areas.
Taking photographs is a way of me rebuilding that connection that we all share with nature, often masked by the pressures our lifestyles. In many ways, nature photography gives me, as a 40-something adult, an opportunity for re-connecting with my eight year old self.
What do you most enjoy about it?
The opportunity to be in the moment, to tune into the sights and sounds. The privilege of connecting to whatever I’m photographing. I live in a place with no outdoor space, so coming to places such as Woods Mill Nature Reserve is very special.
Joining Adur Photographic Society was a good way to fill in some of the gaps around my technical knowledge. It offers a comprehensive series of workshops and allowed me to meet other photographers and share experiences.
Any advice for other photographers?
Get to know your patch. You can become attuned to it. At Woods Mill, I know where I'm likely to find grass snakes, for example. I come to get away from people, but it's nice on summer evenings. I sometimes bring my son, with a picnic. There are certain people who are regulars, and we share information and chat.
What equipment do you use?
I upgraded to a Nikon D500 in October 2018 (a big step up and I’m still learning how to get the most from the camera. The two main lenses I use for wildlife photography are the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR and the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro. I use a large camera strap for mounting to the foot of the 200-500 lens when walking around. Almost all of the shots that I take are without a flash, although I am currently looking at the options for off camera flashes for use with macro-photography.
What’s your favourite shot?
A black and white portrait shot of a red deer taken at Bushy Park in October 2017. It was the first wildlife photograph that I printed in large format (after a little gentle persuasion from friends), and conveys a real sense of the moment.