Behind the Lens with Sean Stones

02 March 2019 | Posted in Emma Chaplin , wildlife photography
Behind the Lens with Sean Stones
bank vole (c) Sean Stones

Tell us a bit about yourself 

Sean Stones (c) Nicholas Wrigglesworth

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.

 DSC0453  4 x 5 murmuration whale chasing a fish

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.

 DSC4508 cormorant 2000 x 1600px

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.

 DSC0356 golden dawn 2000px x 1600px

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. 

 DSC6419 shortie on the fields 200 x 1600px 

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.

 DSC1677 migrant hawker

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.

Protector in the ferns

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