Photography News Issue 49

Photography News | Issue 49 | photographynews.co.uk

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Interview

Down to thewoods When you own an eight-acre wood there’s

plenty of nature to capture. Stephen Dalton shares the natural world in his latest book, MyWood

Words by Jemma Dodd Pictures by Stephen Dalton

How do you think nature photography has changed since you first started shooting? The changes in photography since those days havebeenphenomenal.Shortofdevelopinglegs orwingsandwanderingoffintothecountryside and taking photographs on their own, cameras now do almost everything; they work out the correct exposure, focus automatically, often far quicker than a human can manage, come equipped with superb telephoto or specialist macro lenses. Perhaps most significant, of course, was the arrival of digital capture, replacing film. Now ‘film’ speeds are beyond ISO 1,000,000, and digital allows us to view our images almost instantly. Dare I say it, but in ‘my day’ none of this was possible; I was confined to using films of about ISO 25 and had no option but to wait for

Very few photographers can say that one of their images travelled on NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft as a record of the science and culture of mankind for viewing by possible extra-terrestrial life, but wildlife photographer Stephen Dalton can. Back in 1970, Stephen spent two years experimenting, which allowed him to capture high-speed nature photography and be the first to document the movement of insects in flight. We caught up with Stephen to find out what he’s been up to, and discuss his latest book, My Wood. What is it about the great outdoors that you love? When did your photography come into this? I have been fascinated by all living things ever since I can remember. Insects were my first passion but it was not long before all creatures were embraced, from birds and snakes to elephants and wombats! I prefer the relaxing sights and sounds of nature rather than the uglification that mankind manages to bestow on much of the world. My passion for photography was much slower to evolve, gradually doing so in my late teens and early 20s. Naturally these two passions merged. What have been your greatest achievements over your long career? Undoubtedly my finest achievement was to develop a technique to record on film how insects fly. At the time, in the early 1970s, this had never been done before – which was odd because flight is what insects are all about, largely explaining why these animals are the most successful land-bound creatures on earth. The whole project took about two years to develop.

up to a week to see results – very trying when attempting to capture insects in flight – even to the extent that making a 2mm change in focus the only way focus could be checked was by looking at the image on the processed film. What are your go-to wildlife photography techniques? I certainly don’t always carry around a camera when in thewood; however, if I spot something I need to record, I will return with suitable equipment. This is OK for plants and fungi, but not anything with legs or wings which may have left the county by the time I return. The high-speed shots of flying insects were a different kettle of fish altogether. The subjects were caught in the wood but taken to my studio where I have suitable

I don’t always carry a camera when in the wood. If I spot something I need to record, I will return with suitable equipment Top Foxes are just one of a number of mammals that live in the wood, including voles and badgers Right In 1970, Stephen pioneered a technique that enabled photographers to capture insect images never before achieved

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