Photography News Issue 49

Photography News | Issue 49 | photographynews.co.uk

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Interview

electronic and photographic equipment, including a special shutter and custom-made flash with a 1/60,000sec duration. The whole operation can take up to three days. What camera gear and equipment do you use to photograph wildlife and nature? I was surprised to learn that I used 19 different cameras to record the life in My Wood ! They range from medium-format Phase One and Hasselblad for some of the high-speed photos, to iPhone and trail cameras. Most, though, were exposed on various Nikons, Canons and more recently the Sony a7RMark II. Tell us about your badger shots – you used trail cameras to see their activity, but how did you capture an image? As the book was coming up to press, I still did not have a high-quality picture of one of the wood’s most frequent visitors, the badger. I had plenty of old trail camera images, but nothing that would make the exhibition wall. Unfortunately though, at this time the trail cameras were recording no badgers at all, in spite of being in place for several weeks. This was puzzling until it dawned on me that we’d had near-drought conditions for several weeks (during spring this year) so there were very few slugs and snails around, one of the badger’s favourite foods. They must have been hunting at the lower end of the wood, which is much damper and beyond the deer fence.

Right Increased biodiversity in the pond produces new photographic subjects Below From a rather overgrown, sedge- bound straggle of woodland, Stephen and his wife Liz have created a magical, ever-evolving nature reserve, home to a diverse amount of animal and plant life

The book Stephen Dalton’s new book My Wood is available from all good bookshops or directly from the publisher, Merlin Unwin Books, priced £14.99. First, have a love and fascination of the natural world, determination and physical andmental energy. Don’t expect tomake a fortune. It helps to be young! How patient have you had to be in order to capture such a broad variety of images? I amnot known formypatience! Sittingaround inhides andwaiting for things to happen is not my thing, and I don’t possess endless physical energy for marching about the countryside with massive lenses. Fortunately, I do have near-endless patience and determination working on projects, particularly those that are new and those that have the potential to show action or behaviour which has not been recorded on film before. In this situation, I am fiddling around adjusting equipment or the set to keep me occupied. What tips would you give to aspiring wildlife and nature photographers?

I do have a near- endless patience and determination working on projects, particularly those that are new... Fortunately, the weather broke just in time and we had several days of heavy rain – the badgers returned and I was in business at last. I found a suitably attractive spot along a path the animals were regularly using, set up my camera and three flash heads (there should have been four but one failed to fire), together with an infrared beam to activate the shutter when the badger passed the right point. Within a few days I managed to obtain a satisfactory picture. The images featured in MyWood were taken over a number of years; did you always intend to create a book? No, I hadno intention ofwriting a bookuntil only a year or so ago. In fact, the publishers, Merlin Unwin, were so keen on the idea that they twisted my arm (in a nice sort of way) to write the text within a couple of months or so! By then I had almost all the photographs. My Wood is sectioned into seasons; do you have a favourite season for shooting nature? Spring is amovingly beautiful time of the year, particularly in an English woodland with the wild flowers and fresh green haze of spring drifting through the trees. At the same time this is accompanied by the glorious sound of bird song. Sheer magic. What about wildlife – any favourite species to photograph? It depends on what they are doing rather than the actual species. Are there any animals that you’d still like to tick off your list? The purple emperor butterfly.

WIN ACOPY!

For the chance to win a copy of My Wood head to photographynews.co.uk/win and click on the Stephen Dalton competition, then follow the instructions.

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