|A Professional’s Approach to Outdoor Photography||3 October 2017|
There was a great turn out to welcome Guy Edwards BA (Hons) Photography to Devizes Camera Club to see his presentation - and what a presentation it was!
Guy started by saying that most of his photography these days is done during his many workshops that he conducts around the world. Indeed his presentation contained images from Costa Rica to New Zealand, from Namibia to Iceland, from Scotland to Slovenia and many countries in between. He also gave us many insights to the techniques he uses when planning, setting up and making his images.
The first half of his presentation was on wildlife and nature and we started in Costa Rica, where he explained that, because of the low light in the rain forest, he has to use ISO settings as high as 6400 with wide apertures to obtain good shots. The important thing, he said, was to ensure that the eyes of subjects were sharp. A series of exquisite shots of various frogs, hummingbirds, parrots, macaws and bats showed what he meant. He said that many of his hummingbird images had been set up with flower petals sprayed with sugar-water to attract the birds in front of artificial backdrops of blurred leaf-scapes. He also used shots of macaws coming in to land to show that getting down low to the ground and shooting up with dark trees in the background gives a much more dramatic image.
On to Canada and a series of stunning images of snowy owls. Guy showed us how the use of a long lens and misty conditions can help to reduce the impact of background trees and hedgerows to a suggestion of context. In Botswana, Guy explained that fewer tourist vehicles around enabled him to spend more time photographing individual animals. He showed us several images of a leopard with which he spent over an hour. There were also images of Pied Kingfisher, Bee-eaters, Squacco herons, African Fish Eagle and young baboons. He also explained his technique for adding movement and reducing background clutter by using a slower shutter speed (less than a second) and panning while an animal is running. He demonstrated this with shots of a Leopard, a Lion and an Impala. He said that the success rate for good images was much slower because of the difficulty of keeping the focus on the animals eyes. At this point he told us that, when editing the 25,000 shots he has taken on a weeks safari, he takes the view that if an image doesn’t look good as a thumbnail, it gets deleted!
Other images included a sequence of Orca hunting moulting Eider ducks off Shetland and of Barn Owls flying over wild flower meadows at the Hawk Conservancy. Guy also showed images of Blue Tits taken on his new workshop in Slovenia where he has set up a camera trap with flash lights and infra-red beams to trigger the shutter as the bird flies round obstacles. He also showed Puffins, Gannets and Razorbills taken in County Wexford on the Irish coast.
Another highlight of this part of his presentation was a series of images of Dalmation Pelicans at Lake Kerkiri in Greece. Guy explained that, in one part of the lake, these large birds have got used to being fed by local fishermen. As a result they are tolerant of humans and will approach quite closely making photography a more satisfying experience. It is well worth checking out his blog of these workshops on his website.
Guy talked about how he spends time setting up shots of Flora and Fungi. Using a long lens, a wide aperture and a floor level angle, he selects his composition to provide soft focused foregrounds and diffused backgrounds. He then ensures that the background is as uncluttered as possible, spreading autumn leaves around to give a consistent of colour. Next he considers the use of LED bulbs, reflectors and mirrors to enhance the lighting on his subject. And then he will experiment with different lenses and angles to achieve different effects.
After a mid-presentation break to assimilate the superb images we had already seen, Guy started the second half of his presentation, on Landscapes, in his native Dorset. He said he loves going back to places he likes, looking for different vantage points, using different lenses and making use of different light. He especially enjoys misty conditions and tends to use his 100-400 mm lens quite often.
He showed us images of Colmer’s Hill near Bridport at different times of day, in different seasons and light. There were also images of Corfe Castle, Wimbourne Chase and Kimmeridge Bay. An image of Durdle Door and the bay taken with a fish-eye lens particularly caught the eye.
Guy presented images of heather and mist in the New Forest, coastlines and lighthouses in Cornwall, castles in Northumberland and stars scapes and Northern Lights at Sycamore Gap at Hadrian’s Wall. He talked about getting down to ground level to maintain symmetry in reflection images, as illustrated in a shot of Alnwick Castle. He also explained how he had blended several 30 second shots taken with different filters to bring out the best dynamic range in an image of Dunstanburgh Castle.
Amongst his images of Scotland were the Old Man of Storr, the Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle and Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye, the coastline on the Isle of Lewis and sand dunes on Harris. Guy used images of sea stacks in Shetland to show how to read the histogram in Live View for optimum exposures.
Then on to colder climes with images taken in Finland of rime ice on trees, and pancake ice on a lake. He explained that pancake ice is formed when running water from a river enters a colder bay and swirls to form circular, pancake-like blocks of ice. And eventually we came to what he said was his favourite landscape location - Slovenia. He had images of canyons and mountains with misty recessions, and lots of little churches on hilltops. And he finished with a superb image of Lake Bled.
From Iceland he showed us images of sea stacks and waterfalls, which he said were better taken with a longer lens. We also saw, ice patterns with northern light in the background, images in ice caves under a glacier, and icebergs on a beach of black sand.
Our Chairman led the applause in thanks for a fantastic evening of magnificent images, presented knowledgeably with plenty of hints and tips for us all to think about when next we are out with our cameras. DF
Images © Guy Edwardes Top: Outer Hebrides Left: Lake Bled, Slovenia Top right: Red-eyed Tree Frog Right: Dunstanburgh Castle Guy Edwardes website