'Pushing the Boundaries, Artistic Intent & Technology in Wildlife Photography' 22 October 2019   
The club was delighted to welcome photographer, conservationist and author Paul Colley CB OBE ARPS. Paul uses his photographs to help publicise a number of conservation issues that he is involved with and strives to create unique images showing animal behaviour.
PC mallardThe presentation began by showing the undersea images that Paul has taken in many parts of the world.  He showed how fragile ecosystems can be ruined by man but also how they can spring back to life when nature is allowed to take over. Using video and still photos images of colourful corals and the creatures that inhabit them. By knowing how to hold his nerve and behave correctly underwater, Paul can get really close to large and dangerous marine life allowing him to take incredible close up images of manta rays, sharks and sea snakes. Paul writes articles for many marine and conservation publications pointing out how vital it is to protect the seabed and all the creatures that depend on it.
As a successful photographer, Paul says you need to stand out from the crowd and images need to have impact. He experiments with many different techniques and showed some interesting shots of life above and below the water at the same time and unusual views such as ‘Mallard Photo Bomb’ right
PC batBy being extremely patient Paul was able to show the abundance of life in a freshwater chalk stream.  He needed to use different techniques as the water is shallow and the silt easily disturbed so he has worked out ways of setting up his equipment and using live view he can remotely control the camera from the bank.
Paul taken many award winning images and has spent many months working out how to take unique images of bats as they go about catching insects in the dark. This presents many challenges as the bats fly very fast and are tiny so even seeing them is difficult. Infra-red light is not visible to bats so Paul can use a specially adapted camera to see in the very low light. Technology helps as bat detectors can pick up the sonar sounds and even pick out the species.
PC contrailsTo take successful wildlife images the photographer needs to study the behaviour of the creature. With bats he needed to work out where and when the prey insects would be likely to appear and then the likely flight paths of the bats. Standing waist deep in water he experimented setting up laser camera traps, flash guns and getting the camera set up ready. Great care must be taken as the bats must not be disturbed in any way.
Paul has created bat images that show behaviour that has not been seen before and he went into a great deal of detail about how managed to get such superb images. He showed Incredible close up images of bats reflected in the water such as the ‘Bat Mirror Image’ above and others were taken using a strobe light showed the bats flight path. His image ‘Contrails at Dawn’ right won him the 2018 British Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. In some bat images he experiments using  double exposures to show some background interest or the moon and stitched panoramas give a different view.
Paul is an extremely dedicated photographer and is working towards gaining his fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
Dave Gray thanked Paul and said it was one of the most interesting presentations the club had seen. PM
Images © Paul Colley