15-03-2018, Wildlife and Me, Kevin Murray.
As a young boy growing up in Northumberland Kevin has always been comfortable outdoors, his love of the outdoors and the skills he learnt from field craft set him on the road to achieving his ambition to master wildlife photography.
A member of Alnwick and District Camera Club, he has spent the last past ten years honing his skills of photography with his DSLR. Before showing images of birds and animals through the seasons. Beautiful shots of puffins and sand eels from very low viewpoints started his presentation. He has made many visits to the Farne islands. Usually early in the season is a favourite time as the bird population is low, and Kevin could photograph individuals with few background distractions. Guillemots, razorbills, shag, terns, & the gannets of Bass Rock also featured.
Kevin followed this with his seven-year project on red squirrels, explaining that although there had been a national decline in population, numbers were increasing.
He has built his own hide and over the years developed this with the addition of a pond for reflections with added props such as mossy branches and a bank of moss for foreground. A series of images of squirrels in the snow, feeding, perched on fungus and in flight between branches followed. He hopes to enlarge this pond next season. He explained his technique for sharp focus on these creatures to achieve the right depth of field. Often using pre-focus and waiting for the animal to "jump" through it. Coal tits, blue tits, jays and woodpeckers are also attracted to the pond.
Using his field craft skills, he can now call the Roe Deer to his location. Over the years he has developed his knowledge of the animals so he can with confidence know where they will approach from and even which field they will be in. Using hand movements to create a distraction they become so curious that they approach. This has given him some magical shots of sunrise silhouettes with back lit fawns, and red deer foraging.
Humorous anecdotes accompanied his images and entertained us all.
He has spent some time in Scotland photographing wild hare, preening, stretching and posing, but as yet not captured the classic boxing shot, although he has witnessed it many times. In the sub zero conditions of the Cairngorms, he photographed Capercaillie, a large woodland grouse, grey partridge (a breed in decline), hedgehogs, and sparrow hawks.
Kevin told the story of how he obtained his image of a slow worm, by unravelling a strand of wool from his sweater to form a fishing line. The slow worm, assuming it was dinner, reared up and Kevin got his shot.
Kevin took a question and answer session and explained his methods of calling the deer, Talked about conservation in Northumberland and how his lens choice has to be the most versatile for varying conditions. He then showed a variety of prints to the members who took the opportunity to see just how sharp his images are.
On behalf of the club Colin thanked him for taking the time to talk to us.