Steve Holroyd, consultant with law firm Lupton Fawcett LLP, which has offices in Leeds and Sheffield, on his passion for nature photography.
Already obsessed with wildlife, in my twenties it was suggested that I should get a hobby, and in the same breath (to avoid confusion with a migrating falcon) – “How about photography?” Thus began a long and happy fusion of two passions which enabled me to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak).
I tracked down Leeds Photographic Society “the oldest photographic society in the world” – referring not to its demographic but its continuous existence since 1852 (and still going strong!) – and what a wealth of friendly experience I encountered. The emphasis was not on the latest equipment but on the ‘seeing eye’ which, with good technique, could produce great images on the most rudimentary camera set-ups.
Little did I then realise the complexity involved in taking high-quality nature photos of even static subjects, let alone the magical images of wildlife that I wanted to capture.
In time, I gained skills in the celluloid age that would stand me in good stead long after the arrival of the digital era. F stops, depth of field and shutter speeds are just as important today as they ever were, possibly more so with automation increasingly taking control away from the unwary photographer.
Soon I was rearing butterflies and moths to create close-up portraits of these beautiful creatures with incredible detail not normally visible to the naked eye. The excitement of waiting for hours in a hide with lens poised for the arrival of a small bird on a pre-focussed twig produces an adrenalin rush like that of a hunter or fisherman on the trail of their quarry.
The great thing about photography is that it can complement other interests and the new era of mass digital photography (and mobile phones) is tremendously exciting. I now have my own photo website and sell photographs commercially.
Spending happy hours stalking damsel or dragon- flies in northern wetlands to get intimate images gives much the same ‘buzz’ as photographing lions on safari or creepy-crawlies in a rainforest.
The ‘digital darkroom’ on a computer can now be used in comfort without the whiff of chemical fixers or hermit-like seclusion in a darkroom. The need for integrity means that responsible nature photographers use editing software only to tweak the image slightly.
Competitions like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year rightly prohibit any false manipulation of photographs and I was thrilled to be a finalist.
As a proud former member and president of Leeds Photographic Society, I’m pleased that it has successfully negotiated the transition into the digital age.