I have been an enthusiastic naturalist ever since I can remember, but my interest in photography did not really develop until my early twenties. Then, after studying the art and science of photography for three years in London under Prof Margaret Harker, I merged my two passions to embark on a career of nature photography.
In 1970 having spent some years exploring conventional nature photography, I set out to do something totally new – to photograph insects on the wing. Flight, after all is what has made insects the most successful group of animals on earth, yet photographs of them actually flying did not exist!
Until then, there was no technique capable of stopping an insect with absolute clarity in free flight. At this time digital photography was decades away, film speeds (for quality results) were limited to ISO 25 – 32, flash units were restricted to about 1/1000 second – far too slow for stopping insects, or birds for that matter. Perhaps the most frustrating photographic hurdle was the excruciating long waiting times to assess results on film – up to a week!
It was the solution of these problems that became my overriding obsession. Two years of experimentation resulted in perfecting techniques and specialised equipment for achieving my ambition, allowing me to capture animal movements that were far too rapid to be seen by the human eye, and ones never observed in such detail before. Since that breakthrough I have worked not only with insects but with other wildlife including birds, bats, frogs and even striking snakes.