Russell Savory is a UK wildlife photographer well known for his appearances on BBC Springwatch and Winterwatch. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the wildlife at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, which has 23 red-listed birds recorded and in the winter months can boast all five species of British Owl.
Understanding you Subject by Russell Savory
My journey into the world of wildlife photography has not been the most conventional. Originally, I flew fix-winged aircraft and helicopters. I was known in the club as someone who liked photography and was asked if I would photograph the catamarans racing in the Solent. Although I had never done anything like it before, I agreed, absolutely loved it and managed to get some great shots, flying at five hundred feet with the door taken off the aircraft to make way for my lens to hang outside. These photographs were taken before the digital revolution, of course, so proved expensive in terms of cost, time and effort and never knowing if you had captured the right exposure. There was the eager anticipation as I awaited the arrival of the photographs from the developer, which sometimes turned to disappointment when I had not captured the image I was after.
The arrival of the digital age may have changed all that and brought access-to-all photography, enabling us to view each image and adjust it, but the importance of understanding your subject still cannot be underestimated if you want to achieve the desired result.
A tranquil wildlife haven
While I carried on taking photographs as a hobby, eight years ago, my job took me to Essex where I am currently based as the Aerodrome and Ecology Manager at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, UK. The Aerodrome, an old WW1 site abandoned in 1918 and not used in WW2, has become a tranquil, idyllic home for many birds and animals. Each day I am treated to a flying display from barn owls and buzzards, kestrels and woodpeckers. I see little owls hopping about on roofs and water voles swimming in the ponds. It’s a magical place and somewhere I can combine photography and filming with my other love – wildlife. My job has given me a unique opportunity to study and understand the huge abundance of wildlife that now lives and thrives, unthreatened and undisturbed, at Stow Maries.
Every day I arrive early in the hope of catching the animal action on my camera. The image you capture is a one off. There are no re-takes. A photographer I spoke to recently who enjoys landscape photography summed it up beautifully: ‘I like the certainty. I know when I go to a place to photograph a mountain it won’t have moved.’ While the same can’t be said about birds and animals, they are still creatures of habit and, to a large degree, you can learn what to look for and what to expect.
CLICK HERE to read the full article on Wild Planet Photo Magazine website
More information on the wildlife, Hide Hire operation, workshops and one-to-one tuition can be found on the Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome website.
www.stowmaries.org.uk • www.russellsavory.com