As we continue our blog series on the work of photographers featured in the British Wildlife Awards, Jeremy Moore tells us about how his work with landscapes helps him stand out from the crowd when it comes to bird photography.
Can you tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition?
At the time I was working on an exhibition and book project of my own. The exhibition was called 'Bird/land' and has shown several times in Welsh art galleries in the last couple of years. The book is due to be published next year.
I had heard that quite large numbers of hawfinches were found around one town in north Wales, and outside the breeding season fed in one garden in particular. Through my contacts in the British Trust for Ornithology I spoke to the owners of the garden and arranged a visit. I didn’t want to photograph the hawfinches at bird feeders but noticed that they tended to perch in nearby trees or shrubs for a few seconds before going in to feed. I realised my best bet was to wait until spring when a nearby flowering cherry would be blooming. Its flowers and leaves would then form an attractive setting for the birds. It was a long and nerve-racking delay. Cold northerly winds throughout April held back spring for a couple of weeks. Would the birds still be visiting the garden when spring eventually came?
How did you go about getting that shot?
Once spring did arrive, in early May, it came and went very quickly. I set myself up in the garden on a camping chair with a pull-over hide. My camera/lens was set up on a tripod pointing at the cherry tree just waiting for birds to turn up, which fortunately they did, several times. It was quite frustrating sometimes because I could hear hawfinches all around me but not see them until they landed in the cherry.
How long did you have to wait for this shot?
Initially for several months, waiting for the right time of year. Then I visited the garden twice, for several hours each time.
Bird/land 49: Hawfinch image (centre) as seen in triptych format in "Cherry Tree", from Bird/land exhibition., Jeremy Moore
Did you use any particular equipment or software?
For bird photography (like most wildlife) a long telephoto lens is almost obligatory, and a camera with a reasonably fast frame rate. A tripod is very useful in a “set-up” situation like this. It would be very difficult to hand-hold your gear for hours at a time otherwise. I have used Adobe Lightroom for processing for the last ten years.
What are your favourite scenes, species or motivations behind your photographs?
I have been a landscape photographer and bird-watcher for many years. I gradually realised it would make sense to combine both my interests. There are many excellent bird photographers around but the aim usually seems to be to remove as far as possible any landscape background. My long history in landscape photography enables me to portray birds in their settings in a way that most bird photographers miss. I try to give the bird and the landscape equal billing, if I can put it that way.
What are the difficulties of wildlife and nature photography that you face?
Poor weather, unpredictable subjects, difficulty of making a living from one’s work, competition from many other excellent photographers, lack of exposure outside Wales.
What would you like people to think about when they see your work?
Enjoy the beauty of nature but remember we are all responsible for its survival.
How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I have been landscape/nature photographer for many years. I started with an exhibition and a set of postcards. The latter (Wild Wales/Cymru Wyllt) are now in their 31st year and are sold all over Wales. Several books of my photographers have been published since then, and I have regularly exhibited my work in Wales.
What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife or nature in their local environment?
Learn as much as you can about your subjects. I am often surprised, for example, at how little some bird photographers know about birds.
What projects are you working on now or have coming up?
I have been working on a book about wildlife and wild places in Wales for several years. It now has a publication date of autumn 2018. I continue to photograph landscapes for my postcards.