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Interview with Jamie MacArthur

Jamie MacArthur

Please introduce yourself, where are you based and where do you photograph wildlife?

Hi I was born on Scotland but moved to England in 1990's, I am a Civil Engineer by trade. I photograph wildlife wherever I can find it, locally and around the world.

How did you get started in wildlife photography?

I've always had a fascination for wildlife and would often bring home injures birds and animals to recuperate as far back as I can remember. I even had a pet crow called Squawk and a House Sparrow called twiggy. I used to take snaps of them but nothing very good. But in 1981 I bough a Zenit E for £10 and it all started from there

What kind of equipment do you use a nd why did you choose it?

I currently have 3 Canon 1 DXmk2 a 600mm f4 mk2 , a 300mm f2.8 mk2 , 70-200 f2,8 mk2 2 n0 1.4x an a 2x converter both mk3 . I started many years ago with film but gave up when I had family. I then started again in 2002 with the advent of digital. I have always used Canon and completely understand the limits of my cameras. I've always bought the best that I can afford so I can get the quality. I guess the next move is to go mirrorless but to be fair I am still happy with the results I get with my now dated equipment.

What's the most challenging aspect of wildlife photography and how do you overcome it?

Patience! I'm not a patient person especially as I get older lol. I haven't really overcome it, it is just a necessary part of the process that I have to endure to get the results I want .

Can you share a particularly memorable experience or encounter you've had while photographing wildlife?

I think it is fair to say that every moment I spend with wildlife is memorable as I have the photos to prove it lol but my favourites would be the first time I saw a hummingbird I was in tears as I had waited all my life to see them, let alone photograph them , And the second best time I would say was when I sat amongst gorillas in Uganda. Not only did I have a silver back brush against my shoulder but I had two babies play in front of me so close I had to film them with my phone.

How do you approach photographing different species of animals, particularly ones that are dangerous or difficult to access?

A lot of planning and research goes a long way before you photograph anything. Then of course if you can hire a knowledgeable photographic guide as opposed to a spotting guide then learn from their knowledge. If you are on your own, then respect to the species is paramount but it is easy to get lost in the euphoria and do something stupid if you are not careful.

How do you post-process your images, and what software do you use?

I mostly use Photoshop. I skip through my work looking for a shot that stands out and hopefully if I have planned everything properly and set my equipment properly, then minimum processing is involved. I also now use Topaz on occasion if the light is poor

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue wildlife photography as a hobby or career?

Watch as many documentaries as possible, buy the most expensive glass you can afford as you might only see the species once and it will give you the clearest shots. Spend time with someone with experience and listen to their advice. Respect your subject at all times as you are a visitor in their space and you should feel honoured that they are interacting with you.

What projects are you currently working on or planning for the future?

I've just returned from Tobago for the Hummingbirds so now I will be photographing kingfishers this Saturday, then I plan to go to Bulgaria in June for European birds, Scotland in August for Osprey. Borneo in October to photograph the Orangutans.

How do you enrich your passion of wildlife photography?

Just constantly planning what and where to go next and sharing what I have already photographed us. We need to keep the next generation interested and fascinated or we will end up loosing it all to ignorance and greed ;-(

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