Adrian Davies claims to have been one of the earliest users of a digital camera in the UK – over twenty years ago. He is certainly now a veritable master of digital photography. His nature photography images are truly stunning. He runs courses and gets commissions to take photographs all over the world. Adrian presented pictures from far flung places such as Borneo, Japan and Florida, but also, reassuringly for those with more limited budgets, there were amazing shots from Surrey and his own back garden in Epsom. From Oxshott Heath came a photo of the Starfish Fungus, or Anemone Stinkhorn, which is only found in that single location in the northern hemisphere!
He almost always uses a tripod, generally uses natural light, and prefers to capture his images in bright overcast light (to preserve detail and avoid burnt out highlights). Plants are the easiest things to photograph, he says, as, unlike animals, ‘they don’t run away’. You can also get closer to plants than to the 12-foot crocodile he showed us (for which he wisely used a 300 mm lens!). His macro photos gave us a whole new perspective on lichen. Adrian highlighted the importance of putting macro shots in context, giving a sense of comparative scale and overall habitat.
As well as conventional photography, Adrian uses flat-bed scanners (at maximum resolution) to image flat (dead, of course) items, such as leaves and fossils. He also presented UV and infra red photos, taken on specially converted cameras. UV photography enables you to get some idea how other species see the world. Insects, for instance, apparently see ultra violet, blue, green and some red, whilst we humans only see red, green and blue. Adrian’s UV flower and plant photography revealed fascinating patterns, invisible to the human eye. A UV torch is an essential item, he said, if you’re hunting scorpions (as well as a long lens!).
He is not really interested in producing single pictures for exhibition. He wants his pictures to tell a story, either as a sequence of shots or as a photo montage. It was interesting to hear not just about the technical aspects of the photos but also the stories illustrated by the photos. Scurvy grass, for instance, had spread from its original coastal habitats to roadside verges and central reservations, thanks to the amount of salt used on our roads – and there was a picture from beside the A3 to demonstrate this. It might not have won a camera club competition, but it helped tell the story. For those of us who enter such competitions, Adrian had a word of reassurance for anyone who has ever submitted close ups of insects and been slated by the judge: ‘I never get both antennae in focus!’
This is a brief interview I did with Adrian over coffee:
Adrian Davies - Nature Photography- telling a story from Phil Richtea on Vimeo.