Club Meeting, "Wildlife" with Kevin Murray - Tuesday 1st November 2016.

               

Guest Speaker Kevin Murray, an avid wildlife photographer gave an amazing presentation of his work at Morpeth Camera
Club on Tuesday 1st November 2016. A member of Alnwick & District Camera Club, he stated that the past ten years had
been a hard learning curve in achieving his ambition to master wildlife photography before showing a series of images
that illustrated birds and wild animals through the seasons.

Beginning with seabirds in spring on the Farnes, there were many beautiful shots of puffins; courting, with sand eels in
flight and hovering on the wind. With the bird population being low early on in the season Kevin was able to photograph
individual birds with few background distractions. His method of getting down to their level, often lying down for long
periods of time, in all weather conditions and early in the day with low light achieves fine feather detail, especially on
white birds. Green eyed Shag, Common and Arctic Terns, pair bonding Gannets, Guillemots, Razorbills and the often
ignored Herring Gull were included in this impressive section.

An ongoing seven year project on red squirrels followed with Kevin explaining that although there had been a national
decline in population, numbers had increased in some local areas in recent years. With the use of a hide, props such as
mossy branches placed to encourage them to approach the camera, a pond to produce reflections and a bank of moss
for good foregrounds we were treated to a selection of beautiful shots including squirrels in the snow, feeding, perched
on bracket fungus and in flight between branches. Kevin even provides wild hazelnuts for them to find to add authenticity.
He went on to say how difficult it was to focus on them to achieve the right depth of field and often he will prefocus and
wait patiently for the squirrel to settle on the right spot. The pond also attracts Willow Tits, Coal Tits, fluffy blue tits and
many Jays and Woodpeckers who have become so accustomed to the hide they approach with confidence.

A three year project on Roe Deer followed with Kevin giving examples of the deer’s progression throughout the seasons,
from antlers still in velvet, through to moulting, fawning, and rutting. The process of gaining the deer’s confidence by
calling them leads to the point where they become so curious that they will approach him and this had resulted in him
obtaining the most beautiful shots of sunrise silhouettes with back lit rimlets, cute fawns peeping through grasses, and
red deer rutting and foraging in the snow. Kevin entertained the audience with humorous anecdotes of his experiences
when out on photo shoots including encounters with deer unaware of his presence.

Kevin continued with photographs of Hares preening, stretching and posing in the long grass but said that unfortunately
he has yet to capture the classic boxing shot. In minus twenty two degrees conditions in the Cairngorms, there were
shots of Capercaillie and Grey Partridge. Unfurling hedgehogs, a striking shot of a Kingfisher with catch emerging from
water, and wild sparrow hawks feasting on mice followed. In conclusion, Kevin explained how he obtained his image of
a slow worm. To get its attention, he unravelled a strand of wool from his sweater, attached it to a long twig to form
a fishing line, the slow worm, assuming that it was dinner shot up and Kevin got his perfect shot, an example which
clearly demonstrates his dedication to wildlife photography!

Chairman, Glyn Trueman thanked Kevin for a superb insight into field craft and invited the audience to a question and
answer session in which Kevin explained his methods of calling the deer; how his choice of lens has to be the most
versatile for varying conditions, how he sets up a hide and location wise, Druridge Bay area is surprisingly one of the
best local shooting locations. The presenter also brought along a selection of his prints which members could admire
while having coffee at the end of a most memorable evening.

Steph.