Andy is a 55-year-old professional wildlife and aviation photographer. He has won over 24 major international awards and appeared on TV shows, having turned professional at the age of 32.
Lockdown was amazing for my photography – my mind was free of any business pressures, and I could concentrate 100 per cent on my local subjects. For many reasons, it’s been years since I’ve been able to do this, and no doubt it contributed to some of my dark days.
One of the most memorable encounters during lockdown was with this beautiful demoiselle damselfly. I took the usual images of them and then decided to really challenge myself and get them in flight, using one camera, one lens, outdoors in the wild. No gizmos, just a pair of dodgy leaking waders. “What, in flight in the wild, nah that’s impossible right… you can’t do it,” I was told.
I don’t believe in ‘can’t’. There is no ‘can’t’ in my world. Life is simply too short not to try. I’ve removed all negativity from my life, I don’t burden myself with anything or anyone negative. I realised that I had to do that for my mental health, as the negative oxygen-thieves were literally sucking the life out of me.
I keep a positive mindset every day, and I push to be the very best version of myself that I can be. That’s never failure in my book.
So, I found myself sat in a brook on our farm, the sun on my back, with a wet backside, working out how I could do something that’s rarely been done. How could I nail very fast-moving and unpredictable damselflies in flight? That’s what I love about wildlife photography; at its core it’s just about problem-solving.
My first issue was shutter speed, as after a few tests I found that I needed 1/4,000sec to be sure. Well that was easily achievable in the sun, and with an ISO of 800 I’d easily get it and more to spare.
Next was the killer problem: how to actually track the beauty in flight? Well there are many ways to be honest, but I chose the modern-day tech one – the superb Pro-Capture feature of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.
I could get some landing shots and take-offs, and somewhere in there if I got the focus and depth of field right there might be the chance of an impossible shot.
And so I worked at it, day after day, then the magic happened with this amazing shot that took my @Wildmanrouse social media by storm.
There is no such thing as ‘can’t’ – be positive with your photography and challenge yourself. It’s good for you, and it’s good for your mental health too.