With our exhibition displaying images from the British Wildlife Photography Awards now open until 14 January 2018, we spoke to photographer Charles Everitt about his work.
Can you tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition?
I had been watching a bank of snowdrops emerge as they are only two minutes walk from my home. When the time was right, I originally went up to photograph one of them against a setting sun but a cloud bank rolled in to wipe out any hope of a golden backdrop. Nevertheless, the cool, blue evening glow in the sky gave the image some atmosphere - with the helping hand of a little additional lighting to illuminate the flower.
Charles' photograph, 'Standing Tall', which appears in this year's 'Botanical' category at the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2017., Charles Everitt
How did you go about getting that shot?
It was very much a case of monitoring the snowdrops until they were at their peak, identifying potential flowers and backdrops that would make possible photographs, thinking around where to position the camera and how to illuminate the flower. Then you go and take the shot to see if all the forethought and preparation worked.
How long did you have to wait for this shot?
With all the preparation previously undertaken, it did not take long to capture the photograph. I was probably working the flower for about 30 minutes to capture a variety of images.
Did you use any particular equipment or software?
Nothing hi-tech; just basic photography equipment - camera, macro lens, cable release and a torch. The image was processed in Photoshop Elements.
Twin flowers are a rarity in Scotland and stand only inches from the forest floor. I wanted to convey an atmosphere akin to grabbing a fleeting glimpse of this secret flower within the shadows of the trees and felt black and white suited this best., Charles Everitt
What are your favourite scenes, species or motivations behind your photographs?
I enjoy all aspects of nature photography. My approach these days is project driven; I identify an area and spend around four years familiarising myself with it and photographing its natural features - the wildlife, landscape, wildflowers and natural abstract patterns. From the collection of images, I am then able to tell the story of the particular project in a photographic book. Previous projects and books have included Water of Leith: Nature’s Course, following the river that flows through the centre of Edinburgh from source to outlet, and Forthshore: East Lothian’s Coastline, illustrating a beautiful stretch along the Firth of Forth’s shore.
What are the difficulties of wildlife and nature photography that you face?
Time, there’s never enough of it. I would dearly love to be able to spend more time to research, experiment, simply watch wildlife, and to visit locations more frequently. There’s so much I’d like to do but no time to do it in.
What would you like people to think about when they see your work?
I would like them to be transported to the scene and wish that they could have witnessed it themselves. That means all the emotion, power and influence of the image (or set of images) has worked.
I have a red squirrel feeding station in a wood in the Cairngorms which attracts these adorable animals. The challenge is to take a variety of images and not just cute portraits. Given time and patience, they can be very obliging with regard to sitting on branches and stumps., Charles Everitt
How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I have been photographing seriously since the the late nineties after my knee bent the wrong way on the rugby field. Looking for something else to fill my time, I invested in a camera and read widely on photography. Starting out photographing landscapes, I soon progressed onto wildlife and general nature. It has now become my passion. Many mistakes were made along the way - and still are - but one never stops learning and I find myself now thinking about how to capture images differently and creatively.
What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife or nature in their local environment?
It’s not about the equipment, it’s about ensuring that you use it regularly. One doesn’t improve if the camera always remains in the bag. Work close to home so you can familiarise yourself with your environment and visit it on a frequent basis. Cut yourself some time each week to dedicate to your photography. Always take the shot because it won’t ever be the same again if you come back another day. Photograph for yourself; not for what might please others. Finally - and most importantly - experiment widely and enjoy your photography.
The sunset, the birds and the reflection from the damp sand all came together for this image taken during my project Forthshore: East Lothian's Coastline. I felt it showed the wild beauty of the beach at Yellowcraigs, East Lothian., Charles Everitt
What projects are you working on now or have coming up?
Only two minutes walk from my home in Edinburgh is a golf green with a small strip of woodland around it. I’m currently photographing the nature within a 50-metre radius of the green - wildflowers, birds, badgers, foxes, roe deer, it’s all there and on the doorstep.
I have become well acquainted with this badger during my current project photographing the nature around a golf green. I attract the badgers to a space well away from the sett so there is no disturbance to them and, sitting very quietly, they can be extremely accommodating. Having photographed them for over four years now, I still feel the excitement every time they appear. It is always a privilege to be so close to wild animals., Charles Everitt