Julie and Alan Walker “Discovering Nature Photography Part 4 – Japan and Beyond” October 30th

At our meeting on 30th October we were treated to another superb collection of natural history photographs presented by two of our more experienced and active members, Julie and Alan Walker. This was the fourth in a series of their “travel shows” and concentrated on images taken in winter, but in a wide series of locations.

Their journey started in Japan in deep snow and temperatures as low as -20°C with a delightful series of mainly close ups of Japanese macaque monkeys bathing in hot spring pools.


Alan explained that close-ups were one option of managing the steam from the pools and the hosts of fellow photographers and tourists surrounding the pools. He then described the difficulties and gave advice on photographing white Red Crowned Cranes and white Whooper swans against a snowy background.


He added in the unique problems of clearing out snowdrifts on a regular basis from within the lens hood and some of the camera controls freezing in the sub-zero temperatures. The final images from Japan were of Stellar Eagles on the sea ice in the Sea of Okhotsk.


The next stop on our journey was Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico where birds were the main targets of Julie and Alan’s lenses. These included snow geese in their thousands, cranes and a rare photo of the elusive Road Runner ( more commonly seen in Looney Tunes than in real life!).


We were shown some very evocative images created by creative use of panning and varied exposures.


Returning to the UK images of mountain hares in the Cairngorms opened this episode. From a photographic point of view the hare population is split into “runners” and “sitters”.


The “sitters” may possibly be older, wiser hares who realise that they are unlikely to be the targets for birds of prey whilst they are the targets for Julie and Alan’s cameras. Red squirrel images are always popular and Alan and Julie’s did not disappoint. Alan demonstrated how rainfall can produce a balanced soft light.


Further south in the UK in Hampshire there were a series of images of owls both captive and wild, and of kingfishers feeding.


Winter in the Kalahari desert does not have the extremes of temperature as Japan but offers different photographic challenges of trying to capture images of animals well camouflaged in the dry brown grassland around them.


Alan commented that incorporating the essence of the surrounding environment is now almost as important as the creatures themselves. This ethos was well demonstrated in some terrific images of lions and cheetahs.


The final episode of the evening involved a return to Arctic temperatures with a series of images of polar bears taken in Churchill, Canada. The extreme cold and a repetition of the problems of photographing white subjects on a white background did not deter Julie and Alan from producing a stunning collection of polar bears images in a variety of poses.


The proximity of the bears in some of the images was unnerving.


The quality and variety of images shown over 2 hours was very much appreciated and the next episode in their series of presentations is eagerly awaited. Many of their images can be viewed at awalkerphotography.co.uk/

Richard Jakobson