July 22, 2015

Sir David Attenborough and a Very Nervous Me

From time to time I’m asked to take photographs of events at Rutland Water Nature Reserve (RWNR). I love doing this as the people there are lovely and even this townie picks up some knowledge from time to time!

Some images from Day 2 of Birdfair 2014
Some images from Day 2 of Birdfair 2014

Recently a new Voluntary Centre was opened by Sir David Attenborough and I was asked if I’d head over and record the event, of course I said ‘YES!’, the chance to be around such a legend of broadcasting was not one I’d pass up!

Then came the crunch….

VTC Opening3
Amelia and Sir David

‘What we’d really like’ RWNR told me ‘is a photograph of Sir David releasing a ringed bird’. At Birdfair I’d tried to capture people doing just this and it’s very much a challenge. Shooting as quickly as the shutter will allow on constant shooting still doesn’t guarantee a result.

Sometimes the bird thinks ‘this is cozy, I’ll stay here for a few seconds’ during which time I’m rattling off a bunch of shots. As soon as the display reads ‘Busy’ off it flies. Or, I’ll be getting into position and before I cn press the shutter hands are opened and the bird is off into the distance.

Another issue I’ve had is that the bird moves so quickly that the releasee’s eye line and the bird are completely different, and I’m reluctant to use Photoshop to put this right.

The Shoot

VTC Opening1
Prepare for Release (My heart’s pounding)

Prior to Sir David’s arrival I was taken to a clearing where he’d be releasing the bird. Although the opening was a big press event I was the only photographer at this bird release, so I asked a volunteer to stand in for Sir David for some test shots.

When the guest of honour arrived he was nothing short of a charming, gracious and patient man. Holding the bird he made sure I was ready and opened his hands, on cue the bird took off.


I immediately looked at the images and saw what I’d captured. Although I would have liked the wings to be open, I’m happy with the shot and more importantly so were RWNR. *Phew*.¬†Four images were chosen and sent to press offices.

VTC Opening2

Without doubt this was the highlight of my photographic career. I’d qualify that with ‘to date’ but really, what could top it?

All images are donated to The Wildlife Trust, Rutland Water Nature Reserve and Birdfair. If you’d like a copy of any images shot please contact them directly.

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