A Wild Night!

On Monday 31st October a large audience enjoyed an evening of informative talk and super images presented by wildlife guide and photographer Paul Hobson. Paul started wildlife photography in the 1980’s whilst living and working in Sheffield. Eventually he turned it into a full-time career. He later added writing and workshops to his output but found that the workshops were beginning to take up too much of his attention so changed focus again. He now acts as a guide and tutor  on tours that in the last year have included New Mexico, Bulgaria, Arctic Norway, Costa Rica and Northern Finland.

His talk tonight was a reflection on the previous 12 months providing an opportunity to see wildly different landscapes, wildlife and habitats.  The first place visited was the Bosque del Apache in New Mexico where Snow Geese were the main attraction. He said he starts these tours by finding out what members want from their photography and when that is achieved to encourage them to go on to be more creative. This means that they tend to stay in one place/area exploring all its possibilities rather than rushing all over. All of this commentary was accompanied by a succession of very evocative shots which perfectly illustrated his approach.

After New Mexico it was Bulgaria in winter with lots of snow and tales of cold. The trip was to find and photograph Golden Eagles which is always extremely difficult as they are so skittish and when frightened away may not return for days. Food was put out for them (a dead pig in one location and a dead cow in the other) but usually had to wait until dogs had finished feeding on the carcass before the eagles would come in. There were some wonderful images of birds not often seen let alone photographed. As a side benefit he managed to get some superb images of sparrowhawks as well.

Then it was off again, this time to northern Norway. Again this was winter and looked even colder! However there was the bonus of photographs of auroras which were quite magical. Paul explained that some of the shots of waterfowl were taken from a floating hide based on a boat floating in a harbour within the Arctic Circle. It made one appreciate the warmth of the meeting room.

In the second half of his talk Paul began back home in Sheffield. He always takes time each spring to photograph local birds in their surroundings, avoiding seeking out “trophy” birds and just concentrating on great images of wildlife that anyone with patience and knowledge should be able to capture. He doesn’t even use a hide. He chooses this time of year because migrant birds have just arrived and make themselves obvious with loud calls to ensure they get a mate.

From there we journeyed on to Costa Rica with photographs of not only birds but a variety of amphibians and snakes. The images weren’t just “record” shots of the wildlife but also displayed his creative approach to the subject matter. There were  some amazing shots of humming birds and bats and Paul provided a fascinating insight into how they were achieved. Paul went on to northern Finland before returning home for red deer, butterflies and toadstools.

Although this report gives a flavour of the variety of places Paul has visited in the last year it cannot really show how well it was supported by the quality of the photographs. For that you can visit his website here. A really enjoyable evening enjoyed by all the large attendance.

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