Cuckoo egg predation

This is my all time favourite shot. It would not have been possible without the help of an expert, here, Oxford cuckoo guru Mike Bayliss. The aim was to film a cuckoo laying in a reed warbler's nest, and several times we had come very close. After many hours in the hide I heard this female land heavily in the reeds to the right of the nest - I can still hardly believe it happened.

Cuckoo egg predation

Komodo dragon

This type of filming has been about 80% of my work these last couple of years...presenter led programmes with a good percentage of wildlife filming. Gavin Thurston was on RInca Island 2 weeks before the rest of the crew getting the 'meatier' sequences.

Komodo dragon

Talk of the Town

There were two of us working on this one, the other cameraman being Keith Brust. Filming often brings with it privileged access, and this was one of those times. I spent many days on my own on the Vermejo Ranch in New Mexico, ticking off shots from the list. Other times I was with a crew and a team of scientists trying to unravel the mysterious language of prairie dogs.

Talk of the Town

Seasons – Alan Titchmarsh

Autumn and the Wye Valley makes for a wondrous combination. The locations here are just a few miles up the road from our house. We can't take the credit for nice light and conditions, but you can make your own luck by being out there early as often as you can in the best locations.

Seasons – Alan Titchmarsh

Camargue flamingoes

Not being very big can be a massive advantage sometimes. Imagine a small rowing boat with a wooden hide on board and a small slit to poke the lens through. Then knock out the bottom of the stern of the boat. Cram yourself inside with a tripod and start walking slowly towards the flamingos whilst occasionally vanishing into holes in the bottom of the lagoon. I love this job.

Camargue flamingoes

Harvest mice

Over the years I have done quite a lot of set filming. In all honesty I find it quite stressful, as the priority has to be the well-being of the animals. In any case, if they're not relaxed they're not going to behave naturally. These little chaps were on loan from a research project. We were always hoping that they would breed while in our care, but they never did.

Harvest mice

Wildlife Cameraman Blog Snippets

Another Exotic Filming Location

Another Exotic Filming Location

Another Exotic Filming Location
Filming overwintering butterflies

This is another in the series of ‘Another Exotic Filming Location’ for the wildlife cameraman. Yes, it’s all a bit tongue in cheek.  Last time we were on the back of a broken down pickup truck in a breaker’s yard in Bethesda.  This time it’s a garden shed somewhere near Caernarfon.

Hibernating Butterflies

We were in the shed to film a hibernating butterfly.  For more information about this in the UK have a look at the hibernating butteflies link. There was nothing particularly difficult about filming the sequence.  The presenter, Iolo, enters the shed to look for hibernating butterflies.  He finds one, has a good look.  He explains what it is doing then leaves.  The only consideration was not disturbing it.  We were as quick as we could be to prevent our own body heat warming up the butterfly and bringing it out of torpor. In this case there was a red admiral in the shed.

red-admiral
Red admiral in late summer

Filming the Sequence

We added to the natural light coming through the window with an LED panel at 5500K.  Even so it looked relatively warm against the ambient light. From inside the shed we filmed two basic shots of Iolo entering, looking around and talking about the butterfly.  One was a very wide shot of the whole setup and the second was a close up, head and shoulders of the same.  With the wide angle lens still on the camera I filmed a POV of him entering the shed and a wide variety of shots of his viewpoint from the doorway.  This included abstract close ups of shed clutter.

The Butterfly

The golden rule of being a wildlife cameraman is ‘don’t disturb the subject.’  In many cases you do – it’s inevitable.  In the case of this fragile insect waking it up would probably prove to be fatal.  We didn’t want to do that. I crammed myself into the far end of the shed and used a Canon 18 x 28 for a variety of shots of it hanging from some wood on the underside of the roof.  I didn’t time how long it took to film the sequence but it was not as much as half an hour.  Sorry to disappoint, not all wildlife cameraman work take weeks of sitting around filming nothing.

Countryman wildlife cameraman

Countryman wildlife cameraman John  Keeling is what I would call a countryman wildlife cameraman.  This is John’s website. What do I mean by countryman wildlife cameraman? In my simple language it is someone who lives and breathes the countryside.  It’s someone who grew up in the countryside and learned the nuances of wildlife behaviour by… Continue Reading

Filming Robins Under Streetlight

Filming Robins Under Streetlight In the last couple of weeks I have been filming Robins Under Streetlight. I searched for ‘Filming Robins Under Streetlight’ in Google and didn’t find much.  Why would anyone want to photograph robins under streetlight anyway? For more information about robins follow the robin link to the RSPB’s information. In the… Continue Reading

Graham Horder - wildlife cameraman

I'm a freelance documentary and wildlife cameraman, wildlife photographer with a track record for filming blue-chip natural history and presenter and contributor led documentaries for the BBC, ITV and other major television channels. Most of the time I film TV programmes with natural history as the subject matter, but I happily film sport, music videos, drama and other types of television documentary.

It is slightly inaccurate to say 'wildlife photography' as a description for 'wildlife filming', but all wildlife cinematographers become used to the alternative title. Being a wildlife cameraman is very different to taking still photographs, though the principles of getting close to wild behaviour and respecting the subject are exactly the same.

From the outside a career as a wildlife cameraman looks like a very attractive way to live. It is, but it doesn't suit everyone. For young people, take advice from someone who is doing it, then see if you can assist them in any way. You will have to persevere... and persevere.

Filming wildlife is something that I love. Like many colleagues I'd happily do it for nothing... and sometimes I do. Many of us would continue to film wildlife as a hobby if it were not our profession.

This article by Matt Hamilton is a really great description of a part of a filming trip we went on last year.