Life through a lens with St Albans wildlife photographer
HANGING out in a mouse-infested hide in the middle of the woods surrounded by bears would not be most people’s idea of an ideal occupation.
Yet for St Albans wildlife photographer and cameraman Luke Massey, who confesses to being “obsessed with the natural world”, it is the best way to view and capture the perfect image of where the wild things are.
What started out as a hobby for the former Sandringham School pupil has ended up as a career which has seen him recently work with the world-renowned BBC Natural History Unit on a new series entitled Seasons airing in 2013.
He said: “Through documenting nature and what is going on in our world I hope I’m doing my own little bit in possibly preserving it for the future.”
Despite growing up in an urban environment, Luke’s parents encouraged him to appreciate the outdoors from an early age.
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Small wonder, then, that his first word when a toddler was “tadpole”.
Luke was recently on location in Estonia where he photographed white-tailed eagles.
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But to get the right shot and avoid disturbing the birds meant he had to be in position near the nest an hour before sunrise and leave an hour after sunset.
One of his riskier assignments was also in Estonia, photographing European brown bears.
Luke explained: “I was in the hide for an hour when a big mother bear turned up. I ended up photographing 10 different bears including cubs.
“I was in a mouse-infested hide in the middle of the wood surrounded by bears. But I wasn’t scared. I have so much respect for wildlife. But when I have a camera in front of my face I do forget about the rest of me.”
To lessen the risk of attack Luke said that before venturing into animals’ territory he spent a lot of time researching them, particularly their behaviour, “because you need to know how they are going to react before you take a photo”.
He learned the value of that maxim the hard way after being charged by a wild sow in the Forest of Dean.
The pig, short-sighted and protecting her piglets, ran towards Luke but stopped short once she realised he was no threat.
His rapport with animals meant that after a while the wild pigs accepted him to such an extent the piglets would sit on him.
In St Albans Luke has photographed little owls in Redbournbury and short-eared owls at Heartwood Forest in Sandridge.
Luke said: “People in St Albans don’t realise what is on their doorstep.”
He has also seen red kites, buzzards and kestrels at Heartwood while in the city centre he has spotted peregrine falcons.
Luke will be selling his 2013 calendars at Redbournbury Mill this Saturday for �8.
For more details of his work, visit lmasseyimages.com