Hi, I'm Pete Downing and I live in Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, UK.
Photography has enriched my life, giving me a new way of seeing and a constant awareness of light and form that I try to capture in my images.
It has transported me to extraordinary locations both near and far that I simply wouldn't have experienced if I hadn't been searching for the elusive, fleeting and unique moment that epitomises the best images (I'm still searching and the quest is unlikely to end). The joy of standing on a Cumbrian lakeside shore at dawn on a crisp winter morning watching the ever changing light or sitting quietly in a hide for 12 hours (not everyone's cup of tea) anticipating the instant when the azure flash of a kingfisher breaks the surface of a stream are moments of magic that I would have been blissfully unaware of had I not been seduced by the idea of capturing them on camera.
I have been fortunate enough to travel fairly extensively over recent years and my trip to Arctic has been a recent moment of wonder
I have met some wonderful photographers whose guidance and advice have motivated me to push through self perceived barriers and make images that I had not thought I could create. For anyone taking up photography I cannot emphasise enough the amount that can be learnt from spending time with, listening to, and studying the work of people established in the field, who are always so generous with their knowledge, tips and advice.
I would like to thank, in particular Charlie Waite, Chris Gomersall, Paul Goldstein, Bence Mate, Mark Carwardine and Mark Hancox who have, in just short periods over the last 10 years or so, taught and inspired me so much. I would also especially like to thank Kyriakos 'Kiki' Kaziras who I had the pleasure of meeting in the arctic and whose black and white work has inspired this website.
Finally I would like to thank my lovely wife Joss for not only lugging gear around the world for me, but also putting up with the incessant clattering as I bumble around a hotel room at 5am before disappearing to catch the dawn light when we are supposed to be having a relaxing break.
Thanks for viewing my images, I will update the site fairly regularly with new work so I look forward to you visiting again
All of the wildlife images on this site are of truly wild animals in their natural environment taken from hides, vehicles, boats, zodiacs, stalking or just plain old sitting still and being quiet. The only exceptions are the 2 little owl shots taken at the Barn owl centre in Gloucester
I now have a portrait studio in Nailsworth so you are welcome to contact me for individual or group shots, portfolios, family gatherings etc. I can also carry out location work, please just call me on +44 (0)7770 923511
You can also contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
BELOW ARE A SELECTION OF SITES PLACES AND PHOTOGRAPHERS THAT HAVE SIGNIFICANCE TO ME IN A VARIETY OF WAYS
IN THE BEGINNING
There was a Pentax ME Super that my wife to be bought for me and a book of images by Franco Fontana the wonderfully minimalistic landscape photographer http://francofontanaphotographer.com/
I was captivated
AND THEN THERE WAS LIGHT
I persevered for a number of years thinking I was doing ok but in 2004 I was bought a weekend photographic trip in the Lake District hosted by Charlie Waite with the then fledgling
Eureka! A ten minute chat with Charlie at Castlerigg Stone Circle and the transformation was astonishing. I felt that I now knew how to use the light to my best advantage. It was the turning point for me, I wanted not only to apply this newly acquired knowledge to landscapes but also to my wildlife photography as well.
For me, sitting in a hide all day is wildlife photography heaven, like being immersed in a barrel of beer for a whole weekend (strange analogy I know but I'm sure you know what I mean). I liken it to my University career, 95% chilling and 5% pure panic. Just as the action starts you realise you have the wrong lens, your settings are out and some essential piece of kit has packed up, but sometimes, just sometimes, it all goes to plan.
It was in one of Mark Hancox's http://www.markhancoxbirdphotography.co.uk/ hides that I took the winning Kingfisher shot on my home page. Mark & Danny Green http://www.dannygreenphotography.com/ have a range of superb hides in the UK, you can also hire all the gear that you want, no need!!! so it really is like spending a few days in a sweetshop.
Bence's farm is run by the very young but supremely talented Bence Mate http://www.matebence.hu/. Every wildlife photographer should make the pilgrimage to Southern Hungary at some stage. It's a simple trip, Easyjet to Budapest then you are picked up by Bence's mum who takes you to a paradise of little wooden boxes and sensational birdlife. I WILL be going again
I love travel especially when there is a chance to really get out into the wild. I can't sit on a beach for more than 10 minutes so I have to be somewhere that teems with wildlife. I have so many more places to visit but here are a few tips from my experiences so far
http://www.uncletan.com/ We visited the insanely basic Uncle Tan's jungle camp in Sandakan, Borneo about 16 years ago, then it cost 50p per night including food ! We had a deluxe hut with bats roosting right above us so if you woke up with a wet arm.... I'll leave you to guess. The sounds of the jungle at night and watching Proboscis monkeys and Rhinoceros Hornbills from a boat on the river at dawn were sensational. I expect it is far more civilised now but I'm sure it will still be worth the trip.
http://kicheche.com/ If you are going to the Masai Mara then make sure you go with Paul Goldstein, he will really deliver or die trying. He was described in the Sunday Times as ‘Preposterously vivacious, a guide of almost psychotic gusto’ which is absolutely spot on. He's also a great joke teller and he doesn't get lost in the Mara unlike some other well known guide whose name I won't mention. But remember do NOT wear a photographic waistcoat you will regret it.
http://www.markcarwardine.com/ Fancy some whale watching? then the best trip has to be to the Sea of Cortez with Mark. Gaze in awe at Blue Whales, marvel at leaping Mobular Rays and best of all hang on for dear life in San Ignacio lagoon when the screaming women in your panga are all leaning over one side trying to stroke the inquisitive grey whale calf that has come to within inches of your tiny boat which is now a mile from land and at 45 degrees, truly terrifying.
http://www.sgisland.gs/index.php/Main_Page Ah South Georgia, it's as if Slartibartfast (now I'm showing my age) has thrown one of his creations into the South Atlantic. The scenery is incredible and the wildlife? well arriving on a beach holding 250,000 king penguins is just one of those life changing moments. Bird Island with courting Wandering Albatross was also a wonder to behold.
http://www.birdislandseychelles.com/ Another Bird Island but a tad warmer, a small airstrip, a lodge for 40-50 guests and a million seabirds, nirvana !
OTHER GREAT PHOTOGRAPHERS I HAVE MET ALONG THE WAY
http://www.chrisgomersall.co.uk/ We met Chris on our Antarctica trip, he is an ex RSPB staff photographer who now runs a variety of excellent trips and workshops. We spent many hours on the boat chatting about our mutual love of Frank Zappa
http://www.wildlite.co.uk. Mike Deverell is also a pal who we first met in Antarctica and he and I shared the pilgrimage to Hungary a few years back. He organises tours and I dearly want to join him on a winter Yosemite tour
http://laffortphotography.com Cyril is a suave French photographer who joined me to photograph my son's wedding. As you can imagine the bridesmaids loved him.
http://www.foodimaging.co.uk. Michael Dannenburg is a great food photographer. WARNING Do NOT visit his site if you are on a diet
http://www.samhofman.co.uk. Sam was at school with my kids and has forged his way as a pro. His style is contemporary still life. Wonderfully controlled and understated. Really quite amazing.
http://www.barbaradallangelophotography.com/ I met Barbara at the TPOTY exhibition this year as she was another of the exhibitors. Some gloriously subtle and serene images on her site.
AND OTHERS I HAVEN'T MET
http://www.vincentmunier.com The wildlife photographer's wildlife photographer. Awesome website.
http://www.micheldoultremont.com/Michel_dOultremont.html Michel did well in the 2014 Wildlife Photographer of the Year and deservedly so, sublime imagery
http://www.timlaman.com/# The effort that Tim puts into his work is inhuman. 80 hours in a hide for 90 seconds of Bird of Paradise display for example!
It is amazing how it mounts up over the years. Whilst it all helps to achieve difficult to capture images (everything about camera equipment is a compromise) there is nothing more satisfying than capturing a great image on the most basic kit. However just in case, I have accumulated about 30kg of it!
Canon EOS 1DX (superb camera)
Canon EOS 1D Mk 4 ( I thought this was great until I tried the 1DX)
EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM (my midlife crisis lens, huge and very expensive but cheaper than an E type Jag)
EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM (an incredible lens, so sharp)
EF 300mm f/4L IS USM
EF 100-400mm f/5.6l IS USM
EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
EF25 II Extension Tube
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
EF 17-40mm f/4L IS USM
Swarovski EL 10x42 Swarovision Binoculars
Gitzo Series 4 6x Carbon Fibre Traveller Systematic Tripod - GT4552TS
Manfrotto 155 tripod with various Manfrotto heads
Skimmer ll ground pod
Canon angle finder
Gitzo and Manfrotto monopods
Lee filter holder with ND, ND graduated (incl big stopper, 2 stop ND, 1/2/3 stop hard ND grads, 1/2/3 stop soft ND grads) and polarising filters
Viper Rucksack (not very comfy but it holds a lot of gear so it's fine unless strenuous effort is needed to access a site - see trolley below)
Lowepro Nature Trekker
Dell XPS with 2 Dell 27" ultrasharp screens. Photoshop CC, Lightroom 5 etc.
2x 1TB (rugged) & 2x 3TB Lacie hard drives coupled with JustCloud storage space
Several bags full of memory cards, batteries and chargers, cleaning equipment, filters, cable and remote releases, light meters, old flashguns, extension tubes, angle finders etc.
Stealth Gear transport trolley (to lug it all around on)
On my wish list
Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX
Camranger wireless remote control and motorised tripod head
Canon EOS 1DX2
Website designed and built by Pete Downing using squarespace