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A new camera for the field trips PDF Print E-mail

For India in 2006, we took the new Canon XL2, superseding the faithful but ageing XL1.

Last Updated on Friday, 16 January 2009 16:16
The Polish Connection PDF Print E-mail

Now that DV cameras are so much easier to use, and produce such good results, you might expect there to be a good number of people using them to film butterflies. But amazingly, we have so far only ever heard of one. He is a Pole, and lives in Krakow, and he plans to make film of butterflies in Venezuela. We hope he'll tell us how he gets on.



Last Updated on Monday, 23 November 2009 12:39
Then film... PDF Print E-mail
Because of my true-to-nature approach, it was a logical progression to try out filming, which I was a bit familiar with already, having spent many hours on every summer holiday making Super-8 “feature films” with my children - spoofs of James Bond, and the Monty Python films.

So I started to work at the butterflies with a clockwork Bolex 16mm movie camera, with several fixed lenses on its turret, and this served as a good introduction to getting closer-up and framing the butterfly through the reflex lens of a movie camera. More encouragement, and the loss of that Bolex to a car-thief in 1968, meant that I moved on to an electric Bolex and trips to faraway places on holidays. I even started to edit the results into primitive 16mm films at home. “Butterflies of Mevagissey” was an early product. You can guess where we spent our family holidays!

But the tropics were the main attraction from early on. Headed off Columbia by a friend on the grounds it was both dangerous and difficult, I twice visited the Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon basin in eastern Peru, calling in also at Iquitos and Tingo Maria, - despite the presence nearby of the Shining Path guerrillas. Then Costa Rica, and a little later my first visit to Malaysia, as well as two return trips to India, and another to Bhutan.

But things changed in earnest in the 1990s. My wife, Pat, believed strongly that many more people than just ourselves would be glad to see the pictures, and urged me to get into production. Then by chance we paid a Christmas-time visit to Cuba, just after the collapse of the Russian Empire (so to speak) and at the beginning of Fidel Castro’s “situacion especial” (crisis period, we might as well call it). We made a good friend in the Coordinator for science in the Natural History Museum in Havana, Luis Roberto Hernandez, and through him and the filming in Cuba, met David Spencer Smith, then the Hope Professor at the University Museum in Oxford, author of the lovely handbook on the “Butterflies of the West Indies and South Florida”. He provided more encouragement as well as plenty of advice on scientific points, and started me off on an interest in the biogeography and evolution of butterflies, which runs now all through the films I have made.
Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2008 16:00
The world series PDF Print E-mail

1996 we devoted to accumulating enough material to offer a view of the West European, including British, species, as seen from my bio-geographical standpoint. The resulting film, “Puzzles of the Past” won an Award at the 1998 International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. In 1997, we spent 2 months in Malaysia to get the footage for “Wonders of the East”, which came out in 1998, and shows about 120 species from the Oriental Region, filmed all over Peninsular Malaysia and parts of Borneo.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2008 16:01
Evolution PDF Print E-mail

I suppose Evolution is partly what the films are all about. The miracle of natural selection and the beauty that the passage of time has created on earth are what inspire me. Discoveries of fossilised butterflies (this year of a complete Metalmark in Dominican amber) continue to add to our understanding of the origins of butterflies. DNA studies are enriching our views of the relationships between different genera. Our appreciation of the complexity and antiquity of the insect world grows quite dramatically every year.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 February 2008 10:18