Shooting wildlife on location in Africa brings its own particular set of problems to a photographer. How do you take all the gear you want to shoot with, while not making the plane groan under the weight of it all? "I take two camera bodies and two lenses," says Lesley when I ask what she managed to fit in her baggage allowance. "I really like the Canon EF 28-300mm because it's really sharp and useful for pet photography too.
It's ideal for shooting both close-up shots, as well nice environmental, wide shots. My second body is a crop sensor, so I use the Canon EF 300mm with a 1.4x converter - and occasionally even a 2x converter." But of course, there's always some compromises when choosing what gear to take on a wildlife photography trip. "I'd love to go bigger. I'd really love a 500mm but I just can't physically carry all of the gear on my own. You have to juggle what you can physically cope with and what you really need to get the pictures. It's no good taking a huge lens if you can't use it, but I seem to find a balance that works ok."
Lesley doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down, with plans already being made for her next big projects - yes that's projects with an 's' - one doesn't seem to be enough! "I'd love to get a picture through the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. I've got through to the final four times now but never into that elusive last 100 images." On top of that Lesley is also considering running workshops in Botswana as well as getting more involved in judging photography competitions. It's a big job, but somebody's gotta do it!
Shooting for a Fellowship
Meeting travel and wildlife photographer Steve Allen at the SWPP awards night in 2009 sparked a friendship that would help to inspire a Fellowship. Heading out to Botswana with Steve as the fulfillment of a lifelong dream; it was my first experience of Africa and I was hooked!" Lesley tells me. "It took four years worth of trips to gather all the pictures for my Fellowship panel. One of the pictures is from the original trip that I took with Steve and some are from the most recent trips I have taken to Botswana; there's something from all of them."
I caught up with Lesley's mentor, Steve Allen, to find out more about what it was like to accompany the journey to such an exciting wildlife Fellowship. "Lesley was so easy to mentor. It helps that we've known each other some time and I know her work quite well but we worked together as a team to pick the right photos and get a good layout for the panel." Of course Steve was watching the judging from the back of the room, rooting with the rest of us for the panel to pass. "It was an unusual panel because of it being in black and white and that did attract a few comments from the judges, but they obviously liked it! The fine art approach that Lesley took to the presentation was unusual but exactly the kind of print that she usually produces for her business".
But overall Steve just seemed to burst with pride when I asked him how he felt about Lesley receiving her Fellowship: "I couldn't be happier because Lesley genuinely deserves this. I was never in any doubt, I knew inside that she'd got the right shots. I'm also looking forward to hopefully having Lesley coming on board as a judge too, it'll be great to work together in the future!".
There are 0 days to get ready for The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
which starts on Wednesday 15th March 2023