April Photo Contest Winner Austin Thomas
Austin Thomas is the winner of the PocketWizard April Photo Contest. Based in Northwest England, Thomas is an outdoor enthusiast and longtime bird watcher. His photography centers around wildlife, and he was kind enough to share images of his remote camera setup which produced his winning image. In addition, there is a brief interview with Thomas, where he discusses his bird watching, gear, and photography.
Austin used a FlexTT5 attached to his Canon 1D Mark IV remote camera and a CM-N3-P remote camera cable to capture the winning image, “Starling in Flight.” He is able to trigger the remote camera from a distance using a MiniTT1 on a Canon 1D X in his hands. His goal, with triggering the remote camera with a camera in his hands, was to capture two images at the same time. Austin used a similar set-up last summer to capture images of an owl as seen below.
“The Owl in the pictures is 100% wild and free, but you can see how attracted he is to the FlexTT5 device on top of my remote camera setup,” Thomas says, laughing.
Resulting image taken with remote camera set-up shown above.
Another remote camera rig Austin Thomas uses in the field.
Interview with Austin Thomas
What equipment do you use?
I use Canon equipment. A 1D-MK4 and a 1D-X currently, connected to Canon lenses ranging from 16mm to 800mm.
How did you get into photography?
I used to enjoy walks in the countryside with my binoculars and would see lots of birdlife in particular. I was ( and still am ) rubbish at bird identification so I started to investigate how I could record what I had seen to help me identify the birds to my friends. I looked at
spotting scopes and digital cameras and there was no comparison in terms of quality so I went down the DSLR route. The rest is history as they say. I can now take a picture but I am not much better at bird ID if I am totally honest with myself.
How long have you been shooting professionally?
I took up photography in 2007 knowing very little about the world of Digital Imaging. I am now semi-professional with an increasing amount of my time spent working on photography related projects.
What do you enjoy shooting the most?
I am often asked this question and my answer is always “anything that moves”. My first love is wildlife but I am very happy to photograph anything that is active and doing something. I enjoy practising my focussing skills and testing the features of my camera and flash systems whilst photographing domestic animals. I get to refine my camera technique and in return my friends get to take away a picture of their much loved animal.
Where do you enjoy shooting?
I have no real preference on location. I tend to go where the wildlife is located. I am very fortunate that I have been able to travel the world taking photographs but I am just as happy to use my camera at home. The image I took of the Starling for this competition was taken in my back garden.
Tell us about your best day of shooting?
My best day of taking pictures is the one when all of the elements of a project come together. Most of my work involves weeks and weeks of preparation and multiple failed attempts because mother nature s thoughts are not always aligned with my own. For example I spent last winter photographing a Short Eared Owl that had arrived in England for the winter months. I wanted to make use of the low winter sun and have the Owl fly towards this soft sunlight with the fields in the background. I really wasn’t asking for much and it sounds simple! However, the window of opportunity is very narrow; just a couple of hours of suitable light a day. Unfortunately, the Owl didn’t always come out in those two hours. In England it is very likely it will be cloudy and overcast during this two hours in winter. The Owl doesn’t fly when it is windy. If the Owl has a store of food then even on bright sunny calm afternoons it will not venture out during the daylight hours. After three months of visiting I finally pressed the shutter with the Owl full frame flying towards the low winter sun on a calm and still day with the fields in the background. That was a good days photography that took a quarter of a year to prepare….
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself? Magazines your images have appeared in?
I like to see my images in print and I am very fortunate to have had some of my work on the front cover of magazines. This month one of my Little Owl images is on the front cover of Bird Watching Magazine and one of my Starling images is on the front cover of Walks and Wildlife. I have had several images printed in the BBC Wildlife Magazine and produced a short video on my experiences photographing in Kenya for the BBC which was broadcast on my local BBC News channel. I am just about to announce I will be co-hosting a photography trip to Kenya in 2014 as people have been asking to join me on one of my photography excursions. Having been to Kenya annually for the last six years it is a place where I enjoy taking wildlife images.
All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©Austin Thomas, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.