Steve Draper and Dave Halton of AerialVue

 

Over the last year the sales of drones for aerial filming and photography have exploded. I may be one of the few people in my circle of friends that has resisted the temptation to purchase one. Many of my colleagues have made the investment with varying degrees of success in the results they are achieving. Over the last year I also had the pleasure of working on a new 20 part documentary series titled Big Picture Earth. It is scheduled to be available in March through the new online service Curiosity Stream. The series gave me a thorough education in the do’s and don’ts of aerial filming with drones.

We used aerials in many of the episodes, each showcasing an iconic landmark, during which time I mostly directed the aerial shooting or occasionally operated the camera gimbal, but never acted as pilot. I quickly learned that flying at a professional level takes a commitment and skill level that many owner / operators do not meet. Fortunately through some colleagues at the BBC, I started work with the team from a UK based company called AerialVue. The company is run by Dave Halton, who has an engineering background and an amazing understanding of how to build, maintain and operate what he prefers to call a heli-cam… drone has too many connections to the aircraft flown by the military for less peaceful activities.

In contrast to the AerialVue team, and with a few exceptions, I have also seen some horrors, both in terms of the lack of understanding of the film making process, lack of skill in operating the aircraft or just plain bad judgment that can be dangerous for the crew or innocent bystanders.

In the last twelve months I have witnessed multiple crashes, fortunately the drone being the only fatality, seen unusable footage due to technical issues with the camera and copter, as well as running into issues with no fly zones….  So as a filmmaker, how do you either become a good pilot or find someone else to work with to capture good aerials. My time working with the AerialVue team taught me a lot of valuable lessons of how to do it right.

Here are my ten points to look for if you want to be successful.

  1. Find a very skilled pilot to work with or spend the time to teach yourself, making sure you have excellent skills before flying on a real film project. Yes, you can buy a rig from a big box store like Best Buy, take it home and be airborne ten minutes later but that will end badly! The AerialVue team have tens of thousands of hours logged, made the rooky mistakes long before trying to become professional, skills that takes years to hone, but as the rest of the points will describe, many of the things you need to know can be implemented next time you fly.
  2. Set up a safety protocol which includes
    1. A designated take-off and landing pad that is clearly defined, is safe for the copter and has good separation from bystanders. That means the machine is not in danger of turning over and is clear of dust that will dirty the lens and over time damage the mechanics of your rig. Take a weighted blanket or tarp into the field for this purpose or even a folding table.
    2. Have a clear idea of your flight plan, which takes into account legal restrictions, permissions from property owners and is understood by the whole crew
    3. Know a clear a set of commands or announcements that are verbally given as the machine is powered up, takes off and lands eg “Spinning Up” “Taking off” “Landing”… this may seem obvious but it is essential so that someone does not approach the machine at the wrong time and this keeps people focused.
    4. DO NOT… and I will say again…. DO NOT fly the UAV out of visual contact, even if your system is equipped with a GPS map that appears on a tablet. In most places this is illegal, as well as being down right foolish as it is impossible to be completely aware of situations you may be getting yourself into. If you don’t crash into something, fly into a restricted zone, chances are you will lose reference of where your machine is, run low on battery and end up crash landing. I have seen this more than once with copters ending up in a lake, narrowly avoiding ending up in crevasse on a glacier or getting broken when the operator can’t get the machine back to the designated landing pad.
  3. In addition to the flight plan, have a good understanding of the shots you want to achieve before taking off. That means whoever is directing needs to communicate clearly with the aerial team before any flight and have direct and simple commands for them during the flight. If you fail to do this, half the battery pack will be spent before the camera starts to capture usable images on any particular flight
  4. Have enough batteries for the UAV and camera to complete the task. This seems obvious, but countless times I have been on shoots where the drone team has perhaps 4 packs, when the flights will require 12. Always check this at the planning stage and assume nothing… remember the golden rule of production, “assumption is the mother of all screw-ups”. Although most of my producer friends would word that a little more crudely.
  5. Make sure that the charging situation for the battery packs is carefully monitored. Many units from companies like DJI now have smart chargers, but other rigs do not and require chargers to be programmed every time they are used. A mistake can literally be fatal as if incorrectly charged, packs can easily ignite, burning with immense heat that can not be extinguished easily. There are countless example of homes or offices burnt to the ground thanks to mishandled batteries. If you are on a shoot and staying in a hotel and recharging at night, ask yourself if you want to be responsible for starting a fire with the possible loss of life and property being catastrophic! Stay with the batteries as they charge and keep monitoring them during the entire process. Never leave them unattended.
  6. Talking of batteries, don’t try to squeeze in one more shot when your batteries are low, towards the end of a flight. Have a defined cut-off point when you are something like 20% capacity and always return to the landing point at this time. First you are in danger of losing power and crashing but also this practice will damage batteries and mean they have to be replaced… an expensive day out.
  7. Not only should the pilot have visual contact with the copter, but they, along with the gimbal operator and director should have access to a video monitor that is showing the camera feed. Last year I worked with a pilot that refused to work with a monitor. He could not see his ground speed and how it related to the landscape we were shooting, couldn’t see if the framing was correct and wanted me as director to feed him this information as we proceeded. I heard panicked requests like “are we moving yet?” It cut down productivity to a fraction of what it should have been and wasted everyone’s time.
  8. Keep checking camera settings and the lens as you shoot, making regular adjustments as required. I try to avoid any automatic functions such as focus or exposure unless using a cheaper unit that is designed to be used with something like a GoPro. We were flying over Rome last year and despite requesting full manual mode, the operator thought he knew best and enabled autofocus on a Panasonic GH4. We were in low light conditions and the camera kept hunting for focus due to the lack of contrast in the image. In and out it went as the shot went on, and to compound the issue, he also had such a bad video downlink that you could not see this happening. Guess what he had to come back another day and redo everything. As an extra note about cameras & lenses, carry a polarizing filter and a selection of ND filters so you can maintain a filmic look by shooting at 1/50sec for 24/25p filming situations. This means you can shoot a mid range aperture (f5.6-f8) in sunny conditions. Not having to stop the lens down too much (f16-f22) as this means you will not being getting optimal sharpness from the lens. The polarizer will also give more saturated colors. This will also mean selecting a lens that can take a filter. Some wide-angles have dome fronts that will not allow this. In my experience using this kind of lens can also lead to more issues with flare when flying into the sun…
  9. Illustrated by this experience in Rome, make sure the downlink for video monitoring is solid and of good enough picture quality to judge composition, focus, whether there is dirt on the lens and whether the flight is of the correct speed, altitude and bearing.
  10. Bring spare parts with you into the field. That is everything from extra batteries, cables that might break, cable ties to secure loose wires, antennas… basically anything that might break or be lost. The team from AerialVue take no chances, not only do they have spare parts, they bring at least one spare drone that can be airborne in minutes should there be a problem.

 

Apologies if many of these points seem obvious but when you hire an aerial team assume nothing as all the things that I have described going wrong have all happened to me in the last twelve months when I have trusted operators will be well prepared. Of course with the exception of the AerialVue team (and a few pilots here in the US such as Matt Ragan of Birds Eye of Big Sky) who showed us how to do it right!

Dave flies a wonderful UAV called a Skyjib and that he has modified so that he has incredible control of the flights and camera positioning. The first time I flew with him I asked him to catch the rays of the rising sun at dawn along the top of a large ruin in Yorkshire. As a cinematographer, it was the dream shot to capture but most of the previous pilots I had worked with would have had a one in ten chance to getting it right… Of course Dave and his camera operator Steve Draper nailed it first time. And all thanks to them being more prepared than any other team I have worked with.

 

Dave Halton of AerialVue with the typical selection of heli-cams he brings to locations

 

Nikon Actioncam…

January 18, 2016 — Leave a comment

Another great announcement at the recent CES show in Las Vegas was the introduction of the new Nikon actioncam… Nikon KeyMission 360

The big difference with this new entrant into the action camera is the ability to shoot 360 degree sequences. With the growing ability to stream 360 videos on sites like Facebook, YouTube and the expanding VR market, this is set to be a winner….

 

As you know, I am a dedicated Nikon shooter, but also work as cinematographer, so have moved into the world of shooting 4K video in the last two years. While it is still more of an acquisition format than a delivery format, that is rapidly changing thanks to streaming video delivery through services like Curiosity Stream.  They will be delivering a 20 part 4K series in the next few months that I shot, along with colleague Darryl Czuchra, and features iconic landmarks around the world from Stone Henge to Petra. Produced by Compass Light, the same company that delivered the hit series Sunrise Earth, I will keep you posted once it goes to air. Now back to cameras….

I have not had chance to do a hands on test of the new Nikon 4k cameras, the D5 or D500, and there are plenty of other reviews online, but look forward to some real world field tests very soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last few years I have been lucky enough to work with Mark Soares of the Nikon marketing team and he was just featured in a video talking about the D500 and its exciting new features including Snapbridge, a great new technology to allow photographs to be transferred to your smart device.

 

 

While the D5 is aimed at the professional photo-journalist market, I think the D500 will have a much wider appeal, especially with those of us that take wildlife or sports images. The DX format is ideal for that extra reach from a telephoto lens and the new senosr promises stunning imagery.    Welcome to the 4K world Nikon….

PS  More to come on a third 4K camera also just announced by Nikon, their 360 degree action camera… very exciting news!

For information you can get the latest news at Nikonrumors.com

 

A tribute published by Digital Photo Pro Magazine

Cotton Coulson: Master Of The Travel Narrative

Those who knew Cotton Coulson knew him as funny, kind, outgoing and, above all, loving. Coulson was known to become so entranced by his subjects that he would often come back from a shoot, transformed. With unkempt curly locks and an ear-to-ear grin, Coulson was easy to spot, even on assignment. He was always the one with insuppressible energy and a passion to explore. He was incredibly attached to the places and the people around him. This was no more true than with his wife, Sisse Brimberg. Together, Brimberg, herself a National Geographic shooter, and Coulson were clearly two sides of the same coin.

Separately, and as a team, Coulson and Brimberg photographed more than 60 stories for National Geographic and Traveler magazines. It was National Geographic, in fact, that first brought the couple together.

“I came on a grant in January of 1976,” Sisse Brimberg recalls. “I think the second day I was there, I was introduced to Cotton. I saw him and there he was, with all his energy and his amazing looks, with the curls and everything. I think I fell in love with him right there.”

For five years, Brimberg had been working as a photographer in Denmark, and she was looking for something new and different when she came to National Geographic. Coulson, though just 24 at the time, had already established himself as an up-and-coming photographer for the publication.

“I think Cotton was around 12 when he first picked up a camera,” Brimberg says. “He became a member of the photo club in his school, and that encouraged him in that direction. He attended New York Art and Design High School, where he liked photography even more. Then he went to New York University, to NYU film school. Film had a great influence on him. He loved all the films from the 1930s, the film noir, the black-and-white. Touch of Evil was his favorite, because the start of the movie was so amazing with one long, long shot. I remember it being something like four minutes long.

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LEICAS AND SONYS
“Cotton always loved the Leica M series the best,” says Sisse Brimberg, Cotton Coulson’s wife and photographic partner, “no matter when, no matter where, no matter what. The Sonys, recently, he really took a great liking to them, but the Leicas were always the supreme love for his expression in photography.”

 

“That whole pan scene, it’s something that had never before been seen like that. An amazing thing. It was so unusual, and he loved it. And, in a certain way, Cotton was always out there, looking for the ultimate, pushing the edge, pushing to get something new. He did that with photography throughout his whole career. His style, even from the very start, is more than documentary. It’s documentary and art together.”

At 19, Coulson received a small inheritance. He used the money to fund his first photographic excursion, traveling to the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, a region as remote as any you’re likely to find.

“He just wanted to go out there and shoot,” Brimberg says. “He’s 19 years old, he’s never traveled on his own before, and he goes and hangs out with the people from the Orkneys, and he gets into the Geographic. From there, they started to sponsor him so he doesn’t need to pay for his film. He’s 19 when he gets to the Geographic; that’s an unusual thing.”

The gregarious Coulson, by all accounts, had a knack for the unusual. Though photography remained a constant throughout his career, he ventured into other roles, including picture editing at The Baltimore Sun and U.S. News & World Report, working with Rick Smolan on his noted 24 Hours in Cyberspace project.

“He goes in to U.S. News & World Report and works there, and literally becomes the assistant director of photography there,” recalls Brimberg. “He’s there and he’s together with a lot of different photographers. He loves to pull pictures. He loves to find just the right shot, or find what has been overlooked. And he has a great eye for it. That was right around Tiananmen Square; that year was full of some very big events. He was just getting the film in and going through it like nobody’s business. He loved it. He also loved deadlines. That was something that encouraged him to work harder and so on.”

 

HYPERFOCUS
“Cotton really could hyperfocus, for better or for worse,” remarks Brimberg. “When you hyperfocus, you really forget everything else. I’d say, ‘Oh, Cotton,’ and you just couldn’t penetrate if he was so locked and loaded on what he was doing. I think that came from his upbringing. I think he had seen and experienced things that were a little different, but he used it to his advantage.”

After his stint at U.S. News & World Report, Coulson became a senior vice president at then fledgling CNET Networks, when he recognized the dawning digital age as the inevitable revolution it would become.

At one point, realizing that he and Brimberg couldn’t both be on the road full time and still raise their children, Coulson even sold insurance to photographers, so that Brimberg could continue her career. He was able to work with one of his earliest photographic mentors, an insurance agent with a love of photography. He became their highest-ranked insurance salesman almost immediately. Taking pictures, no matter how far he strayed from a life on assignment, remained the constant thread.

“It followed him through his whole life, this commitment,” Brimberg says. “He had so many careers, but he was always true to photography and always true to his vision. And it’s the love of his…I don’t know, it’s not that it was the love of his life, because he had love for me, he had love for the kids and so on, but it was definitely up there. And he was very true to it.”

“He was always leaning toward art photography,” Brimberg continues, “and I think that’s what his purpose was. He did work on a body of work that was called The Space Between. It was about how you look at an image and then you have to kind of look at it one more time in order for you to see really what it is and what was his idea of what he was photographing. It was not like reality, and it was not abstract, but it was in that realm between the two. And he loved to be in that space. And I think that was also true his whole career.”

BLACK-AND-WHITE
“He also did a lot of black-and-white,” says Brimberg, “because he felt that offered an emotional range that color didn’t. Both of them have great values, and they complement each other more than anything else.”

Coulson’s portfolio reveals a passion for nature, evident in many artful images of landscapes and wildlife. In recent years, he and Brimberg (who officially became photographic partners after 20 years of marriage, even sharing their copyright on images) were working on a meaningful personal project in the Antarctic, filming and photographing the remnants of an abandoned whaling station that represented, in a broad sense, the lasting havoc humans wreak on the natural world. As part of the effort, Coulson produced a short lyrical film titled Remains, which features haunting images of the decimated whaling station in the beautiful, desolate landscape.

Remains reflects Cotton’s creativity and thoughts well,” Brimberg says. “But he had so many different disciplines where he was fantastic.

“In a certain way, between him and me, we worked together and it was always a little bit of, not competition, but when we were downloading pictures and looking through them, it was kind of ah-ha. We were at the same spot and we stood next to each other. And we would do that very often, and most often, it was just because we had zoomed in on the same thing. But then came this little excellent twist, about how I saw this and this really interested me, and so on.”

THE SPACE BETWEEN
While on assignment, Coulson and Brimberg produced narrative photos for National Geographic and abstract art pieces for themselves. The Space Between examines the stories that they felt deserved a second look. The result is a body of images that Coulson was particularly proud of, because they conveyed the emotion and movement of a subject, without a literal interpretation. Intentionally vague, the photos were designed to elicit an emotional response in a way that he felt traditional images could not.

While there are a number of husband-and-wife photographer duos, few worked together so seamlessly as Coulson and Brimberg. The collaboration seemed to create a new photographic vision in their work, the collaboration making the resulting images more powerful.

“We benefitted from it tremendously,” Brimberg remarks. “First of all, we encouraged each other. I think both of us became better as photographers from this relationship, and encouraging both of us forward and finding new things.

“It’s not difficult when you’re two, it’s not difficult to be out there in the streets and work extra-hard and so on. It’s much more difficult when you’re alone. Also, in the whole approach to people in the street, if you’re approaching them—which you most often are not—it’s much easier as a couple because you represent no threat at all. What is this person doing taking pictures? But if you’re two and you say, oh, that’s my husband over there, or, oh, yeah, my wife is standing over there, then it kind of demystifies and makes it much simpler and gives it a whole different flow.”

Whether photographing people, wildlife, landscapes or abstractions, cold climates held a special appeal. Coulson was never quite comfortable working in warm weather. For someone so drawn to the outdoors, perhaps relaxing on a tropical island would be appealing.

“That would not be him,” Brimberg says. “He’s always enjoyed colder places much more than anything warm. He was much more…I wouldn’t say ‘bleak,’ and ‘monochromatic’ is not right either, but he was always drawn toward the colder regions. Whenever he had assignments in hot areas, he didn’t much care for it. He was a cold weather kind of guy.”

FISHERMAN, HALLSTÄTTER SEE, AUSTRIA
Coulson and Brimberg were photographing on assignment for National Geographic Traveler in 2009 when he made this image in predawn light of a fisherman on Hallstätter See, a lake in Austria. It’s an image that’s quite representative of many of Coulson’s loves, as well as his ability to blend documentary photography with fine art.

One beautiful image that combines many of Coulson’s passions—the cold, the sea, humanity, nature, art—is an image from Austria. It’s a simple portrait of a man on a fishing boat, made early one morning while the cold predawn light blankets Lake Hallstatter. Made in 2009, the image would be equally at home in the 17th-century gallery of an old master painter. It’s a remarkable, timeless image that says much about Coulson and his life’s work. It’s an image that National Geographic used in its own tribute to the photographer.

Coulson was clearly successful in defining a niche making images that were as much art as journalism. And, although he may have been most excited about pushing boundaries and embracing the avant-garde, Brimberg says for her, after a lifetime shared and a decade working side by side, it was Coulson’s ability to connect with the people in his viewfinder that was most amazing.

“I still always sway toward his people pictures,” she says. “I still always get amazed over whatever it is that he pulls out of people in that split second. And I’m not sure he really looked at it in quite the same way. He’s more in there with The Space Between than he is the people. But those pictures from the past, where you see piercing eyes or extreme emotions or some tenderness, that was really amazing. Funny enough, we’ve been talking about art and surfaces and things, but if you look at Cotton’s people shots, he’s so in touch with the people in front of him. It’s pretty amazing—their actions, their feelings. I think that he was a very fine photographer for describing people’s feelings. And he always wanted to touch something in your soul. And he said that. The picture, if it did not touch your soul, then it really was not anything worthy.”

Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.

 

 

 

 

Cotton Coulson

January 16, 2016 — Leave a comment
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Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson on assignment in the Arctic

Apologies in the long gap since I last posted a story. We took an unscheduled break after the tragic loss of colleague and close friend Cotton Coulson , who helped establish this blog. It is still hard to process the loss and perhaps the best tribute to our wonderful friend and  talented photographer is to post a selection of his images. In a following post I will link to a article about Cotton, which wife Sisse Brimberg helped to write and is a great tribute to our much loved friend and colleague.  God speed Cotton…

 

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Cotton Coulson died May 27, 2015, while on a diving expedition off the coast of northern Norway. See more of his and Sisse Brimberg’s photography at keenpress.com.

 

Last summer I posted about our adventures with Bob Ballard and the team from production company Lone Wolf while shooting a film for the PBS series NOVA. The show is on tonight and then will be available online

For show details go to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/military/Nazi-Attack-America.html

PBS NOVA

Traveler’s Picks

Traveler’s Picks

by David Wright

Jan 2015

“I miss everyone” (“The broom of the system”, by David Foster Wallace). For David, award-winning filmmaker and photographer, those who stay back at home while he’s away on his expeditions are always with him: Maine, his wife and chef MiMi, and Rosie, “a golden retriever trapped in a poodle’s body” (from Rosie’s fan page, curated by David). His hearty, warm laugh says it all about his personality. Generous, shy and sociable at the same time, he’s the ideal travel companion. A soul that can’t stop getting amazed and sharing his enthusiasm even after years spent travelling all over the world. A curriculum that is difficult to contain within a globe. He knows how to keep a positive attitude even when facing misfortunes and moments of tiredness. We’ve walked with him in the tundra of the Russian Far East. A man so knowledgeable about countries, men and animals, which doesn’t stop being impressed by how much beauty is there still to be found in the world around us. expeditionworkshops.com – Twitter @LunaSeaFilms – Instagram @planetearthpictures

If you could close your eyes and be somewhere else, where would you want to be?

Am I allowed to time travel? If you give me an option like this, I may as well make full use of the opportunity. My choice would be at the table of some good friends that lived in the wine producing district of Victoria, Australia. They ran a small vineyard and farm where my wife and I spent many happy nights eating some of the best food and drinking some of the best wine I have ever tasted. This region, just north of Melbourne, is blessed with some of the best ingredients a chef could want. Combine this with great friends and you have a perfect meal, and times I will always remember. I would recommend a visit to Melbourne and the surrounding wine country to anyone. Sorry Sydney, but in my opinion the restaurants in Melbourne are some of the best in the world. The city is also so ethnically diverse that you can also order just about anything you can imagine.

The restaurant where you feel at home

This is a hard question as my wife is a very talented chef and her cooking is hard to beat. Although we both love food, we also try to eat in an ethical way to minimize our impact on the planet, so eat primarily a plant based diet. That makes restaurant choices challenging. I love food from both SE Asia and India, so gravitate to restaurants serving that kind of food. But to be quite honest, they can be hard to find in the US, so I tend to make the most of these options when traveling…. I might have to disappoint you on this question and say eating with family and friends at either our own home or one of theirs would be my choice, but if I was going to recommend a restaurant, it would be Tasca in the town of Ponta Delgada in the Azores. Strangely enough they cooked me a fabulous Indian dinner, the atmosphere and location were great and our group had a wonderful time. This place felt like eating out at a friend’s home…

A hotel room that makes you nostalgic

I have traveled a lot, but making documentaries often means staying in not the most fancy of hotels or where the average traveller might choose. This can definitely have its benefits, but has also meant staying in some pretty challenging locations as well. One of the most memorable hotels was Mario’s in the town of Broken Hill, Australia (Now The Palace). A Victorian miners hotel, it was kept dark so as not to upset the vision of the men that had been underground all day, but the owner spent years painting the interior to look like the Sistine Chapel. It was used in the classic Australian film Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I still remember waking up to angels on the ceiling in this Outback town also known as the location for the movie Mad Max. But as far as nostalgic, I would have to say a room at the Inn on Little St Simons Island, Georgia in the US. This is where I met my wife, when she was the chef. We spent some very happy years living there before heading to New England. We have gone back to stay at this gem an many occasions and still love the place.

A travel you could do over and over again without getting bored

I love India and have been lucky enough to travel extensively in the southern part of the country. It is a place of extremes and contrasts, the best and the worst, from absolute beauty to the most unimaginable horrors that a person can endure. As a traveller, you see it all, although luckily only have to observe the dark side of the continent. And the good certainly far out weighs the bad! so don’t let my reaction put you off from visiting. I could go back again and again to experience the natural wonders, the kindness and grace of the people, as well as the food, which is always a highlight of any visit! Plus India is also a visual feast, which makes it a photographer’s paradise.

A dish that recently surprised you

I mentioned Tasca in Ponta Delgada. Going to a Portuguese restaurant is not where you would immediately go to find good Indian food but they had it on the menu. I enjoyed a wonderful lentil curry, accompanied by fresh vegetables and great local wine. The place also had classic local dishes that were enjoyed by the group I was working with, which numbered eight. Everyone had some different and were all delighted with their selections. I think the key was that the ingredients were all fresh, good quality and well prepared in a healthy way…. No processed ingredients, just fresh.

A holiday place from your childhood

It’s funny looking back on childhood vacations. For many years my parents packed caravan and took us to the same campsite again and again in North Wales. You would have thought preparations were in place for a journey to some exotic far off land, but in fact we drove to a location that would normally be three or four hours away, but my poor Dad was so scared of towing that he took back roads and made the drive last an entire day, in fact making his experience much worse than it needed to be. Still, there are many happy memories of hiking, fishing and spending time with my Dad and beginning to learn how to use a camera, which has led to a wonderful career. Thankfully more exotic travels have followed, but strangely enough, I would love to tour Wales one more time.

If a kid asked you to take him/her on a trip, where would that be?

I have been lucky enough to see Australia from one side to the other and it is a lucky country thanks to its grandeur, unique and spectacular wildlife and, the great welcome you always receive. The space of the Outback gives you the feel of stepping back in time and that would be a wonderful experience for a child to see a world less impacted by people. (Although as a side note, go see it soon as the Australia I knew is changing due to the lack of support from the Government for environmental concerns such as climate change).

If you could choose a dream place to celebrate, what would that be?

Over the years my wife MiMi has been able to travel with me to many of the locations where we have shot. Sadly the television business has changed a lot and we rarely get to spend the time we used to in the field. For the last few yeas, this has made it hard to bring her along. I know on the occasions she travels and leaves me at home, it is hard to be the one that is left behind, so I greatly value her patience when I return after working in an far off place and regale her with stories of adventures she only gets to share infrequently. So if you asked me to choose a dream place to celebrate, it would be taking her to a place I have been lucky enough to see but not had the chance to share with her. I think I will choose a champagne birthday breakfast overlooking the falls on the King George River in the Kimberley region of Australia. The energy from the cascading water and the endless view make you feel so alive.

A view you will never forget

I have been lucky enough to work in over 50 countries and see some of the great wonders of the world on all seven continents. It’s hard to choose a view from the spectacular waterfalls of the Guyana to dawn over a waterhole in Sri Lanka with herds of elephants taking their morning bath, but if pushed, I think the beaches of South Georgia (and as great as they are, not the South Georgia beaches of the US) like Gold Harbor or Salisbury Plain. To see, hear and smell hundreds of thousands of king penguins, accompanied by elephant seals, fur seals and well as all kinds of other birds is quite incredible. The surrounding mountains frame a scene that is hard to describe. The enormity of the experience and place can perhaps only be understood by people that have been lucky enough to visit.

A place you wish it was just round the corner

While I love South Georgia and wish I could go back to photograph the wildlife and landscape, the place I wish was closer is Australia. I love the land, the wildlife, the forests but most of all have made friendships there that I know will be the most important of my life. As much as the wildlife draws me back as a photographer and filmmaker, these bonds are more important and connections like this make traveling so worthwhile. My wife MiMi and I feel we have a whole other family in Australia, many of who are sadly no longer with us, but that connection never seems to weaken.