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Wildlife Photographer George Turner Talks To ePHOTOzine

We asked George about his favourite locations and photos. We also find out which items of kit he thinks are 'criminally good'.

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George Turner

© George Turner

George Turner is originally from Dorset, and he has become a very successful wildlife and exploration photographer under his nickname George the Explorer. A lifetime user of Nikon kit, we spoke to him about his work and what he thinks of Nikon's cameras and lenses.



Tell us a bit about yourself - how did you discover photography?

My upbringing was rooted in nature, living on a farm in rural Dorset. I was forever out in the woods finding badgers, foxes, deer, and birds. At that time, I was using low-end film cameras but enjoyed the process. When I turned 16, I saved up for digital point-and-shoot which changed everything! Then, at 18, my first DSLR (D3000) opened up an entirely new world; I became far more purposeful and strategic with the way I approached photography. Forward wind nearly 12 years and I'm fortunate enough to call myself a full-time wildlife photographer!

 

George Turner

© George Turner


How long have you been a professional photographer?

I've been photographing wildlife as my full-time vocation for nearly 4 years now, which I still find absolutely bananas.


George the explorer is a great tagline for your photography. How did that come about?

Unfortunately I wasn't blessed with a memorable name -- although I'd never change it, it's not great for branding! George the Explorer started initially as a joke among friends but quickly, I realised how easily it 'stuck'. So, I ran with it!

 

George Turner

© George Turner


What is it about the exploration and wildlife photography that draws you in?

Wildlife photography is incredibly multifaceted. There's the element of technical skill - as with all forms of photography - but unlike other genres, an innate understanding of your subject and fieldcraft are vital. I've learnt so much in the past few years that (in my mind at least!) I've practically done a zoology course. All of this combined results in the most tremendous sense of satisfaction when you get 'that' shot. 


Do you have a favourite location?

Although I travel all over, my favourite spot will always be home. That is, Dorset. The River Stour is a particular favourite, mostly because I've come to know the local otter population there very well. Photographers from all over the world have contacted me assuming they [the otters] were found on Mull/in Scotland, then are very surprised when I tell them otherwise!

George Turner

© George Turner


How about a favourite photo or project? Tell us about how it came together.

My favourite photo is called "A Magical Shower". For some time, I'd envisioned capturing a big cat - any cat - in heavy, heavy rain backlit by a setting sun. The chances were immensely slim but I travelled a few times to the Serengeti in February, the best chance to capture these conditions. On one Tuesday afternoon, everything came together. The rain came, sun shone, and out of nowhere came a cheetah. Fantastic example of the perfect blend of luck and planning!


When did you start using Nikon kit and what is it that makes it work for you?

I've always used Nikon, since my very first DSLR. Having used full-frames now for many years, I'd never switch. First, the ergonomics and durability, which is vital as a wildlife photographer. Nikon kit handles incredibly well and believe me, I've tested bodies/lenses in the harshest of conditions. From heavy rain through to -50c in Canada, I've never had an issue. 


What's your favourite body and lens combo at the moment and why? 

The D5 and 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII is almost criminally good. Undoubtedly the fastest combo out there, with the D5's 12 FPS and 70-200's super quick speed, there's nothing that comes close.

 

 George Turner

© George Turner


Talk to us about Nikon's 'In Pursuit Of Light' project - what is the pursuit of light to you, and how did your lovely silhouette image present itself?

The pursuit of light is an internal chase, manipulating conditions to produce your vision. We can't control light but we can create and adapt. The silhouette image is an example of that -- waiting for the soft, golden tones after sunset and spending time with my subject.


If you could give 3 top tips to someone starting out in wildlife photography, what would they be?

First, learn about your subject. Capturing the essence of a species is key in wildlife photography plus, knowledge allows you to find it! Second, practice. Don't wait for big East Africa trips, get out into the fields and find red kites, hares, deer, foxes. We've plenty of wildlife in the U.K. to hone your craft with. Finally, look to your peers for inspiration. Now, more than ever, boundaries are constantly being pushed.

 

George Turner

© George Turner


What do you have lined up for the rest of the year?

I'm off to the Isle of Mull next week for otters and white-tailed eagles, then soon after to Ethiopia for Ethiopian wolves. Then it'll be jaguars in the Pantanal, back to my beloved Okavango Delta, polar bears in Canada, capping the year off by leading a photographic workshop in Kenya!

 

Is there somewhere that you'd like to go, or something that you'd like to photograph, that you haven't had chance to yet?

The absolute top of my list is photographing Arabian leopards in Oman. With less than 200 left, they're incredibly elusive and notoriously hard to find. I'd relish the chance to tell their story with my lens.

 

Find out more about Nikon's In Pursuit Of Light project in our feature.

 

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