Nature and wildlife photographer Geraint Radford is as passionate about protecting his subjects as he is about photographing them.
How many of us are lucky enough to say we really love our jobs? Lucky enough to roll out of bed on a Monday morning and think: ‘yes, I was born to do this’. Geraint Radford is one of those fortunate folk. Although based near Swansea, the Welshman was raised surrounded by the majesty of the Rhondda Valley and rolling hills (plus their inhabitants), all of which made a lasting impression that shaped his career choice.
“I think I was born to work in the outdoors. When I was a teenager, around 2009, I got a compact camera and when I found that Macro button, my life changed forever,” explains Geraint, who’s ascent from amateur to professional has been rapid. “I was shooting subjects I love– nature and wildlife – and sharing them on social media. I was also shooting commercial and wedding photography too, but when print sales started to increase my business grew from there and last year I felt ready to dive full-time into nature photography.”
Geraint describes his photography as ‘ethically-based all-round nature photography’, but this is a little too modest. In truth, Geraint donates a percentage from every print sale to animal charities, particularly those that bear the burden of looking after injured wildlife. This is just one example of what separates jobbing snappers from serious professionals like Geraint, who pick up the camera to help conservation, not just pay the bills. Another important factor that deﬁnes Geraint’s imagery is his desire to not simply single out a subject, but to tell a story by showing the animal or insect in its natural environment.
Take a look through the imagery on his website or social pages and it’s clear Geraint has a clear love for macro photography. It can be a tricky genre to get right, but Geraint found that switching systems was the key to unlocking the potential of the scene. “I was using a DSLR but always felt I was ﬁghting against the camera. Then I was invited to try out some Olympus equipment via the brand’s Pro Loan programme,” he explains. Switching full-frame for Micro Four-Thirds was a ‘stars aligning’ moment and it appears his OM-D E-M1 Mark II has all the features needed for macro photography. “A really neat feature I often use is the Focus Stacking mode, which combines multiple images to produce a single sharp shot. Most of my macro work is done in manual focus – the camera highlights the ‘in-focus’ areas when I’m making adjustments so I can see where the optimal sharpness will be. When photographing an insect I will adjust the focus until the Focus Peaking function highlights the eyes and then ﬁre the shutter – it always works a charm,” says Geraint, who lets slip that damselﬂies are his favourite subject to shoot on location.
Geraint pairs the OM-D E-M1 Mark II with an Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 for wildlife photography – the effective focal length of 600mm allows him to not only keep a safe distance from subjects such as deer for his own protection, but also enables him to capture frame-ﬁlling shots without encroaching on the animal’s territory and causing them needless stress. As a lover of macro though, Geraint confesses he doesn’t go a day without some sort of close-up photography; the Welsh native’s favourite lens is the Olympus 60mm macro. “This is the sharpest macro lens I’ve owned. It gives amazing bokeh, the images have a wonderful quality and it’s a great working distance to not disturb the insects and cause them to ﬂy away.”
While the lens selection helps Geraint get closer to subjects, it’s the features within the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II that help capture the action. For wildlife on the move, Geraint takes advantage of the 18 frames-per- second burst rate and he appreciates the 121-point AF system, which covers the frame: “In photography, composition is key to capturing interesting pictures. Being able to place a focus point anywhere in the viewﬁnder really helps and allows me to think more creatively.”
Geraint says he hopes his images are a celebration of nature, rather than just a record of it and is conscious of the balance that nature and wildlife photographers face. “If I take an image of an insect or animal, I feel like I’m the only one beneﬁting from the exchange so that’s why I donate a percentage of my sales to charity,” he explains. In fact, Geraint has gone even further, starting an initiative called NatureShip UK with friend and fellow photographer Rob Cottle, with the aim of running ethically-balanced nature photography workshops, again with the target of beneﬁting animal and nature charities by donating some of the proﬁts. With Geraint’s committed and passionate style of photography, it’s not only viewers of these fantastic images that beneﬁt from his considered and technically assured approach to picture-taking, it’s also all creatures big and small who get something back too – and that’s setting a great example to fellow professional and amateurs alike.
Geraint’s skills as a nature photographer, combined with the superb performance of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II mirrorless system, allows him to capture stunning images.
Article featured in Digital SLR Photography Magazine in July 2018