Your West Australian Symphony Orchestra isn’t just full to the brim with amazing musicians; the people you see on stage each week are also talented in different areas. Some may surprise you more than others…

WASO Concertmaster Laurence Jackson has dabbled with photography for many years, getting his first ‘serious’ SLR camera as a student in London in the mid-80’s, “I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing and the results were generally somewhere between fair at best, to positively dreadful!”

As a result of his developing interest in the nature world, particularly birds and birdwatching, Laurence became increasingly taken with photography in the late 90’s, “I can remember the very day it started…April 2nd 1999 and a memorable early spring walk I had in the forest across the road from my parents’ house in Berkshire, UK. Every bird I saw was a ‘new’ bird to me and I took lots of notes and soon started investing in field guides and better optics.”

Australian Ringneck Parrot by Laurence Jackson

The better optics bug is something Laurence appears to be stuck with, “It’s now a recognisable condition, known as 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ or GAS, for short. For men, I understand there is no cure at present! I quickly became a nerd, discussing and comparing the ‘chromatic aberrations’ and other minutiae of competing binocular brands in various online forums, much to the frustration of my long suffering wife.”

The move to Perth in late 2015 gave Laurence a new challenge due to the contrast between European and Australian wildlife, “I had to start to learn a whole new flock, as it were. The good light and weather here also reawakened my love of photography, which had lapsed somewhat over the previous years and since that time, I have been enjoying the many wonderful spots you can see birdlife in and around the city.”

Mistletoe bird by Laurence Jackson

In photography, light and timing is everything, “You can be blessed with far too much light here and unless you make a very early start, pre-dawn ideally, there can be too much light to deal with and everything quickly gets washed out and rather glary.” To secure the best shots, Laurence often goes out in the late afternoon or early evening when he’s a little less busy, “The softening light becomes more golden and forgiving and can give a lovely focus and texture to the feathers and especially the bird's eye, if you are lucky.”

When photographing birds, Laurence looks for interesting or bizarre behaviour to capture something a bit different, “I think my favourite photos are flying shots, known as BIFs (Birds in flight). They can be the most frustrating shots due to the speed and agility of the bird and your camera settings have to be spot on, but also the most rewarding when you do get them... I just love the challenge!”

Laurence aims to produce a 2021 calendar featuring his 12 favourite photos, so watch this space.

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