How did you get started on wildlife photography?
I used to travel around Asia, capturing different interesting shots after I bought my first compact camera. It was then when I realised nothing interested me more than nature and wildlife. As my passion for photography grew, I bought my first DSLR, a Nikon D70s in 2006 and decided to focus on nature and wildlife. This year hence marks my tenth year in wildlife photography. Time flies!
What was the turning moment that made you pursue photography with a purpose to educate people on endangered wildlife?
Being awarded the Grand Prize at the Windland Smith Rice International Photo Awards in 2012 and having my winning work exhibited in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum was the moment that bolstered my confidence to pursue this path. At the start, it was a challenge balancing building a financially sustainable photography business alongside organising talks and exhibitions to educate more people about endangered wildlife. It was ‘blood, sweat and tears’ but a very fulfilling journey for me. Looking back, I wouldn’t have it done any other way.
You grew up in Singapore, a city and a small country. How do you get city dwellers to start doing their part in conserving wildlife, something they normally do not experience first-hand?
For me, I use the power of visuals to shed light on the plight of wildlife in the region and inspire more people to connect with Mother Nature. Only when we appreciate the beauty and importance of nature, will we want to protect it. I hope to help others forge that connection through my photos. To quote Roald Dahl, “Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world.” Whether we are teachers, scientists, film-makers or parents, I believe we can all make a positive difference in our own way.
Tell us about a recent photography expedition to Borneo
I’ve been travelling to different parts of Borneo every year since 2006. This expedition was quite different as I was on an assignment and had the pleasure of using the newly released Nikon D500.
Travelling in November, it was the rainy season which made locating wildlife even that more challenging. However, several of my shots that were taken in really low light / low contrast and unpredictable conditions were saved by the camera I had with me. The combination of the new 153-point AF system and a speed of 10fps ensured that movement was captured with precision and sharpness, while the compact DX-format body allowed for better manoeuvrability when shooting in the field. The D500 is a game changer for wildlife photographers, and I had a really productive trip with some amazing shots.
What are your wildlife photography kit must-haves?
I pack my Nikon DSLRs, and the AF VR Zoom-NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED, and I’m ready to go.
Along with good kit, research and patience are the keys to wildlife photography. Photographers usually spend about 15% of the trip planning and research about the subject and habitat before making the trip. Great wildlife photography starts with extensive research on the location and environment to maximise my chances of spotting wildlife and knowing the best places to photograph them.
Discover concentrated performance with the Nikon D500