19 Jul 2019
Written for Hardback
David Tipling’s work will be well-known to most birders and a quick check back through the years shows him being a finalist in the BB Bird Photographer of the Year competition six times between 1991 and 2001, after which he was appointed as one of the judges. Over the years he has developed his work from getting shots of many of Britain’s best and most memorable rare vagrants to undertaking expeditions to photograph Emperor Penguins Aptenodytes forsteri
in remote corners of Antarctica. His photographs have been exhibited in New York’s Times Square, the Nikon Gallery in Japan and the Mall Galleries in London.
This book charts the path that he took from the very first bird photograph in 1978 – a Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
(on black and white film using a Zenith camera with a Vivitar 400 mm lens) to the current day (using three different Nikon cameras and a range of top quality lenses). The images are presented in chronological order with around 100-300 words for each explaining the story behind the photograph. Indeed, some of you may find yourselves included in the shots – maybe watching the incredibly tame Baillon’s Crake Porzana pusilla
in Mowbray Park in May 1989, or in the admiring crowd enjoying the White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
at Cley in January 2008.
The chosen photographs cover so many aspects of David’s portfolio and include a pottery mosaic of a Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus
in a toilet block in Carthage, Tunisia and a tray full of Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis
skins at the British Museum in Tring. Unlike many photographers, David makes full use of black and white imagery and experiments with slow shutter speeds – such as for a pre-roost gathering of Rooks Corvus frugilegus
in Norfolk, with perched birds in focus and a swirling mass of others arriving in flight. Instead of shooting the classic shot of King Penguins Aptenodytes patagonicus
at Salisbury Plain in South Georgia that every visitor has taken endless times, he takes the image from the hillside above, showing a completely different aspect on the awesome spectacle. An image of a Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus
from Spain is perhaps one that other photographers would have deleted, but this image, which is badly affected by heat haze, has a strange beauty that captures the bird’s cautious approach – stooping and looking wary. There are also several photographs of people who interact with birds – including Tari tribeswomen in Papua New Guinea and a wildfowler with his decoys in Nebraska, USA.
This is a great book for inspiring anyone to go out and travel with a camera. For me, the shot of the Mongolian eagle hunters on horseback (used for the cover of his book with Mark Cocker – Birds & People
, Jonathan Cape, 2013) always conjures up that emotion inside me to go somewhere amazing. Everyone will have a favourite in this book, and that one is mine.