Our Members

Insights - Sue Buckland, 27 March 2021

Insights - occasional articles about our club members - Sue Buckland DPAGB, 27 March 2021
This is a little trip down ‘memory lane’ and those days (not so long ago!) when we took our photographs with film - which is when Sue became interested in photography. She has always enjoyed taking pictures, but I suspect like so many of us, did struggle a little bit with film. It was always exciting to collect her prints, but sometimes disappointing to see what she had captured – perhaps not getting everything in the image or in focus – she would say some things don’t change, I would disagree! But of course, digital cameras came on the scene which helped Sue regain her interest, the advantage being that she can see instantly if an image is worth keeping and can delete it if not!

As a child, Sue was lucky to live on a farm and thus enjoyed getting out and about in nature. Like so many of us recently, she found it relaxing, being able to immerse her herself in the sights and sounds around her, the photography was a bonus. In 2002 Sue experienced a ‘disc bulge’ in her lower back and was advised that walking was one of the best forms of exercise for her to do, so she and Tim started going out for walks. Eventually, Tim started to take a camera and Sue did the spotting; after a while he gave her one of his cameras and the rest is history! They now do less walking, but still lots of spotting!

With Sue working as part of the Property Team at Dorset Council, coincidentally Jane Lee was her Manager and when she heard that Sue and Tim took photographs, she encouraged them to join the Club which they did in 2010.

Sue’s photographic journey had begun. She and Tim really enjoy their visits to Wales, particularly Skokholm and Skomer to see the Puffins, the latter stemming from Sue’s childhood when she was given a picture puzzle and always wanted to see them for real – they are so characterful and of course, she was not disappointed. In addition, the haunting sound of the Manx Shearwaters at night was also a memorable part of the trips too. Unsurprisingly, they will certainly be making a return to this area soon.

All visits need a bit of planning and for Sue, if they are on a holiday, then they will decide where they wish to go and what time they plan to leave the day before; with this in mind, Sue will get the camera ready, charge the batteries (always a good thing!) and get the bag packed with her ‘essentials’ the night before – getting up early is not her forte! – so if everything is ready, all she needs to do is get up and dressed. Of course, living with a postman you become accustomed that ‘early’ is not a problem for him, but you know it will be worth it.

We all know that Sue, along with Tim, have their favourite local haunts. She loves Radipole, Lodmoor and Arne, but enjoys trips just a little further away to the Somerset Levels – each has their own diverse range of wildlife and are fantastic to immerse yourself in. She has had amazing experiences in all of these places, mainly because she arrives early – there is nothing better than to enjoy the sounds of the Bearded Tits, Bittern and of course, the Dartford Warblers.

However, Sue and Tim’s journeys have not just been in the UK. They have taken their cameras to Africa, New Zealand, Hungary and Romania. In Africa they joined a photographic safari and really enjoyed seeing the wildlife, but did not like the way the vehicles crowded the animals. Sue has visited New Zealand several times on holiday and to visit her brother who lives there, particularly for his wedding, when she took photos of the big day.

Hungary and Romania were very much wildlife photography holidays (with Saker Tours) which gave them the opportunity to see some amazing wildlife on the Danube River and in Hortobagy National Park in Hungary. They also booked a trip to see Brown Bears in Transylvania.

Over the years, experience has played a major part of Sue’s photography and for her the best piece of advice given was simply to learn about and get to know your subject, allow it space and do not disturb it! Remember that you are a ‘visitor’ in its home and listen to the advice given by the locals and/or guides.

With so many visits to different places, there has to be a story to tell – and here it is! On one of their visits to Radipole Lake in Weymouth, they happened to be sitting at opposite ends in a hide (which has since gone!), when Tim said “Sue the Spoonbill is coming your way”, at which point it landed almost too close for her camera to focus (typical!). It was the first time Sue had seen a Spoonbill and certainly not expecting it to land that close to the hide. It looked straight down the camera lens and then flew off! She managed to get one photo (not necessarily sharp!).

Unbeknown to many of us, Sue used to ride motorcycles before she passed her car test, and so has a huge amount of respect for those riders who can corner with their knee to the ground in the pouring rain and not fall off! As a result, she absolutely loves watching motorcycle racing and on occasion she has taken her camera with her, as proven by us seeing some of her dramatic photographs on the racing circuit.

Portrait or people photography is really not her ‘thing’, partly because she is not comfortable having her photo taken and would struggle to get the confidence to speak / ask people for her to take their photo. That said, she and Tim tried something completely out of their comfort zone and went on an RPS photographic session taking pictures of a model, which proved very interesting and turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable day, resulting in some pictures that Sue is quite pleased with.

So, having dipped her toes in some different genres, is there a favourite image? Not quite, but several images she is really pleased with, mainly because they are not her usual type of photography and interestingly, ‘out of her comfort zone’!

An image which Sue called ‘Partial Illumination’ was not just a portrait, but also about the lighting. There is also the image from a Hugh Alban workshop, where she had captured the sunset with a slow shutter speed – the water was splashing the lens and she had to keep wiping it off, but you would never know! And more recently, her photos of Bude Pool when it was stormy, the light suddenly changed and she really liked the effect it gave to the images.

Now what camera kit will you find in Sue’s bag? Quite a lot actually! When she started she used a Fuji FinePix S5600 and it was not long before Tim bought her a Canon EOS 400 and in turn she bought a 100-400mm lens. Sue then upgraded to a Canon 50D and she now has a Canon 5D Mark IV. Alongside this, she mostly uses a Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary Lens (lighter than the sport model) usually on a tripod (or monopod for sport). Initially, she had been known to carry a tripod around with her – and not use it, but now she has a gimbal style head, it is getting used a lot more.

Other lenses which can be found tucked away are a Canon 70-200mm, although a faster lens than the Sigma, it has less range, together with a 2x Converter it is slower, but a good mid-range distance lens. A Canon 28-70mm, Canon 17-40mm wide angle and lastly, a Canon 100mm Macro.

It doesn’t stop there – also to be found are Lee filters - 6 stop and graduated filters for slow shutter speed on water and toning down the sky. As Sue is beginning to try new areas of photography, she is using the smaller lenses a lot more, but still defaults back to the Wildlife.

For Sue, with lockdown and the change in circumstance of having to work from home, she has struggled to get the enthusiasm for photography due to sitting at the desk for a lot of the day and then all evening, which has not been good for her. Like so many of us, this has not been a time of motivation or inspiration to pick up our cameras. That said, she is trying her hand at some Still Life photography – we shall look forward to seeing her images in the future.


~ Janine Scola
Puffin in Flight with Sandeels by Susan Buckland