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Wildlife photographer shares experiences
WILDLIFE cameraman Doug Allan wowed the audience at Salisbury Arts Centre on Sunday with incredible pictures and fascinating stories about his work filming animals in extreme situations.
Even those who don’t know his name will probably have witnessed his handiwork as Allan has been behind the camera on many of the BBC’s hugely successful series such as Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, Life, Planet Earth and Ocean Giants.
The arts centre audience was treated to almost three hours of stories, photos and film clips giving a taster of Allan’s extraordinary career.
Allan was working as a diver for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) when meeting naturalist Sir David Attenborough changed his life.
Sir David and a film crew came to the BAS base and Allan helped them for a couple days before deciding he wanted to become a cameraman.
He has since worked with Sir David on many hugely successful series, and the naturalist has said: “For me, wildlife cameramen don’t come much more special than Doug. There’s just no one else who knows these frozen worlds as he does.”
In one of the clips Allan showed, he demonstrated his commitment to what he does.
He and his wife Sue Flood, also a wildlife cameraman, were filming a whale and her calf when Flood was hit by the calf’s tail and dropped her camera. Allan made the decision to save the camera before it was lost to the ocean floor rather than help his wife - something he joked he is still trying to make up for.
With stories about Inuit people, drilling through 10ftthick sea ice to film underwater and the world’s biggest carnivore the polar bear, Allan had the audience enthralled throughout.
As someone who has spent a great deal of time at both poles and has seen the effects climate change is having on the wildlife, he made a heartfelt plea for people to really consider it more seriously and said polar bears in particular face a “rather uncertain future”.
He finished by answering questions from the audience, including on the topic of the veracity of the footage they show.
Allan said: “I always feel it’s my job to get down and observe what’s happening but not change the outcome.
It’s really important that our presence does not tip the odds in favour of the predator or the prey. You may witness several scenarios and it then becomes the producer’s decision which you show.
“If you want to make one of the animals something of a character that can drive the storyline – you don’t want to bump off your main character halfway through and the audience feels more attached if it can just get away.
“But with the Weddell seals we couldn’t do that. We saw 50 attacks by the Orcas and never saw a Weddell seal get away. We could’ve filmed it to seem like it had but that would have been untruthful.”
* Allan is on a UK tour until October 28 and his book Freeze Frame is out now. For more information go to dougallan.com.
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