John recalls a wild time behind the lens

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Curious penguins, dodgy camera hides and New York falcons all featured in a fascinating talk by wildlife photographer and videographer John Aitchison.

Around 200 people packed Lochgilphead Joint Campus on Friday January 12 and were enthralled as he regaled them with tales from his career.

Blending some stunning still images with equally remarkable video footage taken from some of the TV programmes he has worked on, John recalled the irrepressible curiosity of Antarctica’s Emperor Penguins before showing a film of hyenas encouraged to prowl the streets of an Ethiopian town due to their ability to ward off evil spirits.

He offered a tantalising insight into the ingenious techniques used in capturing the footage we enjoy in programmes such as Planet Earth, The Hunt, Big Cat Diaries, Frozen Planet, Life Stories and Springwatch. High-tech super slow motion cameras are a valuable tool, but would be worthless without footage – and this is often gathered over weeks and months of waiting. Patience is a virtue but, as John explained, the best wildlife footage often carries an element of being in the right place at the right time.

Looking back on a long career spent travelling the globe, he said: ‘It has been a remarkable 30 years. One of the pleasures has been meeting a lot of really interesting and fun people everywhere I’ve been.’

Closer to home, he added: ‘We are really fortunate here in Scotland. We have some fantastic wildlife right on our doorstep such as otters, seabirds and eagles. Where we live is world class in terms of wildlife.’

He closed with subtle plug. This autumn a new, as-yet-unnamed BBC wildlife series will be aired featuring family groups of animals across many different species. John himself filmed a family of lions for the series.

At the end of January we can also look forward to the next instalment of Winterwatch, he revealed, with footage from Islay included.

John closed by signing copies of his book ‘The Shark and the Albatross’ for a crowd of eager fans.

The event, organised by the Mid Argyll Fundraising Group for Marie Curie, raised £1,309 for the charity.

Fundraiser Jenny Brolly said: ‘It was a really great evening and a brilliant turnout. John generously donated a proportion of the proceeds from his books.

‘Thanks to John for coming along and we are very appreciative of his time.’


John Aitchison, left, signs a copy of the book for Andy Paton. The book will be a birthday present for Andy’s six-year-old son. 06_a03JohnAitchison02

John’s new book – on sale in all good book shops. 06_a03JohnAitchison01


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