Interview with Paul Wu

10 December 2010 No Comment

NPX: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Paul: My interest in photography started in the early 70’s, nothing really glorious then. I was the only Kampong photographer armed with Seagull (Hai-O) slr shooting for free most of the times. Rewards given in those days were barely enough for the cost of film, printing and tit-bits. In the late 70s, with the Nikon FEs and FMs, I was able to make some money shooting wedding, school activities and some kampong events for the folks, and that was the time I truly engrossed with photography because I was able to support my hobby thru my works.

But I stopped photography almost completely in the late 80s and early 90s due to commitment and work. I had a Toshiba 4mp PnS just for fun, which was a birthday present and I still keep it in my dry box. And when I laid my hands on a D300 a few years ago I was really shocked with its output. Now, at 50years old with the D3s, I feel like a teenager again yearning to go out everyday for birding. It looks like there is no turning back!

NPX: How long have you been interested nature photography? And also how you started.

Paul: Nature has been my passion since the early days. But for bird photography, I only started in June last year. I was visiting a friend with my D300 and 70-200mm, and saw a Sunbird bathing on a lotus leaf in his garden! The Sunbird was trying hard to stay on the wobbling and slippery leaf and it fell several times. I took some shots and have a good laugh. When I viewed the images at night I realized there were so much detail and colours on its feather, I fell in love with birds at once! As similar in life, we tend to ignore the beauties around us, all we need is just to pay a little bit more of attention and you would appreciate for a lot of things that god has given us.

NPX: What do you like about it in particular?

Paul: For my age, being able to photograph beautiful birds while enjoying the nature is the ultimate pleasure I can think of without going broke.

NPX: What’s your photography techniques and how you learn them?

Paul: I learnt the basic when I was a teenager, mostly from books and magazines. I even took up a course in B&W photography in the university but I almost failed badly! LOL.
But for birds, I did view thru’ hundred of images in forums and blogs and practice for months before I finally got the confidence to walk in the forest alone taking pictures of birds. Nowadays you can ‘Google’ almost anything on earth, which makes learning a lot easier, cheaper and quicker.
I am also extremely happy onboard the NPX forum in which the sifus here are always willing to guide and advice whenever helps are needed.

NPX: Were there any photographer(s) that you like and influences your style?

Paul: I don’t really know what I like initially to be honest. When I view thru some of pics with super-duper creamy b/g, I get bored easily. Those pics tell me nothing about the nature the birds are associated with, and don’t get me wrong here, I do enjoy viewing and having them, just that those are not essential or in priority in my style of photography. A picture that shows some of the bird’s habitat simply interests me more.

NPX: What is the stuff in your dry cabinet? What are the items in your bag during birding?

Paul: I am down to rather basic for birds and general shooting of family events.
D3s, LX3,
24-70mm 2.8, 50mm 1.8Ai, 85mm 1.4, 300mm F4, 500mm VR F4, TC1.4, SB900 plus a couple of filters and accessories.

For birding, all into the bag that you’d just sold me!
D3s + 500mm + TC1.4 + Shutter remote, 300mm F4
Nikon Monarch 8×36, LX3, SB900+SC29, beamer, blower, lenspen, lens tissue, talkies, spare camera batteries, spare CFs, and insect repellent spray.

NPX: Which is your favorite bird species and why?

Paul: If I said Kingfisher I must be lying! Personally I find shooting babblers, migratory raptors, and waders are more interesting as well as challenging. Hence I don’t really have a favorite species at the moment.

NPX: Which other genres of nature photography you’d like to pursue in the future? Why is it so?

Paul: When you are getting old, change is always the last thing you had in mind. So it is unlikely I would pursue other genres. I have done macro, wedding, portraiture, landscape, sports in the past and I must say nothing is more additive and challenging than bird photography.

But now I am getting the kick of blogging. Attached a few pictures of scenery and gave a short story makes the whole thing a lot more interesting and everything just comes alive. At least this works for me. Now I spend much time reading other blogs on nature and birds than browsing through forum viewing pictures of birds. I totally enjoy reading them and have learnt much about birds from them.

NPX: While pursuing your hobby, what is your most memorable moment to date?

Paul: It has to be the “half-headed-blood-dripping” monkey and the Barred-eagle Owl’s story. When Harry and his wife told me about the owl on my arrival in Pant, I told them I have seen enough Owls, then his wife said in excitement “Got monkey leh!!” I almost broke into laughter, and replied that I would proceed to go to the bunker trail, just when I was about to leave, she almost screamed in disbelief” PAUL! the owl is eating the monkey on that tree now, now…!!”
Thanks to them, those shots are priceless and memorable I must say.

NPX: What are the challenges you’ve faced

Paul: Photographing birds in general is not that difficult with today’s advanced technology in photography equipment, it is finding them to shoot with proper natural lighting is tough and challenging, as you know I am still new in this field so I find it quite a challenge, especially I am so used to birding alone nowadays. The more you understand about them, the easier it is to get a good shot. With the FX now, I am learning how to approach them close without scaring them. You would be really surprise to hear that most species could be approached within 10’ as along as you don’t start firing on first contact unless they are hyper active like Nuthatches and babblers or super rare species like the BBKF.

NPX: Please share with us a couple of your favorite images accumulated over the years. Please describe to us why you like these images.

Paul: Monkey and owl

Black & Yellow Broadbill was singing inches above my head and took me more than 10mins to locate it!

Black & Red Broadbills, I spent hours walking around them without eye contact and eventually I was able to get close to them and shoot for an hour.

Spent almost 3-4 times a week over 2months with the juvenile CHE

Blyth’s Hawk-eagle, waited inside car almost 2hours due to foggy weather and finally able to get some decent pictures with low ISO.

Fledging of the Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo – my very first witness on fledging.

Nesting of the SRT, something I would never have dreamt of shooting!

NPX: Thanks for your time!

Wait, Ender said I would be paid S$50-00 for the interview right?

NPX: ??? LOL

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