Public Republic random header image

Art McLeod: Respect the people and wildlife you encounter and respect your environment

December 24, 2009 by · 1 comment

Yana Radilova’s interview with the photographer Art McLeod

Art mcLeod

My name is Art McLeod. I have been a nature photographer for many years. I grew up in Northern Ontario, Canada. My parents are wildlife photographers and have been ever since I was a child. We spent a lot of time in the wilderness and that had a big influence on my choice of wildlife and nature for my photography. I am currently living in Southern Ontario and live in a nature-rich area where I spend a lot of my time out taking photographs in all seasons, in all kinds of weather.

I have been a part-time editor for Public-Republic for some time and have enjoyed reading the interviews from people from around the world. I am currently running several websites. My main site has been running for about 5 years. I also have a myspace page and deviantArt page.

When I saw your photos for the first time, I was mostly inspired by the way you find beauty in small things. Do you think people nowadays neglect the little details of the world?

It’s a fast-paced world and I think a lot of people don’t sit still long enough to appreciate the little details. When I am out looking for a particular subject, I try to be aware of the other surroundings and the other treasures that are sometimes right in front of you. If you don’t slow down, you’ll miss them.


What message do you send to people through you wildlife photography?

I try to send the message that there are some fascinating things going on in nature and worth exploring. It could be as simple as a bee on a flower or as exciting as lightning striking all around you.


Do you think wild nature is more fascinating than human art?

I find the variety of nature more appealing than human art. I think the rural area I grew up in and where I live contribute to that choice. I also like the fact that if I mess up a photograph of a bird or miss a lightning strike, I answer to nobody but myself for it.


It was said by Blaise Pascal that “Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.” Do you agree that everything in nature is significant?

I would agree with that statement. It may be to a large or small extent, but everything is significant to some point.


If you were an animal, which would you choose to be?

I think this is a tough choice to make. If I could choose from any animal in the world, it would have to be a dolphin. If I had to choose from the animals that I have encountered, then if would have to be a great gray owl.


Does photography reveal any secrets to you? What is the greatest mystery you have discovered during your career?

I have seen some interesting things since I have started nature photography. I have seen a pair of Merlins (small falcons) return to the same tree for three years in a row during the raptor migration. They would hunt together from this tree for about two weeks and I wouldn’t see them for the rest of the year.


I have also found storm chasing very interesting. This probably isn’t a mystery or a secret but when lightning hits right next to you, the thunder is very intimidating.

Something else that I found curious was, when I was taking a photo of a bee, it was buzzing about, then stopped in mid-air and seemed to be looking at a spider, then moved on.


What qualities are needed for a wildlife photographer?

One quality that has to be at the top of the list is patience. You have to be prepared to spend time in the field. You also have to be prepared for the fact that you may not take one decent photo while you are out there. Personally, I enjoy just being out there. I grew up out in nature with my parents and will never tire of it. They have been and still are the biggest influence in my life and accomplished nature photographers themselves.


How could you describe Nature with three words?

Peaceful, unpredictable and inspiring.


Is Nature your only source of inspiration?

My parents have been my biggest source of inspiration; they are nature photographers and have been for decades. So I guess nature has been my inspiration in a way.


In your photos, you always try to show the beautiful side of Nature. Wouldn’t it be interesting for you to shoot a natural disaster?

It would be very interesting to photograph tornadoes, but I don’t think I would enjoy shooting a disaster where people would be in harm’s way.


How do you see the future of wildlife photography?

Wildlife photography is a fast growing hobby and I think if more people got into it, maybe it would help people respect the environment more.


Are there any risks for wildlife photographers and how should beginners deal with them?

There are a few risks, if you are careful and use common sense, they can be avoided. I spend hours in the field alone and you have to be conscious of your surroundings. If you are walking, trip and fall, it could be a struggle getting back to your vehicle. You have to be careful when in an area you are not familiar with. Getting lost is a very serious issue. I carry a compass with me in these situations. You also have to be careful around open water, in all seasons, but winter can be very serious. I have ice cleats that I where to prevent slipping on the ice. You also have to know the wildlife you are shooting and keep your distance.


Imagine that tomorrow is the end of the world. What would be your last photo?

It would probably be the photo that I took yesterday, because I certainly wouldn’t be out taking wildlife photos knowing the world was going to end.


Give your expert advice to talented photographers who are in their apprenticeship!

My advice would be, get to know your equipment. Not just your camera, the processing methods as well. Be aware of the subjects you are shooting, the lighting, and the background. Sometimes when shooting wildlife, these variables can change quickly. When this happens you have to be able to make adjustments very quickly. It could be your ISO level, focal point or f-stop. You have to know how to change these in seconds not minutes. Use your histogram in the field; it will give you vital information on your exposure.

Another thing that you should always have is power and cf cards. There is nothing worse than a battery dying in the field or running out of space on your card. Some of these seem like small things to be concerned about, but when your battery is dead and an eagle flies past you 20 feet away, and you miss it, you will not let it happen again.


Make a wish for the New Year!

My wish for the New Year goes to everyone who reads this. I wish you would all take the time to sit and appreciate what’s happening around you when you are out and about. Get to know a conservation area near you. Respect the people and wildlife you encounter and respect your environment.


Thank you very much for this interview! Public Republic wishes you great success in your career, infinite inspiration and eternal devotion to Nature!

Thank you very much and thank you for the invite to do this interview. I appreciate your interest and I have enjoyed being a part of the Public Republic team.

Related posts ↓

1 comment so far ↓

  • Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!