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Sidcup photographer to show exhibition of his wildlife pictures in Dartford

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 January 2019

Richard Winston's photo of two lions will feature in his exhibition at the Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, in April.

Richard Winston's photo of two lions will feature in his exhibition at the Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, in April.

Archant

A beautiful fluke moment in a classroom was the inspiration for one teacher to take up photography and he has enjoyed some amazing success.

Now he is putting on his biggest show at the Mick Jagger Centre, Dartford, in April.

Richard Winston, of Sidcup, said: “There will be at least 100 framed pictures on display of wildlife photographed in various countries around the world over the past 10 years or so. Apart from showcasing my own photography, the aim is also to encourage recruitment to the Bexleyheath Photographic Society, of which I am a member.”

The 71-year-old said: “My interest and passion for wildlife photography began around 1986.

“I was teaching French to a class of 11-year-olds on a warm day in June of that year.

Richard Winston is a member of Bexleyheath Photographic Society.Richard Winston is a member of Bexleyheath Photographic Society.

“The windows were open and suddenly a small bird flew into the room.

“The pupils evidently found this much more interesting than ‘la plume de ma tante’ and a buzz went around the room as all eyes turned to the bird. “It landed for a brief moment on a tall cupboard as I tried to calm the excitement.

“I suggested to the class it was an escaped cage bird, to which one pupil raised a hand and said, with some authority, ‘it’s a blue tit, sir’.

“This encounter shook me. How could I not recognise such a common bird, whilst my 11-year-old pupil did? The upshot was that I determined to take up bird watching.”

It was the start of a new path for the Greenwich schools teacher of French, Italian and Spanish.

He said: “Skip forward several years and I reached my retirement from teaching. In all those years I always thought it would be useful to have something to take home with me to aid identification.

“Eventually, in 2007 I bought my first DSLR camera and long lens, recognising that digital photography allowed any number of shots to be taken at little cost. I did have film cameras before this, but never really took it up as a hobby, until digital. Armed with decent equipment and eager to visit far-flung places, I have photographed as much wildlife from around the world as time and budget would allow.

“Along with the birds are the many other fascinating creatures that have fallen under the lens. In 2014 I had a small exhibition at the Winter Garden in Avery Hill Park – just 30 pictures. This year I will be exhibiting during the whole of April at least 100 framed photographs at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford.

“Three years ago I joined the Bexleyheath Photographic Society. I believe this has helped improve my photographic skills and also broadened my scope to include other subjects. After my own show at the MJC, I am organising an exhibition to include fellow members of BHPS in May with the aim of attracting more photographers to join the club.”

During his time behind the lens, he has managed to capture an astonishing 1,200 species of bird, plus plenty of other wild animals, including tigers and hippos.

There have been some lucky escapes on the road.

He told us: “My hairiest moment was probably in South Africa in 2011.

“We were in an open jeep when a very large, black-maned male lion blocked the road.

“Its mate turns up and the guide instructed we freeze. We still managed to get some photos.

“After 10 minutes there’s a thunderous roar behind and a juvenile offspring of the two adults has appeared there.

“It approached the jeep, gives it a sniff, then walks nonchalantly past.

“It was within a foot of where I was sitting frozen in the jeep. I could smell it, and I’m sure it could smell me.”

Richard still has those amazing images in his ever-growing library.

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