Wildlife and Macro with Andrew McCarthy

Wildlife and Macro with Andrew McCarthy


For his day job Andrew is an ecologist and he manages to mix his business with his photographic pleasure: British wildlife photography. He started his talk with a photo of Britain’s largest native mammal – a red deer stag – and ended his talk with some of the country’s smallest wildlife. Mirroring this theme Andrew has also gone big to small, moving from large heavy full frame cameras to small lightweight micro 4/3 camera.

He then went on to show photos of seals and onto to foxes. The shots of foxes came about because he had seen that a fox cub had been run over on a country road. He immediately knew that there must be a fox family close by and spoke with a local farmer who allowed him to search for the fox’s earth. He set up his camera in a hide and waited and waited only to realise that the foxes were behind him as they had evacuated the hide. He did manage to turn his camera round and get some excellent shots.

Andrew lives in Devon and the river Otter runs close by and in March this year an otter was seen every day for two months near Ottery St Mary – could this be an example of nominative determinism in the wild?

During lockdown 2020 he started photographing bats – he has a licence to handle them – and these shots were astonishing. He first shot them in infrared and then moved on to an elaborate set up of numerous flash lights, laser triggers and multiple exposures. The results were mesmerising.

His next series of images were of birds. He had shots of dippers, and not next to the water but up on a tree nesting, a family of herons high in a tree on the nest at eye level! – moorland birds, stone chat, dartford warbler, meadow pipets attacking a cuckoo, a beautiful shot of a swan where he made sure he exposed to the right which he says helps him get most of the detail in his shot.

In the second half Andrew showed his macro work and the focus was on insects. Some remarkable shots of butterflies, caterpillars, moths, spiders – his shot of a Nursery Web Spider featured in the 2018 British Wildlife Photography Awards. He had great shots of dragonflies, damselflies, darters and a cricket eating its larval case which was shortlisted in the 2021 Close-up Photographer of the Year. Lots of these shots were done using focus stacking.

It was an excellent talk and many of the photos can be seen on Andrew’s Facebook feed here.

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Oxford Photographic Society