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My Suffolk Hero: Nigel Baker chooses Eric Hosking

PUBLISHED: 00:16 23 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:12 20 February 2013

Nigel Baker, one of the leading Suffolk-based photographers and a regular contributor to this magazine, explains why Eric Hosking, although not from the county, more than aptly deserves the title of Suffolk Hero

Nigel Baker, one of the leading Suffolk-based photographers and a regular contributor to this magazine, explains why Eric Hosking, although not from the county, more than aptly deserves the title of Suffolk Hero




Nigel Baker, one half of the successful photographic partnership Eastern Light Photography, is in no doubt. Eric John Hosking OBE, who died in 1991 aged 80, was widely acknowledged as one of the worlds most eminent natural history photographers.
Baker first came across Hoskings work when he read the older mans autobiography An Eye For A Bird in the 1970s. He explains how in his persistence and creativity to photograph birds in a way that had not been done before, he was a pioneer. He also had total respect for the birds he was photographing.
He soon came to appreciate why his work was admired, published and exhibited in countries around the continents of the world. The superb quality of his images, his meticulous care for his subjects and his boundless enthusiasm inspired three generations of young naturalists and photographers to follow in his footsteps. There can be no doubt that his photographs have made a significant contribution to our wider understanding and concern for the living world.
Baker recounts Hoskings own experiences of photographing in Suffolk and his almost rhapsodic responses to what he saw.
In 1930, using a quarter plate Sanderson field camera, he started his first intensive field work photography of birds during the breeding season. The venue was beautiful Staverton Park near Woodbridge and here he photographed bullfinches and other species at the nest.
At Staverton there occurred an experience which illustrates beautifully his empathy with nature, and says much of the character of the man. He showed no embarrassment as he described how, while he was listening to four nightingales singing against each other in a wood late on a warm May night, tears rolled down his cheeks.
The proximity of Bakers own house to this location serves only to heighten his awareness of Hoskings genius.
I now live five minutes away from Staverton Park and Tangham forest where he photographed all those years ago. The Sandlings area of Suffolk, which they are part of, are a unique habitat along the Suffolk coast.
They are classified as lowland heath which is Britains rarest habitat. That nightingales still sing around Staverton and nighjars still frequent the heath lands in no small part due to Erics images helping in our education in understanding these habitats.
Nigel Baker explains how Hoskings approach to wildlife photography exhibited a number of key virtues, including those of patience, respect, creativity and, as importantly, perseverance. I read the time he set up an infra red trigger at the nest of a barn owl only to find out moths had triggered the camera all night! he adds.
Baker is pleased that Eric Hoskings influence lives on through a charitable trust that carries his name. The aims of the Eric Hosking Trust are to sponsor ornithological research through the media of writing, photography, painting or illustration and to build on the fact that his photographs have made a significant contribution to our wider understanding and concern for the living world.


For more information on the Eric Hosking Trust go to: http://www.erichoskingtrust.com and on Eastern Light Photography: www.easternlightphotos.com


PAUL SIMON

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