My name is Dave Collins and I'm an aspiring wildlife photographer based in the glorious Cotswolds in South West England. I have a full time job so my photography is limited to my free time....for now.
I've been interested in all things nature for as long as I can remember, and whilst I've not pursued this interest as much as other hobbies over recent years , I've gradually started to spend more time outdoors exploring, learning and becoming addicted to capturing those precious moments that only the natural world can provide. I often choose to stay close to home if I can as less travel means more time with camera in hand and I'm spoilt for choice when it comes to locations with rolling farmland, forests, lakes and meadows all around.
My interest in wildlife began at an early age. For those that know me well, my comfort blanket as a child was not a toy, teddy or actual blanket. No. Anything that crept and crawled found it's way into my very special yellow bucket. Special in that I filled it with whatever I could find, In hindsight, not my finest moment but it fed my fascination for minibeasts. I soon moved on to a proper bug bottle and would spend every waking moment hunting for caterpillars, beetles and reptiles.
I then developed an interest in birds and would spend my time sketching them if I wasn't out trying to find and identify them. I then entered my teens, when football, computer games and girls arrived on the scene. My formative years, if you will. The spark for wildlife returned in my late twenties and coincided with the purchase of my first DSLR. Taking pictures has always been something I've enjoyed doing and the two interests have grown into a combined hobby that I find increasingly addictive.
I was quickly drawn to bird photography but have found myself shooting a much wider variety of species and I'm more than happy to be capturing images of pretty much anything that moves, be it butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, reptiles or amphibians! The acquisition of my first macro lens was a huge contributor to this expansion in subjects and I find it just as satisfying.
The vast majority of my images are taken in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and I'm fortunate to have the Cotswold Water Park just a few minutes drive from home. Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is another location I like to visit. A great place for learning about and seeing a wide variety of birds and the place where my interest in birds really took off (no pun intended!).
None of the images featured in my galleries are of captive species unless explicitly stated so I take the utmost care to ensure I avoid disturbing my subjects. I'm continually developing my techniques and still make the odd mistake here and there but it makes those great moments even sweeter and being self taught, much of what I've learnt has been the result of doing something wrong and missing a shot.
A few highlights in my early stages as a photographer have included winning the People's Choice award in the 2013 Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Photo Competition, a Photo of the Week on BirdGuides and having an image used by the Cotswold Water Park Trust for a winter birds guide. Most recently I was awarded 1st and 2nd place in the 'Wildlife Portraits & Behaviours' category in the 2014 Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Photo Competition, and 3rd place in the People's Choice category. My proudest achievement so far is getting a runner-up spot in the BirdGuides photo of the year competition (article here). Such recognition is a real buzz and it inspires me to keep improving!