Stunning photos of Sussex wildlife as you have never seen it before

Sussex Wildlife Trust recently shared the work of photographer Paul Parsons who dives beneath the waves of of Sussex beaches to capture some of his spectacular marine shots.

Paul explained: “Sixty years ago, I was born in Shoreham-by-sea and have always lived in West Sussex. Lancing, Shoreham, Worthing and now Sompting, up on the South Downs.

I have run a small decorating business for the last 35 years, and so working for myself has given me the flexibility to chase the tides and ideal sea conditions for my marine life photography.

"As a kid, I always loved being in the sea. Snorkelling on holidays or finding creatures along the local beach at low tide. My Grandad, Les, used to push his shrimp net along the shallows and I would snorkel along behind him, studying the little flat fish and crabs he discarded from his net.

“20 years later, I found out that you could actually learn to scuba dive and in this country too. As soon as I was learning to dive, I felt the need to photograph everything I was seeing and I wasn't even a photographer back then. It was the way light appeared underwater that inspired me to save up for a camera. Then with each dive, I realised that the wildlife was quite happy to tolerate my presence. I could watch and study the creatures up close and fine tune my photography.

“I spent my first years diving off the beach at Worthing. Shallow beach dives gave me a couple of hours dive time underwater to explore and observe wildlife, both night and day. It was very exciting to see what lived a stone's throw off our beach.

Underwater, my favourite subjects are Cuttlefish and watching their behaviour. On land, I enjoy spotting birds of prey, especially Owls.

“I am finding that the terrestrial wildlife is not quite so easy to approach. Many creatures are cautious and flee once they are aware of your presence. Being underwater you become part of the aquatic environment. Moving slowly, most underwater species will carry on about their business and only a few may consider you a threat.

“I have used Nikon cameras since I started. I now also use OM Systems due to the advanced technology they have been pioneering. The big brands are only now just catching up. The OM1 was National Geographic's wildlife camera of the year, last year.

“I started my photographic days with 36 frames on a roll of slide film that would take a week to be processed and returned, to sometimes find you had messed up your images.

“I enjoy using the wide angle action cameras in rock pools, ponds and rivers. Also the obligatory use of my mobile phone camera for scenes and still life.

"On a Shoreham night dive, my camera was grabbed by a 30cm Squid, right in front of my face. We were eye-to-eye until it released the camera and jetted off. On another occasion I was on my own in dark water, watching a Basking Shark looming towards me. The dorsal fin getting bigger and bigger."

Paul also has some advice for would-be wildlife photographers. He said: “

There is so much help and advice on YouTube these days. Everything has been covered. Practice your shots and rehearse your camera layout. Stay cool when you find that magic moment and don't forget to enjoy your surroundings.”

Find out more about The Sussex Wildlife Trust and how you can help make a difference for local wildlife here.

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