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Features / Famous wildlife cameraman returns

Doug Allan will share his lifework with a Shetland audience in November.

AWARD winning wildlife cameraman and photographer, Doug Allan, will be visiting Shetland in November to share his lifework and experiences within the natural world, writes Alex Purbrick.

Stemming from Fife, Doug has spent the last 35 years filming wildlife with his work taking him to such remote places as Antarctica, the Arctic and the depths of the oceans.

Prior to becoming a cameraman Doug worked for eight years in Antarctica as a research diver, scientist and photographer for the British Antarctic Survey and received the Polar Medal and the Fuchs Medal for his science and support work.

The skills he gained from working in Antarctica such as diving and underwater photography stood him in good stead for his film career where he was principal cameraman on award-winning series such as Frozen Planet, Ocean Giants, The Blue Planet and Planet Earth.

But as well as filming the beauty and wonders of the natural world, Doug has also witnessed the devastating impact that climate change is having on nature due mainly to humanity’s disrespect and disdain for our planet’s natural resources.

One of the most profound environmental climate changes Doug has seen was “in the Antarctic when I saw the numbers of Adelie penguins drop by 70 per cent between 1993 when I filmed Life in the Freezer and 2009 when I filmed for the BBC production, Life.

“The penguins are not raising enough chicks because there are not enough tiny krill crustaceans for food,” he said.

As an ocean ambassador for the Marine Conservation Society, Doug travels around the country giving talks at public events in an attempt to highlight the effects of pollution on the oceans and marine life. He feels after his many years as a cameraman immersed in the natural world he must share the crisis the earth is facing.

He said: “If we carry on for the next fifty years emitting CO2 in the amounts that we have for the past sixty, then the prospects for the natural world really don’t bear thinking about.

“We humans will still be alive of course, but on a greatly impoverished planet. We should be looking to live by a new economic model, one that values sustainability over exploitation, where we’re in balance with the environment.”

His current speaking tour Wild Images, Wild Life takes him across Scotland from Ullapool to Edinburgh and Skye culminating in his visit to Shetland on 4 November at Mareel.

It promises to be an entertaining evening of humour, storytelling, photos and movie clips of his career. Doug’s book Freeze Frame will be on sale as well as his colour prints of polar bears, penguins and seals.

Doug has visited Shetland before in 2014 and admits he is looking forward to another trip to the isles mainly because “I love the wildness of the place, the hugeness of the skies, the closeness of the sea no matter where you are on the islands.

“Light is everything to a photographer and in Shetland its always changing, never quite the same as you saw it before. It’s the shifting, subtle changes that appeal to me.”

He added: “I’m Scottish born and bred so there’s a connection with the country that makes it feel like I’m coming home.

“Scottish audiences are warm, they appreciate the mix of humour and story that I try to bring and of course they have no trouble with my accent like some do elsewhere!”

Doug Allen will be speaking at Mareel on 4 November at 7.30pm. Tickets are on sale from Shetland Box Office.