The Big Issue : Edition 470
26 THEBIGISSUE24OCT–6NOV2014 DAVID RENNIE IS prepared to wait – for the light to be perfect, for his subject to appear, for the composition to be right. Patience is a prerequisite for wildlife photography. So is persistence. Rennie, based in WA, has these qualities – in part, he readily acknowledges, because of his personality and challenges he has faced in regard to his own mental health. In an introduction to Art in Nature, a new book of his outdoor photography, Rennie writes: “The mood swings that come with bipolar disorder have struck me with depressive episodes and manic phases; it still hurts when I think of their impact on my family. And yet, this cursed hypomania has helped me achieve what I have been able to do as a photographer. “It was those manic times, when sleep evaded me for days on end, that kept me out in the field, day or night, stalking the birds I loved to shoot or capturing the perfect second in which light and landscape rendered their magic.” Perhaps another explanation for the patience he requires is that he waited a long time to become a photographer. Now 53, Rennie grew up in New Noricia, Bunbury and at a farm in Esperance, WA. As a boy, he enjoyed books on birds and insects; later, he navigated swamps near Bunbury in a raft improvised from the salvaged roof of an old car. It wasn’t until 2006 that he got involved in photography. His sister, Karen, gave him a small digital camera when he was attending a motorsport event in Victoria. Although he used the camera, he wasn’t yet hooked. That came later, back in WA. While he was on his way to work as a sales manager at a local caryard one morning, “a huge shadow passed over the car – I thought it was something like a pterodactyl”. It turned out to be a spoonbill. He followed the bird all the way into a swamp in the vicinity of his home town, Mandurah, around 85km south of Perth. The Mandurah wetlands is home to more than 100 species of birds, some of which migrate from as far away as Russia. It is here that he has become a committed, award-winning photographer, striving – as he puts it – “to capture the ‘art in nature’... I would go out an hour before sunrise with my camera and then do the same again in the afternoon before sunset. It’s known as the golden hour... I never wanted to miss it.” Art in Nature is more than a book of pretty pictures. It is a plea for people to preserve the environment; the Mandurah region is threatened by urban sprawl. Rennie writes: “The terrible reality is that our wetlands are dying, and at an alarming rate... It is heartbreaking to know that our children’s children might only see in books or on their electronic devices what we can now see for real out there in nature.” » Art in Nature is out now (rrp $55) and is available in bookshops and through exislepublishing.com.au.