Mats Nilson. Portrait by Edit Nilson

A bit about me..

Born and grown up (debatable, some may argue..) in Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast, and having lived the last twenty years in northernmost Sweden, I nonetheless consider myself a global citizen. Home is where the heart is, and I'm in love with this planet - all of it!

Childhood adventures in a neighbouring forest, an inborn curiosity, and subsequent studies in Forestry and Animal Ecology, opened my eyes to the beauty of the natural world - a beauty I am now trying to convey to you through my images.

Apart from crawling around on the forest floor, pointing my lenses at little things, I also enjoy the grand vistas in the mountains nearby, as well as all sorts of travel photography - mainly because I enjoy travelling (who doesn't?). I've also been known to do the odd wedding, aerial photography, and action shots of people on the move.

To me, photography is a way of heightening my experience, the camera a tool to focus my vision. If I didn't have a camera to lug around, I'd still be out there marvelling at the wonders of nature.

Photography is fun! Which is probably why I've been doing it for the last twenty-six years.. :o)

What's in the bag?

I've been using top-of-the-line Nikon equipment for more than a decade, and have never had any reason to regret that decision.

I have the latest DSLRs equipped with the sharpest Nikkor AF-S lenses from 14 to 600 mm, which I support with rock-steady Gitzo tripods with heads from Arca-Swiss and Wimberley.

In other words: any flaw in my photographs is entirely my own fault! Can't blame the equipment any longer..

Of course, there are still things I reeeally ought to have.. ;)

In all fairness..

Wildlife photography means interacting with subjects that haven't asked to have their portrait taken. And while the wildlife spends all day just trying to survive, I'm photographing them at my leisure, albeit while trying to make a living out of it. Therefore I find it absolutely vital not to interfere unduly with my subjects. So how do I go about that? Well, I think of it in terms of 'fair trade'. If I sit in a hide in front of which I've put out food or water to attract wildlife, I think that's fair. They get a food supplement and I get my pictures. Fair. Luring birds by playing the call of an intruding male? Definitely not. That way the bird must expend energy on defending its territory against a fake intruder just for me to get some pictures. In my opinion, that's unethical, yet fairly common practice. The same goes for enticing owls to strike on fake mice.

What about game parks, then? Well, the great parks of Africa, for instance, like the Kruger, Chobe, and Masai Mara, are primarily there for the conservation of wildlife. Or, at least, that's the general idea. So by paying the entrance fees to these parks, I indirectly contribute to the conservation of the animals. Much the same can be said for zoos with scientific breeding programs for endangered animals. (Of course, pictures of captive animals must be labelled as such.) I don't do zoo photography since it doesn't appeal to me, but I don't condemn it. Game ranches is something else entirely! That's where big cats (mainly) are kept and trained to perform in front of cameras. That's really sickening. No photograph, however fantastic, is worth locking up animals just for the sake of it.

Trust me..

Today's imaging technology has opened up possibilities never before dreamt of. Adobe Photoshop lets you make composite images that are eerily realistic, and 'photoshopping' has become an artform in itself. And this is alright - as long as one is upfront and honest about it. The trouble is that not everyone is. There was quite a scandal in Swedish nature photography in the autumn of 2011, when a famous photographer's stunning images of Lynx turned out to be not just fake composites, but the images of the Lynx were even stolen from other photographers. This has started a very vivid debate which, I might say, is about time, too.

Every photographer uses Photoshop, or some such software, on their images to some extent. I mainly use Photoshop Lightroom, and I use it to remove sensor-dust spots, to adjust colour saturation, contrast and the like. This is really because the camera itself is an imperfect tool that doesn't always manage to capture the scene as I saw it. But I don't add or remove 'objects'. And if I were ever to do that, I'd make sure it was stated very clearly.

Where to draw the limit isn't entirely clear-cut, however. Which is better, to remove a disturbing object in nature or to do it in the computer? What if that disturbing element is some small creature's habitat? Maybe less harm is done if it's removed digitally, after all? Or, better still, left as it is! As long as it's clearly stated, I'll leave that to each photographer to decide. I myself try to think these things over, and vow to be honest about it.