June 20, 2018, by Emma Thorne

No monsters, but wonders

“Here at the edge of the map there are treasures to be found, a different type of gold and silver. Here there be no monsters, but wonders.” 

A breathtaking film about the natural coastal waters around Scotland’s Hebridean islands, shot by a Nottingham alumnus, has left both presenters and viewers of BBC’s Springwatch captivated and enthralled. 

In the five-minute piece cameraman Luke Saddler, who graduated from the School of Life Science’s MSc in Biological Photography and Imaging in 2008, speaks of his deep love of the islands he describes as ‘more Caribbean than Caledonian’. The special connection he feels with region is illustrated with stunning images of the wildlife which makes its home around the islands including seals, dolphins and basking sharks – ‘titans in their watery cathedrals’. 

Introducing the piece, Chris Packham hailed it as ‘eloquent, extremely evocative and poignant’, while co-presenter Michaela Strachan spoke of its profound effect on her and admitted it had moved her to tears. 

Luke used the film to highlight the horrors of plastic pollution and how it is threatening Scotland’s marine wildlife. During his filmmaking he captured a horrific image of a basking shark with a plastic hoop trapped over its nose and a seal with rope around its neck. 

Tom Hartman who leads the MSc course in Life Sciences said: “Luke was a star student and he discovered that he had such an ability with film and editing that we asked him back the next year to teach part of the module, which he did for a couple of years until he moved further away. 

“He then did a stint with archaeology, putting together their fish bone database and some work on roe deer, before he took to skippering boats in search of dolphins, whales and now basking sharks.” 

Luke explained: “The course was a great foundation for my career. I came to the course primarily with an interest in still photography but it was while on the course I discovered my love for filmmaking and that medium’s ability to tell a story and connect with people on an emotional level. For my thesis, I cycled round the Orkney Islands filming the wildlife above and below the water and produced my first extensive wildlife piece.

“Since then I have been doing a combination of wildlife guiding, filmmaking and still photography. I’ve been overwhelmed with the positive response for the Springwatch film and I’m glad not only my images but also my narrative have struck a chord with people.

“Wildlife filmmaking is a hard industry to get into but I believe by dedication to the craft and passion for the subject matter I’ll find my way onto some larger productions in future.”

In addition to his own work as a filmmaker and photographer, Luke is also head guide and filmmaker for Basking Shark Scotland. 

Images kindly provided by Luke Saddler. See more via his Instagram and on Twitter @LukeSaddler.

Posted in AlumniHealth & medicine