Alan Cornall with one of his many lenses. To shoot wildlife with this lens

Photographer’s work on display in Parksville

Parksville photographer celebrating 60 years of photography

With 60 years of photography under his belt, Alan Cornall said his display at the MAC is one of his biggest shows.

“It took about two full days to hang the photos,” said Cornall about the 80 pieces in the display.

Cornall, whose photography career started in 1956, said he started off getting a job as a machinist to become a photographer on an aircraft. He added that he later became a photographer for Concorde.

“I saw a photograph that really impressed me and I was in the forces in England — because in those days you had to go,” Cornall said. “I saw a photograph of an army kit layout with a pair of black boots and I’ve never seen a photograph like it in all my life and it stuck in my brain.”

At that point, Cornall said he was already into photography, but that photo was what set him off.

Cornall said he started off working in the dark room until one day he told one of his old bosses that he’d “had it with the dark room.”

“I need to get out of there and get out in the air and do what I came to do,” Cornall remembered saying.

He said his boss got him on a flight shortly after that, but it was a passenger plane. Cornall said the plane then took off, circled and landed, but it didn’t stop.

“The wheels hit and then it roared up and took off again. The wheels hit and then it roared up and took off again,” said Cornall. As it turns out, the plane was in for maintenance and the pilot was testing the aircraft.

“That was the start of my flight shots.”

From there, Cornall moved to landscape shots before finally settling on wildlife.

“I always liked wildlife photography, in fact, I would almost say that my photographic career it was like a dream with no ending to it.”

Cornall said one of the most important things with shooting wildlife is just waiting.

“People go somewhere wanting to shoot wildlife, but they can’t find nothing in the area, they haven’t even got out of their car yet, and they look out the windows. They get out of the car, they walk around for a while . . . But if they would just go sit somewhere and wait, and you can see it all happening,” he said.

“You’ve got to just take your time with it. It may not be the biggest show you’re going to see while you’re there, but at least you’re going to find some wildlife somewhere.”

It was in 1967 that Cornall moved to Canada, and in 1971 he moved to B.C.

“I just took one look at (the province) and I thought ‘Woah, this is amazing,’” Cornall said. “There’s just no end to the beauty of this province. It’s absolutely amazing.”

One of Cornall’s frequented locations is Denman Island.

“I go to Denman Island for the eagles,” he said. “It’s like heaven when you go across there on that ferry. You kind of melt and all the colours around you are like pastels in early spring. You’re just drawn to it.”

Cornall, who has taken photos in places such as France, German and Ireland, said one of his favourite places is the mid-Island.

“This is going to sound stupid . . . Parksville and B.C. There is so much beauty in this area. You don’t always have to go to other places to take fine photography. It’s right here on our doorstep.”

Cornall’s work is on display at the MAC for the rest of the month.

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