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Bence Máté

Date of birth: 26.02.1985
Favourite song: Another brick in the wall.

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Featured Photographer

Bence Máté

About

I started photography at the age of 13, in 1999 when I bought my first “Zenith” camera from my saved money. Soon the hobby became fanatics; I was absent many days from school because of I’d rather go out photographing.

Since 2004 I have been a professional bird photographer, making a living out of wildlife photo tourism. It gives me the best opportunity to spend the most time in the field.

Together with my girlfriend and two friends we established a company called Hidephotography. Our purpose is to build bird photography centres around the world. Our first centre in Hungary has been running for 3 years now, and at the present time we are building hides for our second base in Costa Rica .

Further locations are planned in Africa and Brazil .

My part in the project is to find the right places, plan and build the hides as well as test them. Annually, I spend over a thousand hours in different hides.

My work is sponsored by National Geography Hungary and Nikon Hungary .

Websites: www.matebence.hu/ and www.hidephotography.com/

Interview

Why nature photography?
I have a keen interest in wildlife - especially in birds – ever since childhood and as soon as I got my first camera, it was obvious what to take photos of.

What's best about it?
Often I spend months with constructing one single hide, until everything comes together. The best part is trying the hide out when it is ready, and to get an even better result than expected.

What's worst about it?
Bird photography is often about waiting. Strange though, but I hate waiting, I prefer when things happen continuously in front of the hide. Unfortunately, nowadays it’s not possible avoiding computer work. I very much dislike writing emails, ‘photoshopping’, updating of website; they all seem a waste of time.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I have no favourite species, but I do like photographing species that behave in different ways and need good reflexes to catch the moment.

Of course, my most liked place is the Kiskunsagi National Park in Hungary , where I have my first memories.

What's in the bag?
Things that never can be missing:
Nikon 2,8/300 mm
Nikon D300 (at this moment)
Gitzo fluid tripod head
Many cf cards,
batteries
Binocular
Mouse flute

Your specialities / skills?
My speciality in photography is birds in action. Since 2004 I have been building special hides, where photographers can comfortably take pictures from the most ideal perspectives. I first used and experimented one-way glass in 2005, since then it’s becoming widespread among photographers.

What will you do in your next life?
I am much thankful to be born in the right place, and to quickly be able to recognize the profession that became my lifestyle and passion. In a next life I most likely would do the same as now, but would definitely quit school earlier.

3 tips for beginners
For the beginner birdphotographer:
1. Photograph birds always in the sense of that you are only a guest in their world, and never harm them with your activity. Before you start taking photos of a species, make sure that you are prepared and have the most information of it for a better shot.

2. If you want to achieve a really good shot, focus on one subject at a time, and do not give up until you indeed have ‘The best picture’.

3. Should you feel you do not take good shots, take your camera off the tripod and get down to the level of your subject and choose a homogenic, clear background.

Mission

My mission is still a surprise. Originally I was supposed to go to Sweden to photograph black grouse, but due to the workload in Costa Rica , I only return back to Europe in the beginning of April. As a result I am waiting for a new location chosen by the WWoE crew. I hope that they will not send me to a place where I only can photograph mushrooms and plants… :)

Best Picture

Best Picture
Fighting herons

What's cool about it?
To be able to have this photo in my portfolio, I spent one heavy month (33 days) with photographing continuously herons and egrets in 2005. I had started photographing when the first frost came and was able to carry on capturing their fight for survival until the thaw was setting in. The picture was taken at an icehole where about 120 herons and egrets had tried to pull through the hard winter. The strongest birds stole the fish from the weaker ones, in consequence many of the birds starved to death in the minus 20 degrees.

Could it be better?
What is missing from the picture is ‘once in a lifetime’. For instance, if the fish was still in-between the two birds that they were fighting over - and which was there just one second before I pressed the button, the picture would have been unrepeatable.

Behind the Scene
The photo was taken by a fishing farm. The fisherman looked perplexed; why someone sits motionless in a tiny hide in the middle of winter. Once I overheard the following conversation about me:

- Can you see the field-coloured tent on the ice?
- Joe said that a boy comes every dawn, gets into it and doesn’t come out until the evening.
- Hey, he must be crazy! How the f..k his balls are not frozen in this cold?
- He must have got heating in it.
- How the hell could he have heating? He’s got no room himself!
- Sure he has, look at the chimney at one side!
(they thought about the lens sticking out of the tent)

Date: February 2005
Location: Pusztaszer, Hungary
Gear: Canon EOS 300D+ Nikon 2,8/300MF.

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