The Shark and the Albatross

the shark and the albatross jacket design i585

Included in The Guardian’s list of the best nature books of 2015.
The Express’s list of the best nature-inspired books of the season.

This is a lovely book, vividly written, giving us a fascinating insight into the world of wildlife photography. It is a must for all those who enjoy insights into the natural world.
Alexander McCall Smith

These evocative stories are from the heart of the keenest observer, a skilled cameraman and a superb naturalist…You have crafted a wonderful companion to your visual records, given a knowledgable and fascinated voice to unseen tales, trials and tribulations and you have told the truth about the process and the predicaments. It’s evocative, it made me want to ‘go there’. It’s ‘behind the scenes’ but not the mechanics, rather the feelings.
Chris Packham

Every now and then a non-fiction read comes along that’s an utter joy.
Scotland Outdoors

If you’ve ever dreamed about being a wildlife photographer, you will love this book. Aitchison takes us on his travels among some of the most wild and charismatic of species – polar bears, wolves on the hunt for elk, and humpback whales, and albatrosses just learning to fly – and shows us via well-told and often poetic stories how he gets his stunning images. This is not a how to book, but a book that celebrates all that Aitchison loves about his work and where it takes him and the animals he watches and captures in film or still photos. He knows full well how endangered many of these species are, and his great hope is that the rest of us, looking at his images, reading his tales will love the animals as he does. That we will be moved. I was. You will be.
Virginia Morell, Author of Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel

The Shark and the Albatross is published in hardback in the UK by Profile Books and by Greystone Booksin North America. Follow them on Twitter @ProfileBooks and @greystonebooks for news about this and other books.

The Shark and the Albatross is widely available in bookshops, including Waterstones, and in the UK you can order it from Profile Books here

Publication in North America is scheduled for May 2016.

Its page on Amazon UK is here. It has more than thirty, five-star readers’ reviews.

A Kindle/ebook version is also available

John can sign and post copies. Email him here.

Publication in China has also been agreed. More details later.

There is also an audio book here. on Audible, read by the author.

Continue reading

Autumnwatch: Changing of the Guard – November 2013 | BBC 2

This is a short film made for Autumnwatch about migration. In Britain we are lucky to live where swallows spend the summer and geese spend the winter. Between them these birds travel a large part of the globe.

When the wind swings into the north and the swallows leave I love to think of them spending the winter in the company of elephants while the geese have just parted from polar bears in Greenland.

These are barnacle geese by the way, rather than white-fronted geese.

Wild Cameramen at Work – 2013 | BBC Scotland

Wild Cameramen at Work, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, featured John, Mark Smith, Doug Allan and Doug Anderson; all Scottish-based wildlife cameramen.

This clip is of a murmuration of starlings coming to roost in a reed bed in Gloucestershire, watched by Bill Oddie.

Hebrides – Islands on the Edge – Clips – July 2013 | BBC2


The series went down very well when it was first shown just in Scotland and has also had a network transmission on BBC2.mTwitter: #BBCHebrides

DVDs and Blu-ray discs of the series are now available here on Amazon for instance.

Continue reading

Tigers – Life Story | BBC 2

This tigress with only one eye lives in Bandhavgarh in central India. She and her family featured in the BBC series Life Story. We followed their lives for a dramatic month during which one of the cubs was killed by another tiger.

Picture courtesy of Theo Webb

Hebrides series – 2011-12 Filming | BBC Scotland


The spring was very busy. A huge pod of common dolphins which came close to Skye in May were a great bonus.

Continue reading

Wild Arabia – BBC | November 2011/March 2012

Wild Arabia is a three-part series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. John filmed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and in Jordan. As well as filming the flocks of flamingoes which winter close to the spectacular skyline of Dubai city, John also helped film camel racing, falconry in the desert and the migratory harriers which hunt songbirds around irrigated areas in Jordan.

Continue reading

Frozen Planet | BBC 1 and Discovery Channel

Frozen Planet, the BBC’s polar sequel to Planet Earth, started transmission towards the end of October 2011. There are seven episodes in total.

John filmed shearwaters and humpbacked whales gathering to feed in the Aleutians, gentoo penguins exploding from waves and being hunted by southern sealions in the Falkland Islands, emperor penguins leaping from the Ross sea in super slow motion then struggling back to their colony, young adelie penguins leaving their colonies on the Antarctic peninsula and learning to swim while leopard seals hunted them through the ice floes, fur seals fighting and giving birth in South Georgia where young wandering albatross were also taking their first flights, polar bears eating berries and wrestling on the coast of Hudson Bay as well as searching for nesting eider ducks and Arctic terns in Svalbard where other Arctic birds, including Brunnich’s guillemots, nest on immense seacliffs.

You can see one of the series trailers:

And a slow motion clip of a sealion hunting gentoo penguins from Programme One here.

Continue reading

A View Through a Lens – Series 3 | BBC Radio 4


BBC Radio 4

You can listen to all five programmes here.

Wildlife cameraman John Aitchison often finds himself in isolated and even dangerous locations across the globe filming wildlife. In this series he reflects on the uniqueness of human experience, the beauty of nature, the fragility of life and the connections which unite society and nature across the globe.

1.Taking the Plunge
On a remote island close to the Antarctic Circle, hungry leopard seals patrol the waters where young Adelie penguins are learning to swim.

2. Funky Chickens
In Kansas, land of the prairies and the ‘wild west’, John discovers some very funky chickens.

3. Patience
John travels to Svalbard to film polar bears hunting for food and reflects on what it means to be patient.

4. Fur Seals
On a very small island in the South Atlantic, amidst the noise and aggression of battling male fur seals, something very beautiful and tender happens.

5. Shearwater Hurricane
John travels to the Aleutian islands to film one of Nature’s greatest feeding spectacles.

Written and presented by wildlife cameraman John Aitchison
Additional sound recordings by Chris Watson and Miles Barton

Produced by Sarah Blunt

Stamps Feature Frozen Planet Wildlife and Cameramen

SG FP stamps

South Georgia and the British Antarctic Territories regularly issue their own stamps which are collected all over the world.

In September 2011, to commemorate the new BBC series Frozen Planet, South Georgia will issue stamps with photos of wildlife and of the four wildlife cameramen Ian McCarthy, John Aitchison, Ted Giffords and Martyn Colbeck filming for the series.

Time to get used to having our backs licked! Will it tickle?

Read more about the stamps here.

Continue reading