Friday, 2 October 2015

Adders Published

I mentioned having one of my photos published in a book recently, and finally it has come out. My photo above of two adders 'dancing' has been used for a new DK book, "Wildlife of the World'


I have been lucky enough to have my photos used in books before, all around the world, but this one I am particularly pleased with for two reasons...

1. It is one of my dancing adder photos! Obviously I am biased, but I think I have a good collection of adder dancing photos, and yet try as I may they never seem to do well in competitions or get chosen for publication. 

2. It is a DK wildlife book!

Dorling Kindersley are well known for their large, cram packed books on animals and wildlife. Perhaps most well known is their book "Animal" which I would guess most young people interested in animals, or wishing to work with animals, has or has had at some point on their book shelf... myself included. 

The book follows a similar style to their others... lots of animals with just a snippet of information on each and lots of lovely photographs. The kind of book you pick up and flick through at your leisure. If you like there previous books, you will like this one. 

There it is!.. Two of our adders are now famous!

So how did this come about?.. DK contacted us to photograph some of our animals for this book, they had a list of what they were after but wanted to come during the winter when some of the animals were in hibernation. We offered to let them use my photos for all of what they were after, but they wanted to take their own so they visited us for a couple of days earlier this year.

They made the most of their time, took the photos they wanted, and a few extras for their library incase they needed them for the future. But the ones they couldn't get where the hedgehogs and adders. They asked me to send them some pics for both to look at, but where going to look elsewhere too.

Anyway, my hedgehogs were obviously not good enough :-) but they took up this one of the adders, which is great! Nice to know one of my photos will be in a book that inspires so many people to love, care for and want to work with/conserve wildlife.

So who else made it to the book... in total, we had 5 of our animals in there. The two adders, two wildcats above. The main photo is MacTavish and the smaller pic above him is Macavity. 

And here is a beautiful photo of Honey, one of our badgers!

We got a lovely acknowledgement in the back of the book which I had to write for them, first Centre listed too! Thanks alphabetical order!

 Hey... there I am... Listed in the photography credits too.

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 25 September 2015

"Wild" Cats!

I haven't had much time to take any photographs lately, so when I was given a list of photographs that work wanted it didn't take me long to get  a little distracted!..

Some of you may already know, but the owner of the BWC, David Mills, is working on a children's DVD and accompanying book series. Series one is now out, and series two is due to be out in time for Christmas this year.  I was asked for a list of photographs a couple of months ago, but summer being so busy, just didn't have time to take them. Having been reminded on a few occasions that these were needed, I spent a little time the past couple of afternoons trying to get what they have asked for.

Having not taken any photographs for myself for a while, it didn't take long for me to make the most of a grumpy wildcat. Macavity, above and below, wasn't really in the mood for having his photograph taken. So I made the most of the situation to get a couple of nice snarling shots... something I am actually quite short on surprisingly!

The light wasn't the best, but then sometimes that can add to the mood, and I am really happy with the photos I got. After waiting for a while, I soon gave up on what was asked for, and went back the next day... both days keeper Meg helped me get the photos, and on this first day I have to say... I don't know who was more grumpy, Meg or Macavity!

So, what was the wildcat shot that was asked for?.. A cat washing...

OK. Difficult... You can't make a cat wash, not humanely anyway, so it would be a case of waiting. Could be ten minutes, could be ten hours. I din't have time for this so we just had to hope. Eventually on day two we got a bit of action, not sure if above is really suitable for a children's book.

Having no joy after half an hour, we tried feeding him. This usually leads to licking lips as above, which I hoped may lead on to something a bit more towards a full wash. No joy.

We then thought that he was distracted by the food, so Meg left me to it. After a few minutes ( I got lucky) he began to start having a full wash. Unluckily though, he was in the shade with the background in the bright midday sun!

Never mind though. He was washing, so I snapped away. Not the best photos by any means, but good enough with a touch of editing for a children's book, and shows off what was needed. 

As with last years shoots for series one book (you may remember I was photographing fallow deer for that) they wanted a mix of shots, landscapes and portraits, close ups and some with more space etc. Just a few posted here.

Another photo on Pip's productions team wish list... A hedgehog in a ball! How do you make that exciting? Anyway, again a variety of crops/compositions were asked for. Above was probably my favourite. 

Whilst we had Timone, one of our hedgehogs, out I took a couple of detail shots of her spines. I am working on a couple of projects, and by working on I mean thinking about but whether they will ever actually get done who knows?!! Any who, for one of these I need a photo like this so took the opportunity.

An even closer up of the spines. Look at the detail in the markings, incredibly beautiful... and makes you appreciate how sharp they can be! Bit of grass in the spines unfortunately, may have to do a re shoot next year, but good enough for now.

Finally, another work shoot for a different reason, but still related to Pip. David was interviewed for a magazine, and they wanted a few photographs of him with the squirrels. Usual stuff. David with one on him, feeding one, looking for one etc etc. All stage and mocked up of course. I won't bore you with them all, but I think this is the main one they went for. Quite a nice one of him actually, and look... he's smiling! This took much prompting and reminding by Liza :-)

Thanks for looking :-)

Friday, 18 September 2015

British Wildlife Photography Awards

Hazel Dormouse

The British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA) are in their 7th year, and have just released their 6th collection book of the winning and commended images from this years competition.  After being successful in the past 4 years, I have been asked many times over the summer if I entered this year and if I got anything in.

To answer the first, yes... of course I entered! I love the BWPA. It celebrates both British wildlife and photography, one being a keen interest of mine and the other being my main passion in life! A competition like this needs to be supported, and I encourage photographers to the Centre every year to enter if they can.

To answer the second... unfortunately no... this is the first year I did not get recognised, in fact I didn't even get any shortlisted this year. Am I disappointed? Well yes of course, a little, but I think it would be a little weird if I wasn't being as proud of my photos as I am. But am I surprised?.. No, not really... I had heard rumours that they were really clamping down on photos that had been taken in captivity, which of course all of mine are, plus I entered photos this year that were a bit more unusual than perhaps I had in previous years.

The photos in this post are a few of the ones I did enter. The dormouse at the top peering through the hazel. Rare not to see an awake dormouse in a photo, and the secretive nature of this image lent itself well to the dormouse's nature I thought. 

The badger above taken last summer. One of my favourites, and a very similar styled image actually did make it in to the awards this year. 

Below taking the light and exposure a bit further on a flying barn owl, and at the bottom some dancing adders. I entered a few dancing adder photos, some straight forward ones, a couple of "arty" ones, but this being perhaps the most unique in terms of angle and view.

So, the collection book of this years BWPA arrived at the Centre yesterday and I couldn't wait to have a look through. It is an amazing collection of photographs of our wildlife... as with all competitions of course there were some I thought perhaps shouldn't of been in there, some that I thought were truly stunning and others that I wish I had seen/taken myself.

A lot of names in there that I recognise from photographers that have visited the Centre, a couple of professionals that are friends of the Centre... Andy Rouse and Danny Green did well this year too, but the photo that caught my eye the most was the front cover!

A beautiful photo of a bee sat on a flower and covered in pollen. It is a stunning photo, and taken by a friend of the Centre... Andy Sands.

Will I enter next year?.. Of course! But I will have to make sure I get some photos that are truly special and unique for a chance if taken here at the Centre. I often get people saying "Well, you're not a real wildlife photographer are you?" and my answer has always been "No, I'm an Animals I care for photographer" I have little desire to photograph "wild" animals, I prefer to just see them. I do however enjoy taking photographs of the animals I care for as souvenirs of my life and work.

So whats next... A few of my pictures have been used in books recently, one in particular which I am very excited about and will mention when published. I am also working on a couple of projects I hope to have out there early next year.

Thanks for looking :-) And if you do get the chance to see the BWPA book this year, or even better get to the exhibition, please do. Some amazing photographs on show!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Snakes and Martens

Drogo, Pine Marten

Our busy summer continues at the Centre. All good for us of course, but means less time with my camera. However, that time I have had I have been very pleased with what I have managed to take. 

Above is one of my favourite portrait photos of Drogo, our newest male pine marten at the Centre. Isn't he a handsome chap?

Bonnie and Clyde have been busy eating the plums that have fallen in to their enclosure, so I thought I would try the others on them too. Seems they all like them, and Drogo in particular couldn't get enough of them :-)

It was difficult to get any good photos of him eating them, but fun none the less just watching him go about his business.

The other time I took my camera out was to witness something I have never seen before... a female adder give birth to her live young. We have had adder babies born here in the past, but never have I seen the actual birth. This year I did though, a first and quite possibly a last, and by chance I had my camera with me. The photos are not great as she was in an awkward place in the enclosure, but just seeing it was enough for me and I didn't want to get too close and disturb her.

This is seconds after birth with the membraneous egg sac still visible covering the little neonate.

You can see how small he is next to mum, and perhaps more so on the sand in the photo below.

They can have up to double figures in a single birth, and we know of at least six that were born last week. If you want to hear more about it or see more photos have a look on the BWC Blog, tabbed above under the banner, and check back in the archives about a week from the date of this post.

Feisty little things, but great fun to watch and photograph.

Thanks for looking :-)

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Recent Photos

Hugo the Hedgehog

I have had very little time for photography over the past month. Work has been busy, and moving in to the summer opening period always leaves me with less time. I did manage to spend a few minutes with one of our hedgehog youngsters, Hugo, last week though. This is him above in his first photo shoot having been hand reared by Big Tom.

There's a few more pics of him below, but before that I thought I would share some of the others I have taken recently. 

Lots of youngsters born here this year, which is great news of course. This is one of our fallow deer fawns above.

One of our polecat kits... they are doing exceptionally well, and are part of a release programme for later in the year.

Two new weasels, both of which have settled very well. This is Neve in one of our outside enclosures... she has really established herself as a little star already, and has been posing beautifully for photography. 

Another litter of water voles in our display pen, this is one of the youngsters exploring from one of the tunnels.

Below are a couple of pics you may find interesting, or not :-) , but I'm going to share them anyway...

Someone found a dead mole, and brought it to the Centre for me as a gift... yes, I get unusual gifts :-) , not really sure what to do with it I noticed something I had not noticed before despite seeing, handling and working with many moles over the years... They have what appears to be an extra digit on their hind feet!

It looks almost like a sixth toe! Technically they still have five toes, but the way their paw has adapted shows this extra digit. Amazing!

Of course I took a photo, and while at it took one of it's front paw too... Look how amazing it is!

Incredible the way it has adapted and formed in to almost a shovel like hand. 

 So, here are a few more of Hugo.

Hey Hugo, where are "hugo-ing"

Thanks for looking :-)