A lovely weekend meeting and greeting a variety of talented artists at the MAC tutors exhibition.
Tadoba tiger reserve, 2016, late evening we encountered a pack of Dhole that seemed somewhat excited and were circling around a patch of forest. It was only when the whistles subsided and one of them looked up, that we spotted a very young leopard silhouetted against the darkening sky.
Deep in the buffer zone of Tadoba tiger reserve, we come across a huge male tiger. He was walking with an intent, a purpose, and as always we gave him a wide berth. We calculated the general direction he was travelling in, and by using the guides knowledge of the jungle topography, we backed off and managed to have all of our photographic opportunities of him facing us. We would patiently wait for him to walk through the small clearings in the thick forest, and time photography with these windows. He seemed to oblige, and we captured multiple compositions at different focal lengths. The main challenge I had was managing the harsh late morning sun, so I predominately took my images as he passed through shade, which enabled me to get some nice diffuse light on the face and eyes. His sheer presence and grace of movement reminded me of a quote from famous tiger hunter (turned conservationist) Jim Corbett :
”The tiger is a large hearted gentleman with boundless courage and that when he is exterminated, as exterminated he will be, unless public opinion rallies to his support – India will be the poorer by having lost the finest of her fauna “
We can all do our bit to help conserve and protect tigers in many ways, please click below to start.
I sometimes forget that I have great opportunities to work with light, space and local species up the road. On clear mornings, the light and mist can be heavenly at my local nature reserve. The challenge I have set myself, is to look again at common species, and try to photograph them not just in a new way, but capture beauty in the scene and in the moment…
The forest of Dean has some beautiful secluded spots where you can disconnect and really enjoy nature.
There are several lakes, streams and the terrain can be quite hilly, but the forest in the early hours is stunning and peaceful.
It is one of the few places in the UK where one can view wild boar in their natural habitat. After they were hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago, a new population has emerged in recent years after individuals were reintroduced either by design or by accident. Now there is now a large population of nearly 1.5k in the area. Some individuals in the area are far from shy and approach dog walkers, and raid bins in local villages!
The pro’s and cons of their reintroduction, detailed biology and and behaviour can be read about here.
Tracking the boar can be done by looking for any soft ground and spotting foot prints, and listening for their distinct grunts.
With patience, and a little luck you may be rewarded with a sighting.
A tiring day, but worth the effort.
A beautiful, bright eyed male tiger rests during a warm evening at Tadoba tiger reserve, India. Tigers love water unlike most cats. and can often be found resting in small lakes and waterholes, especially April onwards. The temperature during this time can reach 45 degrees Celsius and is very challenging to shoot in, so its vital we have enough fluid and protect our skin.
I am always looking for the perfect reflection, so when the water is moving, sometimes it is best to take a burst of images in order to have the key elements in the reflection as clear and as distortion free as possible. Also, when the subject is stationary, I try to extract as much detail from the scene by shooting at the lowest iso, exposing to the right and keeping the camera and lens as stable as possible. This gives me a great foundation for processing and scope to enlarge images for prints and exhibitions.
People often ask me why I don’t sometimes include the tigers ears. The reasons are simple, it is an artistic choice as I am drawn to the beauty of markings, and the eyes of the species. I hope you are too…
I am really getting a feel for toned and fine art style processing on my images. The approach mostly seems to work when the image is relatively simple with few elements, and the subject is distinct. I’ve used a variety of methods to get the look am after utilising both lightroom, and especially photoshop to get the tonality I think suits the image. Here are some cheetah from yesterday, taken with the usual canon 400mm f2.8 and 1DX setup at a local wildlife park.
For a long time I had used standard telephoto lenses such as the canon 100-400mm zoom, the 400mm f5.6 prime. I had always adored the rendering of out of focus areas at 400mm, and how it enabled my subjects to pop. However I wanted more, so a few years ago I bit the bullet and acquired a canon 400mm f2.8 IS lens. The weight, price, size was all forgotten when I created my first images. The isolation, sharpness and speed of focus enabled me to further my creative vision.
Below are a couple of recent shots, one taken at f5.6 and one at f2.8, so you can see the difference, even at small image sizes.
Whilst in India, the lens allowed me to carry on photographing into the night. Whilst everyone else had to put their camera’s away, I was able to capture images of tigers with expanded pupils (due to the lack of light) and bring back some novel imagery. Combining with a full frame camera body gives me the maximum background diffusion and image quality and it will now take a lot to move me away from this set up.
Just for fun, some images of a beautiful clouded leopard taken at a wildlife park. The first time I had seen this species and they are unique and beautiful. All shot with the 1DX and 400mm f2.8.
A video of a lovely male Kingfisher hunting…
A beautiful, regal male kingfisher perched in the sunshine. A 25% crop to show all the detail close up for those who view my work on mobile or tablet. This was taken during my hide days a while back, last spring. The morning was cold and wet, the river had swelled slightly due to recent rains reducing the likelihood of a bird arriving as the extra water makes it harder for them to fish. However, a double stroke of luck was to come, as the high pitched call sounded and the sun pierced the clouds for a few minutes, or even seconds. The male landed, surveyed the water below, and was gone before I could switch camera’s. A lovely encounter with one of Britain’s most iconic species.
I love kingfishers, they are one of my favourite bird species and I have been lucky enough to have spent countless hours in their presence. Some encounters are fleeting, as they assess the below lake for any signs of fish, some can last hours. Below is the former, but a lovely sight nonetheless.
Some more of my Kingfisher works can be found by clicking here
Beautiful feathers of a Phalacrocorax aristotelis
I dislike rules in art, one such ‘rule’ is that the subject must be looking into the frame. Perhaps we risk creating formulaic compositions with such mindsets and philosophies…
Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8, iso 100, 1/350th sec.
A freezing cold morning at Bradgate Park. Taken with the 1dx and the 400mm f2.8.
In order to photograph tigers well in the wild, I have been attending zoo’s from time to time to practice, as well as hopefully capture the spirit and essence of the cats.
I often leave my images for as long as possible before deciding what to process and show the world. The idea being you lose any emotional attachment to your work, and therefore can be more critical and balanced in what you decide to process.
However, today was one of those days where the best images were obvious:
Long may they burn bright.
A little owl lands at dusk. 1DX, 400mm f2.8, 1/60th sec.
I do like to shoot back-lit to gain a particular look and feel…