Almost time again...

It’s almost time for the deer rut and I hope to go out and attain some more images such as the below.

1DX 400mm f2.8 IS

1DX 400mm f2.8 IS

I’m always after atmosphere and mood in my deer shots, so clear skies and sunrises are a must. Then there is the challenge of finding deer in these conditions so some early starts as always!

1DX 400mm f2.8 IS Flare can be a problem, but I try to position myself so its impact is limited and try to add extra shade to the front element of my lens.

1DX 400mm f2.8 IS Flare can be a problem, but I try to position myself so its impact is limited and try to add extra shade to the front element of my lens.

Hope you like these and I should have some more in a few months! Wish me luck!

Shake

I have been lucky enough to spend some quality time around my local wild foxes over the last decade. The den was located on a hill in my friends field, and I was able to capture a few generations growing up to independence. One memorable occasion was a couple of years ago in spring. I recall attaining my usual low perspective as the fox approached, and I watched as it stopped for a moment to shake. The couple of seconds of shaking resulted in some cute and comical images. All shot on the 1dx and 400mm f2.8 is.

The approach to me and my scooby snacks!

The approach to me and my scooby snacks!

I made a split second decision to put the focus point on the snout and the eyes, and it has paid off as that is where I would have wanted the viewers eye to go.

I made a split second decision to put the focus point on the snout and the eyes, and it has paid off as that is where I would have wanted the viewers eye to go.

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My favourite type of image, which I have started describing as a medium tele shot, where approximately 25% of the subject takes up the composition, but the rest is habitat.

My favourite type of image, which I have started describing as a medium tele shot, where approximately 25% of the subject takes up the composition, but the rest is habitat.

Using the environment to naturally frame the fox as it has a nice scratch at sunrise.

Using the environment to naturally frame the fox as it has a nice scratch at sunrise.

I do get a great feeling spending time with our local wildlife, it is just as fun as viewing tigers in India, although it is highly unlikely I would lay on the floor to get shots like the above. Something tells me that would not be a good idea with Bengal tiger!

Hope you like!


Tiger Day at Shepreth Wildlife Park

The 4th of August is the annual tiger day at Shepreth Wildlife park. The date was chosen as it was the birthday of a tigress named Amba who sadly is no longer with us.

It was a lovely day this year, and I really enjoyed speaking to people about tiger conservation and photography, whist generating funds for Wild Cats through sales of prints. Over the years, Shepreth Wildlife Park has generated nearly £50,000 for wild tiger conservation. For a relatively small zoo, this is astounding and shows the passion everyone in the park has for tigers. It should give us all hope.

I concluded the day with a talk on conservation and the tigers of Tadoba. Hopefully I succeeded in inspiring people to help conserve this iconic species…

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Explaining why I support Wildcats Conservation Alliance

Explaining why I support Wildcats Conservation Alliance

It was heartwarming to see so much interest and love for tigers from the next generation. The quality of questions was fantastic.

It was heartwarming to see so much interest and love for tigers from the next generation. The quality of questions was fantastic.

A young lad called Christoph made a serious of paintings to help awareness of tigers, way better than my current attempts of painting!

A young lad called Christoph made a serious of paintings to help awareness of tigers, way better than my current attempts of painting!

I can’t speak highly enough of Bex, she has done more for tigers than most and it has inspired me. Keep up the good work!

I can’t speak highly enough of Bex, she has done more for tigers than most and it has inspired me. Keep up the good work!

Two months to go...

I’ve been looking forward to my return to Tadoba for a while now and decided to go through some images from my last adventure. We had a lovely afternoon with a beautiful tigress and managed to capture her in a variety of habitats and situations. That’s the beauty of Tadoba… lakes, thick jungle, meadows, but most of all, colour and a variety of species.

A sleek and beautiful leopard moving stealthfully towards some boar. Canon 1DX 400mm f2.8.

A sleek and beautiful leopard moving stealthfully towards some boar. Canon 1DX 400mm f2.8.

A sloth bear crossing the jungle trail. Just look at those huge claws! Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.

A sloth bear crossing the jungle trail. Just look at those huge claws! Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.

A lovely tigress in a dry rocky terrain, deep in the jungle. 1DX 400mm f2.8

A lovely tigress in a dry rocky terrain, deep in the jungle. 1DX 400mm f2.8

Giving her space made her comfortable around us, so she proceeded to walk towards our reversing jeep. This in turn allowed for some beautiful habitat images. You can see her left ear turned, perhaps listening to the deer alarm calls that were occurring. 1DX 400mm f2.8.

Giving her space made her comfortable around us, so she proceeded to walk towards our reversing jeep. This in turn allowed for some beautiful habitat images. You can see her left ear turned, perhaps listening to the deer alarm calls that were occurring. 1DX 400mm f2.8.

Some beautiful rays of light breaking through the forest highlighting an already beautiful species. Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.

Some beautiful rays of light breaking through the forest highlighting an already beautiful species. Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.

Positioning

It’s really easy to get caught up in a beautiful moment and forget the basics of composition. I initially took the first photo and felt the background was quite distracting so I slowly moved my car to where the background was much cleaner.

Canon EOS RP, 800mm f5.5

Canon EOS RP, 800mm f5.5

I feel this is a much more pleasing background and resulting image. Just a few metres and seconds has made significant difference.

Canon EOS RP, 800mm f5.6

Canon EOS RP, 800mm f5.6

I like the edge to edge focus point coverage of the EOS RP, it allowed me to track the goldfinch across the frame easily. Here’s some 4k footage to finish.

Global Tiger Day 2019

It’s been another tough year for the iconic tiger. Horror stories such as the beating a tigress by villagers near of the Mataina village, Uttar Pradesh remind us that the battle to save the wild tiger is ceaseless. There are several different reports emerging, but it is stated she attacked villagers.

Amid all this chaos there is likely to be an increase in Indian tiger population reported. The challenge is creating, maintaining and securing genetic corridors that connect the islands of forest that still have a healthy tiger population. A great analogy was given by Monish Kapoor and described the corridors as blood vessels connecting organs in a body. They need to be healthy to ensure the whole system functions.

Check out this video that explains why tigers need to be protected, how we are trying to protect them and what the future holds:

SURVIVAL OF THE STRIPES

To remind us of what we are trying to protect, here’s a few more images from my recent safari’s:

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Please click here to see how you can help.

Back to School

One of my most engaging and heart warming experiences in recent years was to be invited back to my primary school to speak last March. One of my earliest memories was leaving school one day, I must have been around 7 years old and saying to myself “when I grow up, I am going to be an Environmentalist”! That dream has come true in more than one way.

During assembly, the classes lined up just like we did all those years ago, and sat in rows just like I did. It was lovely to see that today’s generation were so interested in nature and conservation, and it was lovely to meet one of my old teachers Mrs Foster, who is now head of Welford Primary School. She said I still look the same which I totally doubt!

As a kid, I never expected to have travelled as much as I have, and seen so much. It makes me feel very grateful….

Some images from the day are on the below link:

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BBC Interview

Had a lovely time with the BBC last week talking about the ethics of wildlife photography, tigers and the art form itself. The piece was shot at my local RSPB (Sandwell Valley) nature reserve, with the BBC’s Shefali Oza.

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The huge 400mm f2.8 and the mini EOS RP

The huge 400mm f2.8 and the mini EOS RP

The beautiful Sonam, of Tadoba tiger reserve, India, getting some air time.

The beautiful Sonam, of Tadoba tiger reserve, India, getting some air time.

In the 15 years I have been photographing wildlife I have seen a steep change in the number of photographers in the field. There seems to be and endless list of courses/workshops relating to wildlife photography, camera settings but only a few that cover ethics of wildlife photography, field-craft and animal behaviour. The UK National Wildlife Crime unit has launched a campaign called undisturbed which seeks to raise awareness and it will be active on social media until the end of the year. Some useful references can be found on the below link

Ethics of Wildlife Photography.

Here are some behind the scenes images of the shoot courtesy of Andy Purcell - thank you for hosting on the day!

A serious rig!

A serious rig!

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Until next time…

A leopard at night

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.

We were shocked to see how high the youngster had shot up, and even though she was safe, she kept looking down at the dogs as they circled below her.

We were shocked to see how high the youngster had shot up, and even though she was safe, she kept looking down at the dogs as they circled below her.

Leopards are great climbers and seem just as much at home in the trees as some primates.

Leopards are great climbers and seem just as much at home in the trees as some primates.

I decided to use multiple focal lengths of  70-200, 400mm and 800mm to attain the above sequence, all stabilised with a beanbag. The sheer fright the leopard was feeling meant she stayed relatively still and I was able to use slow shutter speeds to extract as much detail from the scene as possible.

I decided to use multiple focal lengths of 70-200, 400mm and 800mm to attain the above sequence, all stabilised with a beanbag. The sheer fright the leopard was feeling meant she stayed relatively still and I was able to use slow shutter speeds to extract as much detail from the scene as possible.

A large hearted gentleman

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 “

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8 . The first sight. I do enjoy taking habitat shots with the 400, it beautifully compresses space and blurs out foreground leading nicely into my subject, which seems to pop out, if correct and accurate focus is attained. I also positioned myself at an angle to help separate the tiger from the background by having his figure against the lighter grass, not the shaded jungle.

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8. The first sight. I do enjoy taking habitat shots with the 400, it beautifully compresses space and blurs out foreground leading nicely into my subject, which seems to pop out, if correct and accurate focus is attained. I also positioned myself at an angle to help separate the tiger from the background by having his figure against the lighter grass, not the shaded jungle.

Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.  Breaking the ‘rules’ here a little in terms of composition, but I am satisfied with the final piece. I always strive for perfection in my tiger works, and reflecting back, the posture could have been a tad nicer, with more of the right eye showing, but I’m happy with the positioning of the ears and the lovely pointing of the shoulder blade in the sun. He was focused on what was in front of him, and not distracted by our jeep.

Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8. Breaking the ‘rules’ here a little in terms of composition, but I am satisfied with the final piece. I always strive for perfection in my tiger works, and reflecting back, the posture could have been a tad nicer, with more of the right eye showing, but I’m happy with the positioning of the ears and the lovely pointing of the shoulder blade in the sun. He was focused on what was in front of him, and not distracted by our jeep.

Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8.  This particular shot was composed to show the sheer muscle mass in his arm. One can imagine him bringing down a one tonne Gaur (Indian Bison).

Canon 1DX, 400mm f2.8. This particular shot was composed to show the sheer muscle mass in his arm. One can imagine him bringing down a one tonne Gaur (Indian Bison).

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8. The contrast on a tigers face and eyes allows one to easily lock autofocus and track the subject. A beautiful male, approaching his prime, it was a sight to behold and left us all inspired.

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8. The contrast on a tigers face and eyes allows one to easily lock autofocus and track the subject. A beautiful male, approaching his prime, it was a sight to behold and left us all inspired.

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8 . A dash of colour to finish. The bold orange and black, contrasts and compliments beautifully with the greens of Tadoba, and it is feature of my work there.

Canon 1dx, 400mm f2.8. A dash of colour to finish. The bold orange and black, contrasts and compliments beautifully with the greens of Tadoba, and it is feature of my work there.

We can all do our bit to help conserve and protect tigers in many ways, please click below to start.

Wild Cats Conservation Alliance

An early 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…

A common coot with a simple bull- eye composition

A common coot with a simple bull- eye composition

Swans on an early misty morning taken with an ultra wide lens

Swans on an early misty morning taken with an ultra wide lens

Canada goose using a low perspective and not being afraid to shoot direct into the light. I like the abstract shape the reflection of the sun forms around the bird and the warmth of the colours.

Canada goose using a low perspective and not being afraid to shoot direct into the light. I like the abstract shape the reflection of the sun forms around the bird and the warmth of the colours.

A royal bath

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.

77d, 800mm f8, 1/125th sec, iso 100.

77d, 800mm f8, 1/125th sec, iso 100.

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…

Toned processing

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.

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