Monday, 28 July 2014

Harvest Mice

Harvest Mouse

I have had little time recently to go out with my camera, but I am keen to keep this blog active so will try to do a new post at least once a week... this may mean sharing older photos to fill in the gaps though.

These ones are not too old, take a month ago or so now. A second shoot with the harvest mice. I preferred the ones I got on my first go, which can be seen int he archives of this blog, but a couple of these ones are quite nice.


Peeking through the stems of the corn.

In the Shadows

This little mouse preferred to stay in the middle of the corn, and so stayed in the shadows making it harder to get.


When he did start exploring he really showed of his agility.

Peeking from Corn

These two are probably my favourites of that night. Peeking from the corn above, and a nice softly back lit one below.

Micro Mouse

A simple portrait, and the pose is not great, but the lighting just lifts it.

Who you calling small!

And a little something different. Not sure if I like this one or not really,  but you got to try different things.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Few pics from last few days

Badger, Meles meles

Just a few quick pics from the last few days this time, a bit of a mix. Above is possibly one of my favourite Badger photos at the moment. I changed the exposure and metering in the camera to emphasize the harsh shadow and still keep the detail in the lit side of his face.

Polecat Kit

A few photos of our polecat kits, they are growing quickly aren't they?

Polecat Kit from the Left

I do a lot of photography with the animal looking into the frame... for two reasons really, one I just like it! And two, it gives Liza space on the opposite side of the animal for text for advertisement and articles.

Polecat Kit from the Right

So here is one of a kit looking in from the other side too :-)

The Beautiful Susie

While photographing the kits, I couldn't not miss out on spending a bit of time with Susie. Same as many I already have of her, but she is so beautiful I couldn't resit another portrait.

Red Squirrel Stare

We had a few walnuts, so I gave them to the squirrels for something a little different to what they are used to.

Wide Angle of a Squirrel with a Walnut

They have had walnuts before, so they knew what to do with them.

Red Squirrel with a Walnut

I particularly like this one as it shows off the remaining wisp of his ear tuft :-)

Mother and Calf

One of the evenings I spent a bit of time with red deer, mainly trying to get a few photos of the calves. It may sound easy to do, but they are so wary and don't come that close at all until they are much older... and the mums are more wary too during this time. I keep my distance as I don't want to upset them.

The Creche

This was one of the mothers looking after four of the calves while the others were eating some of the food I took out with me. 

Red Deer Calf

After some time, one of the calves got brave enough to come and see what I was doing.


I quite liked the expression on this hinds face. She looks startled, but she is actually just eating and I caught her mid chew.

The Boys; Albus and Olivander

The boys! On his own Olivander looks the business, but then when he is next to Albus he really looks quite small!

Albus, Master Stag

Albus, still the Master Stag. Not sure how much of a rut there will be this year, Albus really is the bigger stronger looking stag.

Back Lit Barn Owl Flying

Finally, Monday night myself and the rest of the keepers went onto the reserve to fly big pete, before going to off to watch some wild barn owls. This one was back lit to show off the wings, only just got away with it as the sun was still a little too high and ideally needed to be taken half hour later, but we were watching the wild barn owls at that time.

Side Lit Barn Owl Flying

And a simple side lit one to end on...

Thanks for looking.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Scottish Wildcat

Scottish Wildcat, Felis silvestris

It is very difficult to take a photograph of a wildcat and have it look like a wildcat!., a nice normal portrait looks like a picture of a tabby cat to most people. Don't get me wrong, myself and I'm sure others that work closely with them, or are really interested in them, could probably pick a wildcat with relative ease. But to Joe Public, and I don't mean that in bad way at all, they look just to similar.

Of course the differences are there, all be it subtle, but it is the behaviour in particular that makes them stand out. So this leads to countless photographs of a snarling wildcat, as a above.

Wildcat Stare

I like a good snarl shot myself, but you don't always need that. It is all in the look to make the wildcat look like a wildcat.

And a Nice Chianti...

This one was one of my earliest wildcat photos, and has been shortlisted a few times in competitions, but never made the finals... It is quite old now so has been retired.

Wildcat in the Snow

If you can't get the look, then having a wildcat in the snow is the best way to go. This is where they should be and where they look their best.

Wildcat in the Snow

Full on winter coat making them appear their true size, the larger feet, head, legs and face really showing through and their tail is the full bushy wildcat tail with the black rings and blunt end.

Peeking in the Snow

This is one of my favourites of the wildcats in the snow, peeking around the vase of a tree trunk where the snow has drifted about 3 foot up it. This was taken a few years a go in the very heavy snow we had one winter.

All three snow photos above are of an old wildcat called Lex... arguably the best male we ever had. Unfortunately he died young, but continues on in his daughters Kendra and Iona.

Wildcat in Evening Light

A couple here a little different, above with the lighting.

Panning Wildcat

And this one attempting a bit of panning. I went for a slower shutter than I would usually use for this one, I think it went okay, but more practise is needed.

Little Tom with the Wildcats

Our three kittens bred here last year are great jumpers, and I have many of them in "supercat" poses flying through the air! It leads to fun photos like the ones above of Little Tom. It may look like he is kicking and throwing the cat, but it is just them jumping for the food he has thrown... honest!

The last one in the row shows you how close they get when they hand feed, you have to be careful feeding them, but they rarely miss.

Jumping Cat

Flying through the air with the fish-eye lens.

Kitten, only a few days old

One of the many advantages of working here is getting to see the rare moments, such as these very young kittens. They are only a few days old here, eyes still closed, I have not seen them this young before or since, but this one litter a few years a go were kept outside Kendra's nest box and successfully reared. This could even be Richy Junior, now on loan at Wildwood.

Young Wildcat

It is lovely seeing the young animals grow and mature, a real pleasure of the job.

Snarling Kitten

Even at this young age they have their characteristic aggression. Weight for weight they are believed to be the most aggressive cat in the world!

Wildcat Kittens

These are two of Iona's kittens from last year, still with their cobalt blue eyes!

Wildcat Kitten

And only a couple of weeks later, the eyes turned already to a browny green.

Dougal: Bonafide BadAss!

This photo is of one of our original wildcats, Dougal. Taken many years a go now with an old point and shoot. Still one of my favourites though as it really shows off his attitude well.

Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Fish-Eye Lens

Otter on Ice - Highly Commended, BWPA 2012

I have a few different lenses for my camera, of which my 70-200 is by far my favourite. If I could only keep one lens, that would be the one, and is on my camera by default. However I do have a soft spot for my fish-eye lens.

The fish-eye lens seems to have a mixed reaction. Some like it, some don't and some really don't. Personally I love it!

When I first heard about the fish-eye lens, I asked a few people what it was and had the same reaction... Quirky little lens, no good for wildlife... after that I wanted to prove them wrong, and did with the photo above..

The photo of this otter, Lilly, is still my highest awarded photo being Highly Commended in the Animal Portrait category in the BWPA back in 2012.

BWPA 2012 Gallery - Taken by Izzy Coomber

Of course I had to have the obligatory cheesy photo taken with it in the Mall Gallery in London... I know what you're thinking, good to see he smartened himself up for the award ceremony!..

It was great to see my photo displayed alongside so manny other truly amazing photographs of British wildlife, and alongside other great amateur and professional photographers.

Badger through Fish-Eye

The fish-eye lens is a bit hit and miss. By this I means it doesn't always work... due to it's uniqueness, it is quite a niche area of photography, and of all my lenses I use it is the one I have the lowest success rate with. But then when it does work, I think it really works well to create something a little unusual, quirky and different.


Perhaps the most fun can be had with quirky portraits. You can see above with the badger and snowy owl, it really distorts the proportions. The closer you get with the lens, the more distorted the photo is, and you can get within an inch with it still focusing.

British Fraggle Centre - 2014

The keeping team of 2014.

Harvest Mouse

The photo above is not the best, but it shows how the lens works. You can see with the sky how it really distorts and bends the picture at the extremities.

Fallow Deer

It is all about how you tilt the lens. Tilting it down slightly will give you the effect of a upwards curve on the horizon, as it the animals for example is on top of the world. You can see this slight effect above, and more extreme on the otter at the top of this post.

Bungalow Foundation Digging

Keeping the camera level gives you a level horizon... it will still bend the extremities, you may be able to see this in the trees on the right and the chalk line at the bottom of this photo, but it is less obvious in the sky where there is nothing to show the curve.

Incidentally, this photo is of the foundations being dug for my bungalow. I was standing only a couple of feet away from the chalk line, so you can see how wide the lens really is, almost taking in 180 degrees!

Deer Paddock in Autumn

Tilting the lens the other way, upwards, you get this downwards curve of the horizon...

Deer Paddock

... and of course the more you tilt, the greater the effect as above. All this means I get some funny looks while taking photos with this lens, as most often it looks like I am pointing the camera in completely the wrong direction!

Fallow Grazing

When ever I do a shoot, I always try to get the fish-eye lens out for a bit unless it is obvious that it really won't work. The one above and below are ones from the fallow deer shoot I did a month or so back now for David.

Fallow Deer

The first a true quirky portrait, and the one above a much more subtle use.

Harvest Mouse

And my most recent fish-eye portrait that I am fairly happy with. A harvest mouse on a sprig of corn. Looking at the harvest mouse photos, I have an idea for a great fish-eye portrait, but it will take a bit of setting up. If I get it, I will post it.

Thanks for looking.