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!