Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Snow Leopard Cubs

Ok, so most people that know me, know I am sort of animal mad, wildlife photography is where I’d love to specialise in. I thought I would get that out of the way, as to pre-warn everybody that as the heading suggests, it’s been a very exciting time for me and at my local wildlife park, Marwell.

Firstly I must say a HUGE thank you to my fiancée for putting up with my photography madness so far this year and my daughter for dragging her everywhere and to some extent, constantly going on about this.

So ..... several month ago Marwell Wildlife Park announced their snow leopards had finally mated and that their litter was due around the beginning of June 2011.  Subsequent to this the new cubs were reared by their mother and kept inside for 12 weeks, until they had their jabs and were deemed safe.

August 25th was their first release date into their new environment.

As soon as I’d heard I knew I/we had to get over there to see them. Rather excitedly we planned a day out for the Saturday and rushed to their enclosure to see them. We met up with several fellow photographers from the Marwell Photographic Group who had been there since 8.30am (before general public were let in) and they’d said there had been no sighting! Neither had there been a sighting throughout the entire Friday.  We waited for a while and decided it best to walk around the park, see the other animals and come back every now and then for an update. We did this until about 4pm where I was quite happy I’d seen everything and wanted to spend the next few hours waiting by the snow leopard enclosure. Luckily as time passed, there was a buzz of excitement on one side of the enclosure where they could see a small white face appearing from within the dark black entrance. Then several moments later, a head appeared, then a body, white and fluffy, with an expression of pure innocence and wonder. It was amazing sight to see, all that waiting was more than worth it.

Below here is the first photograph I captured on that Saturday the 27th August 2011

Is it safe?
Now, me being me, at first I was over the moon, and couldn’t believe our luck that one cub had decided to venture out without his mothers approval. Then it started to niggle at me, that really, one isn’t enough, I want more, I wanted to see them all ... and not just at the door but outside playing (I don’t ask much). I made a point that day that I wasn’t happy getting a photograph of them, from such a distance you couldn’t see detail (unless you have a huge zoom) or photographing them through the wires so again the images were distracted and unclear.

On the Sunday we had a family hike planned, which didn’t turn out quite as planned so I mentioned perhaps we should go back to Marwell and try again. We arrived at 2pm and went straight up to the enclosure, again it was reported that there had been no sighting of the cubs. I told my fiancée and daughter to go enjoy the rest of the zoo while I waited and I’d text them if anything happened.

What you’ll now see is exactly what happened several hours later, after most people had given up and gone home, a few of us remained and I can only express my joy in sharing the wonders that Marwell do as a conservation park. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

Protective Mother
Cub on the loose!
I'm ready for my Cute shot
I'm still a little unsure about this
Where'd everybody go!
Easy does it ... easy
err which way was it?
Up to mischief
One brave little cub
I'm not always cute, I'm a big fierce snow leopard
Did YOU Know!
Snow leopards have small ears and a thick dense coat with a soft woolly undercoat to help keep their body temperature regulated in the extreme cold. They have large feet to aid at distributing their weight when walking on snow. Their tail can be up to 1m in length which helps for balance and is used as a draught excluder when wrapped around their body to protect from the harsh winters.

Snow leopards are not white! Their coats range from white, yellow, grey, mottled with black spots and rosettes which act as perfect camouflage against the mountain terrain.

They are an endangered species, despite all the charity work and conservation work that we do. 

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Day trip to Lundy Island

While taking a short break between assignments I still make sure I have time to get out and about and most of take my camera. Last weekend I managed to get away to Lundy Island (of the north west coast of Devon) a remote island which became England's first Marine Conservation Zone.

Word of warning, check the weather first! and for those of you who are pure land lovers ..... there's plenty of sick bags on board, as I found out on my trip over. Needless to say the captain of the boat that took us over warned everyone that the seas were slight to moderate .... Moderate ... heed this warning ... Moderate basically means 10ft high waves and you'll probably spend the next 2 hours trying to sit still, stand (without falling over) and trying to avoid becoming another statistic ... holding a sick bag!

Although in saying that, the trip is well worth it, the island is peaceful and beautiful and must for all those hikers, campers and photographers. They even ban mobile phones from the local pub, and if you don't like you can always try the next one ... ah, no wait, there is only 1 pub on Lundy.
All though on our trip we didn't see any Puffin's (my main reason for going) we did enjoy a lovely hike around the island, some great history and landscapes.

Weather was dry, but overcast which is the topic of the next set of photos I'd like to share .... I title these
"The darker side of Lundy"

All alone

Storm coming

Sit and wonder

Angry clouds

Battered Wall 

Time to think

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

My Photography Website

With my photography unit progressing nicely, I have created and made several changes to my website recently, some of which are still under construction. However I thought I would share what I've been up to, photography wise, outside of my 'normal' day to day job.


Please take a look, any feedback is always greatly appreciated. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Tutor Feedback for Assignment 2

Following on from my first assignment I had several reservations over whether or not I was going about this assignment correctly, through the photos I was taking, the written explanations and my blog/record of my progress and learning.

Having now received my second set of feedback from my tutor I am very pleased with the outcome.
Annoyingly I had forgotten to write the camera settings on my hard copy prints I sent in, although they were on my blog (my fault).

Some criticisms were valid; most I had noted in my self-appraisal, some I understand and know I should be doing, but at times I forget. It would also appear I have the right attitude as I progress, which is something I am definitely working on. The perfectionist in me keeps me on my toes.

There are a few areas I don’t agree with, whether this down to personal judgement I’m not sure, although I take onboard all comments and use them to move forward and I’m happy to do so, and in some instances I can see why the image would be improved or viewed differently.
As an example, my final image “Pattern” was an abstract view of a zebra, where I wanted to focus on the stripes and pattern, without drawing any unnecessary attention to other areas of the image. My tutor commented that it would have been nice to have something to hold on to visually, like an eye etc, including part of the head. Whether this would have created a different ‘feel’ to the image I don’t think I know enough to answer. Would it make it better, and is the answer to this subjective? I would say yes, but I don’t know enough to back that up confidently. I do however agree it would bring something more to the image, but in this instance I wanted it to remain more abstract.

Overall the comments and feedback I received have been great and has given me a huge confidence boost. “Very Striking”, “excellent shot”, “good selective focussing”, “beautiful”, “great rhythm” and “finding your own voice” are some of the highlights I am very pleased with.

All that’s left to say is .... On to Assignment 3!