Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012 in a Nutshell

So we have come to the end of 2012 and what a year it has been! I thought I would try in one post to sum up the year that I have had and try to put in to context some of my favorite wildlife moments both through a view finder and without a camera.

My year started in Cornwall. I was in my final year of University and I was racing to finish a project on Cornish Grey Seals. Some of my best wildlife moments of this year are without doubt some of the moments from my third year at university.

Swimming with grey seals is up there undoubtably. I often returned to the same dive site and after a few visits could recognise the same individuals over and over again. Through this identification together with the Cornwall Seal Group, we managed to track one individual seal from the south coast of Cornwall, all the way to St Ives here she had a pup, then we tracked her back to the south coast to the exact same rock I had seen here only a few months before.

It was in mid February when I had my first job for the BBC thanks to a unbelievably generous producer in Bristol. I was a field assistant filming seals in Cornwall and a learnt tons!!!

Since then I have been doing a fair bit for 'Seasons' (an upcoming tv series) and its been so much fun/not to mention how much it has taught me about being a cameraman. I have been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented cameramen and I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given.  I was even lucky enough to spend a few days assisting Simon King, which was an unbelievable opportunity. So unbelievable in fact that having just driven to Cornwall when I received the call, I got back in the car and drove back to Dorset at 3am ready for an 8am start, it just had to be done!!

One of the highlights for sure was filming Nightjar in June, I cant reveal too much but lets just say that it was one of the best weeks of this year and I am very much looking forward to seeing the final sequence. After 4 days of searching for a nightjar nest, using thermal cameras, incredible local knowledge and epic amounts of time we eventually found one......on the final morning of the shoot!!!

My Kingfisher project has really been a great learning curve for me this year and has allowed me to increase the standard of my portfolio. As far as I know it has been the same bird I have photographed since september this year. I wont bore you with KF chat as you have heard enough from me on that front. 

One thing that I have always dreamed of doing is "filming or photographing Kingfishers, for the BBC" and somehow, in a crazy couple of days it actually happened. I was commissioned to photograph a Kingfisher at close range for Richard Hammonds "Miracles of Nature". It was my first TV credit, a dream come true to see a Kingfisher image I had taken on BBC 1. 

As this year has drawn to an end, this last week of awful weather has allowed me to really appreciate how awesome this year has been. I have learnt so much from so many great people and I cant thank the Seasons Team enough for the opportunities I have had.

My top wildlife moment of the year..........

I have a number of goals for next year, and I am prepared to work as hard as I possibly can to achieve them.

Thanks very much for reading. 

Friday, 23 November 2012

New kingfisher location and new app

Today I checked out a new kingfisher site a lot lot closer to home. I'm still not sure about it but I'm going to set up a bushnell on a perch I think looks good to see if there are any kingfishers in the area. I will also work on the site a few mornings at sunrise as I find this a great time to find kingfishers out and about.

The only issue is the fact that the river does not have large banks. This is usually a requirement for kingfishers. But due to there large territories I bet there are a few in the area.

This is also written on the iPhone blogger app so I might be able to write blogs on the move now.

Lets see what happens!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Kingfishers Updated

So Kingfishers........

They really are an addiction for me now. There is something about sitting there waiting, and waiting, then that magical moment when you here their call and they come zooming round the corner and land in front of the hide. It really is the best feeling in my wildlife photography, when an animal I have been waiting for turns up! Getting images is just a bonus as far as I am concerned.

Charlie Hamilton-James said in his book - 'Kingfisher' :

'the whole world can go to hell' while he stands and watches Kingfishers from his hide/kitchen window. I can completely relate to this. Something about them is so captivating. I think it is the years and years I have tried (and failed) to photograph them that has made them ever more special to me personally. Every-time I see one now I appreciate them so much more.

Below are a few of some old images that didn't make it to the last blog post.

I have also been experimenting with black and white. I did not think it would work due to the colours of the KF. Its normally a main part of the images but for some reason. Extract the colour and the images still work for me. I think it shows the kingfisher differently, what do you think?

I had been struggling to come up with new ideas for shots after my last blog post. But in early November I received an email commissioning a shot of a Kingfishers eye for 'Richard Hammonds, Miracles of Nature' I had two days to get the shot and my god it was a challenge!

Firstly I got online and hired a lens from 'Lenses for Hire' it arrived super quick and by 9am the next day I was armed with my weapon of choice. A sigma 150mm macro lens. Then then got to the site and set up a custom perch in an area of the river with no natural over hanging branches. I then set up my hide in the river and camera/tripod 6 inches from the perch. I got in the hide and for the following  7 hours on day one, it rained like I have never seen/felt/heard/tasted rain before. I was never going to get the shot because she (Mable - the kingfisher) was so flighty in the wind and rain and for a macro shot she had to be perfectly still.

I went home empty handed and started to get nervous as I had only a few hours to get the shot the next day. Again I got in the hide in the morning and immediately noticed that the conditions were better. A very long story, very short. I got the shot midway through the second day.

While I had the chance I also took a number of other images of the bird up close. They are more abstract.....

Seeing my work on TV was nuts to say the least. It was only 4 seconds but it was so so cool. 

And a cheeky credit!!

I am currently working on a few other images, so stay tuned. Im very much looking ford to the frosts. My wide angle lens is going to get used a lot to capture her in the winter morning (if she chooses to get out of bed)!!!!!!!!!

Thanks very much for reading. I hope you enjoyed the images. If you have any suggestions / Feedback / ideas for new unique shots let me know. 

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Kingfisher Update

I thought I would do a quick update on my Kingfisher project. Things have been going really well since my last post and I have been able to really push the photography forward and try for new and original images. 

The main reason the project has progressed so well, is due to the site its self. The river runs through the middle of a field which means there are very few over hanging trees. The banks are also only 2 foot tall. This situation means that I can get images quickly by placing a perch out in the the river. When she next does a fly by, she lands on it every time, without fail because there is little else to land on on this stretch of the river. 

I have tried wide angle images, by placing my camera on a tripod close to the perch and wiring the cable release back to me in the hide. I then waited for her to land in postion and then fired away. 
She was,  and still is, completely oblivious to the shutter, it has never effected her. I do however wait for her to settle on the perch for a few seconds before I fire the shutter. I usually do one or two, to remind her of the canon shutter noise, then its fine after that. 

Tamron 10-24mm @10mm full frame 

I love the wide angle images, I am just waiting for nice blue skies to capture them again. Or perhaps some misty winter mornings at sunrise. We will see!!! 

Sigma 120-300mm @120mm full frame

Simga 120-300 @300mm full frame

Sigma 120-300mm @300mm full frame

The following image is so far my favorite from the project. It was taken by pre setting up a 10mm wide angle, on an area I 'hoped' the bird would fly. after three hours in the hide, the bird flew back up river and I jumped out of the hide, I checked the camera and was very pleased with the image on screen. 

Its by no means perfect but its in the right direction. 

Tamron 10-24mm @10mm full frame 

Friday, 28 September 2012

New Website

Hi Everyone,

I am just letting you know that I have a new website up and running as of tonight, Its not 100% completed but then again nothing ever is these days. It has a good selection of my lastest kingfisher work on there however I will be writing a new blog soon to show the progression with the story.

Any way here is a link to my site, -, I would love to here what you thought.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Facebook Page

Here is a link to my facebook page -

I am updating my FB page a lot more often now and there are some new images up there from the last few days.

However I am still  going to update my blog with longer updates and more images every couple of weeks or so. But in the meantime have a look at my page.


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Kingfisher Project part 1

Hi guys,

I have decided to work on a project for the winter. I chose the Kingfisher! Its mainly because it has been a real hard one for me in the past, and I have never really got anything worth keeping. And also because I have a relatively good site for them and its well worth exploring. So Although I have worked there a lot in the past, I have decided to start afresh with this one and re think the site completely.

I am mainly working on video as the whole idea of the film is to add to my showreel. But there is no way I wont take some stills along the way!

I am now working from a hide which I never did before, (I always used cammo netting and natural obstacles) I am also using perches that I have put in and so far they are proving more popular than the existing trees in the area!!!

I am now on my 4th day of the project and so far I have seen the same juvenile female everytime. She has been standing her ground in many of fights and it now looks like she is going to gain the territory and stay for good. I guess the following months and the transition to next spring will tell.

I started by getting there way before sunrise and waiting from there. I had some great views at that time however I soon noticed a massive problem. I was filling memory cards with unusable footage due to poor light therefore high ISO's by far the best thing I have learnt so far (filming in mind) is to get there when the light is good and start from there. Or leave the camera switched off until the light is how you want it. Dont be tempted to shoot if the light is not how you want it. you will just shoot stuff you dont need and/or want. 

Out of interest I got to the site at 1pm the other day and within 10 mins I had the bird on my perch. So I am now able to turn up as and when depending on the light and know the birds will be around. 

I am now working on snapping the lads underwater!!! Now this is going to be a challenge!!! As im mainly filming I am leaving a go pro in place. Constantly recording and hopefully capturing all the action. 


It worked!!!! They are only snapps from video but its work in progress. I am soon going to start working on wide angle SlR and also under water SLR footage. I will bring you that when it arrives on my memory cards. 

Below are a few more screen shots from the filming so far. 

Watch this space!!!!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Brown Hare

Nothing amazing but some images from a few months ago. Its a subject that I have not really worked on before and it was really good to start but it needs far more time that one shoot to get images that really stand out. 

Its something for the future.

I am still alive

Hi Everyone,

Just to let you know, I am still alive!!! I have just seen my last post was in april. I havent given up photography/filmmaking and infact its the complete opposite.

I have been working on a new bbc series as a camera assistant and have been filming wildlife constantly. I have been so busy and a combination of having no time and also shooting work that I cant publish, I have not been able to upload anything. The series is due to be broadcast end of next year.

I have started to update my facebook page again and this might be of some interest to some people as it has some behind the scenes stuff.

Have a look.

Speak Soon,

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Water Voles

Hello all,

I have been looking in to a new Water Vole site over the weekend. Thanks to Stewart Canham for a great introduction and showing me my first Water Vole!!!

The Water Vole is very much in trouble. With a 90% decline in population in the last 40 years, there are not many places that these can be found. However they are great to find and when you see them through the viewfinder it makes it so special.

Staying still and quiet is very important when it comes to photographing these guys. Also its important to find out where they are going and which holes are being used the most. Yesterday we saw three all go to the same small section of bank, so I will be focussing there next time.

My aim is to film over the summer and really try to get some interesting shots that are unique and different to what I have seen before. Im not sure if this is possible however I feel that it is, if I put the hours in.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Short Eared Owls

I have been working on some different stuff this week/ weekend so I will be catching up this week.

The first one is a short eared owl site I have been researching on the internet for ages and finally managed to get to it at the end of last week. It was cool to finally see it after months of google maps. 

However it is very late in the season for short eared owls, and so they were very close to migrating back to there home land......

I managed to get to the site for a few evenings and each I was able to see them but got some distant shots. Next year I am going to try to keep off the shutter until the last minuet, because they tend to keep there distance after they heard the camera. 

Stay tuned for next year. 

Monday, 26 March 2012

Net Entangled Seal

I photographed this seal today! This seal has become entangled in fishing net in the last three weeks! It is one of many seals that have this problem. This is because Seals are inquisitive creatures that will investigate a blue net floating in the water.

The net I am referring to is fishing net. During fishing this becomes caught on an underwater objects or is simply lost and is therefore free to float in the water. It is so so so strong that yesterday I spent half an hour trying to cut some away from a beach and only just managed to do it. I have hands, with thumbs and still could hardly cut the netting from the rock. Imagine how a seal is going to get out of it? Its not! Most of the cases we see here in Cornwall are adult seals with net cut deep into their skin.

I imagine that the levels of discarded net in the Sea is far far higher than what we see on the surface. With many animals caught underwater never to surface again? who knows but its horrible to see such a young seal, with so much growing to do caught in this mess.

I am on monitoring duty tomorrow morning to see if it is there. If it is I am calling the British Divers Marine Life rescue team to get them involved. A cliff decent will be done in silence and out of sight to get to beach level and then an approach to the seal will be made inorder to restrain it and CUT THE NET FREE! 

I have not been eating fish for a few months now, Unless I know where it has come from, and if it has been line caught, because to see this happen to an animal is horrible.

Lets hope for the best! I will report back tomorrow!