Springwatch has arrived in our garden

We’ve recently treated ourselves to a new toy… an infrared camera trap. Tonight was a trial run with it, and we are utterly delighted with the results… our first ever night time image at 1:57am this morning was Mr Hedgehog having a wander around our orchard. I cannot wait to see if he comes back tonight and whether he brings anyone with him. We have twisted the camera a little further round to the left to try and get a better shot of him as he emerges from the wild. Watch this space…

Security

Elephants are one of nature’s greatest, but most gentle giants. As humans we show an incredible lack of respect to these great mammals, failing to recognise their majesty and grace. Poachers, drought and man-made boundaries are threatening the lives of these amazing creatures. It’s heartbreaking to think how some people can stand in front of these giants, stare past the long beautiful eyelashes into their tiny glassy eyes and think of them nothing more than a trophy that’s there for the taking. We have had the privilege of seeing and communing with elephants both in the wild and at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Nairobi orphanage. It’s impossible for your heart not to break as your orphaned elephant grabs your finger with his exploratory trunk and looks into your eyes with a trust he’s only just beginning to understand. You cannot fail to shed a tear as you witness a new orphan being brought into the orphanage, scared, shaking and crying. In happiness? In sadness? I’m not sure. Ideally none of this would exist, no need for wildlife trust, replaced by an understanding and a safety. But in the absence of that, I have great appreciation for the work of

Blacker Than Black

I love photographs that you don’t understand immediately. Ice? Scree? Rock? Where are we? St Johnsfjorden / Prins Karls Forland in Svalbard. So what? Deception Island in Antarctica looks a dull grey but is ice govered in dust. This is a rock, isn’t it? Fully? That’s the nice thing about ambiguity… it makes you want to get off the boat and *know* what it is, with your boots whacking the floor and textures giving way. The wisps of gorgeous orange light I like, but it’s the wisps of dark that fascinate me.

Review: The Nick Brandt Trilogy

This is a retrospective review of Nick Brandt’s three photography books published between 2005 and 2013, where unusually I will consume them all in one sitting. The final chapter arrived on my doorstep today (9 November 2013) and as it’s been several years since I’ve properly looked through the previous two, I want to review the whole backstory before unwrapping the cellophane. This is therefore a stream-of-consciousness blog, written as I explore the books. While there are some images included I have opted not to take shots of the primary photos, partly because I respect Nick’s copyright but mainly because I don’t think photography books should be spoiled by internet-ready third-party re-shoots of books which are expensive to produce and caringly conceived by editor and publisher. I know I want to re-read the books in sequence because I’ve seen the earlier work, I suppose, and regard it extremely highly – some of most captivating images of African wildlife, some of the most warming, and some of the most cruel. I know to do this also because I know – or assume – the way the story will “end”, because I know what has happened to Africa since 2000 when Nick

Sunset in the Arctic

I was thinking the other day about what my favourite place *to* be would be, as compared to places that I *have* been. The two are obviously conflated, but though I have seem many magical things with wildlife, most often by change, when thinking of places when I’d just like to be there and see what happens I can only think of being on the bow of a ship in the Arctic at sunrise or sunset. This is sunset, made abstract, blurring parts of the cloud layer and sea by panning the camera horizontally on a tripod with a slow exposure (0.6s). It may be abstract but to me it signifies travel, change, movement. From A to B, dissolution, fade. On a boat these are times of controlled peace. In the morning, perhaps 4 or 5am, you rise and gradually piece your polar layers around your body, velcro sticking together, thermal underwear straps wrapping around itself, gloves mysteriously missing, and bring your camera gear together – a far harder task. (“should I take a 10 stop ND filter out when there is no sun?”) To deck, and collect a hot coffee en route, and then haul open the heavy sea