Over the last year or so I have been putting peanuts out for a couple of badgers that visit our garden two or three times a week. They don’t come every night and very rarely together, and it can be at anytime after dark Despite my efforts to get them to arrive earlier or even at a regular time none of which have been successful.
However because they often don’t eat all the nuts, we get lots of visits from birds early next morning that clear up the remainder. One such bird is the Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
This bird is skittish to say the least. Three months ago the slightest movement of the camera or even a gust of wind would have this bird disappearing from view. However firing the camera, whilst he is feasting, has over time, taught him to ignore the sounds and movement, which previously scared him senseless. My aim was always to do something different picture wise and I had come up with an idea of placing the camera high in the tree to get an image of him has he worked his way up the tree trunk.
Easier said than done as he has many trees in which to choose from.
Over the last few weeks I have got closer to this bird than I ever have, and one cannot help marvel at the way it goes about its daily life. How did it evolve to become such a specialist?
The woodpecker group of birds are found around the world in different guises. No other bird to my knowledge smashes its beak into such a solid object as a tree, and as in their case, it’s the tree that comes off the worse for wear.
I’m not going to go into to much detail here about how it survives many of you already know about the woodpeckers biological make-up that allows it to behave in such a way, and if you don’t, then Google it, it’s worth doing. My thoughts go past that and ask the question how did they come about?
If any other bird was to try smashing it’s head against a tree the shock wave alone would surely do irreparable damage. At what point did evolution stick a shock absorber in the bird’s head. It’s not as if, this could be done on a gradual basis. It’s one of those things that either works or it doesn’t, and if it doesn’t one dead bird and end of the evolutionary line.
Any way if anyone has the answer I would love to know, meanwhile its back to trying to get some more unusual images of this evolutionary marvel.
This question has been brought to the fore on many occasions, but it is one that I tended to brush aside, wanting to believe it was untrue. The last evening my young daughter aged 11 was showing off her PowerPoint skills to me on her computer. I was impressed; She was flicking round PowerPoint at a speed far greater than I can even now, building graphics and slides with ease.
Then without warning she did something which knocked me over, something I would have never of done probably because I’m a photographer.
Suddenly there was a raft of puppy images on her screen as fast as she could move the mouse one image was selected and inserted into a slide. Hold on I screamed what did you do there. Just adding some pictures to my slides came the reply. Where did you get them from, I’m not sure you should be doing that. Why it’s easy she said. I was horrified it was definitely easy, but my thoughts were with the image creator. Was it theft, turns out that no it wasn’t, getting her to show me where she had got the images, it stated personal usage was allowed, and after all that was all she was using the images for, her own entertainment.
But it did set me thinking if an 11-year-old can do this easily then the picture thief will certainly be able to do it, and unless it gets out into the wider world the chances of you ever discovering that your hard work has been stolen is virtually nil.
It seems the Internet is not a pot full of pluses. High streets are failing tradesmen are losing work to DIY as finding out how to do a job is just a click away. It is a sharing society, this I have no problem with if it’s yours to share.
For law-abiding people who decided to go the legal way to obtain a photo the price has never been so cheap and the piece of mind is priceless, some sites allow free usage providing it’s not for commercial gain. Even so it is really easy just to take it, but I urge you think before you steel that image. If you have ever thought about the level of investment time effort and knowledge in which to get a special image then you’ll know it not easy. Whilst everyone has a camera of some sort it is not everyone who has the eye for an image or indeed the time or desire to sit for hours on end to get it. I for one have started to watermark my images trying to protect my image rights; whilst I know this is not perfect, it does at least deter the casual thief. (Be assured if you purchase the image legitimately the watermark is removed). Above all remember would you be happy if someone walked into your office and stole your hard work and passed it off as their own or even just used it to further their position with out your permission. If this still doesn’t hit home then I’m sure that if someone were to break into your house and steal your stuff by the same token you wouldn’t mind, or would you!
Firstly our hearts go out to all those souls, who face Christmas mopping up, drying out and generally trying to get some form of normality back into their lives here in the U.K.
Many are being flooded for the first time ever, and a lot more are having to start all over again having been flooded twice in as many weeks.
Our thoughts are with you.
A big thank you to all of you for taking the time to check us out, and a special thank you to all who have used our services over the last twelve months. We have enjoyed every minute of working with you.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, prosperous and drier new year.
Were looking forward to working alongside you again in 2013.
There are times when I feel that in this tough economic climate, conservation falls off the scale of a lot of people, or might it be that they just had no interest in the first place.
Whilst visiting family, and taking in the annual Wildphoto’s event, I experienced quite opposite extremes of this, which sort of brought me to the conclusion, that conservation matters to some whilst with others it is of little importance.
Oxford street in London, is to a person who lives in the highlands an experience in its self. Now you have to understand I was feeling quite upbeat on the number of conservation success stories, which have seemed to have been around this year. Though I know there is still much to do, I thought that we are becoming more educated, and responding in a positive manner, putting wrong back to right.
So I find my self climbing the stairs into Oxford Street from the tube station. As I reached the top step the wind from my sails was just taken away in an instance. I could see no pavement in fact I could see very little except people. So many people that I couldn’t even get my bearings.
A policeman’s helmet offered a friendly opportunity to get information. He was stood on the curb-side though I could not possibly have known this at the time. We pushed our way through the sea of bodies, and asked for directions to our chosen destination. he duly obliged. As I looked onto the street, all I could see were large engined cars, all going nowhere. Some drivers were venting anger and frustration by shouting abuse out of windows, others seemed to want to show the world their car had an audible warning device. The whole experience just seemed like as a species we had lost our way, and that the only thing mattered was to buy something else, which in all probability did little to enhance one’s life.
Moving inside to the RGS and wild-photos brought a degree a of sanity back. Here was a room full of delegates, all viewing the work of a number of conservation photographers. This was a reminder of how beautiful and diverse our planet is. Reports on conservation successes, and of work being undertaken by a band of dedicated people for the good of us all. In other words stuff that should be the concern of us all.
One talk however stood head and shoulders above the rest, again there was shame felt by all who sat in that room, as Britta Jaschinski from Germany showed her pictures of animal suffering at the hands of man. You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
If nothing else I think I learnt two things from time in our capital
Firstly imagery still has the power to change attitudes, create emotions and turn wrongs into rights. Photographs and film have in the past changed the way we think and still do so today. However given my Oxford street experience, there is still much work to be done, and to my mind many of us still need to get a perspective on whats really important in life.
Britta’s images are to be used to bring the animals plight to the attention of the chinese government. You can see here work at www.brittphotography.com
Sometimes I despair at people and their comments.
Over the last week two comments have had me in rafts of laughter, which would be even funnier if the people concerned were joking but clearly they were not.
The first comment was about the favourite subject of the British people the weather.
For those outside of the U.K., It has been an unusually wet summer with many outdoor events cancelled. Of course this has hit businesses hard with and estimated 450 million pounds of revenue lost. Serious money.
I was talking to one person whose livelihood obviously depended on such events; he was complaining that his income this year had been dramatically reduced. Next year he said would have to return to normal or he might go out of business. After sympathising with him he then came out the punch line
“The government should do something about it” trying to compose myself I asked what would he would like them to do. Well I don’t know, but I pay my taxes so they should do something. This from an intelligent person, who was clearly looking to blame someone else, for his poor year.
Mr Cameron please take note.
This same sort of attitude came from a comment on the forestry commission website where a dog walker was walking in a Scottish Glen. His complaint was that his dog had found a deer limb and had rushed back to his family with it. Upsetting the children and his wife.
He said there should be a law against leaving limbs of animals lying around. Well Mr Anonymous there is, but given the only predator that the deer has in the U.K. is man, and given that responsible organisations remove whole carcasses after culling such animals. Then the chances are its poachers, which you’ll probably find are not that bothered about the law.
Of course the response from the forestry commission was short and swift.
“ It appears that the area you were walking in is a conservation area and requires that your dogs are under control, your comment suggests otherwise, so if you would like to leave your details we will investigate the matter.”
As a photographer I am constantly looking for new ways to portray a subject. In this digital age there is no shortage of images and despite the high numbers, fewer images seem to move me in a way they once did. But today is different I came across the World Press Photo site and loved the images. http://www.worldpressphoto.org It isn’t the subjects (though there is a wide range) it’s the way the photographers seemed to have done what all photography should do, and taken a snapshot of the moment, whilst capturing the emotion of the subjects. Truly inspirational and some of the best images I have seen in a long time. Good stuff. Congratulations to all the winners.
Let me know your thoughts.
With the arrival of summer (at last) finally I’m seeing butterflies going about their daily business. This is a bit of a relief, as the butterfly count which closed on august 5th for me was a total disaster with not one single sighting in four outings, and it seems that this bleak picture was painted right across the U.K.
Yesterday I was walking at Reelig Glen which is a mixture of old conifer and broad-leaved trees, set in a narrow, steep-sided glen, with the Moniack Burn running through it. This is a great place to see Dippers and Grey wagtails in the spring. Yesterday however seeing a mix of speckled wood and small tortoiseshell butterflies did bring that summer is here feeling that had been missing previously.
The most impressive feature of the woodland in Reelig Glen is the stand of Douglas Fir trees, which are over 100 years old with an average height of between 160 & 170 feet, or 50 metres in new money. One such tree measured in 2000 came in at just over 200 feet in height. When the tree was re-measured it became the tallest tree In Britain at the time.
This has since been surpassed by a Stronardron Douglas Fir, Argyll and Bute. Since being planted in 1849, by Archie Fletcher of Dunans castle, the Stronardron Douglas Fir has grown to a staggering 209ft making it the tallest tree in Britain. The tree is taller than 15 double-decker buses piled on top of each other and would tower above Nelson’s column. Experts say that the tree is still growing by approximately 12 inches per year and remains in good health.