2012 Articles

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

30/12/2012

Bandhavgarh National Park in central India is reputed to have the highest density of wild tigers in the world. Reached by a 20 hour train and road journey from Delhi, its habitat of dense bush nonetheless makes tiger sightings elusive. By following deer and monkey alarm calls, we located this magnificent male on our fourth game drive. Low early morning sun was perfectly placed to light his face and emphasise the contours of his muscular physique. For more big cats, visit my Big Cats Gallery. ...more

Lacock Bridge at Dawn

02/12/2012

Clear skies overnight held the promise of frost and crisp early morning light. Even so, I was unprepared for the magnificent pre-dawn sky that unfolded over the Medieval bridge at Lacock. Clouds moved in from the west to be lit spectacularly by the as yet unrisen sun, reflected in the chilly waters of the River Avon. A coating of frost on river bank teasels gave the foreground to complete this composition. A few minutes later, the sun rose, casting ethereal light on Lacock Abbey behind me. ...more

New Forest

11/11/2012

Autumn this year has been spectacular; the combined effect of a wet summer and lack of gales since late October has resulted in golden leaves lasting well into November. I visited the New Forest on a calm sunny day and wandered throiugh Mark Ash Wood, dazzled by by a perfect combination of colour, light and a little early morning mist. ...more

Red Kite Diving

27/10/2012

By late October, the sun is relatively low in the sky, making it easier to photograph birds in flight. The feeding station at Gigrin Farm near Rhayader attracts hundreds of red kites, as well as buzzards, ravens and rooks. The aerobatic kites circle, making tight turns and then suddenly dive to collect food. As they do so, the underside of the bird catches the light perfectly. It requires lightening fast reactions to follow the birds as they dive and a shutter speed of 1/1600th of a second to freeze the action. From previous experience, I also knew that the brightly lit pale underside of a diving kite needs a pre-set exposure of one stop less than for a circling kite.
For more pictures from Gigrin Farm, see my British Birds Gallery. ...more

Mountain Gorilla

15/09/2012

Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park has seven groups of mountain gorillas habituated to human visitors. An hour's trek through farmland and montane rainforest led us to these great apes. Gorillas are best photographed in low contrast, overcast conditions and the Virunga Mountains did not let us down. Under heavy cloud and rain, I had to push the ISO to 2000 in order to get 1/250th of a second at F/8 and make a sharp portrait. Her expression is unfathomable; what does she make of her fellow apes, wearing clothes and pointing cameras?
For more pictures from my Rwanda trip, see my Primates Gallery. ...more

Serengeti

09/09/2012

The shortgrass plains of Tanzania's Serengeti are perfect habitat for cheetahs. We watched this female take up her vantage point on a termite mound, scanning for danger. Joined a few minutes later by one of her two cubs, I like the almost monotone feel to this image, golden cheetahs set against the dry season grass.
For more pictures from my Tanzania trip, see my Mammals Gallery. ...more

Great Migration

07/09/2012

We travelled for two days through the Serengeti to the Mara River in the hope of seeing migrating wildebeeste. After waiting less than an hour beside the Mara River, a group of wildebeeste started to cross. Once one led, hundreds followed. Their movement across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is driven by the rains, which this year have been unusually long. Wildlife photography always requires an element of luck as well as planning. ...more

Water, water everywhere

22/07/2012

Waterfall photography seemed a good prospect for the wettest summer in 100 years. I headed to Ingleton in North Yorkshire, close to which are several of England's finest waterfalls. Using a variable neutral density filter to cut out 99% of the light, I achieved a shutter speed of 13 seconds, showing movement in the water as a milky blur. Deep in a wooded gorge, overcast light suits the subject. ...more

Puffin

18/06/2012

Puffins are easy to photograph when they land but their fast flight is an altogether different challenge. I spent two nights on Skomer with the objective of getting some in flight images. Fortunately, puffins usually make several circuits and attempted landings before they return to their burrows. By carefully following individual birds, I was able predict their landing places and position myself accordingly. Their approach is too fast for autofocus to lock on but in order to land, puffins stall mid air. For a fraction of a second, the camera can freeze the action and grab a sharp image. Which leaves one big question - how can they catch and simultaneously hold so many sand eels? ...more

Hunting at Dusk

09/06/2012

A pair of barn owls regularly nests in a huge old barn near Easton Royal. With permission from the farmer, I placed my hide nearby on several evenings. The first time I photographed an owl leaving the barn to hunt but I thought a more interesting image would be on its return to feed its chicks. The main barn entrance faces east so I placed my hide beside it with the sun behind me. Just before sunset, the first owl returned carrying its prey, its face fully lit by warm light. I had pre-set manual exposure of 1/1000th of a second at F/5.6 and relied on autofocus to lock on. I had just two seconds to fire 17 frames before the owl flew into the shadow cast by the barn. ...more

Swallowtail

06/06/2012

Amongst our rarest, largest and most aristocratic butterflies, swallowtails breed only in the Norfolk Broads. Being strong fliers, they are hard to photograph. A family friend has established a butterfly border in his garden adjacent to Strumpshaw Fen, which swallowtails find irresistable. The dismal weather of early June gave way to a couple of hours sunshine and with my 400mm lens, usually used for birds, I photographed this magnificent butterfly. ...more

Devine Reflection

12/05/2012

The recently constructed font perfectly reflects the wonderful light inside Salisbury Cathedral. By mounting my camera a few millimetres above the water surface I was able to fill a third of the image with the reflection. ...more

Frosted Fritillary

02/04/2012

I marvel at the ability of spring flowers to withstand being frozen solid. Thanks to an unusually warm March, the fritllaries in my garden meadow flowered early this year. Temperatures fell to -5 C at sunrise in the first week of April, covering the delicate chequered flowers in an intricate pattern of frost crystals. ...more

Stargazing

23/03/2012

Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets, form a striking conjunction in the sky this month. From the summit of Glastonbury Tor, I composed this image with St Michael's Tower in the centre, the two planets on the right and the constellation of Orion on the left. A thirty second exposure at ISO 2000 recorded the stars as points and I used a torch to illuminate the tower. The silhouetted figure of another visitor standing in the tower doorway completes the scene.

For more images of the night sky, see my Astrophotography Gallery. ...more

Wolf

04/02/2012

For most of the twentieth century, wolves were absent from Yellowstone National Park. In 1995 they were reintroduced and now number over one hundred individuals. The Lamar Canyon pack is one of the easiest to observe and this wolf approached quite closely as I watched from the roadside. Exposure compenstion of +1 stop was sufficient to correctly expose both the unlit side of the wolf and the snow ...more

Yellowstone in Winter

02/02/2012

In winter, Yellowstone National Park is a wonderland of snow and fire, where steam from erupting geysers turns to ice as it falls. These hoar-frosted trees are surrounded by swirling mist at West Thumb geyser basin.

For more Yellowstone landscapes, see my World Heritage Sites Gallery. ...more

Eagle attack

30/01/2012

The subtropical swamps of Florida are great for wildlife photography as many birds that would be hard to see elsewhere can be approached closely. These immature bald eagles, without the distinctive adult colouration, created panic amongst a flock of American coots with a mock attack. ...more

Gower Landscape Workshop

15/01/2012

I led 23 members of Devizes Camera Club to explore the coastal landscapes of the Gower. The weekend was timed to make the best use of winter light and afternoon low tides, enabling this sunset shot of the tidal island of Worm's Head. Sunday was spent at Three Cliffs Bay, including a ruined castle and a rock arch. To read more, see Devizes Camera Club website. ...more