Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The difficulties of photographing animals.

I have a secret yearning to be a famous wildlife photographer.  Actually, that’s not true at all, when I consider what’s behind those award winning shots: the before dawn starts, the endless hours stuck in a cramped hide, the repeated frustrations when the beast either doesn’t turn up, doesn’t behave as meant to or just turns his back and walks off away from camera.  I am hampered by a pathological lack of patience (poor Gabrielle) a lack of seriously long lenses and other expensive equipment and the stubborn refusal of wild animals to cooperate.

Let’s take, for example, the sweet little Jenny Wren.  This tiny bird possesses an enormous voice (which is what caught my attention) so perhaps I’d have been better off with a tape recorder instead of a camera.  Belt hung compact camera to the ready, zoom to 300mm equivalent, elbow steadied on oak post and click.  Spot the bird (hint: it's in the centre).

A better idea: we have a couple of peanut feeders outside our window and occasionally, despite some flappy bunting Gabrielle hung, we get one poor dear crash into the glass.  It usually takes them a couple of minutes to stop seeing stars before they gather themselves and fly off ... just enough time for me to get my camera out.  Telephoto lens?  No, I got right up close to the obligingly concussed subject and used the macro setting, waited for it to open its eyes and click.  By the way, it did fly away happily ever after.

And lastly, we’re proud to announce the first of 2011’s lambs and … it’s a boy!  Photogenic he may be, but it’s difficult to get the detail out of the shadow with a black sheep.  I twiddled around with the settings in iPhoto but then couldn’t resist making the grass greener and softening the edges! 
Award-winning photographer?  I think I’ll stick to the day job!


Kanisha said...

Congratulations! I managed to find the wren and another boy!! I do have a black ram who would be happy to offer his services if you fancied seeing if its Dumpling who is responsible for the surfeit of boys!

Stephanie said...

Lovely photos. Your lamb is very handsome. We plan to get our first sheep this year. A few more months till this year's batch of baby camelids start arriving - they need it a bit warmer.
Best wishes,

lyrebird said...

for gabrielle.
soap is easy-peasy. you need a good digital scale and some bowls.
i dissolve the lyre (sodium hydroxide or caustic soda) in the water, stir it and put it aside in a safe place - away from pets etc, while i weigh and mix the oils. these are in a large stainless steel saucepan. i put it on a small portable gas burner - directly, despite being taught to heat it in a bain-marie - as i find it doesn't take long to reach the required temp of around 45 degrees C. the lyre may take a little longer to cool down to around 45 degrees, so sometimes i sit it in a cool bath. then, with a kitch-style stick hand-held blender i wizz it until it reaches the trace stage (described better elsewhere) at which point i add essential oils or oatmeal or ground coffee or whatever. then another mix to make sure it's all combined and then pour it into the prepared mould. i use a big flat plastic tote tray, sprayed with oil and lined with cling wrap. i sometimes "whip" the surface with a fork or, to marble it i will have reserved a little of the mixture and added some natural colour such as clay powder. drizzle or blob this on top and drag a chopstick or skewer through it in opposing directions - you'll get the idea. then cover, wrap it up in towels and let it sit for about a day or so. then i turn it out and cut it up. see - easy. go for it gabrielle!

Unknown said...

I am sure the wren looked better in real life. No doubt difficult photo to take. I love the blue tit and the black lamb though! There is something about black sheep and black lambs and I don't seem to see many around.

I have to say, I have a pet corn snake. The amount of times I delete photos because he moved his head and it's blurred. So yep the fact that animals move and don't keep still makes it hard doesn't it.

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Thanks for all your comments. We now have three boys and one girl, which is ideal, that's to say, easy decisions: the boys will go for meat next year and we'll keep the girl to breed from, along with her two sisters born last year.