Entries Tagged ‘CJWP- Craig Jones Wildlife Photography’:

End the Cruelty

Filed in Articles on Oct.03, 2019

From the beginning as a wildlife photographer I’ve photographed the beauty of the natural world and also the not so beautiful things I see. Producing thought provoking images to try and bring an awareness to the public of what is happening to the natural world on our watch. It’s very important to me to show the full story not just the nice side.

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The Kay Burley Show

Filed in Articles on Aug.15, 2019

I was invited onto the Kay Burley show as part of sky news recently. Talking about wildlife photography trips, tourism, ethics and the demand placed on wildlife by those that put money before ethics. Every single person that places their feet in another habitat no matter where it is around the world has a duty of care to that country, its people and more importantly the wildlife was my message.

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Back in the Field

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Nov.29, 2012

I’ve just returned from one of my favorite places in the UK, Norfolk, having not been there for a few months due to being really busy with my photography. It was good to reacquaint myself with some of the best places to view this wonderful counties wildlife. I spent the time photographing my own work, working on ideas I have for projects etc. During my time there the weather became testing at times with heavy rainfall that seems to be the pattern for the whole of the UK at the moment.

I wanted to do something a little different to the in-flight images I have using this same technique with this image above. I managed to capture these Oystercatchers running just before taking off,  using a slow shutter speed derived from a low ISO and using an aperture of F5.6 giving me a shutter speed of around 1/30. I still cannot believe you can create something like this with a camera rather than a paint brush.

Whatever the weather and light conditions I truly believe and have always said that there’s always an image to be taken no matter where you are or what situation you find yourself it. This is the advice I always give to my clients, adopting this attitude and ‘can do’ approach will broaden your own ideas along with your creative style resulting in many interesting and different images from your encounters with nature. While at the same time learning new and exciting techniques within your own photography, which can cross over into many different formats of this discipline.

Animal behavior is something I love to capture within my work, and here I managed to capture these Black-tailed Godwits fighting over feeding grounds. You can learn so much from watching wildlife behaviour, and more so the subject you are photographing. Where it can make the difference to your photographs on a massive scale. Sometimes these simple behaviors are right under our noses alot of the time. Always stay tuned into where ever you are and never put the camera down is my best advice.

I had some good sightings during my time there despite tough and testing weather.  Using a mixture of fieldcraft and a touch of luck I had some nice encounters. Thousands of Pink, Greylag, Brent Geese have arrived in good numbers now, filling the skies at dawn and dusk. They were all over the place due to the strong, prevailing winds driving in from the coastline. A lot of them were flying above the clouds which made it hard to see but their calls could still be heard.

When I take clients out on my one to ones or workshops I  go through their cameras and settings, I also cover fieldcraft, wind direction and the use of natural light, enabling all clients to go home with more tools in their ‘own box’, in turn helping to improve in all aspects of wildlife photography. At the same time showing behaviors in wildlife and the subject in question, looking for impending action and movement, using what’s around you to hide and conceal your presence and much more during these action packed days.

There were good numbers of waders around, and almost everywhere I went the ground was water logged due to high volumes of rain fall,  lets hope all wildlife has’nt suffered to much from this wet spell we are having at present. As I said goodbye to Norfolk though, I was treated to a lovely sunset and I captured this lone Kestrel against the setting sun, and also a small group of Greylag Geese flying overhead. Its something of a running joke in that the moment you pack up for home either the subject turns up or the weather changes. This was one of those moments and all you can do is laugh as that’s wildlife photography for you.

It has also been nice to visit some of the areas within the Peak District with clients on one to ones to photograph Red Grouse, Mountain Hares and other iconic moorland wildlife that live in this area. The Red Grouse are a stunning bird and I never tire of showing clients this wonderful bird, so adapted and at home in this testing environment they choose to live in.  Again all my clients got some wonderful images and learned alot about fieldcraft, lighting and much more that I show on their day with me.

A big thank you to all my clients over the last few weeks, I run my workshops and one to ones all over the UK and abroad so if any of the workshops I have mentioned interest you have a look at what I offer on my workshops/photo tours page here.  Christmas is not far away now and the deadline for postage is approaching so if you’d like to order a signed print or canvas from my online store in time for Christmas then have a look here. I also sale alot of gift vouchers at this time of year as they make an amazing present for someone and can be exchanged for goods or services up to the value from my website.

I like to say a big thank you before I go to David and the students on the MSc Biological Photography & Imaging course, University of Nottingham. I was invited to do a talk just before I left for Norfolk about my work and what wildlife photography means to me and the way in which I work. I presented several slideshows and talked through the images with the class..

It was great to talk to the next general of photographers and I thoroughly enjoyed the day. If you would like to book me for a talk then please email me here, I go through lots of images and they are all presented in a way that takes you on a visual journey. While at the same time explaining everything about my photography and the images presented. I have been very lucky over the last twelve months to speak at some great venues. Speaking about my great passion for wildlife, so thank you too all those people that have invited me, many thanks.

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Mull-Eagle Island

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Jun.12, 2012

The birds, the animals, the landscapes along with the local food and drink keep drawing me back to this amazing island more and more each year. It has a magical feel and presence to it, a place I could gladly just sit and watch the world pass me by with no time limit.

I’ve just returned from a wonderful week with clients on my twice yearly photo tour called “Magic of Mull.  The Isle of Mull lies on the west coast of Scotland and has a breathtaking coastline of 300 miles.  The climate is a mixture of rain and sunshine and from the moment you step onto this beautiful island the wildlife is everywhere and the scenery is stunning.  Our base for our 6 day adventure was the picturesque village of Tobermory, made famous by the children’s BBC programme Balormory, with its brightly painted buildings. Our hotel is overlooking the harbour of Tobermory and facing out to Calve Island and the sound of Mull.

Mull’s climate is extremely unpredictable and at any time of year you should be prepared for a wide range of conditions. The weather during our time on the island was good and kind to use. There were days that were overcast where we had rain but on the whole the weather was good.  After meeting everyone at the port of Oban, we took a short ferry ride over to Mull and then went on to our hotel that we were staying at for the week.  We had coffee overlooking the harbour and headed straight out for the day.

The pattern of events for each day were consistant, ensuring that clients get the best out of their time on Mull.  An Early start to get into place at one of the Otter sites to hopefully catch them as they wake and start to fish, then head back to the hotel for our breakfast at around 8am and then collect our packed lunches and head out for the day.

The wildlife on Mull is generally accessible with the few exceptions of specialized birds along with the rare and legally protected birds. These are not to be disturbed or approached as they are very senstive to disturbance, like the White-tailed Eagle below, which are doing really well on Mull, and so is the Golden Eagle.

When I have worked alone on Mull in the past I have stayed in one place for some time, getting a feel of the place, getting connected as I call it.  But while leading a tour here for clients you have to juggle the need to see the wildlife along with the time constraints, as a lot of the wildlife can be viewed only a short distance from the roads, which for me is ok but the way in which I work is working the land so to speak and this is something I was very keen to show the group.

As a group we covered both methods of approach during our stay, where everyone enjoyed the fieldcraft tips and advice.  I also demonstrated how rewarding it can be on many levels when you blend into the environment, leaving the safety of the car and try to become part of the subjects world, thinking about wind direction and movement, in readiness to take the shot if the opportunity came.

During our time on Mull I had organised two great trips on consecutive days, one was three hours watching White Tailed Sea Eagles on one of the Lochs, and the other was a full days trip to the Treshnish Isles.  Due to the White tailed Eagle being so protected and looked after, close up views of these birds is almost impossible so this tip offers that chance.

Today Mull is still one of the best places in the UK to see these amazing birds of prey. After centuries of persecution these birds were wiped out, it was shot, poisoned and its eggs were taken. Rewards were offered of eight pence for anyone killing a bird and twenty shillings for destroying a nest. By 1800, Scotland had become the sea eagles only safe refuge, but even here people were turning against them. Shooting estates wanted all birds of prey destroyed and the Victorian egg collectors wanted their eggs as trophies. Labelled as domestic livestock killers, and killing many game birds, these birds were not tolerated the same as they were centuries before and so bounties began and the slow demise of this bird began at the hands of ill-informed people.

The last breeding pair of White tailed eagles in the UK was recorded on the island of Skye in 1916, and sadly the last reported lone female disappeared from her nest on Shetland in 1918 rendering the bird extinct in the UK, a truly shocking and disgusting story to even write let alone believe we did this to this bird and even today the same is happening to many birds of prey with people having the same attitude.

So after an absence of almost 70 years conservationists were finally given the go-ahead to reintroduce these amazing birds. A total of 82 birds were imported under special licence from nests in Norway. The first wil -bred chick since the extinction was hatched on Mull in 1985 and so the birth of Eagle watch in its early stages was born. One of the many people behind the eagle’s comeback is the RSPB’s David Sexton. His tireless efforts and work started back in those early days is everywhere to see when you are on Mull. I often bump into him on my many trips to Mull each year and last week was no exception. A nice man and for me has brought this bird to many people’s attention which is brilliant.

Along with the Golden Eagle its one of my favourite birds of prey and every time I see this bird my heart beats faster. The boat trip I organise for my clients on their photo tour gives them the best and safest close up view of this amazing bird, by mimicking a fishing trawler towing a small boat it sails into one pair’s territory and gulls follow us. A fish is placed out for the eagle and the engine is killed as we wait in perfect silence for the world’s fourth biggest eagle to show. Without warning this massive bird approaches the boat, circles overhead then dives for the fish, then flies back to the nest all in the matter of minutes.

The bird now has the best protection available in law.  This trip lets people see these birds in the safest way possible, while maintaining complete respect for the bird.  Martin the skipper of Mull Charters gives a good introduction at the beginning of the trip and explains all of the do’s and don’ts. It’s amazing to see these birds so close and every client loves it as much. I would highly recommend the trip and you will be completely blown away by the bird’s size, power and grace.

We visited the small islands of Staffa and Lunga the next day.  Staffa is a beautiful, uninhabited island which is home to hundreds of seabirds and set within waters teeming with marine life.  The island is best known for its magnificent columns of rock. The best place to see this is in Fingal’s Cave. The shapes in the rocks formed by the sea over time are amazing, they look like they have been made by an experienced stone mason rather than the force of mother nature.

Fingla’s cave is very impressive, as you enter the smell of excrement is very strong as nesting birds and bats litter the small ledges and over hangs as you slowly walk in using the path people have used for centuries, a truly amazing place to visit.

One of the best places in the UK to see Puffin’s, Razorbill’s, Guillemots and Seals is Lunga the second small island we visited that day.  It was a small journey to this stunning little island that’s home to my favourite seabird the charismatic Puffin. We spent over two hours on this lovely little island and from the moment you scale the landing steps and head up onto the flat top of the island the Puffins are not far from you.

Their calls can be heard first before they show themselves from the burrows and vegetation hiding them away from view.  We all got into place, settled and let the birds relax and over time if you sit still and don’t make too many movements the Puffins accept your presence and go about their lives around you which is wonderful to witness and watch.

Puffins are going about their lives all in close proximity of you as long as you stay still and make little or no movement, capturing those moments with your camera.  Puffins are beautiful birds to watch and spend time with. Two great days and two excellent day trips.  The rest of the week flew by as we all concentrated on finding the elusive Otters, that had been giving us the slip most of the week.

Along with the White-tailed Eagle, Mull is famous for another amazing bird and another favourite bird of prey of mine the Golden Eagle. These birds are often seen soaring alone in their mountain habitat and aren’t as easy to see as the White-tailed Eagles. We all saw this amazing bird soaring effortlessly then disappearing as quick as they had turned up. I captured one adult bird with the image below flying over its territory among the moody looking clouds which added the ideal backdrop to this stunning bird of prey.

As each day passed by we saw Otters as we drove, hearing the plops and slaps that they make.  I showed everyone what to look for to identify Otter activity, fresh poo, mussels shells and fish bones all real clues to the presence of Otters. The more moisture and bounce to the poo lets you know just how old they are, giving you a real time idea of how long they were in that area and how old the poo is.

On the last day we were all in place and I saw a female Otter hunting in the tidal currents, I signaled one member of the group as soon as I saw this, also telling my client to let the other guys know who were scattered along the coastline. As I made my way over the wet rocks and slipping like a beginner on the TV programme-“Dancing on Ice” she carried on feeding just out of shot. I managed to capture her before she vanished.

Throughout the week the wildlife around the island was amazing and every client got some wonderful images with lots of images of subjects they’d not seen before which was great. We were all sad to leave the island on the Friday but everyone had some great memories of this magical island.

A big thank you to the entire group for your company during our time on Mull, a lot of you were repeat clients so it lovely to see you all again. We had a great laugh and I hope you’ll remember my Puffin impression for the rest of your lives. Its designed to help you in the field and know when they land around you.

Thank you Debbie at the Western isles Hotel, a beautiful hotel overlooking the sound of Mull and Tobermory, the base in which I run my Magic of Mull photo tours each year. Great atmosphere, lovely award winning food and great rooms and service. I hope I helped you all in seeing the amazing wildlife Mull has to offer, and learning more about the island while learning and showing you real and key camera skills and fieldcraft that work on the ground, many thanks and good luck to you all. For more information and next years dates on this amazing photo tour please click here many thanks.

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