Entries Tagged ‘Wildlife’:

Happy New Year 2015

Filed in Charities, Workshops on Jan.01, 2015

Happy New Year to all my followers and clients past and present, 2014 is now gone and we begin a new year. This year at Christmas I wanted to do something for my local community so with two good friends we managed to raised just over £1800 pounds to give local children something to open on the big day. I sold off 4 limited edition Tiger prints, someone donated a signed football shirt and locals donated what they could to our online donating page.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

In the end we managed to buy lots of toys for this local charity that cares for women and children that purely replies on donations. The Arch charity have four refuges for women and children who have experienced, or are at risk of, domestic abuse. They offer accommodation and a place of safety where customers can rebuild their lives before moving on to independence.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Once we had brought everything the next day we dropped everything off and it was a humbling and moving day in many ways, tinted with sadness these places are full to the brim with children hurt and abused along with their mums. When you see people trying to help it restores your faith in mankind. A big thank you to everyone who donated and helped, the toys were divided up between the many safe places this charity runs and all the children had lots to open on Christmas day which was our aim.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

After such a moving few days and eating lots over the Christmas period it was back to what I love, being among nature with my camera, working on forthcoming projects that I hope to really spend alot of time on this year. Here are a few of my favorites before the colder weather closed in and the snow came down

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

So with a weather warning in place, roads closed and quite alot of snow fall on the higher grounds I set off for the Peak District. Extreme weather tests you and your resolve, the wildlife still comes out to feed and carry on their daily life. With a blanket of fresh snow and no tracks walking up to 600m in the dark with a small head torch can be quite strange as everything is covered and you can get very disoriented.Using a compass bearing on your small map and stopping every 100m to get a new bearing you can’t really go wrong when everything around you looks the same and its pitch black.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Once up at the top, I sat down in a small ditch and listened and watched the best I could. You suddenly hear calls, rustling and so forth and in the absence of clear vision your other senses work overtime to compensate you can build up a picture of what’s happening around you and who is around you.

Soon the Red Grouse were calling, seeing each other off with calls all varying in their loudness and pitch. I often feel as though I’m intruding into their world as they wake around me, unaware I’m hiding in the snow. The key to wildlife photography for me is fieldcraft, something I have said, used and applied from the very first image I took years back.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Every living animal knows your there so no matter what you dress as or look like they will have seen you and heard you well before you ever see them. Its how you as the person deals with that level of distribution that’s key and the foundation to your own fieldcraft. Red Grouse are mainly low to the ground, often out of sight, they do two things when they first see you – Fly off, exploding out of the heather and making you jump as you never saw them, or second they see you, put their heads above the heather and call, the sound, pitch and notes they call will depict how concerned they are about your presence.

Go to ground, make yourself small, offer no threat and their calls will slowly start to slow down, fading into a small chuckle and their heads go back down level with the heather as they start feeding once more. The key then is how you get up, get your gear ready and transverse the landscape between you and them without impacting on them and that takes time and skills you can only really learn on the ground yourself.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Those of you that have been with me to the Peak District will know what I mean and I have shown you on the ground how to move and work with these Red grouse and often with a bit of luck you can get really lucky once you apply those fieldcraft skills.

Fieldcraft is a word rarely used today in wildlife photography, many wildlife photographers have never used it now embrace it and talk as though they know it well and it’s their skill. For me it’s the most important element to your wildlife photography and from day one it’s the word I have always used and gone on about. I have written many articles and run many workshops and one to ones covering this topic from the very first day of turning professional.

The following images are all as a result of fieldcraft, subject knowledge, luck and a few elements coming together from today. Many Red Grouse males were calling today and its wonderful to see them outstretched when they are calling, their red wattles above their eyes full with testosterone as they call for the females and mark out their patch. One image is of the female who is a brown colour as she sits on the eggs more than the male and she is captured looking at me head on with a surprised look. All the other images are of males and one is bathing in the fresh snow, cleaning his feathers which was funny to watch.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/

Craig Jones wildlife photography

Fieldcraft can be different from one animal to another. Real fieldcraft is where you arrive somewhere and through your own skills and ethics work out what’s around you, you find tracks, prints, poo and wait and watch and it’s something I have done most of my life. You cant buy this skill, you cant just turn up and the wildlife will be there you can learn it though in its simplest form and then apply it to your photography.

The rewards are massive in the end as you see the animal in its true form and see and witness things you never would see normally. Learning a great deal more about the subject which benefits you and the animal as you can see and watch you subject and learn from them. Fieldcraft and ethics go together for me and its good more and more people are becoming aware of this now and talking about it.

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/workshops.php

https://www.craigjoneswildlifephotography.co.uk/workshops.php

Workshop news and I have a few places for my Wolves trip in July, a few miles from the Russia border. The trip details are here if you’d like to join me. A real highlight for me in 2014 was seeing and spending time watching this family of Wolves, they are so beautiful and intelligent its beyond words. The following slideshow covers my 2014 trip there and a bit of what my clients and I saw.

To see all the other trips, One to Ones and photo tours I run then please click here.

A massive thanks once more to everyone that donated to our toys appeal, thank you to everyone I met in 2014 and for your business and I look forward to meeting new and old clients in 2015. The last twelve months have been really busy for me and this year will be the same, with lots of trips planned alongside my own projects closer to home that I look forward to posting here on my blog. All the very best to you all and thanks again.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Ranthambhore Live-Our Luck Continues

Filed in Articles on Apr.22, 2014

After two days of driving too and from Ranthambhore to Delhi airport, dropping off the first weeks clients and picking up the new ones it was good to be back on the trail of the Tigers. Once again my new client hadn’t ever seen a Tiger and it was his wish and dream to see one in the wild. After our morning coffee and a routine I was so use too now,we entered Ranthambhore this morning. The noise, and chaotic nature of Delhi replaced with the calm and beautiful morning light.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Both of my jeeps were allocated their zones and once more we set off on a well practised routine. The mornings are so special in Ranthanbhore, the smells, the flowers, the light, you can even smell some of the animals and where they have scent marked certain trees etc.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Once we entered our zone it wasn’t long before we heard Samba Deer alarm calls, often this is the first sound you hear that may indicate there is a Tiger around. We stop the jeep, turn the engine off and just listen.  By listening and letting nature tell you whats happening around you there is some much you can learn and lots of information that can be gathered by doing this.

On this occasion the noise and calls just slowly stopped and we started our jeep and continued on the small dirt track you have to stay on throughout the whole duration of your safari. While you search and look there is so much to see, as Ranthambhore is far more than just Tigers.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

We carried on, then in a flash..”Tiger..Tiger” those famous words over the years I have become accustom too. We looked over to our right and there was a big male Tiger cleaning himself. He was T23, a very rarely seen and shy dominate male of that area. My client took some images, people including myself often freeze on their first view of a wild Tiger but the noise of his shutter going indicated he was fine.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

He was very aware of us, and getting a closer view amongst the dense habitat was a little tough. Within a few moments though he got up and vanished as quickly as we had found him. Clients always wish to see a wild Tiger, thats why they book this trip with me but I have to say as I remember it well. There is no better feeling than seeing your first Tiger and now in my case seeing your clients see their first so I was overjoyed here.

We tired to track him but he went deep into the forest and you have to stay on that small dirt track within your zone which is for the welfare of the Tigers and the safely of people in the jeeps. We carried on and once more you settle into the routine of listening, turning the engine off, ands watching for tracks and clues. The mornings for me always often up the best chances to see Tigers as its cooler and they transverse their territories during this time.

Craig Jones Wildlife photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

After capturing alittle more of the wildlife of Ranthambhore later we had a chance encounter with T19. We didn’t see her cubs this time as she was hunting but it was still a wonderful moment and for my new client having never seen a wild Tiger to now seeing two in his first day was amazing. My other jeep also had some amazing encounters with T19 and her cubs so all and all another great day on the first day of the second trip.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Ever client from my 2014 trip now had seen and got some lovely images of Wild Bengal Tigers which is what I always try to deliver, but nothing can ever be promised as these are wild animals and don’t turn up when you want them or land or sit somewhere where you have enticed them into with food. So nothing can be promised and no image can be planned you really just take what you can and get.

I hope our luck as a group continues after this first day with 5 more days of safaris left. I will report back in a few days time and I hope you are enjoying these blogs back home. If you would like to join me on my 2015 trip then please click here for more information, all the best from Ranthambhore, India.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Stunning Shetland

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Jul.02, 2013

I have just returned from the Shetland Islands, it is a wildlife photographer’s paradise with many opportunities to see and capture the amazing wildlife this island has on offer in beautiful light. I spent sometime on my own before my clients turned up to spend a week with me. Shetland’s 1200 mile long shoreline with its very varied habitat is the main reason why wildlife finds the islands so attractive.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Our photo-tour was timed to coincide with the height of summer where daylight lasts for almost 24 hrs.  Sea bird colonies will be frantically feeding their young, waders filling the air with their calls and Otters going about their lives all around us. I also loved the islands Shetland Ponies as captured in the image below.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

What makes these Shetland Island sea birds so special is not just the quantity and variety of birds but their spectacular setting. Nowhere else in Britain, and hardly anywhere in Europe, can you get so close, so easily, to so many sea birds in such awe-inspiring scenery. It’s one of the best places also to see Otters playing, feeding all along the shores of this incredible island. The Shetland islands remind me of the Falklands Islands with the open landscape and vast areas of rocky outcrops and high peaks leading to mountains. 

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Once I had picked up my clients we had a wonderful afternoon firstly at Sumburgh Head to photographing  the beautiful Puffins and other stunning sea birds that live on this south coast of the Shetland islands. Then it was on to our cottage and then straight out to encounter the amazing and varied wildlife Shetland has to offer. The pattern of each day was almost the same travelling to the well known areas for Otters, Waders and other amazing wildlife this island has to offer.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Each offering unrivalled views of some of the most amazing nesting colonies of Gannets, Razorbills and other seabirds all clinging to this vast cliffs at both of the places.  On the Monday we took the boat to Noss, a small island home to one of the biggest colonies of breeding gannets anywhere in the world.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Once you witness this place you feel dwarfed from your small craft, looking up at the vast cliffs and hearing the noises of these birds all communicating to each other. The smells too are very strong but the sheer size and scale of this place is unbelievable and my clients were completely blown away by it all. 

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

I had an amazing encounter with a female Otter during those first days on the island. She swam around then brought ashore a large fish and the key is to try and work out where and when she would come ashore. This time I got it right and she came ashore some twenty foot to my front. The wind direction was in my favour, blowing away my scent and the noise of the waves broke any shutter noise up. These images capture a magical fifteen minutes with her a really special encounter.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

On the Tuesday we took another boat trip, this time to ferries to reach Hermenss nature reserve. After the tough walk to the cliffs what awaits you is just stunning, truly stunning.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

You carry on for sometime, carrying your full kit, it does get you warm to say the least. Once you start to reach the cliffs to your front, the noise and pitch of the noise and calls begin to increase, its almost like your getting closer to a massive speaker system. The land to your front starts to level out and you see the sea at first. As you then start to double check where you put your feet as the ground starts to slope off in the direction of the sea. What then comes into view is one of if not the best and biggest breeding colonies of Gannets anywhere in the world and you cannot fail to just stand there and admire what you are now viewing, wondering is this place real.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

The sheer size is something you have to see to believe and I walked around the top of these cliffs and came across a lone female sitting on her egg, tucked right up inside a small ledge with the background in a shaded part of the cliff. By under-exposing I was able to throw out the background light and create this dark effect which features strongly in my work and always has done. I waited to see if she would move or change her position and I was rewarded with her grooming and looking around her captured with these images.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Iain who helped my with my trip and lives on the Shetland island took this image of me at the top of the cliffs looking down on this lone female and the view was just amazing.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Both days offered some amazing images for all clients and they duly filled many memory cards with brilliant images from both boat trips I had planned.The rest of the week we looked for Otters and at times the weather was often against us with pouring rain making looking for those Otters just that but more difficult with choppy sea conditions replacing those calm conditions that help you when looking for tale tell Otter signs. My clients did see Otters but getting them ashore proved harder that it looked.

While looking for Otters and laying in wait at several top sites there was an abundance of wildlife around us. This place is just amazing for its wildlife and dramatic coastlines of rugged cliffs and pounding seas. Each day was rounded off with a lovely, home-made three course meal made by Iains wife that was the perfect end to those long days.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Its hard to do this place and its wildlife justice with these few images but I have chosen a mixture of my favourite ones for you. from Otters, to waders, and Seals to the varied flowers/amazing orchids and fauna this island offers up. All my clients had some amazing images from the week and I would like to thank them all for their company and the many laughs we had along the way.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

The seas around the Shetland Islands support so much wildlife too the place is just amazing,

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography

A massive thanks to Iain and his wife Anne who are good friends and live on this amazing island for their help in making my Stunning Shetland photo tour a great successes. I have put up next years dates now and interest has been amazing already from my updates on Facebook and Twitter I posted while I was there. If you would like to join me next year in July where I will show you some of the beautiful islands wildlife during the week long photo tour at the same time improve your own wildlife photography then click on this link for all the details and information, many thanks.

Craig Jones Wildlife Photography


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Merry Christmas

Filed in In the Press, Projects, Wildlife on Dec.19, 2011

As the year draws to an end now and my favourite time of year is just around the corner; Christmas, I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Many thanks to all the wonderful people I have met this year on my workshops and trips and I do really hope I have helped you all, inspired you all in seeing the wonderful and amazing world of wildlife around us at the same time getting the very best from your kit to use on the ground in the simplest of ways. I look forward to welcoming all my clients booked on my many trips for next year and one to ones.

With all my Christmas shopping done early this year I spent the least amount of time within the urban jungle I live in, fighting my way through this habitat in which I am least equipped for, I just have the last dash before Christmas to get the cream for my trifle, which I do each year, a family recipe from my late mum which I still make each Christmas as a form of comfort in more ways than one.

Having done this all early this has allowed me more time to carry on my work with the amazing and graceful Short eared Owls on the north west coast of the UK. Having spent many days and hours at these owl sites I have got use to alot of their patterns, their larders in which they store their catch while the going is good. They are beautiful birds and often I have this place to myself as I watch for the slightest movement on the ground.  They are normally late risers and their liking for a lie in sometimes catches you off guard and one minute nothing.

Then once you make a cup of tea or do something else and look up there before you is the flapping of their wings and the faint call or hiss as they awaken and start gliding through the air with those large wings, a mixture of beats and flaps followed by a graceful soar then this routine is repeated as they hunt. I am always greatly touched upon seeing wildlife go about their lives around me and this spurs me on to hide away more, not wanting to break that trust you build up over time.

These images I have been processing took me back to my recent time spent with these owls, where I relived every moment as I was processing each special moment captured. Some I shot into the natural light, some I under-exposed and over-exposed creating a hi key effect which I love. I also used the blurring effect to create movement with some, this gives the image a sense of movement and when shot in portrait composition it gives a dramatic effect which brings my creative side to the surface. You pick up the subject as early as possible then with your camera and lens firmly attached to your tripod follow or pan keeping your focus on the subject the best you can.

Hidden away having watched these owls now for some time I got alot of information about their ways and patterns and I chose to hide away, low to the ground hidden and camouflaged with the wind in my face to take any noise away from the approaching owl, no fast movements, nothing that would make these owls jump or be scared in his pursuit of food.

I saw him coming towards me so here I waited, waited and then once he was so close he almost filled my viewfinder and I pressed my shutter capturing several amazing close ups, this is one I love with the sense of movement captured in the wings by the slow shutter speed while I nailed the focus on his face, giving that sense of impending movement to the image. Every moment I spend with nature is special to me and everyday my life is enriched with its beauty and time spent with these owls of late was no exception, a wonderful, close, special moment with this owl as he went about his business and I watched and marvelled at his skills in hunting and catching prey, his flight patterns, his calls, his ability to fly and turn without warning, just amazing!

For me wildlife photography is about using your skills and knowledge of wildlife together in the pursuit of capturing an image from the wild where nothing has been changed by man. As a professional I think I have a duty of care to not only the subject but also to the general public to show an image as seen on the ground. This approach is the whole foundation to my work. In an age when there are lovely images everywhere you look I think images should be judged today on the amount of effort and knowledge and fieldcraft used in order to capture an image as personally I don’t like anything that is to contrived or set up where the animal is made to do something in order to get an image almost like a master and servant, where if you do something you get a prize for that, it has to be unplanned, unscripted and true for me.

My passion for wildlife goes alot deeper than just an image, I watch, study, listen and spend time in watching their behaviour, trying to work with the animals and sometimes when I get an image I feel I have cheated the subject by using my skills in capturing that given image by laying in weight having studied them I hope that makes sense. When I watch an animal I have that connection and I shoot with my heart and eye and I build that trust and care for the subject and when I have taken the image and captured that priceless moment I worry if I have betrayed that trust built up through patience, fieldcraft and care.

I care about every image I take and what I do, I love wildlife and nature means the world to me, it has helped me in life and instilled a great peace from an early age, nature helps in many ways, its beauty brings joy in so many ways and its presence in people lives helps them to live and breathe and at this special time of year it’s even more important I feel to embrace what we have around us all. A few of my favorite images from the last twelve months are in the following slideshow, showing the true beauty of wildlife.

One of my Barn Owl images graces January’s issue of the much respected BBC Wildlife magazine which is on sale now, its always lovely to see your work in print. I spent two months watching and photographing this male Barn Owl during one of the countries coldest spells of weather for decades. At times it was hard to watch as he was hunting in all weathers and times of the day in a desperate attempt to feed in order to survive, how cruel nature can be to its own sometimes. he did survive though and all ending well for this fellow. Thank you to Wanda for requesting the image and Sophie Stafford, the editor, for having this image in your magazine.

Photography Training for Photographers

And just before I go I wanted to just update you all as I go live in the new year as PhotoTraining4U’s Wildlife Master. I will be doing a series of short films following me through some of my work in the field, tips and advice when working with animals in the wild and much more. You will see how I work, get a chance to ask questions relating to my work or questions, advice and help in regard to your own work. If you wish to join then quote the following affiliate code: 7816 when joining. Click on the small icon above and this will take you to this site which is an online site for all your photography needs.

It just leaves me to say I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and new year and I wish you all the best for 2012, many thanks.


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Dartford Warbler-Natures Beauty

Filed in Wildlife on Mar.19, 2011

The highly secretive and stunningly beautiful  Dartford Warbler  photographed here among its health land habitat further North from its more Southernmost stronghold in the UK.  A tiny, secretive bird, often only ever glimpsed darting between bushes on lowland heaths.  They emit a harsh rattling call before vanishing into cover, only to reappear somewhere else having worked their way through the thick cover they love to live in.  I have been really lucky to have seen this bird so close after travelling to many wonderful places in the UK on the lookout for this attractive bird with a hope of seeing and photographing its beauty.  The Dartford Warbler is rare in the UK and lives almost exclusively in the South.  It was first found in England in 1787.

To watch him was amazing, his lively and very nimble movements, hoping from one perch to another, twitching his wings and tail every so often. He spent long periods concealed in the vegetation offering only the briefest of glimpses, his bright red, angry looking eye peering at me from the thick, thorny thickets.  Every so often he’d appear and gain the highest vantage point in which to sing from, his song was very distinctive and harsh and high in pitch once heard you never forget this call and then he’d vanish for a while.  The first indicator he was around was his call, as it stood out among the other bird calls on the moors.

The challenge was to second guess where he’d appear allowing me a clean, full length photograph of him, using fieldcraft and blending in, as I was not using a hide making it hard to pin down a certain place he’d appear and come out from cover using the many natural perches open to him.  The colour of these birds set them apart from many UK birds for me, a dark grey head and back with a dark wine-red chest and underside with white fine spots on and the most beautiful eyes you’ve seen in a bird, bright red, almost angry looking in appearance, just a stunning bird standing as proud as punch singing away among the heathlands, an amazing time with this amazing bird.

What truely amazed me was how well the different colours of this bird blended into his environment, where the colours of mother nature worked together so well in letting this shy bird completely blend in and become totally unseen. The rich colours of the heathland lending their colours almost identically to those of the Dartford Warbler , a clear view to just how wonderful nature his.

In the past the bird has been vulnerable to changes in climate and two harsh winters left just 11 pairs of the bird in 1963, but Britain’s most colourful warbler is spreading its territorial wings having returned to Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia, there are now more than 3,000 pairs – the highest tally for more than 40 years. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the recent rise in numbers – to an estimated 3,208 pairs from 1,890 in 1994 – is due both to milder winters and improvements in the conservation of heathland habitats.

But the latest reports indicate after the two harsh winters the birds numbers may have dropped significantly, Cold weather in 2009, 2010 caused a 90% reduction in warbler numbers across the South of the UK . However, freezing weather and snow in the early parts of 2009 and 2010 and earlier this year have caused great concern that these small birds could die out, with a crash in numbers in their southern stronghold of the UK.

A truely stunning bird with a call you’ll never forget once you hear it, just amazing to see these birds within their natural habitat and I will be going back soon where hopefully he will have stayed and may have a mate around as during all the time there I never saw a female and his behaviour would indicate with his ever present singing he was looking for the female, marking his patch, defending his territory from other birds, more so Stonechats that share the same habitat.  I hope to photograph this amazing bird again during the year.


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Barn Owl

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Wildlife on Oct.21, 2010

Over the last couple of days the weather seems to have become a little colder which results in those frosty, sunny mornings I love, where the cold hits the back of your throat  while at the same time the sun comes up and bathes the countryside in a beautiful warm glow. Most of my wildlife photography is where I like to work the land, finding whats around me and the areas I visit, tracking through foot prints and waste food and droppings trying to build a picture in my head what has passed by or has visited recently.  So over the last few days I have had a break from the Deer Rut and have been walking in my local countryside not to far from my Staffordshire home.  A lot of the countryside at the moment has been harvested meaning sort, rough grazing and grass, crop etc ideal for one of my favorite UK birds, the Barn Owl.

While out walking over the last few days my attention was drawn to a few feathers, one a primary and the others being belly or flank feathers softer in appearance than the primary, white in appearance and in and around a prominent natural perch I had come across.  There was also white droppings at the base telling me this was a popular perch maybe for a Barn Owl,  I found a few small pellets or a mass of hair as they looked and upon separating them, something I loved to do as a child, tiring to rebuild the skeleton to found out what the prey was.  I found a small set of bones and a jaw bone from a tiny rodent and I knew then that this area and perch were being used by a Barn Owl.

And here he was, with primary/secondarie feathers missing in his wing, the sunrise was amazing with a small blanket of frost all over the ground, not a bad frost but just enough to give that crunch sound under foot when walking, which by the way is not great when you are stalking a wild animal. I have spent a few days there and have watched this male hunt, he seems to have appeared from knowhere, as often Barn Owls do outside of the breeding season as they can become quit nomadic, wondering the countryside on the lookout for prey.

Amazing birds that I call the Ghost due to the fact without warning and no clue they can just turn up, hunt for a few minutes make eye contact with you as you witness their very distinctive appearance with a white heart-shaped face with no ear tufts and sharp black eyes all contributing to its striking appearance. Those large black eyes only let the Barn Owl look forward in a fixed position and cannot move to the side so consequently the Barn Owl has to turn its head to see to the side or back. Their hearing is amazing and the ability to locate prey by sound alone is one of the best in the animal kingdom.

Barn Owls are fascinating creatures and anytime I spend with these amazing birds is priceless.  I have been back a couple of times and been able to capture him a few more times, I do feel with no sightings in the past here he may just be passing through so in the meantime its a very welcome treat for me among my other projects I am working on at present including;  Mountain Hares, Short-eared Owls and my little female Kingfisher on the river Trent. 

My advice would be to walk the land and watch and look for clues of whats around and you maybe surprised at what you find as this time of year so much wildlife is on the move in readiness for the oncoming winter.  This for me is the true meaning of fieldcraft a word I hear used alot within wildlife photography, but fieldcraft means to use whats around you, reading the clues and signals all animals leave behind where most if not all the clues are right there all you have to do is just look that bit closer. 

Your reward will be something you have seen and learned all about yourself and when the subject appears as did this Barn Owl its a great moment as you view a moment in their lives something I truly love.  Its one of the main things I teach and show on my One To Ones and Workshops in order for the client(s) to take this skill away with them.  So they can apply this in their own photography and get close to wildlife without impacting on the subjects life. If you would like any further advice or help on anything I have raised then please send me an email here many thanks.


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Favourite Places

Filed in Photography Tips, Wildlife on Jun.20, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have found myself almost tied to my desk either compiling my four-coming trips to India and Kenya and so forth,editing images and making submissions,and processing images.So to find some peace and quiet away from these tasks I like the least I have found myself drawn to some of my favourite places within nature,places I have been so,so many times over the years.So on the odd days I’ve had spare I’ve replaced the pen for my camera and visited the coast,my Barn Owl and my Dipper sites to which I have committed myself to capturing these animals over a twelve month period,through the changing seasons.

Where I have resisted in parts the temptation to fill the frame with the subject on most occasions,instead capturing my style where I love to include some of the surrounding habitat.By doing this I feel the image can tell more of a story about the animal and it’s relationship with the environment.Where the subject itself may be very small in the frame,this helps to illustrate the scale of the landscape and something I have always been drawn towards in my work.But as shown below a large in the frame image works in giving a close up into their world.

Dipper

Dipper

Composition plays a key role in this type of image so its important to remember the Rule Of Thirds that I covered in a previous post on‘Composition’ remembering to place the subject away from the centre of the frame.

I have three Dippers sites I am visiting quite regular,time permitting at present,compiling images throughout the year, where all birds are all doing well in different ways within the Peak District,Derbyshire.These birds as you know if you are a regular visitor to my blog have amazed my from when i was a small lad,and they still amaze me to this day,with their character and constent  ‘Dipping’ behaviour ever present when you first see these birds in and around freshwater.Dippers nest early and in alot of cases can have a second brood of chicks throughout the season.One pair I have watched are feeding around three at present,when their parent lands the cries and screaming from the chicks in the nest is deafening,piercing through the noise from the fast flowing water close to their nest.

Dipper

Dipper

I run Dipper Of The Dales one day workshops,where I take you to the best site depending on the time of year within the Peak District.Giving you the chance to see and photography these Master’s Of The River

Also on the same stretch of river is a family of Grey Wagtails,where I have enjoyed watching their intense and frantic movement gathering food for the chicks,with the male pausing for a second in these lovely shaped tree branches below before he entered the nest,with a bit of a chance shot of the bird taking off using a slow shutter speed below this,beautiful to watch all this happening as its a great time to go out and watch wildlife now,with parents feeding young,juveniles having left the safety of their homes all happening around you as you immerse yourself in nature.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

I have also been able to have a few days at the coast photographing Seabird’s,with the Puffin being high on my wish list again.I just love the clown-like faces on these beautiful birds,which apart from the four months of the year they come ashore to breed they spend the other eight months,living and feeding at sea,now that’s a very hardy bird.

Puffin

Puffin

My image called Fighting Puffins made the final round of this year’s BBC Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010,where I was chuffed to bits as it was the first year I had entered this highly prestigious competition,with ten images in the semi-finals,and one in the final round,below is the image of two male Puffins fighting over a woman.

Fighting Puffins

Where if you click onto the link here it will take you to the site,put in craigjones00@hotmail.co.uk and the code 223682 and you will see the fore mentioned images.Good luck to all those that have won there respective categories and now go forward to the big prize..co.uk

With my most enjoyable time of late being in photographing Barn Owls in the lovely evening light we’ve been afforded lately.This is the male I have photographed from the beginning of the year who survived the prolonged cold spell,he’s doing really well and has young to feed at the moment.Here he is seen small in the frame with the surrounding habitat turning this beautiful red and orange-yellow colour as the sun had almost set,just beautiful.

Barn Owl

A big thank you to all the interest I have had in regard to my Limited Edition Tiger prints,that are now officially on  21 Century Tiger website,promoting these images,where 50% of the profits go to helping Wild Tigers as I really wanted to help these amazing animals that I was privileged to see earlier this year in India.

My Tigers Of India photo-tour is now live on my workshops page,which promises to be an amazing adventure over the 8 days,also my Amazing Africa photo-tour is now live also .Where I am running a Photo-Tour to Kenya to photograph the Masai Mara Migration this year and next year alongside Paul McDougall who runs PhotographyKenya another amazing trip for wildlife photographer’s and enthusiasts alike.What ever you’d like to photograph it is really, as said a great time to go outdoors to photograph wildlife right now,where nature will always be challenging but when it all comes together there can surely no better feeling and satisfaction as a photographer in getting your images,good luck.

CJWP


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RAW India-The Final Days

Filed in Wildlife, Workshops on May.18, 2010

The trip so far had surpassed my wildest dreams in regard to seeing a wild Royal Bengal Tiger during my trip toRanthambore,India,so with the final few days approaching I was filled with mixed emotions as I wanted to stay longer as I’d grown very attacted to these beautiful animals and was sad the end was almost in sight.Some of the close encounters I had were indeed a mixture of things,one being my brilliant guides,Salim and Raj but also I felt lady luck had some how played her hand in this, as the whole trip took me 3 months to plan,my original flight and booking was lost due to the Volcanic plumes of air over British air space,yet through all the ups and downs,never giving in I got here.The biggest support I had through all this was my wonderful wife Vanessa,who had helped me so much with the trip,it wouldn’t have been possible without your help,so thank you to my lovely wife,Vanessa.

Royal Bengal Tiger

I hope I have done the Royal Bengal Tiger real justice with my photographs, below are a few of the images I got on the final days at Ranthambore,India,they are taken with a mixture of lens,from a wide-angled lens to a long lens all trying to capture these beautiful animals mother-nature made so beautiful in their natural environment.

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Black-Face Langur Monkey

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

All images of the Royal Bengal Tiger and various other wildlife from my India trip on my website are available to buy throughPayPal,alongside the other various photographs.I have been asked by people living outside of the UK if they can buy my images and the answer is yes as I use UPS .So if you would like to purchase signed,framed prints or Canvases @ A2,A3,A4 size, Printed on Fuji-film,High Quality Pro Lustre paper using Fuji Frontier 570 printers or the digital image(s) supplied on CD and you live abroad  then buy them through PayPal on my Portfolio page as normal and the postage cost will be sent to you upon receiving your address/country.

Where each order is seen by myself before it goes out to the customer to ensure the highest quality. There will be a few Limited Edition Tiger images too with profits going to helping Tigers in the wild and a few going to ‘Help the Heroes’ charity,alongside my ‘Lone Poppy’ image so look out out for these in the future .

I had a wonderful time,thank you to Ganesh,Dicky,Salim,Raj and all the wonderful people I met in India,who have become good friends now.I am returning very soon to capture more Royal bengal Tigers,and I also have planned a small Tour/Workshop there next May,details very soon.

CJWP

 


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