Sunday, 13 April 2014

London Marathon 2014

Today, I went up to London to watch the Marathon, and cheer-on the incredible efforts from all the runners.  

I arrived in Bermondsey just in time to see the elite women pass:


Dibaba, just behind Kiplagat, the eventual winner
The women were interspersed with some visually impaired runners, who each had a guide - some of which were larger than others:


Wilson Kipsang eventually won the men's marathon, with a course record of 2:04.27:
Wilson Kipsang
... and he was followed by Mo Farah, who finished 8th, at 2:08:21.

#FlyMo Mo Farah
... and then all the rest of the runners went passed...
Weary legs...
Each runner, with their own personal victory

Thirsty work...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Snow Leopard Quest

In February 2014, I was lucky enough to join an expedition to try to photograph the elusive Snow Leopard (uncia uncia), in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas.  

Snow leopards spend a large part of the year at very high impenetrable altitudes, so the trip was timed when they would come down to lower altitudes - still pretty high though - we camped at around 3,700m.

The snow leopard has unfortunately become a symbol of conservation, with it being persecuted and poached by humans, whilst suffering habitat loss.  There are significantly less than 10,000 animals left in the wild, and they are on the IUCN's red list of threatened species.  They are often solitary, move around in near darkness, and have the most incredible camouflage.  So, all the ingredients for a disappointing and cold trip!

The trip started by flying to Leh, an isolated town in Northern India.

Leh, Ladakh region of Northern India

We then took 4x4 vehicles into the Hemis High Altitude National Park, until they could go no further, and we set-off by foot, with mules and horses carrying camping gear for us.

Local transport

Mules


The campsite was nestled in a stunning valley, next to a frozen river, with amazingly clear skies at night.  That meant it was pretty cold though - between -25 to -30 degrees Celsius at night, enough to freeze a tube of toothpaste, no less!


Camping in the Hemis High Altitude National Park

My tent, home to my coldest ever nights!

A snow leopard's diet includes Blue Sheep (which seem neither blue, nor sheep-like), but it was encouraging to see several on our trips out from camp:


A Blue Sheep, striking a pose for the camera

A Blue Sheep, pretty confident with itself

A Blue Sheep with a high vantage point

Birdlife was also represented, with Snow Cock, Golden Eagle and Cough:


Snow Cock

Golden Eagle

Cough

Snow Leopards

On our trip, we were accompanied by local guides, who were very experienced in searching for snow leopards, using powerful telescopes to scan the hillsides, often well over a mile away.  The great news was that we not only had a sighting, but it was of a mother, with her two sub-adult cubs!  Here are some photos - underneath in the caption are the number of leopards, as it's not always obvious!

Two snow leopards
Two snow leopards, in very low light (and about a mile away!)

Three Snow Leopards!



At the end of the trip, we had a few hours in Leh:


Leh


Finally, here's a video which shows some of my favourite photos of the trip, alongside a video of the three snow leopards... if you can spot them!




Saturday, 4 January 2014

2013 - My Photography Highlights

Well, another year is over, and suffice to say, this year, I haven't had anywhere near as much time as I'd have liked to devote to photography (or this blog with no updates all year!).  Despite this though, I'm still pleased to give a quick summary of some of the photography I have been able to do.  If you would like to see the images in more detail, you should be able to click one to open up a 'gallery view' to see them larger.

Sri Lanka

Photographing wildlife is still my main interest, so was thrilled to be lucky enough to travel to Sri Lanka, famed for its leopards in Yala National Park.  Unfortunately, they were elusive during our visits, but I was able to photograph a lot of other species.

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Blue Whale

Blue Whale

Indian Fruit Bat

Little Bee-Eater

Mongoose

Monkey with family

Peacock

Sloth Bear

Opening a coconut to drink

Tuk-tuks

The mysterious shadow mountain at Adam's Peak


New England

My other trip this year was to New England in the US, a massively under-rated destination.  Not only is Boston a great City (helped by the Red Sox winning the World Series whilst we were there!), but heading North takes you to both the White Mountains and Acadia National Park.


Moody skies over Boston

Boston Skyline

Cormorants over Boston Skyline

A Gannet taking-off...

Humpback Whale

Autumn / Fall Leaves

Autumn / Fall Colours

Acadia National Park

A Monet Painting

Squirrel

UK Wildlife


Badger

This year, I set(t) myself a target to photograph a badger, an animal that's been in the news due to the 'policy' of culling.  Having found an active sett, it became pretty clear that photographing them in very low light was going to be difficult (which gave me some hope the badger cull would fail!).  Anyway, for now, I have some initial footage which came out OK (video seems to be easier in low light than photography, for reasons I don't really understand!)




Red Squirrel

Another iconic mammal in the UK is the Red Squirrel, persecuted by the invasive Grey.  I was lucky enough to track one down in the wild (not one of these staged snow-scenes for photographers!) and as well as some nice stills, took a video of some break-dancing!




Peregrine Falcon

Finally, I've also found a Peregrine Falcon nest, albeit it is difficult to get close to.  Via a 'Heath Robinson' approach, I managed to get some footage through a telescope.



 
I also got an intruiging shot over my house of two Falcons, with six wings!


A pair of Peregrines, with six wings between them!


Guildford Floods

On Christmas Eve, Guildford (alongside a lot of the local area), suffered some flooding.  I put some footage on YouTube, and it ended-up in a report braoadcast on the BBC London News.  It was also linked to from weatherforecast.co.uk.


Earlier in the year, Huffington Post included one of my sunset images of Guildford in one of their online galleries.

International Space Station (ISS)

Managed a photograph of the International Space Station (ISS), taken from my back garden.  it's the vertical line towards the left of the photo (the other lines are aeroplanes)








Microstock

I didn't upload any images in the last 12 months, so was expecting to see a dramatic fall-off of revenue, as 'freshness' is important in the industry.  However, with a few steady-earners in the back catalogue, and courtesy mainly of Shutterstock, it was enough to make a tiny, tiny dent in the cost of my camera and lenses - £261 in total.



My most popular images for sale at Shutterstock:


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2012 - My Photography Highlights

As 2012 comes to a close, it's time for me to wrap-up the year and summarise my photography highlights.  With so many things going on outside photography for me in the last 12 months, it was always going to be tricky to fit much photography in, but I'm pleased to have still had some successes:

  • Highly commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards
  • Photographing three endemic species in Ethiopia - the Ethiopian Wolf, the Gelada Baboon, and the Walia Ibex 
  • Some Olympics London 2012 photographs
  • A shot or two of the Northern Lights
  • Earning £281.03 from microstock sales, including some timelapse footage for the first time 
  • Seeing waxwings for the first time
  • Helping reunite someone with their camera

BWPA Awards - Highly Commended

It was a pleasant surprise to hear that I'd been Highly Commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.  As well as featuring in their exhibition which was hosted at the Mall Galleries, London, my image also features in their great book:


My image is available to buy in a variety of sizes/formats from Photobox:




Ethiopia

My honeymoon was in Ethiopia this year and I was lucky enough to get some shots of some pretty rare animals, including the Ethiopian Wolf:




 
Olympics

It's not everyday that the Olympics come to ones home city, so I was delighted to have some success in the ticket applications and got to see a variety of events.  As a normal punter in the stands, I was never going to get great images, but I still have terrific memories of the most amazing spectacle.  Some images are available to see in my recent posting.





Northern Lights

More details and photographs here, but pleased to have made the most of tricky conditions:



 



Microstock sales

For 2012, I had earnings of £281.03, which as you'll see from the chart below, with one agency, Shutterstock, being the most significant part:
 


I didn't have much time to take/upload many images this year, but the Shard in London, is starting to sell OK:

My latest images for sale at Shutterstock:




... but my most popular images are the usual suspects:

My most popular images for sale at Shutterstock:


My first sold piece of timelapse imagery can be seen here.


Waxwings

Finally, very happy to have seen Waxwings for the first time, on the penultimate day of the year!


  

2013...

I have no firm plans for photography for 2013, but it would be great if I could include the following modest ambitions:


  • Photograph a (live) badger
  • Earn £300 from microstock
  • Explore wildlife video
  • Refrain from spending (much) more money on equipment (Canon did very well out of me this year!)

Happy New Year and thanks for taking the time to read this.  Feel free to leave a comment, follow me on Twitter (@UK_Richard), or 'like' my Facebook page.