Wednesday, 26 December 2007

On the benefits of slowing down

Well, I'm back from the Falkland Islands. The wildlife there is so prolific and tame that I excitedly shot well over 4,000 photographs. After an initial scan through I must confess to be slightly disappointed. There are several good shots in there that I am very happy with - but there are vast numbers which are just not quite good enough. I can't help wondering if I'd taken less photos, but spent a little longer setting them up whether I'd have more shots that I'm happy with. Anyway. Live and learn!

In the meantime here are a couple of highlights. Maybe not the best shots - but the two which meant the most at the time.

This was the first king penguin I saw. It turned up, unexpectedly, on Sealion Island on my second morning there. There is no king penguin colony on Sealion, so this one was probably a bit lost.

Chinstrap Penguins don't breed on the Falklands and are only rarely seen there. From the outset I had declared my intent to see one, but to be honest I wasn't really expecting to. I came across this Chinstrap penguin on Volunteer Beach whilst I was attempting to photograph a group of king penguins taking to the water. At first I thought it was a magellanic chick - but as it walked towards me I realised it was a chinstrap. I was so excited I'm amazed I managed to hold the camera steady...

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

On wildlife photography in the Falklands

One word. Wow!

This place is amazing. Six(!) species of penguin all seen and photographed. Albatross in huge quantities. Elephant Seals and Sealions. Night Herons and Caracara. All competing for your attention and for the most part so tame a long lens is not really required. The weather has been kind too - some warm days and a lot of really great light.

Pictures will follow - but internet access is not great here...

Friday, 7 December 2007

On security and the photographer

Having a large white lens on one´s camera always seems to attract attention. Usually the wrong kind. Security guards really don´t like them for some reason. So I was a tad nervous about getting through Heathrow airport with two in my hand luggage. They were more concerned that I was also carring a tiny plastic bag which broke the "one bag rule". Fortunely this was easily resolved by putting the apple it contained in one coat pocket and the danish pastry in the other!

Charles de Gaule was a different story. Security there was a bit belligerent. The opening gambit was "You have a knife!" which of course I didn´t. That was before they´d even scanned annything. As soon I revealed I was carrying camera gear my rucksack had to be completely unpacked and each item passed through individually. I also had to remove my shoes and my belt. After scanning it all they stood and watched me carefully repack the rucksack before escorting me to a desk not five paces away.Here they made me unpack the rucksack again. Each item was checked by hand. There was a long debate in French which I took from the body language to be about whether or not the plates I have on my lenses constitute a lethal weapon. These, by the way, are beautifully-machined pieces of metal used to slide the lens quickly on and off a tripod head. They are blunter than the average baguette.

After that, without as much as a "by your leave", one of them picked up the rucksack - with my camera now back in it - and walked off with it. Naturally I was bit bothered by this. It turned out they just wanted to rescan it, because the hand search had not shown up everything they thought they´d seen on the x-ray. They just didn´t feel the need to tell me that.

After another long debate between themselves, I was finally allowed through. I still can´t decide whether they were genuinely concerned or whether it was just a slow evening and they were a bit bored.

The flight was uneventful. If I had been so inclined I could have inflicted serious bodily harm with the stale in-flight bread rolls. There was a beautiful sunrise over Brazil, and some stunning views of the Andes, and I´m now safely at my hotel in Chile. Tomorrow morning I fly on to the Falklands. Hurrah!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

On almost being there...

Well the last couple of months have been a bit of a wash out from a wildlife photography point of view. Too little free time and not enough weather. But never mind. The Falklands trip is all but upon me. I depart on Thursday and arrive in Stanley on Saturday. Not sure if I'm more excited than nervous! It all seems a bit surreal.

Not sure what the internet access will be like when I get there, but I will try and pop up a blog post once I get there. We shall see...