Photo of the Day
Some of the tiny, uninhabited islands off the western coast of Scotland make ideal fare for a boat excursion thanks to their wild, isolated landscapes and some excellent wildlife opportunities. The Treshnish Isles, a group of small islands west of the Isle of Mull offer the opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the cutest of all birds, the Atlantic Puffin.
These hilarious waddlers stumble along the edges of the island’s cliffs and trip over themselves to get into the small holes they call nests. With how ungainly they are on land, you’d swear they were related to penguins. And while penguins show their grace in the water, the puffins get to be quick and nimble in the air. Darting from cliffs to sea and back, they move in blurs. It’s only when they get back to the cliffs that they start flopping around in an effort to get one foot in front of the other.
While you can’t exactly cuddle with them (and believe me, you’ll want to), they’re surprisingly tolerant of human presence on their island. Us big mammals have the habit of scaring away some of the puffins’ predators, so they don’t mind if we’re getting a few feet away from them with our cameras whirring away like paparazzi on the red carpet. The one in the image below was calling out to one of his puffin compatriots, perhaps wondering who they guy with the big lens in his face was.
Click to see a larger version:
Here’s a fun behind-the-scenes video of Will & Matt Burrard-Lucas’ four-wheeled, camera-carrying RC car. Their Beetlecam is a photo gadget that will get up-close-and-personal wildlife shots without endangering life and limb.
It’s a nifty little contraption and gets some unique results. There is, however, something to be said for being able to properly compose your shot. I think they need to set up the software to enable remote live view and then we might have a winner. I just hope they don’t scare the animals too much…
It’s amazing all the critters you can spot with a remote camera in Banff National Park in Canada. This video shows the animal and human traffic through a clearing for 365 days in under five minutes.
Each of National Geographic Photographer Joel Sartore’s impressive wildlife photographs probably has an equally impressive blooper reel to go with it. This video hints at some of those misadventures:
I recently did a shoot with some house cats and even those relatively-domesticated animals made for plenty of adventure. Some of these animals, unused to human contact let alone a photographic set, must have been incredible handfuls when faced with such unfamiliar situations. I like the little box Sartore has with a white scoop in it to contain frisky critters in a confined space.
As I discussed in this earlier post, there was a great deal of controversy surrounding the authenticity of José Luis Rodriguez’s photo of a wolf jumping a fence at night. The judging panel has reconvened, examined the photo with the help of wolf experts and decided that Rodriguez’s wolf was a model. He has now been stripped of his award.
In a statement on the Wildlife Photographer of the Year site, the organizers state, “The judging panel was reconvened and concluded that it was likely that the wolf featured in the image was an animal model that can be hired for photographic purposes,” and the result is that Rodriguez has been stripped of his award and banned for life from future competitions.
Though Rodriguez has repeatedly denied hiring a wolf, the panel believed it had accumulated sufficient evidence to confirm that the wolf in the photo is the same as a wolf available for hire as a model from a zoological park near Madrid.
In my opinion, it’s a gorgeous photo regardless of whether or not a model was used. Had Rodriguez originally admitted to using a model, his photo may not have won a prize (in this particular competition) and may not have gotten the publicity he did (both the good and the bad), but he would have had a much cleaner reputation and conscience.
When it first became public that the photo was under investigation, I had hoped that Rodriguez would be vindicated. I naively hoped that it was real because I like to believe in the idea of magical moments like this. Even more so, I love believing in the idea of being able to photographically capture magical moments like this.
Of course, the fact that this wasn’t quite so fantastic doesn’t ruin those possibilities. It’s just nice to see a little bit of magic made manifest now and then. It nurtures a healthy sense of wonder.
Photographer José Luis Rodriguez appeared to have captured a wild wolf leaping over a farmer’s fence and a £10,000 prize for his efforts, but the shot is now being called into question. Rival photographers have sent evidence to the organizers of the contest that the wolf in Rodriguez’s photo is actually a trained wolf who resides in a zoological park near Madrid.
A wolf expert has also been consulted and has suggested that the wolf is trained – a wild animal would not jump the gate like this but instead opt to squeeze through the openings in the gate.
Rodriguez is said to be denying any wrongdoing.
When it was originally reported that he had won the competition, Rodriguez explained his means of capturing this perfect moment: a motion-activated camera trap was carefully placed at long-scouted location where the wolf had been observed. A piece of strategically-placed meat coaxed the wolf into his leap and a bit of luck caught the wolf at the apex of his hurdle.
The judges are currently examining the evidence submitted to them and expect to report back on the matter in the new year.
Personally, I’m hoping that it comes to light that there was not wrongdoing. That’s not just for Rodriguez’s sake, but more for the sake of the image. It’s a magical and inspiring shot that would be largely robbed of its charm if Rodriguez’s rival photographers prove their case.
Also, I can’t help but wonder who these photographers are who are putting in the effort to dismantle someone else’s image and what their motivations are. Hopefully we’ll get to hear from all sides of the issue as more details come to light.
I’ve had itchy feet lately and, a couple nights ago, while contemplating the fact that I couldn’t responsibly head to the airport and get on a plane to, say, Tanzania to shoot some wildlife, I decided to go with the only option I had in the house: a toy hippo. Sure, it’s not as exciting as watching a real hippo, not by any stretch, but when you have no real hippos available to you in the evening, few other options remain.
One little tub of water and a few speedlights later and you get this, a portrait of a miniature hippo. Click for a larger version:
A little bit of fun, and really, I wouldn’t be have been able to fit a full-size hippopotamus into the kitchen.
Lighting info: One speedlight on the background with a blue gel. One just left of camera with blue gel. One camera right with a grid to light the hippo.