Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 02/02/2012

Hey Hey We’re the Monkeys.


Vervet Monkey, originally uploaded by http://andrewskelton.net.

Dichotomy, that’s probably the best way of describing the weather today – dichotomy; the sun is streaming in through the window, heating me and the room up around me so that I have no need for jumpers, pullovers or even long sleeves but I know that if I take one step outside that even my fleecy jacket won’t be enough protection. Oh wicked Sun, how thou doth tempt me!

With this cold snap there is talk of snow, as there always seem to be when the temperature drops low (it’s wishful thinking – the Nation loves a Snow Day or two(any more and then it tends to become Slush Day (or two) and no-one likes that)), which I hope to capitalise on show we have a covering of the right white stuff. Having watched Tiger Dynasty last night and marvelled at the contrast between the Bengal Tiger and it’s surroundings when it was climbing over pale rocks, I had the bright idea of photographing Siberian Tigers frolicking amongst the snow and ice. Imagine the vivid oranges, coal-black stripes set off against the glacial white of the animals fur, offset against the pure white background more akin to the animals natural habitat. Stunning.

Looking at my calendar for this month, it’s a little spartan which I’m going to have to do something about especially with such wonderful afternoon (or early morning if I can manage to get out of bed, what is it about dark nights that makes it so difficult – perhaps I need to hibernate) light. I did happen upon a pair of Red Kites this afternoon when the sun was low in the sky and I managed to take a couple of pictures but unfortunately, even though the birds were not in the least concerned about my presence, instead of them flying my way allowing me to take some perfect close-ups, they decided what ever was in the opposite direction was more interesting and as such i have some nice “far aways” of the birds.

When it comes to Red Kites I’m rather lucky as I live a short drive from the release site where these birds were first re-introduced but of course the real Mecca when it comes to these iconic raptors surely has to be Gigrin Farm, Rhayader (Central Wales). The farm has been putting out food for the local population of Kites for years now and can, on a good day, attract anywhere up to a staggering 600 birds (to put this in perspective, the 20 years re-introduction into the Chilterns as resulted in around 1900 pairs in the UK, so 600 birds is just under one sixth of UK numbers). When staying on the farm last time I didn’t have the knowledge or equipment that I now posses and providing the weather is pleasant enough, visiting later in the year I’m hoping for some good images to expand my Raptor portfolio.

I do remember, during my last visit, fighting with the camera to try and keep the birds in the view finder, in focus and well illuminated; this afternoon’s attempt was anything but a challenge, and that’s one of the biggest improvements I made to my photography and more importantly the images themselves, not having to think about the camera but to solely concentrate on creating the type of image I have in mind. This comes from practise, and taking lots and lots (and lots and lots etc) of photos – with digital it doesn’t matter, it’s not costing you anything, if anything you’re justifying the cost of the camera (working out how much the film would have cost can make you feel quite righteous when it comes to the high initial outlay – it’s a bit like the old joke “I saved £5 by walking instead of taking the bus. You should have not taken the taxi and you’d have saved yourself £10”! or something like that).

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