Archive for animal pictures

Choose the cover of my new book…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by Neil Aldridge

I’m excited to announce that I am working on a new book and I am giving you the opportunity to have your say on what the front cover photograph should be.

I would really like to hear from you so I’ve made it easy for you. The choice has been narrowed down to portraits of two of Africa’s truly iconic endangered heavyweights – the African elephant and the critically endangered black rhino. Both shots were taken in the wild at two of my favourite locations. So, which do you prefer…

Cover_elephant Cover_rhino

 

Thank you for voting. The book will be available for pre-orders shortly. So keep an eye on this blog and my website.

I’m also excited to say that you can see a preview of some of the shots from my upcoming book in my two talks at the British Birdfair in August. More information on the talks can be found on my Facebook page

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I love it when they cooperate…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation Photography, Photography, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by Neil Aldridge

One of the beautiful things about photographing wildlife is that you’re never fully in control. Sure, this is also why many people don’t have the patience for wildlife photography but this suits me down to the ground. Controlling, directing and creating the scene for the perfect image is not in my nature…which, incidentally, is one of the reasons I don’t photograph weddings.

Of course it’s frustrating when you’re all set up, the light’s perfect and you’re waiting for a wild dog to saunter into an opening just for it to decide to change tack at the last minute and nip behind a bush. But that’s the hunt for the perfect shot that keeps wildlife photography interesting. We’ve all done it – muttered under our breath, willing our subject to ‘look up’, ‘turn around’ or ‘stop there’. Every once in a while, they even cooperate….

I filmed this clip on my Canon 5D MK2 while shooting stills with my 1D MK3. I was on a commission in northern Botswana and we came across this Leopard on Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta while on a drive with our hosts Wilderness Safaris and Botswana Tourism.

See more videos on the Conservation Photojournalism Facebook page

Ripples in the reeds

Posted in European Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

‘Beaver!’ Remek’s outstretched arm pointed to a shady patch in the shallows under some river-side vegetation. My usually sharp eyes struggled to find anything vaguely animal-like in the dark waters. A sudden loud splash signalled where the young beaver had grown tired of my ineptitude and disappeared beneath the surface, slapping his tail in disgust as he went.

I was on the Emajogi, a river in southern Estonia, with wildlife filmmaker and photographer Remek Meel. Having watched, researched, filmed and photographed beavers in his native Estonia for almost all of his life, Remek has become the country’s beaver specialist. It is these years of experience of looking for beavers that makes Remek able to locate them simply by looking for what he calls ‘strange ripples’ coming from within reeds or from under overhanging vegetation. Perhaps that’s where I was going wrong – I was looking for mud-brown creatures against a mud-brown, shadowy backdrop in the fading light just before sunset.

As we went on and I had slipped into Remek’s method, it became easier to spot them. We were picking them out at such a rate that we eventually lost count once we passed the mark of Remek’s record for an evening’s Beaver watching. It was at this point that it became clear just how healthy the Beaver population has become in Estonia. Beavers were once ruthlessly hunted in Europe and by the start of the 20th Century had disappeared from all but a handful of waterways in Germany, France, Norway and Belarus. Reintroduction programmes and the introduction of protection measures have seen them make a remarkable comeback across the continent though. The UK is following suite now too with breeding, monitoring and reintroduction projects developing across the country, such as the one at the renowned Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands.

The close viewing opportunities and Remek’s infectious enthusiasm for these semi-aquatic mammals make spending a day on the Emajogi River with him an absolute must for any wildlife watcher or photographer visiting Estonia. A selection of Remek’s work can be seen on his Nature Observer website but to be shown how to look for those ripples in the reeds yourself, contact Estonian Nature Tours directly.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Fighting for her legacy…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Poaching, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 19, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

I was always sobered by the experience of finding dead wild dogs while photographing for my book Underdogs. These are endangered creatures that I have dedicated the last three years of my career to and so I would like to think that my reaction is understandable. That said, nothing could have prepared me for the news that came through from South Africa that Stellar, the iconic alpha female of my Wildlife Photographer of the Year photograph Survivor, was dead.

Stellar’s life was characterised by tragic events. She had lost alpha mates and litters during her stressful and luckless existence on both Madikwe Game Reserve and Venetia Limpopo Nature Reserve. When she was translocated to KwaZulu-Natal’s Mkhuze Game Reserve in 2010 she had the chance of a fresh start and to put the troubles of the past behind her. For almost a year it seemed that she had done just that in raising a litter of four pups through their most challenging period in life. Sadly, Stellar, her alpha mate and one of their pups were recently found to be the victims of snares.

It is a difficult balance to strike for conservationists but the dropping of fences between protected reserves to create larger conservation areas often opens up land to poaching and the threat of disease. The death of Stellar and her family at the same time as other deaths in South Africa’s fragile wild dog population highlights the fight that conservation authorities, game rangers and anti-poaching scouts still have on their hands if the species is to be saved.

As I put the finishing touches to my book Underdogs, the fight on my hands is to do justice to the time that Stellar allowed me into her world. I am hoping that the book will not only raise greater awareness of these charismatic canids and the threats to their survival but that it will help to raise funds for greater protection and invaluable research. Keep an eye on my blog or website and follow me on twitter or facebook to find out when Underdogs is available and how you can help the African wild dog.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Ospreys aplenty

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by Neil Aldridge

Those of you who read my last post and followed my tweets will know that I recently set myself the challenge of bettering my previous attempts at photographing ospreys hunting. For this, I needed a reliable location where I knew ospreys would be literally queuing up to catch food for their newly-hatched chicks. There are a few locations on the continent renowned for giving photographers the chance to work close to the action but Scotland’s Rothiemurchus estate on the outskirts of Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park certainly ticks all of the boxes.

My first sighting of an osprey hunting was actually en route to Aviemore. Having stopped at the Scottish Wildlife Trust‘s Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld to see the resident female sitting on the nest, I couldn’t have been more than a couple of miles up the road before I found the male hunting along the River Tay. He must have gone down for fish five times in the time I watched him from my car, frustrated that I couldn’t find somewhere to pull over.

My frustrations were short-lived however and at first light the next morning I found myself frantically climbing into my hide with two ospreys scoping out the offerings of the Rothiemurchus lochs from above. Unfortunately, the changeable Scottish weather meant plenty of white cloud – nightmare conditions for photographing a predominantly black-and-white bird. When the sun did break through the clouds however, the light was fantastic and I often found my eyes wandering off to admire the Cairngorms reflecting proudly in the still waters rather than watching the skies for approaching ospreys.

My time at Rothiemurchus perhaps didn’t yield exactly what I had hoped for – the high quality shot of an osprey emerging from the water with a fish in its talons – although I must say that was through no fault of Speyside Wildlife and Rothiemurchus who between them provide what must be one of the UK’s top wildlife watching opportunities. Two ospreys carried off fish and there were several other failed plunges during my time by the lochs. Only two hunts happened within view however, and both were at quite a distance in dull morning light. That said, I think I can safely say that I have met my challenge and bettered the only shots of an osprey in my portfolio.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to test your photographic skills, then I couldn’t recommend a trip to Aviemore and Rothiemurchus more highly, particularly as the site plays a vital role in sustaining a healthy and renowned local population of these special birds of prey. Ospreys were extirpated from the UK by 1916 but now, almost a century later, it’s clear they’re safely established once again thanks to the hard work of organisations like the RSPB and people like Roy Dennis.

Visit my main website at www.conservationphotojournalism.com