This is the year penguins will fly.

Photography

Teenie Tiny Baby Monkeys!

In my last few weeks (maybe a month) of being at the Zoo there were many new arrivals! Of course I just couldn’t resist in taking pictures of them and I’m even planning on going to Whipsnade tomorrow as I hear there’s loads of babies there too! 

Last thursday I took a special trip to the rain forest exhibit to take pictures of some adorable baby Emperor Tamarins. These were only just over a week old and absolutely TINY! They’re a small enough species of monkey to fit in the palm of your hand anyway, but the babies really are miniscule. 

IMG_1228

 

There were two born as these tamarins usually do give birth to twins. When they are first born they do not have the distinctive white moustache that Emperor Tamarins are well known for, but that begins growing soon after. 

IMG_1202

 

After birth the mum gets a nice rest as it is usually the dad that does most of the carrying, just passing them back to mum when they start calling for food. In ZSL London Zoos Rainforest Exhibit the whole family help out with the babysitting duties, including some Golden Lion Headed Tamarins as well! 

IMG_1222

 

The two babies are already growing quickly and starting to be more aware of their surroundings, I will have to go back soon and document their progress! 

I can’t wait to see the wonders of Whipsnade, nor can I wait to take many photographs! 

Claire x


Slovenian Birthday and KNK long boarding 2014

On the 27th of last month it was my birthday and for the first time in roughly 3 years (since my trip to China) I wasn’t in the UK! This also happened to be my first real holiday without my mum.  For Ashley it was the first time he’d been out of the UK for nearly 10 years! We went to Slovenia which is an absolutely GORGEOUS country! The scenery was just stunning and the people really friendly.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, there was a reason we went was because of a Longboarding event Ash and some of our friends were attending. KNK Bear guts is a downhill free ride which takes place near Olsinca at the very bottom of Slovenia.

In all honesty I was quite nervous about him riding, it is a very steep and long hill with terrifying drops at the sides of the roads, but Ash is a sensible person and stayed within his comfort zone only having a few falls.

On the first few days of the free ride it poured it down with rain. The skaters from Britain seemed to relish it though, probably because of all the practice they’ve had this winter! The track was super slidey and they had a great time trying to stay on their boards in the slippery conditions.

Luckily, for me and my camera, the conditions soon brightened up and we had some days of brilliantly hot sunshine. Now the skaters practiced more at keeping up their speed and some we’re really rather fast! I found myself in some very dubious positions in pursuit of the perfect shot and more than once had a longboard flying in my direction. If you are watching a high speed event then posts are your best friend! I was saved several times by standing behind something sturdy, and the riders were saved by the hay bails throughout the course!

The girls we’re shredding just as hard as the guys!

On the last day Ashley decided he’d had enough of wearing leathers, much to my disapproval, but promised that he wouldn’t go fast, instead he wanted to have a day of fancy slides rather than speed. He did get one scrape on his hip but seemed to have so much more fun that I’m glad he did it.

Ash in Leathers tried his hand at speed!

But soon enough he discovered he preferred to practice his slides which is a lot easier without leathers!

The event as a whole was really well run and there were only a couple of serious injuries, all the skaters seemed to have a great time, and so did I!

I just wish I could have explored the country more, myself and Ashley are hoping to be able to afford to go next year as well but to go a week early so that we can do just that!

But all too soon it was time to come back to England and, quite honestly, i’m sort of wishing I could go back to Slovenia.

I had an interview at work the first day back as there were two permanent positions up for grabs, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get it but those who did definitely deserve it. Hopefully I can at least work there again next summer, now it’s just a matter of finding a job over winter. My car insurance also came out, taking with it the money I owed for the holiday but at least I could afford it (although only just) and then I had a very bad few days of lots of little things going wrong, such as dropping half a cheese cake on the floor!

New birthday toy!

But it’s ok as I got to open all of my birthday pressies and then to play with them! My mum got me a drawing tablet which I’m so excited about and have already practiced with! It’s going to improve my digital drawings so much!

A simple Lion as it was World Lion day yesterday!

Raccoonlessbrownwm

Because Racoons are cute!

 

I also have so many great ideas for new items to make, and even plan to be revisiting my passion for jewellery soon, plus there’s lots of photoshoots to go on and many more exciting things for The Penguin Theory.

Claire x

 


The Importance of Understanding your Camera and Sloth Babies!

I’ve always had real trouble with photography in low light situations and always blamed it on my old camera, plus they always say that light is a photographers best friend! But sometimes good lighting is just not possible, especially when not based in a studio.

I recently took my camera to work with me to take pictures of all the cute baby animals we have running around at the moment. I was getting quite frustrated at my camera not being able to cope with the light levels in the perfectly lit room, no matter how much I changed my shutter speed and aperture I just couldn’t get a clear, well lit photograph of the sloth and its baby (see attempts below). But there was an old gentleman, and regular at the zoo, who then told me about ISO.

IMG_9557 IMG_9567

 

Both unfortunately blurry and dark. 

I had heard of ISO but had always thought that it would seriously reduce the quality of my photographs, something which is of course true if you’re not using it properly, as I wasn’t. After hearing his brief explanation I decided to change my settings and finally got some good photographs! I just wish i’d played with it earlier on in the day.

IMG_9542IMG_9577

I did get a couple of good shots on a low ISO

Well since that day I’ve done a bit of research into ISO so I can learn exactly what it is and how to use it.

So what exactly is ISO?

ISO is the speed of the film, not to be confused with frame rate but instead it’s how sensitive the film would be to light. So a Low ISO would correspond to an insensitive film that would require more light to create a good quality image, whereas a High ISO would be a far more sensitive film needing less light for the same image quality. But even though you may need a higher ISO in certain situations, the higher ISO does also create grainier images and so it is best to keep the ISO as low as possible for the shot.

Of course if using a Tripod for a still subject it would be fine to use the lowest ISO possible, but for handheld camera work and moving objects it’s best to experiment to find the perfect balance between brightness and noise in the photograph.

IMG_9593

It really is so important to understand all the workings of your camera, I’ve had mine for nearly 7 years and I’m only just learning how to really get the most out of it! I plan to carry on learning about all aspects of photography and hopefully it will improve my photographs, in fact i think it already is!

But it’s not only understanding your camera, it’s also understanding your subject so I also plan to study the animals i’m wanting to take photographs of as well. There’s not all that much known about sloth babies, as they have about an 80% mortality rate in just the first week of being born, and a lot of that percentage is from the mother dropping them! I believe this is the first sloth baby in our zoo for around 50 years. So not only is the sloth baby proving to be vital research for myself into the animal kingdom, but also for the keepers who are learning new things about how they develop, grow and learn too! It’s all very exciting.

IMG_9588

I plan to take my camera to work again very soon and experiment more with the ISO settings, plus i want to get even more adorable photographs of various animals!

Claire x


365 Challenge : 17th – 23rd March

Sorry, I wrote this post a week ago and completely forgot to post it! I’m so silly sometimes. 

It’s Monday again and time for the weekly update! Here’s last week in pictures, sorry they’re mainly phone but it was all a bit hectic with well over 40hrs at the pub in the first 4 days followed by starting my new job at London Zoo! I also have the most horrendous cold (perfect timing for the new job) and had barely any energy.

Monday saw me tucking into the most amazing toastie ever. Steak, cheese and deliciousness! Yum! (and yes I like my steak rare!)

On tuesday I noticed this gorgeous creature towering above people outside the local garden centre. I just had to snap a picture to send to a close friend who loves gorillas!

Wednesday had a cool looking sky at sunset. I seem to notice the sky a lot more often these days as it looks so pretty through our windows!

Thursday I was nominated for these Cancer awareness #nomakeup selfies. I never wear make up anyway recently as I’m always at work (it would just sweat off in the kitchen) or too tired from work so I went all out with a kitchen hair net and carrot cake!

On Friday I started my new (although temporary *sob*) job as a presenter at the zoo. I was mainly sorting out all my paper work, given all the things I needed to learn and watched some of the presenters show me how it was done. Little did I know I’d be taking on the role of Giraffe feeding the very next day, and getting licked all over the face in the process.

On saturday I shadowed another presenter for the whole day and got to have a few more interactions with all the animals. It was so much fun! I love these Emperor Tamarins with their awesome moustaches. I can’t wait to have a day to visit with my DSLR! I hope to take some really awesome photographs which could help me raise money for ZSL.

Today I noticed this gorgeous plants (I think they’re grape hyacinths) growing in our window boxes. It’s a shame, but I will be completely replacing the soil in these soon. Maybe I can try and save these plants.


Wild Job, Wild Nails

I’ve finally got myself a new job (although only temporarily) and am now working at London Zoo! I’ve only had a few shifts but it’s amazing. Everyone is so friendly and happy, plus I get to be around animals all day long and really spread the word about conservation and protecting the animals we have in the world today! It really is a dream come true!

It’s been in the news recently that the Female Sumatran Tiger has had 3 cubs, I haven’t managed to catch a glimpse of them yet, but hopefully soon I can,  you can follow their progress on London Zoos facebook page and their youtube.

To celebrate the new job, where I’m allowed nail polish, my nails can actually grow, and the arrival of the new cubs I decided to paint my nails!

Tiger Themed of course!

They came out so well! I’m super proud of myself. Last time I went to London zoo as a customer (for zoo lates which is awesome by the way) I also painted my nails ‘big cat’ themed with these leopard nails.

 

Unfortunately I still work at the pub on thursdays and I’m only at the Zoo for the summer (fingers crossed they take me back next year!) but i’m so so happy with my new job and just know I’m going to love every minute of it!

I’m afraid there might not be many crafty updates for a little while as I have a lot of scripts to learn (I am one of the presenters for the animal talks) and all my spare time is spent reading lines. But do not fear! I have loads of projects in mind, both sewn and photographed. Until then I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite pictures from the zoo so far!

I treated myself to a cool keyring for getting the job.

Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches are so much cooler than most people think.

20140321_160422

Two of my colleagues demonstrating one of the talks. Yes I get to feed giraffes by hand.

20140325_104155

A Sloth out for a morning stroll.


Clicking with the Subject

“the most important thing is not clicking the shutter, it is clicking with the subject”

                                                                                                               -Alfred Eisenstaedt

This quote has really struck a cord with me recently and made me analyse the way I take photographs. I noticed that a lot of the time I tend to hold my finger down on the multi-shot feature and just take continuous photographs, especially when shooting fast moving people or objects, but this is most definitely not the best practice.

Alfred Eisenstaedt is thought by many to be the father of photojournalism and one of the greatest photographers of all time. He was the master of candid photography and usually only carried around one camera.

This image of children imitating a drum major really shows his skill in really capturing the moment, perfectly showing it to it’s full potential.

Drum Major, Ann Arbor by Eisenstaedt.

I decided that I need to step up my game and really start working with the subject I see through my lens, as Eisenstaedt suggests, and I got the perfect chance to try this out a few weeks ago at Cantelowes skatepark in Camden.

Ashley and a few friends chose a wonderfully sunny day to go there and skate, i’m not comfortable with bowls and know that it gets busy there so  I decided to try out my camera instead.

At the beginning I was only taking simple shot like this one successfully.

To begin with I followed the skaters around the bowl with my camera but, although my pictures weren’t bad, couldn’t seem to get any impressive shots. The sunshine wasn’t helping as the stark contrast between the over exposed sunlight and dark shadows in the bowl made it really hard to find the right exposure levels.

After a while I started to watch the skaters more closely and understand their movements and where I could get the best shots of each individual skater. Luckily I’ve skated with and watched Ash and Milan a lot and found it really easy to predict their movements making for plenty of good photographs but, as much as I love to shoot them both, I really wanted pictures of everyone there.

Milan with some sweet moves

Ashley received some good lessons from Newtons Shred. This was the first time he dropped in successfully!

I even managed to capture the celebrations afterwards and a rare smile! Well done Ash!

I noticed there were certain areas of the bowl where every skater would get high or try something interesting and so decided these would be the best areas to train my camera on. I also noticed that certain skaters, particularly the more experienced ones, were practicing certain moves over and over so that they could perfect them. This was exactly the information I needed to really improve my photographs!

I trained my camera on these sections, depending on the skater, which meant I could set my shutter speed and focus ready for the subject to make their appearance into frame.

It took a bit of practice to really get the timings but eventually I managed to get some shots that I’m really proud of, not only that but all the shots I was taking started being useable rather than having a lot that i would never use.

I’m really proud of myself for the improvements i’ve made from just one day, and not just me, Ash learnt to drop in too with help from a good friend from Newtons Shred. A very successful day!

I am trying to be a lot more aware of my surroundings from now on, and not just when I have my camera on me. I really think that learning to recognise memorable moments will help improve my photography immensely.

I think there is a lot to learn from other photographers, both old and current, and so plan to do lots of research into others, particularly other nature photographers. I’ll be sharing my research with you all in future blog posts, probably once a month, and use their influences in my own photoshoots. I think it could make for some very interesting results!

You can see the rest of the photographs for this shoot right here on my facebook!

Claire x


365 Project : 10th – 16th March

On Monday 10th I took a picture of this plant to send to my sister. She bought me it to say congratulations for getting my new job. I was so surprised that it was still alive I had to share it with her! (I’m terrible with plants)

On the 11th the plant was still alive. I decided to take a few closer shots as it was so pretty.

On the 12th I finally ate this chocolate lion. I’ve had it far too long and decided it was just too pretty to eat! I’m sure it tasted better when I first bought it.

On 13th I decided it was time for a haircut, but all the hairdressers around are either out of my budget or I don’t like the look of (i’m a little picky sometimes). So i decided to try cutting myself, i cut Ash’s hair all the time and we need to save money so i thought I may as well try. It’s not perfect but not too bad for a first try! Hopefully I can afford for a professional to do it next time.

On the 14th I ate some of this rice pudding i’d made. It’s so easy and makes delicious little snacks in these pots! I think this will have to be a regular thing.

On the 15th the sky looked awesome.

On the 16th I finally uploaded some skate photographs onto my facebook page. I will be writing a blog post (if I ever get a day off work) but until then you can find them here.

Next week will be very exciting with my new job starting, but i’m also working 6 days out of 7 and several 12hr shifts. ouch!

Claire x


365 Project : 3rd March – 9th March

I’ve decided to start updating these posts on Mondays instead of Sundays. It makes a lot more sense as if i’m busy on Sunday (like I was yesterday) I don’t get a chance to edit and upload the photo from that day. But I shall still be posting photo’s from the first monday to the sunday. Hopefully this will make it easier to stay up to date with this project.

On the 3rd I made some delicious brownies! I really must do a recipe for these as they’re divine!

The 4th was shrove tuesday and of course meant that we ate lots and lots of pancakes! Yum!

On the 5th I met up with my sister for the first time in ages. We had some burritos and then went out for a couple of cocktails.

On the 6th we went skating late at night. I took some awesome creepy photo’s with long exposures. You can see more of these here.

On the 7th I took a few pictures of a new item, the gorgeous blue tie in the middle, and then spent the rest of the day editing.

You can find my tie section of my Etsy shop by clicking the image!

The 8th saw me relaxing at home, still doing lots of computer work but taking breaks staring out to the sunshine.

Yesterday I went to Cantelowes Skatepark in Camden with Ash and some friends. I didn’t skate (I don’t have a suitable pool deck) but a good friend from Newtons Shred taught Ash to drop in and I managed to take some great pictures which I will be sharing with you all soon. We finished the day with cider and stew. Perfect!

Back at work next week and so not as much time to frolic, but I will still be making sure I take lots of photographs!

Claire x


Experimenting with Exposure

Yesterday I went to a good skate spot with Ash and our friend Milan.

I took both my board and camera along, hoping to make some good progress with both. The board, unfortunately, was not my friend as the last time I had skated it was lovely and wet where as now it was dry and a lot more grippy. The fact that I (again) hadn’t skated in a long time meant i was more or less starting from scratch.

It did seem to come back to me quickly though, but my bum saw the pavement far too many times. I tore a hole in my bottoms, the sign of a true skater, and then proceeded to tear through my skin leaving a nice graze on my rear. It was a wonderfully painful drive home once we’d finished.

After I had wracked my bum cheek (and before we went home) I decided it was time to get my camera out before I did any more damage, I knew I was getting tired and would only hurt myself more if I carried on despite wanting to.

As it was dark I wanted to experiment with long shutter speeds and my flash, i think the results were very interesting.

One of my favourites as it’s just soooo creepy. I love how the board is in good focus and you can see Ash doing the trick and looking back at where he just was.

I set up my camera on a tripod and set it so that I controlled when the shutter closed and opened so that I could get my timings spot on (theoretically).

I pressed the shutter button early and held my external flash separate so that I could operate it exactly when I wanted. I quickly flashed light at the subjects before releasing the shutter button on the camera. I was hoping that this would mean there would be long trails from the skaters finished with a clear image of them.

One of the clearer images I captured. I like how it almost looks like flames coming from behind. 

To some extent it did work and definitely gave me some very eerie photographs, but I know there’s room for a lot more improvement!

Of course I will keep experimenting. I plan to try different times of day/lighting, different shutter speeds and different apertures as well as new techniques in photoshop to really bring my photographs to life!

As you can tell, we take safety very seriously all wearing helmets and the boys (who travelled a lot further and faster than myself) in high vis jackets. Milan even had a head torch!

I love challenging myself like this as it really helps me to learn new techniques and understand my camera even better. I really do want to try more nighttime photography now that I have a tripod again and aim to have a few wanderings once the sun has gone down.

Claire x

A hill parallel to the one we skated. This one has an amazing view of the city.


Catch Up on the 365 Project.

I know i know, i’m terrible and haven’t updated my 365 project for nearly a month! But it’s ok, i have been taking photos so here’s a little catch up.

Warning – Going to be very picture heavy (if you hadn’t guessed)

February the 10th saw me driving up to the north with the radio blasting and ash putting in ear plugs to avoid hearing my singing.

On the 11th i saw these amazing blue orchids! My mum didn’t think much to them but I thought they were gorgeous! It’s a shame I can’t help but kill plants. 😦 I am definitely not green thumbed.

I went to go see Frank Turner with my sister and some friends on the 12th. On the way there I was reading a book on photography when a stranger asked me if I was into that sort of thing and told me to visit this gallery. I still haven’t got round to it, but the exhibition is still on so maybe i’ll go soon.

On the 13th I finally fixed one of my favourite earrings. It’s been sat on my desk for so long and I only just got round to gluing it back together. Hopefully I wont break it again!

On valentines day I spent most of the day drawing hobbits and dragons. Not bad in my opinion. I didn’t actually do anything with ash, neither of us are particularly bothered by it in all honesty. It’s a silly holiday really (we did make an excuse for some snuggle/movie time though of course).

On the 15th I moved my penguin statue, a christmas present from my mums boyfriend and just totally awesome, to a spot where he could keep an eye on my working.

My hair went crazy big and curly on the 16th as I left it in a big plait over night. It’s a shame that it’s so long and unmanageable at the moment, it just looked like a massive frizz ball! Definitely time for a hair cut.

On the 17th I really enjoyed the contrast between the moody, british sky and these stunning blossoms.

The 18th saw lots of editing work. Nearly a whole day of editing! My eyes definitely needed a rest by the end, but at least I had been very productive. These photo’s are amongst my favourites i’ve ever taken.

On the 19th I found out that I had an interview with London Zoo! I was so excited that I really couldn’t concentrate at work, not the best when working in a kitchen. I burnt myself so many times I lost count and nearly chopped my finger off! Luckily my nail stopped the cut becoming any deeper but it was still pretty nasty.

On the 20th I was starting to feel like I lived in this uniform. Working 60+ hour weeks, 6 days out of 7 most of the time and just constantly tired. I was starting to want just a day to pamper myself, wear make-up and look pretty but I just don’t have the energy even on my days off.

The 21st I was starting to feel positive. I was super excited (and nervous) about this interview and also knew it wasn’t long until Legoland wanted me back, plus i was about to drive up north for a wedding! Life was definitely about to get fun, I just had to stick it out at the pub for a little longer. This mirror is above our bed and was there when we moved in. We’re far too lazy to take it off and I actually kind of like it. It makes me smile.

The 22nd was the wedding of two very close friends! Unfortunately I forgot my camera (silly me) and my phone was dying so I didn’t take many pictures, but I did snap this cute picture of the first dance. The groom had changed into some more comfortable shoes for the party side of the wedding, as had the bride who was now wearing bright pink converse under her dress. Such a lovely day! I’m so happy for them both!

On the 23rd I went back to the south, but before I did I managed a little switcheroo at home, giggling like a naughty school girl the whole time. Mum has never got round to putting up my graduation picture (the woes of a second child!) and so I put mine in my sisters place. I don’t think she’s noticed yet, until she reads this blog post…*evil cackle*

On the 24th i received this sewing pattern I had won! I can’t wait to get stuck in!

On the 25th was my interview with London Zoo! It ran from 9-5 with lots of group exercises, presentations and other things to really get to know if we were right for the job and was such a fun day! It honestly made me want to work there even more, which I didn’t think was possible. I somehow managed to get a selfie with a penguin as well!

After the long interview and then rushing off to work for a close, I wasn’t feeling very awake on the 26th and drank far too much coffee.

On the 27th I got the news that I got the job!! I was so excited and i’m pretty sure I asked the person on the phone ‘Really?!’ several times. I celebrated with a glass (or two) of Merlyn, it’s like Baileys but so much better! I’m still convinced they’re going to ring up and tell me they made a mistake, but It’s quite honestly a dream come true!

On the 28th I started counting down to my start. I wrote it on my calendar and was still bouncing off walls.

On the 1st of March I received a congratulations card from my mum, complete with penguins of course!. How lovely 🙂 And yes, still bouncing off the walls at this stage.

On the 2nd there was a gorgeous rainbow! I could see the whole thing (I haven’t got round to editing those pictures yet though). If only I could find the pot of gold at the end…*sigh*

So that’s me all caught up to this week! I will be posting these weekly as usual from this sunday.

February was most definitely a very exciting month and I’m sure that March will be just as exciting!

Claire x