This is the year penguins will fly.

Posts tagged “nature

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. 

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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. 

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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! 

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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

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The Best Summer So Far

Yesterday was my last shift at what is definitely the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve been working as a presenter at ZSL London Zoo over the summer and it’s been the best summer ever.

Every day I was surrounded by incredible animals, I was constantly learning new, amazing things (which often meant getting close to the animals) and genuinely looked forward to work everyday. Sure parts of the job we’re hard work and stressful but it was always well worth it.

I’m going to miss seeing all the animals and people i met everyday and being able to share how awesome nature is with everyone but fingers crossed I can go back next summer!

But now it’s time to find a job over the winter, I have a few possibilities which would actually give me a lot more time to focus on The Penguin Theory, hopefully I can ace the interviews!

I’ve been playing with lots of ideas for new products and lines, but nothing has been finalised. I plan to work hard over the next few weeks to make lots of items for my Etsy shop and also for craft fairs! It’s time to get busy so expect lots more updates shortly! Keep an eye out for some brand new photography of some cute baby animals coming up shortly!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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


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


Exciting Things Ahead

I’m sorry for my absence recently, it has become a little intense on my end! A few people left the pub I work at and, with it all ready being understaffed (especially in the kitchen) i’m suddenly roped into 6 day weeks with over 60 hours. As you can imagine it’s not leaving much time for Penguin Theory-ing.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel as my life is soon to take on a drastic change!

I have somehow managed to bag myself a job and London Zoo! I’m so excited as I seriously love animals (if you hadn’t noticed from reading my blog) and I will be earning more than I do now with a job I just know I’m going to love! Plus I’ll have more time for Penguin Theory as I will be working less hours also. I seriously cannot wait to start! I wish it could be now! It’s shame it’s just a summer job for now, but I plan to work hard and really try to impress.

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I couldn’t resist a penguin selfie.

I am also still owed a lot of holiday from the pub job and so I have next week off (I only found out a couple of days ago!). I will be using that time to catch up with my 365 project posts and making lots of new items for my shop as well as starting some new exciting projects.

A project I really cant wait to start is this gorgeous coat, I won the pattern from an excellent blog: Custom Style . Thank’s Brooke! I can’t wait to get stuck in! I have so many ideas for the fabric choices but just need to buy some fabric large enough. I think this will also be the first project i make a mock-up of first so I need to get some muslin too. Unfortunately I might have to wait for my new job to be able to afford it as the current one (even with all these extra hours) only just covers my rent and other expenses.

By the way brooke, your handwriting is so pretty!

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I also have some very big plans for my photography and will be going on lots of adventures with my camera during the next week, and not just taking photo’s of nature but also getting back into longboarding and other sports.

I’ve already entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (just before the deadline!) although i wish i’d had more time to really explore and take more photographs, I still think I might have some good contenders entered but I’m just happy that i’ve at least tried. Fingers crossed!

I really can’t wait for this next month, it’s going to be amazing. As cheesy as it sounds, i feel like it’s the start of the life I’ve always wanted and I couldn’t be happier! Bring on the rest of 2014! 😀

Claire x


Finding Hidden Beauty

I don’t have many lenses for my camera but the ones I do have I really love to play around with.

Other than the lens that came with my camera I have a macro lens and a telephoto lens. I want to focus on the macro lens for this post.

It was the first lens I ever wanted, I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty macro lenses can show you that you may not other wise see. I have always loved to watch nature documentaries and marvelled at the stunning shots of the tiny creatures and patterns that aren’t quite so easy to see with the naked eye.

I love the glimpse of pollen and shape of the stamens in this shot although think I could have improved my focus just a little bit.

Unfortunately I don’t often get my macro lens out, but when I do I am always over the moon with the pictures that I can create with it.

A few days ago I went to Golders Park near Hampstead Heath, London. It’s a gorgeous park with so much to see and do including a little zoo with a wonderful collection of exotic (and not quite so exotic) animals…but more on that in another post.

On my wanders around the park I found this group of Crocus flowers in the middle of the grass. I just couldn’t help but whip out my macro lens and get down on my hands and knees! I loved how the colours really stood out, the bright white petals against the rich green of the grass and the vibrant orange inside.

The bold colours were what caught my attention first, but only when I started snapping did I really notice all their interesting patterns.

I really must have looked crazy twisting and turning to get all sorts of different angles but I didn’t care, I was lost in the moment trying to find these little plants’ hidden treasures.

I realised this is something I do a lot with photography, I get so obsessed with finding the perfect angle for a striking composition that I really don’t care how I look, but I guess it pays off as I am really proud of these shots!

I was delighted to find this bud with it’s unusual shape and pattern.

This bud (above) is probably my favourite shot of the flowers, although maybe not the best technically. I just love the unusual shape and the bold purple stripes running down the petals. These are the kinds of things I want to start showing more of in my photography, the unusual things you wouldn’t normally pay attention too.

It’s always been my thinking that a photographers job is to bring out these moments of beauty that you wouldn’t usually notice. Whether it be the way a man looks at his wife, a dramatic landscape where the weather conditions are just perfect, a deer resting in the sun, no matter the type or style of photography it’s job is the same.

Of course it can also be used to bring out shocking truths, such as an image of a young refugee in a war torn country, but I believe these can even have a certain kind of beauty to them. The beauty doesn’t have to be in the subject of our photo’s, but also in our reaction to them. They can bring forth emotions that we never knew we had or teach us something valuable.

This, I believe, is the sign of a true photographer.

I know I have a lot to learn until I can get to that point, but I hope that someday my photographs will also cause others to stop and think. Whether it’s marvelling at the beauty of the object, or thinking deeply about their own beliefs on the subject, I want my images to really create a lasting impression.

Probably my best composed shot of the day. I love the petal shapes and the bright orange stamens against the simple green background.

I will keep shooting and experimenting and hopefully, one day, i’ll reach my goal.

What do you think is the sign of a true photographer?

Claire x


Mums Garden

Last weekend Ash and I went up north to visit my mum as I had a dentist appointment and I wanted to visit my grandma who is having a pretty rough time in hospital.

Whilst there I took advantage of my mums bird friendly garden. It’s rare that I get a chance to see so many birds (other than pigeons) so close, not having a garden at my flat, and so I grabbed at the opportunity to have so many birds so easy to see!

The first day really showed me how much I had to learn! I took so many pictures but just kept being too slow as I was chasing them around with my camera lens.

The only kind of photo’s I could successfully manage on the first day, distanced and back lit on the bush they liked at the back of the garden.

I was a little disappointed in myself and was told off by my boyfriend as usual. I always get annoyed with myself when I can’t do something perfectly straight away and he always has to remind me that everything takes practice and motivate me to not give up. This is most definitely one of my biggest flaws so thank goodness I have Ash to kick me into gear every time!

So with Ash’s stern words fresh in my mind I tried again the next day!

The best photo from the second day and the bird isn’t even in focus! The only one I did actually get in focus and not blurred was one of a bird bum.

This time I actually watched the behaviour of the birds and figured out that the blue and great tits were hanging out on a bush near the back of the garden, watching for danger. They would only fly forwards onto my mums magnolia tree once they had deemed the garden safe and then watch out for danger yet again before flying to the bird feeder and darting back to the bush.

Just watching made it so much easier to predict where they were going to land as I soon figured there was one, very well placed, branch in particular which they loved to land on before feeding.

Not on ‘the’ branch but I still managed to capture this cute little blue tit before the light faded too much!

Unfortunately by the time i’d figured this out it was already getting dark and I am without a tripod for the moment which meant all of the photo’s we’re shaky and dark.

The next day was my last day and I was determined to get some good shots. I positioned myself on the floor next to the sofa, army style, and waited.

It didn’t take long for the birds to appear.

On the bush at the back of the garden

Aren’t Blue tits just the cutest little balls of fluff!?

First the blue tits and great tits made their appearance and I managed to get a few good shots of them on that one branch. But then more and more birds started to appear, flying backwards and forwards from the feeder.

Action Shot!

So delicate with their eating.

A chaffinch about to take off

There were gold finches, chaffinches, a pigeon (of course, they’re everywhere), and even a few sparrows! Sparrows are unfortunately in trouble in the UK and are at Red status so I feel quite privileged to have seen some. The numbers are now rising in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but unfortunately still in trouble in the UK. They’re such pretty little birds too! They may not have bright colours but their flecked patterns more than make up for it.

One of four Sparrows I saw. Such pretty feather patterns. 

Two  gorgeous Goldfinches.

I sat there well past the time I was wanting to leave for the long drive back to the south, completely mesmerised by the gorgeous birds that visited the garden, and all for a few simple seeds.

All too soon I really did have to drag myself away, but I have learnt a lot from those short 3 days and hope to improve even more before my next visit.

The stunning chaffinch

The Iconic Robin

Have you got any birds visiting your garden?

Claire x


Blacktoft Sands – RSPB Nature Reserve.

Blacktoft Sands is a nature reserve run by the RSPB near my home town. I am up north visiting my mum and so Ash and I thought we would go for a visit.

I haven’t been there for years, not since I was a child with my sister and my grandpa, but I have some very fond memories there. One of my favourites been the time we saw a rare Bittern! Unfortunately my grandpa had just popped off to the loo and missed out, he wasn’t too happy. I hope to see one again someday so I can take some photographs but unfortunately they are extremely endangered.

Today was very cold and bitter, plus my car is in for repair so we had to get one of the very few buses there (i dont know how people get around without a car anywhere outside of london).

We got there and were greeted by a nice guy who somehow talked us into RSPB membership, not that hard as it is something i’ve been considering for a while. I even got a good book for free!

The first hide we went to had a good view of lots of ducks and a couple of coots. There seemed to be a Marsh Harrier flying about in the distance as well. We soon decided to move onto the next hide though, to find something new. As much as I like ducks, they’re not exactly uncommon.

Some ducks flying overhead.

We did manage to see some of the marsh harriers a bit closer up. They were hunting and were a delight to watch dance and weave above the reeds, hunting for small creatures to feast upon. Marsh Harriers are actually quite rare and were once endangered in the UK, there was apparently only 1 breeding female in the country in 1971! However now their numbers are on the increase, and this is more than evident at blacktoft sands where we saw at least 5 in the short time we were there!

Unfortunately we didn’t see many other animals in our short time there, although there were meant to be good sightings of the birds of prey coming in to roost later on. We most definitely want to go back again, maybe when i have my car back so that we can stay for a bit longer. I feel I need an even zoomier (technical word i know) lens to really take the photographs i want to be taking. But alas money probably wont allow so i’ll have to make do for now. I still managed to get a few nice photographs and now hope to be visiting lots of RSPB reserve during the next year so I can take lots of photographs.

Until then, here are a few photographs from my mums garden I took the other day. She has some lovely birds visiting including some stunning blue tits and several tree sparrows, who’s numbers are also currently in trouble in the UK. It’s a shame my photography skills aren’t quite up to par yet as these creatures are too quick for me to capture well and I’m having trouble with focusing, as well as still getting to grips with manual shooting, but i shall keep practicing. If only I had a garden at my house!

Probably my best photo of the blue tit and yet the camera focussed on the branch in front! Next time I think I may have to focus manually as the branches just confuse my camera.

One actually in focus and he’s showing his bum to me. 😦

A pair of blue tits in one of our bushes

Tree Sparrows – My shutter speed was set too fast and so the photo came out too dark which is why it’s looking grainy after brightening it. Definitely need to remember to keep an eye on the meter.

Probably my best picture of the day and it’s of a pigeon…

Better luck next time i guess!

Claire x


365 project – Days 27 to 32

On the 27th I finally finished this tie I’d had in mind for far too long and I love it! It’s already available on my etsy here

On the 28th I opened the kitchen for the second time ever and first time on my own (5am starts! Ouch!) but as I was lighting the grill I noticed it looked kinda pretty. Obviously being at work I only had my phone on me, but the picture still came out pretty cool…or should I say hot 😉

On the 29th I was playing with this adorable fabric! I think I have to buy more soon!

On the 30th I dressed up all Chinese style for a photoshoot to celebrate the new year! Ok, so I didn’t actually take these photo’s but I did think of the concept, the styling, modelled and directed the shoot so I think it still counts. You can find the post I wrote here

I did actually take a photo myself on this day (sort of, it was after midnight but I was only just leaving work and hadn’t slept yet so I guess it counts). The weather was super foggy and looked awesome so I just couldn’t resist!

The 31st I had finished the adorable-fabric skirt and it really is cute! I took some bad phone photo’s as my camera’s battery had died and I’d lost the charger! Oops! Lots of photo editing later and you can find the skirt in my shop here

On the first (wow February already!) I had my last day of work for two weeks! Yey for being owed holiday! I also went and bought a new charger as I will be needing my Camera on Sunday! This charger not only charges my old styled DSLR battery (my camera is a very old model) but also AA, AAA (etc.), newer camera batteries, phones and has a car adapter! It’s going to be perfect for holidaying!

Today is Sunday and I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the photo as I’m probably out and about taking it! I’m  adventuring to the centre of London for the Chinese New Year celebrations and hoping to get a few really good shots! I’ll definitely update with a blog post when i’m back and the photo’s are fully edited so keep your eyes peeled!

What have you been celebrating this week?

Claire xx


Sparkly Infinity Scarf

I have a new endeavour to go hand in hand with my wildlife photography in progress and so set out to Alexandra Palace to see the fallow deer that will be featuring in it. Unfortunately they had all disappeared! I assume they are inside and away from this bitter, cold weather, but it was quite a disappointment. I do have some ideas for what I can do with some other creatures, though, whilst I wait for their return.

So as not to waste our trip, I got Ash to take a few photographs of me in my newest creation! A sparkly, flowery, cosy infinity scarf! It really was very warm and cosy.

The outer fabric is the same as with my cape, and beautiful black, shimmering fabric I just adore. Hopefully I can buy more of it soon as I’ve more or less run out!

The inner fabric is a gorgeous, silk-like fabric which feels lovely against the skin and features a pretty flower design.

The scarf can be worn in the depths of winter with a thick coat to keep you nice and toasty warm, but it is also a good match with a simple t-shirt in slightly warmer weather.

I wore it with a plain black top, and big black waisted belt finished with this gorgeous blue skirt. I felt that the flower patterns in the skirt and scarf complimented each other well, plus I am just in love with this skirt (a bargain £3 from Primark!)

As it was a rather cold day I also wore tights with knee length socks to keep my legs warm, and these adorable fluffy boots!

Finally I finished the outfit off with some earrings I made for myself ages ago (more like I loved them so much I couldn’t bare to part with them). The blue matched perfectly and the chain drops gave a sense of elegance to the outfit.

My make-up was simple. Just a light pink on my eyes with some winged liner and a hint of pink on the cheeks and lips.

Hopefully the Fallow deer will return soon, but for now you can find this scarf listed in my shop right here

Have fun!

Claire x