NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC COMMISSION - BIG CAT WEEK

I was recently commissioned by National Geographic to shoot a rather unusual model after dark on the streets of London...

To launch BIG CAT WEEK in the UK, Nat Geo WILD had a fully animatronic leopard built by John Nolan Studio and I had one night to photograph it in iconic London locations. The idea was inspired by Nat Geo Wild TV episode Mission Critical: Leopards at the Door. Wild leopards roam the streets of Mumbai but the people who live in the city and the leopards have found a way to coexist. There are of course occasional conflicts, but Mumbai is a great example of how people and wildlife can share urban areas - even if that wildlife is a big cat or other top predator. Read the full story here: Learning to Live with Leopards.

As it was such a complicated build, the leopard wasn't fully finished and operational until the night before the press release, so we had to work through the night to create a set of publicity images ready to go to press in the morning. Assisted by the talented Josh Perrett, we spent the night driving "Lily" all over the city, from Brick Lane, to the Gherkin and Tower Bridge. We got some pretty funny looks and had a great time watching people's reactions to seeing a life-size and incredibly realistic leopard on the streets of London. The story was picked up by a few major news outlets and with the accompanying tv programmes will hopefully help to raise awareness of the threats facing leopards and other big cats in the wild.

INTERVIEW: BBC Radio 2 - The Radio 2 Arts Show with Jonathan Ross

As mentioned in my previous post, I was recently interviewed by Jonathan Ross on BBC Radio 2 - the most popular national radio station in the UK. I was pretty excited to get the opportunity to spread the word about my wildlife photography and promote the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition to such a wide audience. You can listen to the full interview below...

MEDIA COVERAGE - INTERVIEWS WITH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, JONATHAN ROSS AND WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

Since the announcement of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 (WPY52) winners, I've had the opportunity to promote the WPY competition / exhibition, wildlife photography and my own work across many platforms. Here are some of my recent favourites...

During the WPY52 results week I was interviewed on the National Geographic Facebook Live channel by my good friend Bertie Gregory. Above is a pic of the interview at the Natural History Museum in London by amazing underwater photographer / photo-naturalist and all-round great guy Tony Wu, with a couple of screen grabs from the interview, which had 62,681 views!!! If you don't already know Bertie's work, check out his series for Nat Geo here - it's awesome.

I also did a couple of TV and radio reviews including this interview for ITV News to promote the opening of the WPY exhibition at the M Shed in my home town of Bristol and a #WPYinsights video at the Natural History Museum about how I work, with some tips for nocturnal wildlife photography.

Perhaps my most fun interview though was with Jonathan Ross on the BBC Radio 2 Arts Show, where I got to bang the drum about the importance of urban wildlife photography and Jonathan made me do a pretty embarrassing / amazing impression of a fox. It was pretty cool, if not a little surreal hanging out with Dame Vivienne Westwood and John Simpson, whilst Jarvis Cocker complained about the broken coffee machine and Mr. Ross informed me that he's a big fan of my photography, but all in a day's work and great fun :)

Iplayer link here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0848ybt

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR BOOK FRONT COVER AND LEAD PUBLICITY IMAGE WORLDWIDE!

THE MOST FAMOUS FOX IN THE WORLD?

The 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards results have recently been announced so I'm really happy to share that my image "Nosy Neighbour" has been chosen as not only the front cover of this year's winners portfolio book, but it's also going to be used as the lead publicity image to promote the WPY 52 exhibition as it tours the globe. I'm super stoked as apparently it's the first time in the competition's history that the same image has been used for both.

I've already seen it on on billboards across the UK, but I've also been sent pictures of Nosy Neighbour posters by friends on all sides of the globe, including the USA, Canada and Australia, so he's possibly the most famous fox in the world right now! Having my picture on the front cover of the Portfolio 26 book is a great accolade and dream come true for me as the WPY portfolio books are real collectors items for all wildlife photographers - they showcase the world's best and most innovative wildlife photography, so I'm humbled to be featured so prominently in this year's competition.

MARINE LITTER STORY IN 6 PAGE AUDUBON FEATURE AND AWARDED BY IUCN

I'm super excited to see my gannet / marine litter story published across 6 pages in the winter issue of Audubon Magazine - the flagship quarterly journal of the National Audubon Society. The same series has also been awarded 3rd place in the Nature Images Awards presented by Terre Sauvage Magazine and IUCN - the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

You can read the full article online on the Audubon site here:

An Annual Rescue Mission to Free Northern Gannets Tangled in Plastic Trash

It's such an important story, which highlights the problem of plastic marine pollution, so I'm stoked to see it getting plenty of attention and exposure on both sides of the Atlantic. It's an international problem and the only real solution is education, so I'm really happy and appreciative that Audubon, Terre Sauvage and IUCN are helping to spread the word.

WITNESS THE WILD EXHIBITION / WILDSCREEN FESTIVAL SPEAKER

My image of a red fox in front of Clifton Suspension Bridge will be displayed this month on Bristol's College Green from 7-28th October. The open-air "Witness the Wild" exhibition is part of the Wildscreen Festival - the world’s biggest celebration of screen-based natural history storytelling. The festival takes place every two years, and this year they have a dedicated photography day, where the world's top wildlife and conservation photographers will be speaking and sharing their pictures and stories. I'm doing a talk at 1pm entitled "Making That Human Connection" about how I use the human environment to give wildlife a context that people can easily relate to and connect with, and I'm also sharing my conservation story about gannets and marine litter - a devastating problem that's happening close to home on our UK shores. Speakers include Tim Laman and other National Geographic photographers, magazine editors from National Geographic and BBC Wildlife, and I'm looking forward to UK based conservation photographer Britta Jaschinski speaking about her latest project. A selection of images by the speakers can be seen on the Guardian website today, with my fox image being used as the lead: Wildscreen's Witness the Wild

DOUBLE PAGE OPENER IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE

Incredibly awesome to see my parakeet picture published in the latest National Geographic Magazine (October 2016). It's one of 3 double page spreads in the opening "Visions" section - The Most Stunning Visions of Earth: phenomenal photos of the world's wonders. WOOP-WOOP!!

BRITISH WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS - 9 IMAGES AWARDED

The British Wildlife Photography Awards recently announced the 2016 winners, including nine of my pictures, which were highly commended. A set of six from my Northern Gannet series, featuring the desperate situation on Grassholm Island, where birds become entangled in marine litter was the runner up in the Documentary Series category.

I also received two highly commended in the Urban Wildlife category - a spotted flycatcher nest in an old brick wall and an unusual mistle thrush nest in a traffic light. Lastly, my image of a red fox vixen suckling young cubs in a suburban garden was awarded highly commended in the Behaviour category. A pretty good haul in total!

WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR FINALIST

My fox image "Nosy Neighbour" has just been released as one of the handful of preview images from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. It's all over the papers and online today, being shared widely and is being used as the lead image in most of the features. The best headline I think I've read so far is "This stunning picture of a fox on a Bristol street could be the best wildlife picture in the world"!! This image has already had some decent exposure, so I'm pretty surprised it made it into this year's WPY52 collection, but I'm really happy the judges thought it was strong enough despite that. It may have been seen by a lot of the wildlife photography community, but WPY will bring it to a whole new audience when the exhibition tours the globe and the book goes on sale internationally. Excited and looking forward to awards night and seeing the rest of the winners. Awesome to be a part of this competition for the second time!!

WINNER - BIRD BEHAVIOUR - BIRD PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

My image of a herring gull snatching a Cornish pasty recently won the Bird Behaviour category in the Bird Photographer of the Year Awards 2016. I also received a Highly Commended award for my lesser spotted woodpecker image in the Birds in the Environment category. Below, a slightly more beardy than usual me receiving a prize from Chris Packham (credit: Rob Read).

COVER OF THE YEAR AND RECENTLY PUBLISHED

Lumo Magazine Issue 4, featuring one of my fox pictures was recently awarded Magazine Cover of the Year in Finland. Below is a picture from the awards (credit: Merja Yeung/Edit Magazine Awards 2015/FPPA) of Lasse Kurkela at the awards gala in Helsinki. Lasse was commended twice in the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year at just 10 years of age.

I've had a few stories and covers published recently including another fox on the cover of RSPB kids' magazine Bird Life and features in both BBC Wildlife Magazine and BBC Countryfile Magazine. Opening spreads below..

BRITISH WILDLIFE MAGAZINE FRONT COVER

British Wildlife magazine is a bit of a national institution. It was first published in 1989 and has always been respected amongst naturalists for being an unassuming, informative and accessible publication that treads the line between academic journal and newsstand title. I've long been a subscriber, so it's great to see my fox image on the February cover. British Wildlife is bimonthly and the latest issue can be purchased here.

REGULAR PHOTOGRAPHY COLUMN IN BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE

Since November 2015, I've been writing a regular photography column in BBC Wildlife Magazine, where I choose 3 images that illustrate different ways to shoot a seasonal subject. The March issue is out this week and for my 5th instalment I've chosen amphibians, as they're emerging from hibernation across the UK at the moment and can be great subjects to get creative with.

I can't post the copy from my latest column as it's still in the shops, but here's a transcript from a previous issue - BBC Wildlife Magazine - Jan 2016 - 3 Ways to Photograph Winter Knot...

        "January days are often brief and bitter, but head out to the mudflats and you’ll find one of the greatest photo opportunities of the year. This habitat is incredibly rich in worms and molluscs, attracting tens of thousands of knot and other waders. Their daily lives are governed by the tides, which makes it easy to predict their routine: feasting at low tide, roosting at high tide, and in between putting on spectacular aerial displays with clouds of birds twisting and wheeling in apparent unison. All of this drama is bathed in the warm, golden glow of the low winter sun. Sam Hobson

IN-FLIGHT FOCUS - Thousands of knot taking flight is a breathtaking sight. Wait for an incoming tide, when the birds are pushed up the beach towards the roost. At first they will take to the air in small, rippling waves, but as the tide creeps in, the flocks get larger and closer. Use a long lens to fill the frame or a shorter lens to capture the whole flock. Be ready for the moment when the birds turn away from you, revealing their silvery undersides like a shoal of fish catching the sun.

PICK A PORTRAIT - Focus on an individual to capture feather detail and behaviour. The feeding flock at low tide is more spread out, so keep to the edge, approach slowly and wait for them to come to you. Retaining a small channel of water as a barrier can help keep the birds at ease (be wary of dangerous channels, quicksand and rushing incoming tides, though).

RECORD A ROOST - The busy, high-tide knot roost is all about shoulder-barging and hustle and bustle. Use a tripod and slightly slow shutter speed to create a sense of movement as the birds shuffle around. Picking out another species within the flock, such as this oystercatcher, adds a focal point together with a splash of colour."

MARINE LITTER FEATURE IN DAILY MAIL UK AND MAIL ONLINE

I've just had a 2 page conservation story published in the Daily Mail, highlighting the problem of marine litter in the UK and how it affects our wildlife. The piece also went out on the Mail Online, which is the most read online newspaper site in the world, so it's great exposure for the story. I spent last summer working with seabird scientists, researchers and conservationists to document their work, and at the end of the summer, I visited RSPB Grassholm, which lies 8 miles off the coast of Wales and supports 10% of the global population of northern gannets. The press piece focuses on the Grassholm gannets as they are the most severely affected by marine litter in the UK - mainly due to the island's proximity to ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, which brings floating debris into the heart of the gannets' foraging zones. The birds mistake discarded fishing lines and nets for strands of kelp and seaweed, and bring them back to the island to line their nests, but unlike kelp, these man-made plastic fibres are incredibly difficult to break free from once entangled and can be a death sentence. Hopefully some positive changes will come from publishing the story in an outlet with such a wide reach. You can read the online piece here and I will be putting up a new gallery of the full project very soon. Thanks to Wildscreen Exchange for helping me tell the story.

BBC FOCUS MAGAZINE - DRONE RACING FEATURE

BBC Focus Magazine recently commissioned me to shoot a drone racing feature, hoping that if I was ok with photographing the fastest birds in the world in flight, that drones wouldn't be too much of a problem :) I had a great day at the event getting to know the people and stepping in to a world I knew very little about. I shot a lot of long lens action shots, but the image that they chose for the opening spread was probably my favourite from the day, using a Pocket Wizard remote release to get a low angle and as close as possible to the action. You can see the feature in the January 2016 issue of BBC Focus Magazine, available now.

SURPRISE HAWKSBILL HATCHLINGS IN SAINT LUCIA

I've just returned from Saint Lucia, after being invited back by Anse Chastanet Eco Resort for the second time. Last time I was commissioned to showcase the amazing bird life that can be found on the island, which you can read about here. This time it was more of a holiday as a thank you for the previous job and for getting features out in UK birdwatching magazines to help promote the resort and island. I took my camera just in case and I'm glad I did as there were a few surprises in store...

Firstly, I arrived to find that critically endangered HAWKSBILL TURTLES were hatching right on the Anse Chastenet beach! Meno (pictured) told me that it was the second time that week hatchlings had been emerging and that there was at least one more batch of eggs that could hatch any day. Amazing!

The next surprise was the rain. The rainy season was pretty late and when I arrived, everyone was talking about how dry it had been - but that was about to change. It bucketed down from the second day, but fortunately the rain in Saint Lucia isn't as bad as in the UK and the showers are usually pretty short during the day, and they don't stop the sun from shining. In fact it provided some nice opportunities to capture some images like this spotted sandpiper on Anse Chastenet beach, where I used backlight from the early evening sun to highlight the raindrops.

There were a couple of birds I wanted to see this time that I didn't manage to see on my first trip, and top of the list was the rufous-throated solitaire or "mountain whistler" as it is known locally. I'd heard them singing previously at Des Cartiers, but I knew that the Edmund Forest Reserve was supposed to be better and there was a good chance of seeing some Jacquots there too. We only had a few hours to walk the trails, but we saw plenty of parrots (although too distant for pictures) and Smith who was guiding was red-hot at calling the solitaires down by whistling their song.

My next big surprise was an osprey fishing in the stream at Soufriere, just outside the resort. Meno had seen it in the early morning on the way in to work, so I thought I'd chance it the next day, knowing full well that the likelihood of it still being there was pretty remote. My luck was in though and although we didn't see it catch anything, it made a few attempts and some very close fly-bys. What a bird!

On the last morning of the trip, I went to Bouton to look for parrots, and found a golden apple tree with one feeding in it just before sunrise. It left just before it was light enough for pictures, so I spent the rest of the morning waiting and hoping that they'd return. Unfortunately, my luck had run out and they didn't show, but I kept myself busy watching this grey kingbird trying to swallow these fruits that were just a little bit too big to fit down its throat. Normally they are flycatchers, and I hadn't seen them do this before - it would toss the fruit in the air and open its bill as wide as possible, hoping it would land at the right angle to swallow. It must have tried for about 20 minutes, before it finally got it down!

If you are interested in seeing or photographing the birdlife of Saint Lucia, I am currently putting together a list of contacts for future tours, so please get in touch. Massive thanks to Karolin and Nick for the invite, Jonathan, Meno and all the resort staff for making sure we had such a great time.

NOVEMBER FRONT COVERS

I'm really pleased to see one of my fox images on a National Geographic front cover this month. It might only be the Dutch kids' Nat Geo, but it's great to see him with that famous yellow border. The other mag that got a cover this month is an educational science magazine for kids in the USA. Really pleased that the foxes are still being received so well and seem to be popular with kids. I'm thinking of producing a range of kids' posters with some of the fox pics, so let me know if you're interested in one for your kids' bedroom wall :)

BBC COUNTRYFILE MAGAZINE - LONGBOW FEATURE

I was recently commissioned by BBC Countryfile Magazine to photograph Richard Head, one of the most respected bowyers in the UK, who makes yew longbows by hand in his Wiltshire workshop. This month marks the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. On October 25th In 1415, the heavily outnumbered English defeated an army of French cavalry against all odds and the victory was largely due to the French being outgunned by the English, whose archers wielded the famous English longbow. War is nothing to be celebrated, but this was a significant moment in British history, which will be commemorated this month with displays of archery and battle reenactments. Stories about passionate people inspire me nearly as much as wildlife and I always appreciate the opportunity to meet interesting people and shoot their portrait.

BBC WILDLIFE MAGAZINE - GULL FEATURE PUBLISHED

BBC Wildlife Magazine (October 2015) has just published my gull feature, which I've been working on for the past couple of years. It follows a summer of hysteria in the British media about gulls attacking people and their pets and hopefully provides a refreshingly accurate take on the situation which looks at the latest research and science and interviews experts in the field - many of which I've had the privilege to work with during the project. We published the feature early due to the media frenzy this summer, so I'm still working on the project, but these are some of my favourite pictures that either made the feature or will hopefully be published when the project is complete.

BRITISH WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS - HIGHLY COMMENDED

The winners of the British Wildlife Photography Awards have been announced this week and one of my toad images from this series received a highly commended in the urban nature category. I think it's a great time for UK wildlife photography at the moment - there are so many talented photographers (particularly the young guys) producing new and exciting work, so I was pleased to have a fun evening at the awards ceremony catching up with some of them :)

British Wildlife Photography Awards - Collection 6 with all of the winning images from 2015 is available here.