Tigers | Practical Photography Magazine

I am super excited to announce that this months edition of the Practical Photography magazine contains another of my photos! This picture features in a special edition of their regular ’10 Clicks’ section on young photographers. I took this one at Wingham Wildlife Park in Kent. I love getting images like this which have, literally, captured the action! As regular readers might know I have a huge love affair for Wingham Wildlife Park and I’m so so happy that it’s these pictures which have been featured!

I was lucky enough to get another of my shots in a previous edition of the magazine. This was one of Wingham’s Chimpanzee’s which you can see here.


A Guide to Skype and Zoom

Over these uncertain times, if you, a relative or friend are trying to get to grips with Skype or Zoom then download these FREE PDFs to find set up your account, create a chat and start a video or audio call. Add questions to the comments and I’ll update the file!

How to take the cutest dog photos | Photography

Dogs are a man’s best friend –  do you want to turn your dog into an Instagram superstar? Follow these tips for some super cute dog photos you can show off to all your friends!

Act normal!

When you’re taking pictures of your dog, take it slow – act like you’re doing absolutely nothing! The worst thing to do here is act like it’s a huge dramatic thing that’s happening, keep it as normal as possible and your dog is more likely to stay put! You also don’t want them to think you’re playing a game and they end up moving around way too much!

Don’t use flash

Although in most photography cases you use flash indoors, not here! Using flash runs the risk of startling your dog which you don’t want to do! If you need flash, then try raising the ISO. The ISO is a scale on your camera which relates to light sensitivity – you’ll find it on a scale from about 100 to roughly 3200 (though the numbers vary a little between cameras). Use a low number if it’s a bright sunny day or slowly raise it if there’s not much light around. Using a higher ISO will give you a bit more noise in the photo though in return you’ll definitely be able to see your dog! The best way to decide what ISO you need is trial and error. Start off by raising the ISO in small amounts otherwise you might get a picture that’s unnecessarily noisy!

Get your dog comfortable

Let your dog sniff the camera. This way they can understand it’s not some weird unknown machine that might cause them harm. Body language is also seriously important, dogs can pick up on human body language so easily. Unlike cats – eye contact is really important. Straight on eye contact is a sign of security for dogs – in the wild, it’s what their pack leaders do.

Watch the details and your background

When taking pictures of any animal, focus on the eyes! This means anyone looking at your image will look straight at the eyes so it gives the image a focus – and the eyes give your dog the cute factor!

Your background is also really important. As a general rule, try to make the background as simple as possible. You want maximum attention on your dog at the end of the day not your washing behind him!

Take lots of pictures and experiment!

We’re not in the days of film photography now – so take lots of pictures! This means you can select the sharpest, clearest image as your winner! Try taking your photos from different angles. I always find the cutest pictures are taken on your dog’s level – see the world from their perspective!

Maybe you’re after an action shot of your dog playing. If this is the case you’ll definitely need lots of pictures! Your camera/smartphone probably will have a continuous mode so you can take a burst of pictures milliseconds after the previous one. If you can, set a shutter speed then get this as quick as possible!

Pay your model…

Lastly, just as humans love a good treat, I’m sure your model will too!

Organising photos – where do you start?

I don’t know about you but I seem to take hundreds of photos (sometimes just in a day!). The 760 photos I took at the Fed Cup last year is a prime example! So the numbers of photos on all my devices get very big, very quickly! But how do you organise your photos without getting overwhelmed?

Seals on Horsey Beach, Norfolk

Organise your photos by year

Take advantage of the many online tools there are which can help you do this really easily. Start off small. Organise your photos into folders according to the year that they were taken.  This means that, at very least you’ll be able to search through your photos by year! I’ve also recently discovered Adobe Lightroom – which seems to do anything you could ever wish for with your photos! Lightroom has a pick/reject function which means you can whizz through your photos at supersonic speed while hitting the ‘X’ or ‘P’ function to pick or reject your photos. You can then bulk delete all your rejected photos so everything is so much quicker! 

Share and print your photos

Even if it’s just sharing your photos on Instagram you’ll still have a back up for your photos, so do it! Remember that you can make your account totally private if you’d prefer. There’s no safer way to store your photos than physical print- services like FreePrints and Photobox give you 50 prints a month if you pay delivery! Even if you’re just putting prints into a photo album, it’s still worth it! If you’re feeling a little more creative then a quick google of “Photo DIY” brings up so much you can do with prints – from photo transfers to photo frames and everything in between. 

Try out cloud based storage

If you don’t do anything else then backup your photos! Unfortunately, although memory sticks and external hard drives do their job they’re not completely immune to damage. They still serve their purpose, but why not try out a cloud based storage platform? There’s so many options out there from Google Photos to Amazon Prime Photos. These services also automatically group your photos by place or even photo subject. You may even find that your photos are automatically uploading to one of these services already! 

Delete your photos as you go along

Have you taken a super nice picture of some grass? Or even an accidental selfie with the camera pointing the wrong way? Delete those pictures before they start to mount up. Only storing your favourite photos will be much kinder to your phone or SD card storage. It will also make the overall numbers seem way more manageable.

Did you know you can get SD card readers for your phone? These can be really useful if you’re on holiday or away from a computer for a longer period of time. Sometimes it’s really difficult to know what photos to delete but you’ll be able to check out what photos you have taken on a bigger screen. You can also try out some smartphone apps to edit your photos – Snapseed is one of my favourites!

When was the last pandemic? | Coronavirus Covid-19

With the Coronavirus, Covid-19 now spreading faster in Europe than China where it originated, what makes a pandemic? How close are we to another? When was the last one, and why does the WHO get so worried about them? 

Microscopic image of the H1N1 virus

Seasonal influenza occurs every year – the virus changes each year and sadly causes thousands of deaths nationwide. With “normal” strains of influenza, many had some immunity to the circulating virus. This put a lid on the number of infections – and the virus’ virulence. With known strains, this is why we can use vaccines, particularly when protecting the vulnerable. If the strain is unknown – we have no vaccine, no vaccine means a much wider spread of the strain.  

The last pandemic was from early 2009 to late 201 – caused by the (H1N1)pdm09 virus, but what was so bad about it? This virus was different to other H1N1 viruses that were circulating at the time so treatments weren’t so straightforward. However, it also emerged that ⅓ of over 60s had antibodies against the virus. Scientists think that this was because of exposure to older H1N1 viruses they’d encountered. 

The outbreak began with the first case detected April 2009- in California. With global spread of the disease, a pandemic was declared by June. By that point, the virus had reached 74 countries with laboratory confirmed infections. Whether we can contain this virus remains to be seen. It’s important to remember that this virus is not worse than a bad cold in the majority of cases. Yes, a pandemic is arguably inevitable but most make a full recovery. Keep up to date with the UK government advice here.

The Coronavirus – should you be worried?

The Coronavirus – or COVID-19 as it’s now known has never left the headlines since the start of the outbreak in December 2019. As the death toll rises well beyond that of the SARS outbreak in 2003 – it’s important to ask all the questions. What is the coronavirus? Why is this outbreak different to the rest? Should we panic? How is it treated? Read on to find out all the latest details. 

Headlines have been constantly hitting the news bulletins regarding this new, novel coronavirus outbreak. With worldwide cases doubling approximately every 5 days and the WHO declaring a public health emergency, the outbreak shows no sign of slowing down. 

Where did the virus originate and how is it passed on? 

The first reported case emerged on the 31st December. It’s likely the virus originated from bats – sold in a market in Wuhan. We now believe this virus is predominantly spread in the air, via droplet infection. We’re learning more about the virus day by day and how it’s transmitted. 

Didn’t we know about this before? 

The coronavirus family isn’t new – if you’ve experienced the common cold, you’ll have come across this group of viruses. However, they’re constantly mutating – it’s what they do to survive and continue spreading. Mutations have led to this particular new strain which unfortunately we have no cure for. 

If there’s no treatment, how serious is the novel coronavirus? Should we panic? 

Particularly in countries where good healthcare is in place it’s important to be alert but not anxious. The virus currently has a mortality rate of about 2%. Somewhere between 10 and 20% of patients develop more serious problems like pneumonia as a result of the virus. If you’re otherwise fit and well then encountering the virus won’t be hugely different to a “normal” bout of flu. If you fall into the group that the NHS offers free flu vaccines to – if you’re elderly or have asthma for example, then it may be necessary to take extra precautions. As a general rule, keeping up normal hand hygiene with using alcohol gels where you can will lower your likelihood of catching any virus. 

How do I know if I have the virus? 

The virus has an incubation period of about 2 weeks – and you’re more likely to develop the virus if you’ve recently returned from China. This incubation period means you may be symptom free for 14 days but still be able to pass the virus around. It’s important to remember that we currently believe you’ll only be able to contract the virus following close contact with an infected person. If you’re at all worried, ring 111 and explain your symptoms. If medical professionals believe someone may have the virus, a sample of mucus is taken from the nose or mouth. We can then carry out a PCR test. This looks at the genetics of the sample to identify a match to the virus.

It’s important to remember that even though there’s no treatment, we can treat the symptoms. As it’s a virus, antibiotics won’t work. We can however treat the symptoms. If you have a fever, there’s medication which can be given to lower your temperature.

Will new roles free Harry and Meghan from a life of scruitiny?

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer use their HRH titles, they’ll repay the £2.4m spent on refurbishing Frogmore Cottage, they won’t be working members of the Royal Family. This is more than a job resignation – it’s the challenge of balancing a private life in the “woke”, social media world. You can read more details of the couples new role here.

Back in May 2018 – Harry and Meghan got married. With all the pomp of British Royalty it promised to be the start of something amazing. A breath of fresh air into the family – the diversification, combined with the new and fresh ideas it so desparately needed.

Image result for fab four royals
(left to right: Prince Charles, The Duke of Cambridge and Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan and Harry)

The “Fab Four” working together on the Royal Foundation led to a continuation of their nationwide work on Mental Health – laying out a long term charitable vision. It’s widely acknowledged it was Kate’s idea to pull their work together under the common theme of Mental Health. The couple have had so much success – both as a duo and as part of the “Fab Four” but where did it all go wrong?

Somewhere along the lines things changed. Amid a heightened political atmosphere, they lost their accountability – falling under scrutiny for transatlantic flights, use of taxpayer money and private jets. Racist coverage? Not that I’ve seen, but some coverage was – and still is unfair.

Despite the coverage, social media has had a huge bearing on the Sussex’s public perception. Public opinion drives what sells newspapers. Newspaper content is driven by public opinion. The issue with social media is the level of information which can be inferred, not by what is said, but what isn’t. Leave gaps and the human brain fills in the rest. It’s for this reason I don’t believe they’ll get the freedom they are so desperate for.

They’re stepping back from Royal precedent – not from the public eye. They’ll be pursuing employment and strangely opening themselves up to more judgment on the opportunities they take up (or don’t!).

The popularity of a Google Search for “Meghan Markle”. The sudden increase is when Harry and Meghan made their initial accouncement.

Every human should be allowed to leave a job they aren’t happy in – but at what cost? How can commerical employment “uphold the values of Her Majesty”? Royal duties have guidelines and precedent – pursueing “normal” employment after being born into arguably the world’s most famous institution doesn’t. Will this be the future blueprint for Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte?

What’s causing the Australian Bush Fires?

Lightning, arson, arcing from power lines are all possible causes of bushfires. Hot temperatures and other weather conditions then makes the fires spread until they either run out of material to burn, it rains or fire crews get involved. So far billions of animals have died, thousands of firefighters have been tackling the deadly flames – every state of Australia has been impacted by the bushfires. More than a third of NSW’s Koala population may have been wiped out, in one state alone. If you’d like to donate to the Australian Red Cross you can do so by clicking here.

But why have the fires been so bad? 

In Australia, there’s loads of Eucalyptus trees. Koala’s pretty much only feed off of them – and only drink water when they’re either desperate or ill. Eucalyptus trees contain large quantities of oil – burning lots of oil gives the fire the energy it needs to get bigger and continue in its destructive path. 

It can also be difficult to compute how homes can be lost, even if they’re not surrounded by trees. Across Australia, gas leaks have given the fires a new lease of life. Wind can spread the embers of the fires – those embers get stuck in places like guttering they ignite causing fire damage to properties. 

Is climate change really to blame? 

In the case of this summer’s fires – social media has allowed for an unprecedented campaign of disinformation. There has been rumours of some organisations digitally manipulating photos, stating it’s been caused by arson before there’s been any proper investigations and so much more. Whatever the cause, it’s clear climate change has turned a fire into a furnace, a furnace into an inferno. This shouldn’t be used to further political agendas. A government official interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain was sadly prime example of using a platform to further an anti-climate political agenda. Whatever the cause, this shouldn’t be used to further political agendas. You can listen to the full interview on this link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFvTrdOqdXo.

Of course anyone who has started a fire needs to be bought to justice. Climate change means the summers are now hotter than ever before. High temperature and high winds are all more prevalent during the summer – and even more so due to climate change.

So in the short term, there’s countless ways you can help Australia. Whether that’s donating to one of the organisations involved in the recovery, lending space or supplies to a family in need or maybe just sharing a donation link. The a significant proportion of the Australian summer still ahead they’ll need every bit of your help to come through this crisis.

Why Extinction Rebellion Need to Change Tactics

Science needs the facts. Climate change needs drastic and emergency action. A Climate Emergency exists – the science proves it. However Extinction Rebellion are targeting the wrong people and sending out a message which I don’t believe will help get more people involved and engaged in the longer term. This wave of protests has led to over 300 arrests on day 1 of their action.

Image result for extinction rebellion

What are they doing?

Let’s go back to the beginning – Extinction Rebellion have started a fresh wave of climate change protests aiming to bring central London to a standstill for two weeks. There’s also an International Rebellion with similar activities happening across the globe.

There’s so many negative stories on social media – branding Extinction Rebellion as hypocrites, overly dramatic, wasteful and everything inbetween. It’s not all bad though. Each protest comes with a lot of activities, workshops – they even held a yoga session on Westminster Bridge.

Climate change needs a collaborative effort and whatever your view you can’t say that this isn’t a collaborative effort. You have to admire the commitment. The fact that now we’re all talking about climate change at home is a huge win. Every household should be on a mission to do what they can to help.

But where’s the solutions – we know what we should be doing, let’s make it happen. Where I take issue with it is instilling a generation with so-called eco-anxiety. When rumours surface about disruption to one of London’s most eco-friendly (and plastic free!) half marathons you’re turning people away who are maybe just as passionate. Surely there’s strength in numbers?

Focusing efforts purely towards the government takes ownership of the issue (rightly or wrongly) away from the public. If we don’t have ownership of the issue, we don’t feel like we can make a difference then this removes all hope from everyone. We want to be empowering people and giving them the inspiration to go and create a huge impact. We don’t want to turn people away.

What’s the answer?

Strip it back. You only have to look to Brexit to see what politics needs a revamp. There’s thousands of people who quite obviously share the same views. Why not create a political party to tackle these issues from the inside? I don’t believe one solution is enough. We need to focus our resources towards educating our kids – well people of all ages for that matter. Let’s give people the factual information and tools to create a difference. By that, I mean the engineering, scientific and practical skills to create real solutions. I’m not sure what these could be – perhaps it’s widespread campaigns to get us to use less – or maybe we can come up with more schemes to tackle microplastics in the oceans. I firmly believe that in this instance, actions speak louder than words.

Through working together we can give people hope not fear and come up with some real solutions to create real impact.

The Bay Trust

The Bay Trust are an inspiring education, conservation and preservation charity based on the White Cliffs of Dover. They’re on a mission to get communities working collaboratively and igniting the public’s curiosity in nature and the world around them. They do this through a number of means – from sustainable working to outdoors learning and even a museum!

Over 10 weeks in 2018 I had the inspiring opportunity of collaborating with The Bay Trust.  My internship involved creating signage and learning materials for their gardens – showcasing the ecological features and the work of the charity.