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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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.

 

 

 

The Fed Cup | #ThrowbackThursday

For this week, I’ve put together some of the pictures I took at April’s Fed Cup. Held at the Copperbox arena in London, the GB tennis team battled to victory against Kazakhstan for a place in tennis’ World Group.

Pictures above (clockwise): 1. The GB bench cheer on the team, 2 and 3. The GB team celebrate their tie victory, 4. Johanna Konta, 5. The GB team with the ball boys and girls for the day, 6. Johanna Konta, 7 and 8. Katie Boulter, 9. The celebrating team GB with coach Anne Keothavong, 10. the Copperbox crowd. 

Animals at Play | BBC 2

If you’re after a new TV show packed with cuteness and inspiring insights in the natural world then you have to watch Animals at Play on BBC 2.

As Gordon Buchanan investigates – your kids may run riot when they play but this actually has a proper reason behind it. All animals spend vast amounts of time and energy at play. You may have thought it was a useless and function-less thing but in actual fact it’s vital to everything that an animal learns.

Why don’t they get bored of playing the same games? The answer to this may lie in research. In humans and animals alike, dopamine and endorphins are the body’s natural reward chemicals. They’re also highly addictive. This drives the animals to play the same games over and over again. This repetition can then help to develop the neural pathways in the brain. This is a process called synaptogenesis.

Being young gives the animal time to make mistakes in the hope that they’ll be pros when they’re older. They’ll master the art of leaping, pouncing and all the things which make them the animal they are right up until those actions are hardwired.

Why and how these animals play can be assessed with the power of research. The world of science defines play with a few simple rules.  It’s got to be something the animal engages in voluntarily and the reward has to be the activity itself. In other words, food can’t be a reward! It also takes place much earlier in an animals life than when they’d usually see a serious version  of that behaviour. Lastly, the animal has to be in safe and relaxed state.

The show visits a huge range of the world’s species, from young gibbons that spend 20% of their time catapulting themselves between trees to cheetahs that play. They also take a look at the Komodo Dragon, where research suggests for the first time that reptiles also play.

So next time you see an animal playing – remember that they’re learning some life skills in front of you! Take Elephants for example, once they’ve mastered how to use their trunk it has an unbelievable level of dexterity. It can even pick individual leaves off tree branches! They’re learning depth perception, how to hunt and how to interact with the world around them. 

See the power of play for yourself on Gordon Buchanan’s new show ‘Animals at Play’ on BBC2. 

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Baby Elizabeth at Wingham Wildlife Park is one of the most playful chimps I’ve encountered!

Why has it been so hot? |#ClimateTalk

This week Britain baked in seriously uncomfortable temperatures of nearly 40C, breaking the all time UK record of 38.5C. This isn’t the full story as it followed a record breaking June across Europe as far as heatwaves are concerned. Why has it been so hot, and is the climate change to blame?

If it is to ‘blame’, then what can we do about it? Perhaps we shouldn’t be thinking of ‘blame’ or ‘not to blame’ but more the likelihood of events like this happening because of climate change in the future.

Heatwaves have a changing definition based on the average seasonal temperature of the given year. If you compare current heatwaves to their counterparts about a century ago – they’re now about 4C hotter. Climate models are also showing heatwaves to be more frequent and more serve than they predicted.

We then begin to look at how weather patterns have evolved over time and particular weather patterns which could directly correspond to climate change. Heatwaves, storms and floods – is climate change to blame for these weather patterns too? Scientists are more certain that heatwaves are – but they aren’t so sure about floods and storms.

Take floods for example. They have battered the Midwest of the US this year – but why? We know that the atmosphere is holding more water vapour than ever before – we’re pretty sure that this increases the likelihood of extreme rainfall. There are so many other factors involved here – development of floodplains, fields, dams and even car parks!

Whatever your outlook on this – the saddest part is probably how the public access and treat these risks. Okay heatwaves could well be far more likely due to climate change but understanding the likelihood of extreme weather events will give us better information to help us beat climate change. Apparently local officials in the Midwest purposefully avoided talking about climate change in relation to the floods. Whether this was due to climate change denial or a polarised political environment we don’t know. Some might say it’s so the officials can focus on causes which they can directly address – but what about striving to achieve the unachievable?

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Gone with the rain – is this a picture of British summers to come?