Friday, February 05, 2010

Scotland in the snow: Shooting at the Highland Wildlife Park


It's been almost two months since I actively shot "wildlife", and man, it just takes such a short period of time for my technique to slightly atrophy! Already it is very obvious I couldn't handle my 300/4 AF-S as well as I could in the past, and putting the TC14EII on I was not getting sharp shots at all :(
Peek-a-boo, I see you :>

Still I think it came out alright. My objectives were 4 fold: Arctic Foxes in the snow. Amur Tigers in the snow. Wolves in the snow. Snarling Scottish Wildcat. I think I got 3 of the four; the wolves had become ONE - most of the pack was shipped over to Edinburgh zoo or so I was told, and only one furball was left. I felt really crap after hearing the news as I can't fanthom why they'd leave a pack animal alone.

Then again, I'm a vfx td, not some wildlife behavoural specialist so.... Hopefully it'll be moved to join it's old pack or new wolves come in. Loneliness kills.

The tiger cubs have grown ALOT since the last time I was here.

I also met a full time professional shooting at the park, Mr Tony Dilger.
He was very kind, allowing me to play with his gimballed' 400/2.8VR (OMG I TOUCHED A 400/2.8VR!) What an amazing lens. It's so much brighter compared to my dinky 300/4 + TC14EII :P

Check that front element!!!!
The "Tiger Walking In Snow" shot.

Spent several hours with the tigers over the two days, they are a joy to watch when they get up to antics.

Taken with a wrong lens IMO, the 300/4 is cropping in slightly *too* close.
But check out the power of those muscles! That's a hunter, an apex predator.

Whatcha looking at, human?

Spent a fair few hours with the Arctic foxes. On both days, they only seem active in the afternoon, the mornings always seem to have them rolled up into a ball off fluff.

Imma want your leg!


Japanese Macaque (aka Snow Monkey)

Carpathian Lynxes cuddling up

There were the usual assortment of furballs to shoot, like the Macaques, various ungulates and of course the park's latest attraction, the polar bear Mercedes.

The two days I was there, she basically only moved to a different position :P

Robin in the wolves pen

Bharal are really agile climbers.

Where's my lunch?

I missed the scottish wildcats on the first day - was a little tired and missed the feeding times. When I got there, the fuzballs were all in un-shootable areas. The 2nd day, I made sure to arrive early, and was very lucky to be in a good position to catch the snarling shot at the very top.

High speed travel system

The cats have a large area to explore, interlinked via these mesh tunnels above. Keep note that they *mark* their areas, and I've seen them mark these tunnels, so if you get a cat above you... you may wanna watch out. I saw one visitor almost hit by the spray, thankfully he was out of range by a few feet ;-)


I'll end this post with this tiger shot. I may go through my raws to find a wolf keeper, but yeah... zero that caught my eye this time. Oh well.


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