The deputy mayor of Nice is receiving a sizable dose of criticism and mockery online today after calling for the prosecution of people who are taking and sharing photos of French police enforcing the city’s controversial “burkini” law.
Burkinis are modest bathing suits worn by some Muslim women as a way to keep covered up while swimming, and Nice (along with 14 other towns) recently enacted a law making them illegal. Since then, police have been patrolling beaches like the one above and forcing women to remove their burkinis.
The law is, understandably, a controversial one and annoyed or offended beachgoers have been taking photos like the one below of armed French police forcing women to strip off their swimwear. These photos are being shared all over social media in order to shame the officials who passed the law and the officers enforcing it… and this has severely upset Nice deputy mayor Christian Estrosi.
In an official press release, the mayor called for the creation of a national law that would make sharing such photos on social media illegal, and asking that offending photo takers be prosecuted.
“I deplore what appears to be a maneuver to denigrate the municipal police, and endangers its agents,” said the mayor. “Complaints have been filed to prosecute those who spread the photographs of our municipal police officers and as well as those uttering threats against them on social networks.”
“Complaints have been filed,” seems to imply that lawsuits are already in the works, but they seem to have no legal ground to stand on. Since it’s perfectly legal to photograph police doing their job in Nice, especially in such a non-threatening situation, some are interpreting Estrosi’s calls for justice as him petulantly trying to shut down criticism that is totally legal.
The uproar caused by Estrosi’s press release has, of course, only increased the number of times the photo above and others like it have been shared.
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It finally happened: after countless months of wandering around, going to places where people say they’ve spawned, after using lures, and being patient, I managed to add a… Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) to my collection!
Now, I don’t really play Pokemon GO (as the above was making reference to) though I did install the app to see what the fuss was about, and can see why it appeals to people. Like some aspects of wildlife or bird photography, you’re out trying to collect them all, there’s friendly competition in trying to find a ‘better’ one than your peers, and it’s an excuse to get out.
Like most things, it also happens to be something you can get better at as experience works out the solutions to the many little hurdles that present themselves to you while you are learning the art, and that sense of progress can get addictive.
An Eastern Whipbird (Psophodes olivaceus) isn’t particularly rare in Australia – their beautiful long calls followed by a sharp, distinct ‘whip’ are heard on many a forest walk, but they aren’t seen as often as they are heard. On this occasion while out on a walk, I heard one, and used the Morcombe’s Birds of Australia app (available for Android and Apple) on my phone to play one a call in response. Around mating season, this often entices some birds out to investigate.
It never before worked on a Whipbird for me, but this time I saw a particularly inquisitive Whipbird scuttling through the undergrowth near me, hopping on branches in the surrounding scrub, practically doing circles around me and very curiously trying to investigate where this potential mate (unfortunately for him this time, just my Sony Xperia Z5) might be, and I managed a snap before driving the little guy too crazy with expectation.
Prior to this, my most memorable find was a Wompoo Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus magnificus), and as its Latin name alludes to, it is quite magnificent, bearing a grey head, a red beak, green body, purple throat and yellow wing accents.
It also sounds like a person sitting up in a tree saying ‘wom-pooooo’ (not kidding). Given the aforementioned, I just had to make it a personal mission one Christmas break to try to find one. I worked out it took 1000kms of driving over three separate trips before I managed to. On each of the outings on location, I walked around for hours on end fruitlessly – and funny enough, when I finally found it after concluding the third trip, exhausted, there it was in a tree just by the parking lot, wompooing away somewhat mockingly while obliging me a few snaps.
For what it’s worth, I don’t consider myself a wildlife photographer. I don’t think I have photographs of raptors nearly as good as someone I know who goes on even longer trips than me, builds scaffolded hides and plants himself there for who-knows-how-long.
I do have a folder in my online photo albums dedicated to wildlife, but it more arises from my preference to have some form of organisation when it comes to looking for photos I’ve taken. For me, wildlife is often is an afterthought, playing second fiddle to a moonless night somewhere with minimal light pollution, with a bright and contrasty Milky Way, or a sky full of red cloud motivated by a winter sun.
That being said though, wildlife is always around, even in suburbia and presents a never-ending supply of photographic opportunities that can be as casual or challenging as one fancies.
Being such a varied subject matter, someone just getting into it could find it quite daunting. Perhaps all the birds look the same to you. Sometimes, it’s not due to inexperience and they actually do look similar to other birds.
To begin with, you don’t need to know the exact type of bird (or lizard or squirrel etc) you are after. You can start by finding somewhere reasonably conducive to the activity such as a park, a forest, public gardens etc. and try to photograph the creatures you see. You’ll see after a few outings that your creature collection adds up, and if you were so inclined, there are an infinite amount of online resources to help you identify your finds e.g. Google, interest groups on Facebook, forums, etc.
In regards to gear, I most often use a 5D Mark III and a 400mm f/5.6L, sometimes with a 1.4x Extender (which makes 560mm f/8 with less usable focus points), and less often, with a 2x Extender (800mm f/11 with manual focus only). I often use a tripod as well to ensure the sharpest shot I can manage; it’s a trade-off between support and stealth, but you’ll end up picking one depending on your personal shooting style.
My favorite lens for the purpose is definitely the above 400mm as it is relatively light and very sharp only having 7 elements inside for light to pass through. This compares favorably to zooms e.g. 70-200mm or 100-400mm which often contain more than double the amount of elements (together with a converter, perhaps triple even). Of course the trade-off to sharpness and weight is versatility: if your squirrel does the unexpected and runs towards you to your feet, you’ll probably miss it with a long prime.
On gear though, while reach is essential, one does not need a particularly expensive camera or lens to chase creatures to photograph. Bridge-camera superzooms often have impressive optical zoom reach, and the comparatively inexpensive Nikon P900 is fast becoming a cult classic for this reason.
For settings, on a full frame DSLR for casual bird and wildlife chasing, I tend to start with a relatively high ISO e.g. ISO1250 or ISO1600 at f/5.6 or f/8 during daylight. As such, there is access to reasonably high shutter speeds, which is quite important for photographing flighty and twitchy critters at long focal lengths. Once I get a few shots in of a subject, depending if conditions suit, the perfectionist in me may want to lower the ISO and shutter speed to reduce noise, but as should be obvious, the preference is always to get a sharp image with some image noise you can reduce in post, over a noiseless image straight out of camera with a blurry subject.
A last tip I have for anyone getting into casual wildlife photography: get yourself a comfortable pair of rubber boots/gumboots/wellingtons. They are inexpensive, and I have found them infinitely useful in terrain such as tall grass, mud and tidal flats. If you can get to places off the beaten track, you’re more likely to encounter less common creatures and more unique photo opportunities. Good luck!
P.S. The header image is a single exposure light painting photo captured with the pixelstick.
About the author: Ryan Lee is an Australian photographer whose work documents travels, landscapes, wildlife, the night sky and a picturesque life. Keep up to date with his work or get in touch via Instagram: @lightbrekkie.
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This series of images was made using bio-luminescent shrimp as the blue light source. It was photographed in Okayama, Japan, which is home to these rare and beautiful creatures. Check out the gallery below and read on to find out how they were taken.
The bio-luminescent shrimp are scientifically known as Vargula Hilgendorfii, but are more commonly referred to as sea fireflies and locally known as “umihotaru.” They are 3mm in length and live in the sand in shallow sea water, usually in the range between high and low tide. They feed at night which means they are actively swimming in the water close to shore.
They wash up on shore looking like blue diamonds in the sand, but while this is beautiful, it is not enough of a quantity to photograph so we decided to capture them in abundance for something a little more creative.
In 2015 we created a series of them on the beach. It was fun, and the images we shot were OK, but there was a feeling that something more could be done. This urge to do more is what drove us to create this year’s set.
This set was created by pouring the “sea fireflies” over stone features along the shore to give the impression that the stones were “weeping.”
To capture these creatures, you need some containers with a removable lid, rope, some raw bacon, and (most importantly) a good friend or two. To catch the sea fireflies, you must go in and out of the water, touch and separate that bacon, and generally get covered in sand which makes it difficult to work with camera equipment after. It is much easier if you team up and have one person working the camera and the other doing the “fishing.”
We used large 8L jars that are generally used for preservatives, drilled holes in the lid, and covered the whole jar with duct tape. Then, we attached a rope to the handle, taped up the jar, and we were ready to fish! Put some bacon in the jar, secure the lid, and sink it 2-3 meters from shore.
We usually secured the rope to a rock or stick to keep track of the jars and prevent them from getting washed out with the tide. We recommend waiting around 40 minutes to an hour before recovering the jars.
Once you have recovered the jars, pouring them out on the sand will create a blue sparkle like you have never seen before. They will only glow for a short period, but dousing them with water will make them glow brightly once again. Get the jars back in the water quickly so they can fish your next batch while you photograph the ones you just caught.
We covered the jars completely with tape and attached a rope to the actual jar as well as the handle because the jars break easily when full of water. If they are covered in tape, the chances of them breaking is reduced and, more importantly, if they do break the broken glass can be recovered easily.
The sea fireflies live on sandy beaches that people usually swim at during the day, so leaving broken glass along the shore is not an option and must be avoided at all cost. Aside from the glass, we also shot them along the shore so we didn’t harm them. Once poured over the rock, we continued to wash them off into the sea and sand below. Please shoot responsibly!
There is something magical about shooting bio-luminescence. Working together with friends to capture it in a photo makes the experience even more enjoyable. We look forward to the fall when we will shoot some bio-luminescent mushrooms for the first time. Hopefully we can share those images with you as well.
A more detailed tutorial can be found here. Our guide to capturing forest fireflies, with detailed editing information, and which may be useful for capturing sea fireflies can be found here.
About the author: Tdub Photo is a a commercial photo/video company based in Okayama, Japan. Creative duo Trevor Williams and Jonathan Galione work all over Japan and have a wide range of services from commercial video production all the way across the board to editorial and news reportage assignments for Getty Images. Their creative work had led to several TV appearances as well as a contributing author to a couple of how-to books.
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