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2nd issue of Gavin magazine

2nd issue of Gavin magazine

In the 2nd issue of Gavin magazine is a feature on Orangutan rescue in Borneo. This thought provoking story shows the plight of one of mankind’s nearest biological neighbours.

Also in the magazine is a fine art project on Britain’s ancient trees, the look at the work of British Divers Marine Life Rescue, ragged tooth shark migration and a photo project on the 1st World War battlefields.

So there is pretty much something for everyone. The link to the free magazine is: http://issuu.com/gavinparsons/docs/gavin_magazine_issue_2

I hope you all enjoy it.

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Front cover of Gavin issue 1

Front cover of Gavin issue 1

Over the last few months I have been working on an exciting project which combines many of my creative skills. And this weekend just gone I released Gavin magazine. Gavin is a showcase for my photographic, written, and design work and has been published online on the issuu platform. There is a link to the magazine at the bottom of this blog post.

I have opted for a soft launch rather than a grand fanfare as I am just finding my feet with online publishing. I have been involved in the publishing of hundreds of magazines over the years, but this is the first time I have used an online platform such as issuu, so I wanted the first issue to be stunning, yet reserved.

More issues will follow and they will include both personal projects that I have worked on in recent years and commercial work I am able to publish. Some of my work I am not allowed to use for certain reasons, which I always respect.

As always when creating a magazine I used Adobe’s Indesign and worked hard on choosing complimentary fonts, I hope you like what I’ve chosen. I decided many of the images needed to have the background story, which is so difficult to do on a portfolio website, which is another reason for working on the magazine. So some of the images have a caption, but others are part of a much larger story. This is fairly limited in the first issue, but the articles will increase as the magazine grows in popularity.

Since my first job, I have always been involved in photography and magazine creation, so this is a logical step for me. I have the writing, design and photography skills needed, but the process has been a learning curve.

At the moment the magazine is just online, but I am looking at offering a hard copy (although this will be a paid for service as buying any magazine) and as the readership grows I will possibly offer advertising opportunities for business looking to advertise their services and wares alongside my editorial (The adverts in the first issue were donated to companies who have helped me obtain images or offered advice).

I hope you enjoy reading it and please let me know what you think and also if you have any questions, comments or requests for areas of my work you’d like to see included in the magazine let me know.

You can find Gavin magazine at: http://issuu.com/gavinparsons/docs/gavin_magazine_issue_1

 

This is a story photography nuts like myself dream about. A story that brushes aside the fripperies on modern photography and strips the art form back to its bare bones. Time acts like a flock of vultures and shows us just how powerful still photography remains, if used correctly. Photography is a time machine and a recent discovery in Antarctica demonstrates that perfectly.

A set of previously unseen cellulose Nitrate negatives was discovered in Captain Scott’s Cape Evans Hut, which is being restored by the Ross Sea Heritage Restoration Project run by New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust. The damaged negatives have been painstakingly restored and reveal Antarctic images that have never been seen before.

 The photographs are from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea.

I use a camera from that era and can testify how tricky it is to get a picture at all compared to digital cameras, so I can only imagine the difficulties the photographer had to overcome to produce images in the cold and snow of the Antarctic.

You can see the pictures at http://www.nzaht.org/AHT/antarctic-photos/

When I was a child, around the time the Diplodocus was just about to go extinct, my mother taught me a valuable lesson.  ‘Always be polite.’ You know the rudiments; say please and thank you, hold the door open for others, give up your seat on the bus or tube for a woman. All the elements a polite society instills in its youth. 

Something seems to have happened though and politeness has been shown the door (and no one even held it open). I’ve noticed it over the last few years and it has got worse since the recession of 2008. I realise emails are a bit impersonal and for things like job interviews a person can be deluged with applications and answering every one personally is impossible, but the decent thing to do is provide an answer. 

As a photographer, I let people know about different work all the time. I’m not touting for business directly, I am just asking people to look at new projects I’ve worked on. However, the number of replies I get is pitiful. It doesn’t take long to say “thanks I’ll take a look”, or “I loved them”, or even “the pictures were not for me”. But I get very little acknowledgment let alone feedback.

I suppose I have to expect that. Unsolicited emails can get annoying especially with all the impersonal spam around, but a quick response takes no time at all. 

For the moment it sounds like I’m moaning about people not responding to my marketing emails, but what about when I’ve been asked to give up my time and expense to attend a meeting? I get promised an answer about the work within a couple of weeks and then nothing happens. I hear nothing. 

If that happened once, I’d put it down to an error, a missing email or one person being impolite. But it happens more often than it doesn’t. If someone asks me to their workplace to talk about my ideas to better their business the least they could do is send me an email to say whether they want to work with me or not. Rejection is part of the creative business, rudeness is not.

I cannot be the only person to experience it. Anyone who has applied for a job will have seen the line which is almost standard these days. “Unsuccessful applicants will not receive a reply” Or words to that effect. Why shouldn’t they receive a reply? It is not difficult to set up a standard email thanking someone for taking the time to apply for a job, but on this occasion they were unsuccessful. A group email with everyone as a BCC is easy to send and the least an employer should do. What sort of a message is a company sending to potential customers if they treat people who want to work for them so badly?

Being polite, is a small part of this world, but a very significant one in my opinion.

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The Commonwealth Graves Commission Cemetery Canadian Cemetery No.2, which is located in the Vimy Ridge Memorial Park. The well tended lawns are the last resting place of soldiers from a number of Commonwealth countries including the UK.

 

I yelled “Stop, stop stop,” from the back seat. And then said two words, my traveling companions really wanted to hear: “Iron Harvest.” A few metres back down the country track lay three rust and mud caked munitions from a war that is almost a century old. So fierce was the fighting that even today you can stand by the edge of a newly ploughed field and pick up lumps of shrapnel, barbed wire and other spurious pieces of metal which cut hundreds of thousands of men to shreds. The mortars, shells and bombs are still pulled from the ground by farmers, construction workers, utility workers and gardeners.

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A shell, motor round and unidentified munition left as ‘iron harvest’ on the side of a farm track. Even now, almost 100 years after the guns fell silent, farmers still uncover remnants of the First World War.

One reason for the sheer amount of unexploded ordinance still surfacing is the vast tonnage fired by the protagonists of the First World War. It churned the ground of France and Belgium to a soft squidgy mess, which eventually wasn’t substantial enough to detonate one on four shells fired. That means almost a century of live munitions coming to the surface. Some are high explosive rounds, which are not nearly as dangerous any more as the mustard gas shells. But farmers and ground workers still die or are wounded each year, and the Iron Harvest keeps the army bomb disposal experts of France and Belgium busy.

The small collection of shells we found included a standard shell, a Crapouillot (Little Toad) 20kg A.L.S trench mortar round and a smaller British mortar round. We were tempted to move them to get a more pleasing picture, but suicide was not on the agenda, so we made the best of where they sat. As I lay on the ground photographing live First World War ordinance The Voice of Edmund Blackadder filled my head after Lieutenant George asked the procedure after stepping on a mine: Blackadder: “Well, normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet into the air and scatter yourself over a wide area.” It was not something I wanted to test, but the excitement of finding such a tangible part of Europe’s bloodiest conflict, almost got the better of me. I had not expected to find such a real part of the war so early on the trip.

THE FALLEN
I’d come to France and Belgium to tread in the footsteps of heros and to create a photographic record of the journey. Basing ourselves in Lille (which was cheaper than the Front line towns of Ypres, Zonnebeke or Lens.) Myself and two friends set out each day to explore the surrounding area.

After the first morning, it was obvious we’d made the right choice to only stay a few days and to concentrate on the small area of the Ypres Salient and Vimy Ridge. The impact of seeing the graves of so many young men was enough to put a ball of emotion in the bottom of my stomach, which grew with each cemetery we visited. After the first day we’d all got cemetery fatigue.

We started though at Vimy Ridge, the site of a large Battlefield Park. Driving to the massive Canadian Monument it’s obvious why the area is a park. The shell pocked ground has been left untouched and ‘Danger Live munitions’ signs are everywhere. The cost of clearing it now would be astronomical.

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Canadian National Vimy Memorial the centre piece of the 100 hectare Vimy Ridge battlefield park. It was designed by Walter Seymour Allward and took eleven years to build. It was opened in 1936. Upon its walls are the names of fallen and lost Canadian Soldiers who have no known grave.

Vimy Ridge was highly prized by both sides and a fierce battle raged here for most of the war and culminated in the Canadian attack on the ridge which was part of the Battle for Arras started on 9th April 1917. Months of tunnelling, shelling and trench warfare ended in a routing of the German 6th Army in just four days and the capturing of the high ground. The battle is a defining moment for the Canada Army and Vimy Ridge was chosen to commemorate the huge sacrifice the men paid to take the ground.

A massive memorial to the missing was constructed in 1924. Designed by Toronto sculptor and designer Walter Seymour Allward. While waiting for the stone to arrive from Croatia, Allward got his construction workers to preserve lengths of trenches and the tunnels dug by allied troops. The legacy is, therefore, a park which encompasses the memorial, tunnels, trenches, cemeteries and a forest of trees growing among the pulverised ground. It is a place for the fallen to rest completely in peace.

The Memorial, like the famous Menin Gate, is covered in the names of Canadian soldiers who have never been found. It is a peaceful place, but the munition infested earth surrounding it is a stark reminder of the ferocity of the Battles that raged here for several years. The cemeteries also serve as reminder to the cost many young men, not just from Canada, paid to take this piece of ground from occupying forces.

The exposed ridge is subject to all sorts of weather and on a breezy day makes a perfect place to use a long exposure to render the sky into a blur, thus showing the steadfast resolve of the monument to tell the world forever of the terrible four years which paid Vimy Ridge a visit between 1914 and 1918.

THE PRICE PEACES PAYS TO PROGRESS
After the tranquility of Vimy Ridge we headed to two cemeteries we’d seen from the main road. Finding them proved a little confusing. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is very good at putting up sign posts, but we had to travel in the opposite direction to where we thought to get to the farm track that lead to the cemeteries. We found the Arras Road cemetery a mile down the track, but it was right next to the main N17 from Arras to Lens, which is a dual carriageway and the constant droning of cars and lorries was distracting and not very sombre. The cemetery though is, like all the Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries, immaculately kept. I again chose a long exposure of around a minute to give the cemetery a sense of stoic belonging in its surroundings. It shows how the sky moves on, the trees move too, but the stones of the fallen remain and will do so forever.

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Arras Road Commonwealth War Graves Commision cemetery. It is the last resting place of over 1000 Commonwealth soldiers mainly from the UK and Canada.

The sensation of ‘forever’ was highlighted perfectly at the next cemetery we visited. The Beehive cemetery holds just 47 British and Canadian soldiers. It was a forward burial site and named after a German machine gun emplacement the British troops thought looked like a Beehive. Today the small cemetery is a kilometre into the ploughed fields of the flatlands below Vimy Ridge. It is surrounded by corn and sugar beet, and is a sacred place with a well tended lawn enclosed by a small wall. In my opinion it is a lovely place to rest in peace.

The diminutive Beehive cemetery is in contrast to the British cemetery on the outskirts of the French village of La Targette a few miles away. Not because this cemetery is by a busy road or that it is on a completely different scale as it holds around 640 soldiers. No, the reason for the contrast is the neighbours. While the Beehive soldiers are surrounded by farmland, the La Targette cemetery inhabitants are next to the French National Cemetery and the British dead are dwarfed by the sheer number of French. Many of the soldiers here died in 1915 while France fought a horrendous battle against a well defended and dug in German enemy while trying to retake the Artois Hills. Thousands and thousands died as the huge scale of the cemetery shows. The stone crosses, set in neat lines go on seemingly forever.

The Germans were far from immune to the cataclysmic casualty rates too and a couple of miles up the road is the Neuville-Saint-Vaast German Cemetery, the largest Germany cemetery on the western Front. Over 44,000 soldiers lie here. It is a place which slowly wraps a hand around your throat and grips you to choking point. It is a desperately sad piece of ground, where melancholy hangs in the air and drips from the trees. Lines of black crosses stretch off into the distance and each cross signifies the burial of two, three and even four soldiers.

Perhaps it was the culmination of seeing so many dead young men, but the German cemetery kicked my resolve to the curb and I was done. I didn’t want the reality of First World War in my life for the rest of the day.

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German WWI Cemetery at Neuville St Vaast, France. This is the largest German cemetery in France and contains over 43,000 German soldiers from the First World War. There are generally 4 soldiers per grave, although Jewish German soldiers are marked with a simple head stone rather than a metal cross.

MESSING UP MESSINES
There is very little actual evidence that evil visited this small part of Belgium from 1914 to 1918. There are a handful of crumbling bunkers and a few metres of preserved trench, but mostly the land has been turned back to agriculture, villages and towns. There are no trees older than a century, and precious few buildings either. One thing that will never disappear completely though are the mine craters. And the Allied attack on the Messines Ridge in June 1917 created a series of massive craters in a small area when the British and Australia troops attacked and took the Messines Ridge, one of the most successful battles of the First World War.

The craters are just large circular ponds these days, but they are shocking all the same. The Messines Ridge is littered with them, the most famous is the Hoodge Crater, as it lies next to the main road, although several are accessible from the small lane called Kruisstraat, which runs north west out of the town of Mesen and basically follows the German front line. If you are looking for something a lot more authentic and out of the way, then head to Railway Wood, just off the Menin Road. Here we discovered a small crater behind the memorial to eight British tunnellers and another deep in the dense undergrowth of the wood. The latter gave a sense of discovery and I got a feeling that this was a little visited parts of the First World War and like the Iron Harvest, it was something that directly connected me to the men who fought and died here.

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A hidden mine crater in Railway Wood, one of the little visited sites of the First World War.

That evening after driving along the front line of the Messines Ridge we stopped in the walled city of Ypres, one of the focal points of the Great War. Ypres today is a thriving city bursting out of its medieval walls, which makes its living from the fact it was decimated by the First World War. It’s Flanders Museum is a hub for visitors to the battlefields and one of the best commemorative museums I have ever visited.

The main reason to visit Ypres though is the Menin Gate, a foreboding emblem to the lost of the war. It is a hard place to describe. The massive white stone gateway is covered in almost 55,000 names of the soldiers who were never found. A number which is unfathomable. It is shocking and disturbing, but not the only reason to visit the Menin Gate, because at 8pm each evening the men of the Ypres Fire Brigade step in front of hundreds of visitors and represent the entire Belgium nation in saying thank you to the men who gave their lives to save Belgium’s freedom. They play a haunting rendition of The Last Post with bugles and I defy anyone to stand there after seeing so many white headstones and not have a lump in their throat. The only time since 1927, when the Menin Gate was opened, when the Last Post hasn’t been played there was during the Second World War. But it restarted as soon as that part of the Town was liberated. Proof, if any were needed, that the small country of Belgium knows how to say thank you with style and honour.

TO REALLY REST IN PEACE
As the centenary of the start of the First World War creeps nearer like an artillery barrage, more and more visitors will come to this relatively small sliver of Europe which was the Western Front. Thankfully, the sites are not here for fun. France and Belgium have worked hard to keep the remembrance as serene and sombre as possible. This is aptly demonstrated at Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth Cemetery in the world. The site between Zonnebeke and Passendale consists of a cemetery with near 12,000 graves and a memorial to the missing that commemorates some 35,000 soldiers who were never found.

It is a vast cemetery and like all the others tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, it is immaculately kept. A visitor centre at the top of the cemetery is the first place to stop and as I walked from the carpark to the centre I became aware of a soft female voice whispered on the wind. At first it was hard to hear, especially as there was a coach tour just leaving, but as I concentrated I could hear names. The voice is on a loop and speaks the names of each of the 34,887 commonwealth soldiers who appear on the memorial to the missing. It’s a heart wrenching addition to the visual enormity of the sacrifice The Commonwealth Soldiers made and gives Tyne Cot perspective and creates a humbling experience.

Tyne Cot is peaceful and deliberately so. There are reminder signs telling you it’s a place of remembrance and anyone insulting that sense will be asked to leave. Yet it’s one of the most visited places on Battlefield tours and so I wanted to find a cemetery where the residents can truly rest in peace. Many of the cemeteries are close to main roads, or in fields were farm machinery trundles by, but I wanted to find a setting that was truly a place for eternal rest.

The Buttes New British Cemetery is the last resting place of 378 New Zealand soldiers who died during fighting in Beligium, mostly in 1917.

The Buttes New British Cemetery is the last resting place of 378 New Zealand soldiers who died during fighting in Beligium, mostly in 1917.

In the end I found it, a place worthy of the title ‘Rest In Peace’. Set in Polygon Wood is the Buttes New British Cemetery and across a small road next to a field with chickens and a friendly donkey is Polygon Wood Cemetery.

Most of the soldiers here were bought from other cemeteries after the war ended. What these men have been given, in thanks for their lives, is a beautiful and serene last resting place. The woods screen the minimal traffic noise and the only sounds you hear is nature continuing to reuse the ground that was once smashed and devoured by war.

I came to France and Belgium to find remnants of the First World War and was initially disappointed by the lack of evidence except for some Iron Harvest and the odd dilapidated bunker. But the experience changed my view. The Great War is now, for me, not about the fighting, it is about the men who died. Ensuring they are remembered for the ultimate price they paid. Finding Polygon Wood a peaceful place gave me a renewed sense of acceptance of the First World War. I had no ancestors who fought on the Western Front and because of that I have a slightly different perspective. I want the best for all of them, Commonwealth, Allied, German, Austro-Hungarian.
The cemeteries enrich the landscape of the French and Belgium countryside and serve as a reminder to the world of what not working together can do to humanity. We must not forget that, and  overthe next century, when the gravestones will stay still and the munitions will still creep up from the ground, mankind will hopefully keep the years the world went mad at the forefront of our minds.

To see the full set of images from this story click through to my website gallery at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/worldwarone.html

 Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.s permission

Copyright Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

Fishing tails is a website (www.fishingtails.co.uk) run by fishing guide Sean McSeveney. Sean appeared on the first King Fishers programme that has aired on the Discovery Channel recently. He landed the largest White Sturgeon I have ever seen in the first programme.

He guides and fishes the coast around Weymouth and Portland in Dorset, UK and throughout the summer I’ve accompanied him on several trips to record his life as a fisherman.

Last week we had a cracking early morning photo session. We started with a perilous scramble down the cliffs on Portland. The weather wasn’t looking promising and heavy rain was forecast for the day ahead. The sea conditions were looking good for bass fishing, which is all a fishermen thinks about. A photographer though looks at the light and I wasn’t keen. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As the sun came up, a break in the cloud cover produced a stunning sunrise and even as the cloud cover moved over us, the light produced gave me something different to work with.

The water was rough enough to produce a decent amount of surf, which we both used to our advantage. Sean loves fishing in these sorts of conditions and I made the most of his willingness to get soaked by the large waves.

I chose my moments carefully, I’m not a machine gunner when it comes to using the camera. I watched the waves as Sean did and took a few rapid shots as a large one beat against the rocks and exploded in a pile of Spume.

I now have a collection of images I am happy to show and while this is still a work in progress I thought I’d share the pictures which can be seen at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/fishermen.html.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

A couple of days ago I was searching through my photographic archives to find some slides I took in Australia a few years ago, before the digital age. A client wanted pictures of western Australia and I knew I had some beautiful slides.

At the bottom of the file box was a couple of long forgotten plastic sleeves with black & white negatives from a backpacking visit to Indonesia 21 years ago. I had never printed or scanned them and they have never been published. I simply processed them and put them away.

So I was excited to delve back into my past.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

At first I couldn’t remember where the pictures were taken. The temple was as mysterious as the start of a Scooby Doo cartoon. I’d traveled extensively in South East Asia in 1992 when I was 24 and thought at first it was northern Thailand as I remembered touching a Buddha’s feet (a statue anyway) through the holes in the bell shaped domes. Thailand is a Buddhist country and so my hypothesis had some merit.

I searched the internet, but turned up a blank in northern Thailand. So I spread the search and found a picture on Google image search of the same bell shaped domes. It turned out to be the ancient temple of Borobudur on the Spice Island of Java. And then the memories rushed through time like a hand from the past slapping me across the face. The desolate ruins in the rainforest mountains appeared in my mind. It rains a lot there and the day I visited was no different. I remember the loneliness of the place. Just me, a couple of traveling companions and our driver who sat in his car in the carpark. We had the place to ourselves. The sky was a flat grey, the stones wet and mirror-like in places, it was like liquid silver had been tipped across the temple.

We wandered around the temple so old and exciting that Indiana Jones wold have felt at home. You can find out more about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borobudur.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

A day or so later I was on a rickety bus heading to an old harbour near the city of Jakarta with a guy from Brazil.  The harbour was a step back in time. The cargo boats were all sail driven, small and the hustle and bustle around them was infectious. It was a great place to spend a few hours watching the men carrying huge planks of wood, bags of rice, potatoes and any other pieces of cargo.

When I got home I must have processed the films and put the negatives away for later printing. I probably didn’t think it would be two decades before the pictures were seen. Although now, the pictures will be seen by more people than they perhaps would have done. After all how many pictures taken 21 years ago have you looked at lately?

You can see the full collection in the gallery on my website at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/rediscovered.html

Please let me know what you think about my posts by either leaving a comment, liking it, or following me.

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There really is only one surefire way of making a picture look like it was taken in the 1920s. You can forget Lightroom, Aperture, Photoshop or any other sophisticated sofware. The latest offering from Canon or Nikon won’t help you either. What you need to make and authentic looking picture from the 1920s is to use a camera from the 1920s.

I used an All distance pocket Ensign circa 1920s. It was made in England, takes 120 film (Anyone who started photography this century may have to look up what film is on wikipedia).

The pictures have a certain quality about them. The focus isn’t tack sharp and the clarity is softer than you’d get with a modern camera, and, in my opinion, all the better for it.

A steam train came through the village station last week and I took the opportunity to run a roll of film through the camera. A massive 8 shots is all I had, but I like shooting like that. Each shot needs to be considered. The trouble was the tiny viewfinder is reversed and framing will take some getting used to.

For a first attempt I don’t think I did too bad. More shots will be taken soon.

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Plankton babies

Copyright: Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved

This week’s Behind the Picture is a bit of an odd one. While working on a survey of the plankton in the Mediterranean Sea I was asked to photograph some of the specimens the vessel collected.

This had to be done before the samples were sealed ready to take to the laboratory. Basically when the plankton net was hauled aboard the sample in the back of the net was poured into a chemical preserving agent. Before that I was given a small amount in a glass dish and asked to photograph whatever was in it.

One of the key species being looked at was the Blue Fin tuna, one of the world’s rarest fish. Adult fish fetch huge sums of money in the fish markets of the world. The reason is the complete disregard for the species by fishing nations. The fishery for blue fin tuna is an utterly disgusting race to the bottom with pure greed and profit as the driver for the trade. Because the less fish there are in the sea the higher profits.

There is an unseen fleet of tuna purse seine vessels that roam the Mediterranean, particularly around Malta and Cyprus catching as many fish as possible. They are then fattened up in massive seapens, which generally means they are caught too small to have bred. In my opinion it is one of the most stupid fisheries in the world.

Knowing the number of juveniles is particularly important for scientists trying to advise governments on how best to safeguard the species. So tuna were the target. We found quite a few other juvenile fish species in each sample, lots of eggs which can be identified in the lab back on shore and of course a lot of zooplankton species such as copepods, which only get to a few millimetres in size.

Every so often a tuna species did turn up, (you can see one on the middle of the three fish in the picture) but not in the numbers I’d hoped for. It was, to my untrained eye, quite a depressing sight seeing as so few juveniles make it to adulthood. Even so I photographed each sample that was produced. It wasn’t easy as the ship was moving and I didn’t have the option of a microscope as this was being done of the fly at the back of a working ship. Around me were coils of rope, bins, tools, chains and all manner of industrial paraphernalia. It was not where most scientific photographers would like to work.

I strapped all the extension tubes I had between the camera and my 105mm macro lens. I didn’t have a tripod as when I joined the ship I had no idea I’d be doing this kind of photography. Luckily I did have my off camera flash radio control so could get the light right where I wanted it.

I sat the glass dish on a black t-shirt to get a dark background and then set up the exposure with the flash. It was then a case of shifting my movements up and down ever so slightly to get the samples in focus when I pressed the shutter.

To start with there was a lot of trial and error and most of the pictures were slightly out of focus, but eventually I managed to get a technique, which improved my technique.

I thoroughly enjoyed this adhoc scientific photography session and soon I’ll be looking to do some more, but with a much more scientific and controllable set up.

To see more of my work, book on a training course, buy a print or book my for a talk please see my website at www.gavinparsons.co.uk

Just because I’m cute

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

© Gavin Parsons. All rights reserved.

The slow loris is a relatively small mammal found in South East Asia. If you do a Youtube search you undoubtedly come across a cute looking creature that looks endearing and comical to humans. Evolution has granted them big eyes to see in the dark and a soft, warm fur to protect their bodies. Perversely evolution has given humans a craving for creatures with big eyes and delicate features. I believe it reminds them of babies. The two species sadly are not compatible.

Slow Lorises are sold into the illegal pet trade in such numbers that all loris species are now on the CITES endangered lists.

That’s not the end of this one-sided story either. Evolution gave the slow loris a means to hunt, kill prey and protect itself. It laces its sharp teeth with a toxin. Obviously the traders cannot have their customers dying so they break the teeth with nail clippers meaning the hapless slow loris is sold not only as a living puppet, but also with a death sentence. If they don’t die of an infection due to their broken teeth, they die of starvation.

Buying a slow loris may seem like a way to get a real life Furby or a Mogwai (pre midnight fed gremlin), but the reality for the loris is so far removed from the pleasure people get from the experience that it’s perverse.

Thankfully for the slow loris there is help. International Animal Rescue (a British based charity) has the world’s only slow loris rescue facility. It’s based in Indonesia (where loris’ come from) and it rescues, rehabilitates and where possible, releases loris that have been sold on the streets.

One of the biggest hurdles for IAR is the treatment of the teeth. The head vet at the centre has developed a root canal procedure for loris’ which requires delicate handling and a very steady hand. I was allowed into one of these procedures and this image, I feel, is the most powerful as it shows just how vulnerable the slow loris is and how cruel humans can be. This loris is having the broken teeth removed  so they do not get infected. The teeth are tiny and the vet needs a very steady hand. The whole operation of preparing the animal for surgery and then performing the surgery is risky for the loris, but thankfully this one pulled through. So a happy ending of sorts.

If you are tempted to view a slow loris video on youtube or anywhere else, please let the owner of the loris know just how much suffering went into their delight and joy.