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August 30 2013

TERRA 818: Fallen Gardens

FALLEN GARDENS explores the relationship between garden culture and deer populations. Communities on the Sunshine Coast represent many of the interface locations in British Columbia attempting to balance a respectful relationship between wildlife and the human need to develop aesthetically pleasing home environments. Implicit is the ethical question around how wildlife and human populations interrelate in ways that are environmentally honorable. Produced by Mike McKinlay.

April 02 2013

If you’ve ever wondered where those O’Reilly animal covers come from …

Exploring ExpectExploring ExpectThe exchange often goes like this:

Stranger: “Where do you work?”

Me: “O’Reilly Media.”

Stranger: “O’Reilly …”

[Long pause while he or she works through the various "O'Reilly" outlets — the TV guy, the auto parts company.]

Me: “You know the books with the animals on the covers?”

Stranger: “Oh yeah!”

And off we go. Those covers are tremendous ice breakers.

The story behind those covers is also notable. Our colleague Edie Freedman, O’Reilly’s creative director and the person who first made the connection between animal engravings and programming languages, has written a short piece about the genesis of the O’Reilly animals. If you’ve ever wondered where those animals came from, her post is worth a read.

(Something I learned from Edie’s post: the covers that get the best response feature 1. animals with recognizable faces and 2. animals that are looking directly at the reader.)

Edie’s “Short history of the O’Reilly Animals” is part of a larger effort to raise awareness for the plight of the O’Reilly animals, many of which are critically endangered. You can learn more about the O’Reilly Animals project here.

Sponsored post

July 18 2012

Help the O’Reilly animals

No one needs to be told that the tarsier and the camel are O’Reilly Media icons. So are the llama, the elephant, and the flying fox. And hundreds of other animals. Authors speculate on the significance of the animals chosen to grace their books. Customers take pictures of their collections and send them to us. Everyone has a favorite — and spoofs have abounded.

In other words, it’s an understatement to say that the use of classic animal engravings on O’Reilly books has been a success. Unfortunately, what it hasn’t done is help the animals themselves.

The truth is that a large number of the animals featured on O’Reilly books are threatened or critically endangered. We’ve always used colophons in the books as a way to tell readers about the animals. Now we want to use social media and the web to tell those same readers how they can contribute to helping the animals in real life.

At OSCON this week, we’re launching the O’Reilly Animals campaign to raise awareness of the animals’ plight, with a special emphasis on the ways in which people and organizations are using technology to help save and restore endangered animal populations around the globe. With an eye-catching display and the “Animal Ladies” on site (Edie and Karen Montgomery, the Animal book cover designers), we’ll be encouraging members of the O’Reilly community to get involved in whatever ways they can.

O'Reilly Animals display at OSCON 2012
The O’Reilly Animals display at OSCON 2012 in Portland, Ore.

Here’s what we’re planning in the coming months:

  • Each week, we’ll highlight a different animal from our catalog. Through Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest postings, we’ll pose a question about an animal, with a link to a longer, detailed article all about that animal on the O’Reilly Animals website.
  • On the O’Reilly Animals site we’ll present short overviews of projects we think are interesting, with links to project websites as well as relevant articles, interviews, and other resources. We’ll also list volunteer opportunities for developers to use their expertise to help some of those projects move forward, such as developing mobile apps and remote wireless sensor networks.
  • We’ll be adding a blog to the site, with guest contributions from organizations like the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Great Primate Handshake project, among others.

If you have any ideas, suggestions, questions, or comments about the campaign, the website, or ongoing projects, we’d love to hear from you at And if you’d like to help in any way, including researching and writing about interesting projects, we could certainly use your assistance!

Here’s what we know for sure: one person with a bright idea and a little technology can make a big difference. A community of people with bright ideas and expert technical skills — the O’Reilly community — can make a huge difference.

You can learn more about the O’Reilly Animals campaign in the following video:


May 26 2012

The Horse: From Arabia to Royal Ascot – in pictures

Timed to coincide with the diamond jubilee, a British Museum tribute to the horse charts its impact on humanity, from ancient times to the present day

November 11 2011

October 31 2011

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 – in pictures

Stoic muskox, abstract lava images and stunning landscapes all feature in this year's GDT awards

June 08 2011

Ocean2012 EU fisheries exhibition – in pictures

To mark the launch of the second annual European Fish Week, Ocean2012 will launch a photo and documentary exhibit at London zoo aquarium

January 21 2011

The week in wildlife – in pictures

Giant new crayfish species, waxwings with punk hairdos and a wren that uses the 'scary movie effect' to get a date are highlights of this week's pick of images from the natural world

January 11 2011

Barking sad

Portraits of dogs left in cars from the series Mute: the Silence of Dogs in Cars by Martin Usborne

December 02 2010

Northern exposures: how to take a perfect winter wildlife photograph

Winter light offers photographers and nature-lovers fantastic opportunities to take memorable shots

Share your photos of nature at dusk and dawn on our Flickr group

Twilight is a time of magic, as night is banished by the first faint glow in the east, or when the western sky gives a golden fanfare that heralds night. Although dawn and dusk in December can be short-lived and monochrome affairs when compared to the splendour of summer and autumn, there are still opportunities for photographers. An obvious advantage is that one can enjoy a normal sleep pattern and still be up and about before the sun rises.

Given a clear sky, the light in winter is good at any time of day. The low aspect of the sun means that the bleaching highlights and deep shadows that can ruin any shot taken either side of midday in high summer simply do not occur. Taking advantage of the "golden hours" may not be as crucial in winter, but the rich colours at the ends of the day are still worth taking advantage of.

Your position in relation to the sun is crucial. With the sun behind you, your subject will be bathed in a warm reddish glow; shooting against the backdrop of an orange sky can make for a truly atmospheric image.

Shutter speed will also be important, there may only be sufficient light to capture correctly exposed images of static subjects. On the other hand silhouettes, especially of instantly recognisable outlines such as trees, deer or a stalking heron can make for a top-class image. A slightly slower shutter speed could also lend a sense of movement to flocks of birds threading their way across the gloaming.

The lower temperatures during this month can lead to mist forming in low-lying areas, especially along rivers or over lakes. Providing it's not a pea-souper this can lead to ethereal effects at dawn, whether it's the spectral shadows cast by a tree or a flock of wildfowl partly shrouded by pastel-tinted vapours. Warm-blooded subjects may also give off a fog of breath as temperatures are close to freezing. Capturing this could transform a fairly ordinary picture of an Exmoor pony or a singing wren into a truly wonderful image.

The last autumnal leaves clinging to a tree or brightly coloured fruits can often be embellished by droplets of dew in the first hour of light. If nights are cold and the air moist enough, then hoar frost can give a delicately beautiful coating to vegetation. The skeletal remains of hogweed or a velvet shank fungus erupting from the base of a tree can be given a magical crystalline crust that elevates your image from the ordinary to the spectacular.

Owls are famous for being nocturnal but at least three species regularly hunt by day. The little owl preys mainly on insects and earthworms and can often be found perched on prominent places, such as telegraph poles and fenceposts as well as mature parkland trees. The short-eared owl is mainly a winter visitor, at least to southern and lowland Britain, and is often active during the morning or evening. Barn owls are a more traditional night owl but if feeding is made difficult by wind, rain or shortage of small mammal prey, these ghostly birds will extend their hunting hours, too. Any of these could be seen flying at midday in December but late-afternoon light will give a more suitably crepuscular feel to proceedings.

At the time of writing, Britain is in the grip of an unusually cold spell. One vitally important piece of advice to bear in mind is that if temperatures continue to stay below freezing by night and day our wildlife will be hard-pushed to survive. Some birds will need to feed almost constantly during daylight hours to make it through the long cold nights. If temperatures are low enough, they can lose a fair proportion of vital body fat each day. Getting that extra foot closer to capture the perfect shot may cause animals to flee, not only wasting valuable calories but also preventing them from refuelling. Water birds will flock to the last areas of deeper water that remain ice-free, so keep your distance so as not to cause disturbance. Remember that a true nature photographer always put the wildlife first.

• Peter Brash is an ecologist at the National Trust © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

November 10 2010

Huntress catches portrait prize

David Chancellor's photo of 14-year-old Josie Slaughter on a horse carrying a dead buck beat 6,000 submissions to win

An arresting image of a teenage girl on horseback with her trophy of a hunted dead buck was last night named winner of a major photographic portrait prize.

The photographer David Chancellor was given this year's Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in London forhis submission, Huntress with Buck.

The image shows 14-year-old Josie Slaughter from Alabama on her first hunting trip to South Africa. Against a stunning background and sky, she looks impassively in to the camera, holding the dead animal's antlers up to prevent it flopping lifelessly over the horse's neck.

Chancellor said the location and light were key to the image's power. "Josie had hunted her buck earlier in the day and was returning to camp," he said. "As we arrived, the sun set below the cloud cover and I had almost unreal light for around a minute.

"The contrast between the peace and tranquillity of the location plus Josie's ethereal beauty and the dead buck was what I wanted to explore. Here was a vulnerability and yet also a strength."

Chancellor, who wins £12,000, took the photograph – shooting Kodak 160VC 120 film on a Mamiya 7 II camera – as part of a bigger project documenting hunters and the hunted.

He said he wanted "to explore the intricate and complex relationship between man and animals and how both struggle to adapt to their changing environment."

Chancellor, who divides his time between London and Cape Town, said he tried to remain objective about the subject matter: "The aim is always to be detached. In reality that's rarely possible, but I do hope I can observe without an agenda and without the necessity to shout."

Sandy Nairne, director of the National Portrait Gallery and chairman of the judges, called Chancellor's image "a powerful and beautiful portrait, a worthy winner amidst a strong international submission".

Second prize went to Panayiotis Lamprou for Portrait of my British wife and third to Jeffrey Stockbridge for Tic Tac and Tootsie.

The portraits form part of an exhibition – with 60 portraits whittled down from nearly 6,000 submissions – that runs at the NPG from tomorrow until 20 February and then at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from 16 April until 26 June. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

November 01 2010

Startling starlings

It's the time of year when these birds come together to produce one of nature's most impressive sights. Grahame Madge has some tips for capturing it on camera

Share your photos of starlings in flight on our Flickr group

Even as an ardent birdwatcher, I'll confess that a single starling is a rather drab sight. But you can capture stunning images of starlings if you see them in a new light. In summer, the drabness of their dark plumage melts away to reveal an iridescent show of greens and purples. In winter, the birds develop a completely different look as the plumage becomes spangled with white spots.

In my opinion, the best way to see starlings is just before dusk when flocks – known as murmurations – gather in autumn and winter skies for one of our most celebrated wildlife spectacles. Sometimes up to 1 million birds - from a radius of 20 miles - join vast flocks that twist and turn against the fading light, creating a pageant of ephemeral, ever-changing patterns - like smoke on a breeze.

Many of the birds will have travelled to the UK from Scandinavia, or even Russia, to join starlings that have nested in the UK. Starlings gather in huge flocks to spend the night in safety in reedbeds, or on buildings, such as Brighton pier. It's always been a slight mystery to me why these birds put on such a prominent display before roosting for the night. The primary aim of creating a large flock is to confuse predators, such as peregrine falcons or sparrowhawks: so, why do starlings advertise their presence so obviously?

The ecologist in me says they are probably encouraging others into the roost site, creating an ecological advantage for the starling's survival. However, my fun-loving side yearns to believe that starlings put on a Red Arrows show just because they can.

These spectacles happen at specific sites across the UK from October to early spring, allowing anyone with a camera, or even a mobile phone to capture an impression of this aerial ballet. However your image will strip away most of the sensations that you felt at the time; the chattering of a million calling birds; frost nipping at your nose and toes; or perhaps the scent of distant bonfires.

So how do you create an image that best captures the impressions of the event? Firstly, think about the location. Try to position yourself on the eastern side of the action. As the sun sets in the west, standing facing the sunset will allow you to include the sun, or sunlit clouds, as a backdrop for your composition. Even on a cloudy day, the light in this part of the sky will be brighter and will last for longer after sunset.

Think about how you frame your picture; including a distant church spire; a line of trees; or some other feature on the horizon will lend your picture a sense of scale and also a sense of location. You could also include other spectators for added human interest. Consider whether you want to capture a single image or create a sequence of pictures. Locking the camera on a tripod could enable you to take a set of pictures with the same framing. Including the same foreground while capturing the different patterns of the swirling flocks is one way of trying to describe the choreography of these.

Photographers with a little more technical know-how might want to create more impressionistic images. You have a choice where you can use a fast shutter speed to freeze each bird or use a slow one, allowing the movement of each bird to register as a streak across the frame.

However you choose to capture the event, be sure to take a few minutes to soak up the atmosphere of the event before the birds tumble from the sky and settle down for the night.

Where to see starlings

Gretna Green, Scotland

Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, Lancashire

Saltholme RSPB reserve, Middlesbrough

RSPB Snape Warren, Suffolk

Brighton pier, Sussex

Westhay Moor, Ham Wall (RSPB) or Shapwick Heath, in Somerset

RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk

Conwy RSPB reserve in north Wales

Blacktoft Sands, east Yorkshire

• Grahame Madge is a media officer at the RSPB © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

October 12 2010

The Dog Photographer of the Year competition 2010

From an energetic terrier bounding through a field of poppies to a sad-eyed survivor of cancer, the whole gamut of doggy life is on display

September 01 2010

Protector of the Giants photographic exhibition

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust presents an exhibition of pictures taken by three of the world's most celebrated wildlife photographers – Joachim Schmeisser, Michael Nichols and Robert Carr-Hartley

August 17 2010

Enter the Dog Photographer of the Year competition

Fancy yourself as a budding Giacomo Brunelli? Think your dog has what it takes to be a cover star? Then enter the Kennel Club's photography competition

July 21 2010

Wildlife frozen in time

Scott Linstead uses fast shutter speeds and special flash gear to capture these incredible images of wildlife

February 24 2010

Der Linien- und Farbenzoo


The Animalarium ist ein schönes Blog zu der unendlichen Vielfalt an Möglichkeiten, Tiere grafisch darzustellen. Hier eine Auswahl aus dem Posting Of all the fish in the sea:







(Gefunden bei thisisnthappiness)

Reposted fromglaserei glaserei

January 25 2010

January 24 2010

All things bright and beautiful: What photographer found in one cubic foot

David Liittschwager's amazing images – featured in next month's National Geographic magazine – capture Earth's ecosystems as never before

Just how much life can you find in an ecosystem of one cubic foot? That is the question photographer David L­iittschwager set out to answer when he took a 12-inch metal frame to a range of different environments on land and in water, in tropical climes and temperate regions and began to chart the living organisms.

The answer? An astonishing amount. In each place he visited, the photographer, best known for his large images of rare animals and plants, was amazed at the diversity and abundance of life that passed through such a small area.

In five distinct and contrasting environments, from a tropical forest to a city-centre park, Liittschwager set down his green-edged metal cube, and started watching. Each creature that passed through the cube was counted and charted with the help of his assistant and a team of biologists. Over a three-week period the team photographed each inhabitant that passed through the cube, down to creatures measuring a mere millimetre.

In total, more than a thousand individual organisms were photographed, and the diversity of each environment can be seen on "It was like finding little gems," Liittschwager said.

The team started out at Central Park in New York – or more specifically, in the Hallet nature sanctuary, a 3.5-acre deciduous woodland area, populated with trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally. There they found the tufted titmouse and eastern grey squirrel, creatures as big as a raccoon and as small as a leopard slug.

In Moorea, in French Polynesia, they discovered a vast array of species (pictured) thought to only be a very small selection of the reef's full diversity. Among their findings were the inch-long file clam, the whitespotted boxfish, sacoglossan sea slug and the frankly terrifying post-larval octopus.

While in the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde, in Costa Rica, most of the animals in the treetop ecosystem were as small as a fingertip, there were hawk moths, sharpshooter leafhoppers and burio tree seeds.

The fine-leaved vegetation of the fynbos of Table Mountain in South Africa, thought to hold one of the richest concentrations of plant diversity in the world, revealed the purple flower of the alice sundew, and no shortage of cape zebra cockroaches. Finally, in the fresh water of Duck River in Tennessee, one of the most biodiverse waterways in the US, swam golden darters and longlear sunfish as well as the bigeyed chub. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

June 11 2008

TERRA 432: Cars, Critters, Culverts

Highways are a major cause of wildlife mortality in the United States, but the use of tunnels as safe thoroughfares for animals mitigates that threat, while increasing safety for motorists as well. Take a scenic tour of Montana's roadways with a wildlife biologist who studies roadkill, a highway engineer, and two young activists in "Cars, Critters, Culverts"!
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