School Squirrel Day

Finally I have a purpose for my shooting!! I feel a new burst of energy and have a sense of purpose for my project. This new found direction has given me confidence and structure in my shooting, with each photo contributing to my vision of educating children on the red squirrel battle. With an education pack in mind for KS2 children, I finally had focus and clarity in what I was doing and it just ‘felt right’. My photography improved as I now knew what I was shooting for, I had felt a bit lost prior to this end goal project. I had ended up just taking pictures for the sake of taking pictures, now they had purpose.

With all that said, I should have taken a flash gun with me, a few of my shots just don’t quite have the right light or gleam of the eye, next time I’m shooting in a woods I will definitely take one with me! I just assumed as it was a beautiful sunny day that the light would be perfect for it, it was a complete oversight on my behalf. I also should have taken my longer 300 lens into the enclosure with me before the children arrived. I distorted the squirrels by being too close to them (I wasn’t expecting them to come and investigate me – I was just there to shoot the environment!) and I could have blurred out the background and got more detail when the squirrels were up in the higher canopy of the trees. Next time I photograph them I shall take all my lenses with me and not naively assume that I won’t need one or the other. I made sure I shot with a low ISO as I wanted the option to print these large if needed (I really should have taken a flash gun with me!).

I also had a hand held voice recorder with me all day and recorded the ambiance and interviewed people (be it teachers, parents, education rangers or the children) all day, as I intend to create a short audio clip to accompany my images. I want the voices of the next generation engaging with conservation and specifically red squirrel conservation, to be heard by the current generation. The more people my work can engage and educate the better – people may not listen to me hopefully they’ll listen their children.

Similarly to the grey trapping images, I won’t be able to use several of these images as ‘animal rights activists’  will most likely sabotage them, which is ironic as the children watching understood why this needed to be done to have a balanced ecosystem and were excited to learn about the reasons behind the culling of grey squirrels. Hopefully by creating an education pack for young children, the next generation will be able to differentiate between situations of necessity and barbarity. Again, I should have used my long lens at times and not been so physically close to the children, I should have stepped back and picked out expressions and detail in the scene. This would have stopped any distortions of shapes and sizes and created some entertaining pictures at that! I enjoy shooting the interaction of humans and animals and feel this is my strongest area, I still need more practice of photographing large groups of people though.

Overall the day was simply wonderful, it was just so encouraging seeing such young people engaging in such an important topic and generally interested and asking questions all day. Its given me hope for my project and above all, the future of red squirrels.

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