Mind Games With Jet The Raven

A few weeks ago I did a couple of posts about photographing the devastating floods from Burrow Mump in Burrowbridge and some capturing beautiful old trees in Dorset.
Both these where shot for a new image I had wanted to create as part of my personal project “Life In A Somerset Landscape” and to represent the severe floods that had hit Somerset this year.
The only element that I had left to find was a Raven or something from that family of birds which I had always wanted to photograph.
I had nearly exhausted all my options for sourcing one locally and not one to compromise easily I decided to place a post of Facebook to see if anyone knew of one..even a stuffed one was becoming an option ! To my surprise one of my oldest friends replied within minutes saying his tattoo artist called Brendan had a tame Rook and I should call him.
After a couple of days I rang Brendan who indeed had Jet a fairly young and fairly tame Raven I could happily pop along to photograph.
Despite photographing several animals for this project already I’m by far a wildlife photographer and knew nothing about Ravens apart than they where a bigger version of a crow !
Brendan explained how incredibly intelligent these birds where (more than dogs) and although my concern about having my eyes pecked out was very unlikely due to their friendly nature I would definitely find Jet to be very inquisitive.
I turned up with a car full of gear (you never know what you will need on location) but I soon realised the avery was too small for any kit apart from hand holding the camera and a speed light for some fill in flash.
The other things that quickly came to my attention was how big and hyperactive Jet was ! This was going to be a tough shoot but that was to become an understatement!
You remember how I said how intelligent these birds where ? well it seems they also like to play games with tubby photographers trying to photograph them.
Each time I raised my camera to my eye he would fly, I could watch him all I wanted in fact he would do this little display to impress me (or take the piss as I saw it) but as soon as I raised the camera past my chin off he’d go off again…the little bastard was playing with me and winning!
Anyway not to be outdone I decided I would just have to set the camera up the best I could and shoot blind holding the camera at chest level.
I could have possible set the camera up and shot via a radio trigger but the concern was Jet would fly onto the tripod and knock the whole lot to the floor and I did not fancy explaining that to the insurance company less than a week after a £700 repair for it rolling down a hill!
With 140 frames shot I managed to capture enough usable frames to choose from which had correct perspective and interesting angle.

The image is titled “A Perch Above The Flood”

 


Dry Path To Muchelney

You can’t live in the UK without having heard about the village of Muchelney in South Somerset which has recently become an island after the severe floods.
I live a few miles from the village and have managed until today to resist all temptations to venture out onto the Somerset Levels with my camera.
The two problems for me are firstly that the Somerset Levels are where I learnt my craft and they even after all these years are still one of my favorite places to go and shoot.
Secondly although I’m certainly no adrenalin junkie or risk taker I’m fascinated by extreme weather much to my wife’s disapproval and this means I can’t resist getting safely close as possible to explore & capture what I find.

The floods had receded just enough that some roads are now passable so today with stormy skies still overhead I ventured to a couple of places I thought might be safe and give me some great views.
This image titled “Dry Path To Muchelney” shows the severely flooded River Isle on the right and flooded fields to the left with a elevated path bank heading towards Muchelny.
The gentleman I met walking with his dog said how in 40 years he had never seen flooding this extreme in the area.His dog seemed less bothered by he water and more interested in the wildlife as there where lots of mice and other animals on the bank seeking safety from the waters.
The rains came in again giving some wonderful skies and I decided to shoot one more image before heading home.
As I mounted a gate to reach the flood line in a field I somehow lost my footing and ended up head first with my camera luckily on top of me !
It must have looked hilarious but must admit as I sit here writing this I’m pretty bruised and not getting any sympathy from the wife !
I hope for those hit hard by the floods in Muchelney and surrounding area that the water recedes soon so that the clean up can get started.