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Gavin June issue 2014

WWI Centenary 100 years on, Gavin visits the battlefields

Orangutan rescue There’s a crisis in Indonesia

The magazine of Gavin Parsons Photography

Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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World Class Shark Diving in South Africa on Protea Banks Phone +27 (39) 317 1483 Cell +27 (0) 82 456 7885 E-Mail info@afridive.com


Contents Page 4 Big Picture

A couple of stand alone pictures

The last month has flown by. I have started a new fine art project, which you can see on page 26, I helped a new model with her portfolio (you can see one image on page 8) and I’ve had a small exhibition locally and sold a few prints. As well as that I’ve worked with a few clients and created some new stock work. All of that and I’ve had issue 2 of Gavin on my mind. While going through my archived and new work for this issue I realised how diverse the content is. Some photographers find a niche and stick to it. I haven’t. I like

Page 11 Orang Rescue

to inject the same creativity into

Orangutans in Borneo are getting help

everything I shoot. That could be a

Page 18 The authentic look

advertising campaign or a fine art

news story or a fashion shoot, an project. To me they are the same.

How to get a 1920s look today

The amount of creativity is the

Page 22 In the business of saving lives Documenting the work of BDMLR

same. I always work hard to produce

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the most imaginative work the client is looking for. I am also always keen to work

Page 26 Meet the ancients

with new contacts and as well as supply specialist stock imagery I

A new art print project

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Page 30 Raggies Return

undertake commissions for editorial, advertising and promotional materials. I hope the photography in this magazine and on my website

The story of the ragged tooth shark migration

will show you just how versatile and

Page 34 Lest we forget

creative I will be for your company.

A visit to the WWI battlefields with a camera

Page 40 Top seller One of Gavin’s best selling images

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Page 42 Jumping June What I have photographed in June Copyright Notice: Every part of this publication is copyrighted. All images are copyrighted Gavin Parsons 2014. All rights reserved. No reproduction without prior permission from the copyright holder. All text and design are copyrighted and again no reproduction, alternation or usage of any kind is permitted without the permission of the copyright holder. To use any image or text please contact photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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BIG PICTURES

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Gavin


UNESCO Site 20 years ago Exactly two decades ago, I found myself in an empty carpark the size of an out of town shopping centre in a lone taxi. I had arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudhur on the Island of Java and it was deserted. Now Borobudhur is a major tourist attraction, but then it was a seldom visited Buddhist temple on a Muslim populated island on the South East Asia Backpacker route. I wandered around the massive temple like the Dutch engineer H.C. Cornelius, who was sent by the British Governor of Indonesia to find it. At the time, I took one roll of black & white film of the temple. I was rationed because I didn’t have room for too much film on my trip. On my return I developed the films and then promptly forgot them. During a recent office clean up I rediscovered the negatives and scanned the images in and fell in love with this one. Inside each of those stone ‘bells’ is a statue of a Buddha, not a bad engineering task for the Javanese of the 9th century. To see images from the film see: www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/rediscovered.html

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BIG PICTURES

Taj with a difference

Some parts of the world are understandably more photographed than others. The Taj Mahal has to be one of the most photographed few square hectares of land on the planet. And the three million camera touting visitors each year have spawned a small industry of locals who charge money to photographers by showing them the best spots to get pictures from. The results are a plethora of images that look the same. So I went looking for a composition that I’d not seen before. I found it while being laughed at by locals while lying on the floor with my camera a little finger width above the water of one of the long ponds running up to the main mausoleum. I had my trusty ZigView viewer in my camera bag and was able to frame the image while not looking into the viewfinder and so while everyone was holding their cameras above the heads of the crowds in front, I was holding my camera as low as I could and achieved my goal of getting a view of the Taj that I’d not seen before. I always try to find new or unusual angles to achieve a ‘different’ shot and you can see this quite well on his ‘Travel’ portfolio

6at www.gavinparsons.co.uk/pages/travel.html.

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Gavin


Parsons

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BIG PICTURES

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Is that Emma Watson? No it isn’t, but it is a model I worked with a few weeks ago who looked like the ex Hermione Granger. Tann Marie asked me for some ideas for a shoot and I came up with a girl in a man’s suit. We shot it on a sunny day on the esplanade in Weymouth, Dorset. My vision was to create some interesting high contrast Black & White images so I shot into the sun and exposed for the model’s face. We worked on several different poses and scenarios, and some of the best images will be on my online portfolio soon.

Parsons

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Call 01825 767688 or visit www.internationalanimalrescue.org

Victims of torture – their only crime was hunger Driven from their home in the forest, these orangutans entered a village in a desperate search for food. Instead they were viciously attacked by an angry mob. As the mother fought to protect her baby, she was held down in a pool of water until she was almost drowned. We saved the baby, but hours later the mother was dead. Please help us save other orangutans from such horrific cruelty as they fight for survival in the rainforests of Borneo.

I wish to donate

£15

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£100 OR my choice of £

I enclose a cheque to International Animal Rescue OR Debit my MasterCard / Visa / Delta / Maestro / CAF card: Card number Expiry date Title Address Town Phone

Security code

Issue no (Maestro)

Name Postcode Email*

* By giving your email address, you are giving us permission to email you with updates on our work. This coupon is suitable for photocopying.

WOA230114

Please return to: FREEPOST SEA 12093, International Animal Rescue, Uckfield TN22 1BR If you do not wish to be kept informed on the activities of International Animal Rescue, please tick this box

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Orang rescue

There’s a wildlife crisis happening in Indonesia Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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Meet Jingo, a young orangutan living in a metal box with a tyre as a toy and bed. It is as far from a life in the tree tops of primary rainforest you could imagine.

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here is something magical about Dr Karmele Sanchez, a diminutive Basque born vet who now works tirelessly in Indonesia. She seems to have an affinity with primates who instinctively know she is there to help. Strange considering she treats animals who’s only contact with humans has been fraught with callousness, injury and death. She is in charge of a venture run by British charity International Animal Rescue that is bringing orangutan rescue and rehabilitation to West Kailmantan, a section of southern Borneo which is being razed by bulldozers and diggers in Indonesia’s quest to become a dominant force in the production of palm oil. As oil palm plantations march Blitzkrieg-like across the country, the prolific wildlife is swatted aside and the orangutan is being picked on as a money-making sideline for impoverished plantation workers. Adult orangutans are shot or beaten to death with sticks and infants are whisked away and sold. Adult females are often butchered and eaten in front of the infants. It is as horrific as it sounds. In one case, wildlife rescuers found a mother orangutan beaten to death and it took two days for her infant (no more than eight months old) to be found in a cardboard box two days later when plantation workers finally found a conscience. “It is incomprehensible why anyone would want to harm such a peaceful and gentle animal just for the sake of keeping its baby in an environment in which even people suffer from the poor welfare standards...” Karmele told me. “Most of these babies do not survive for long. If the team had arrived a couple of days later, this particular baby would be dead. His situation is very critical and we really don’t know whether he will make it.” In 2009, rescuers found a young female they named Helen. She had witnessed the shooting dead of her mother, been pounded in the face with enough force to break skin and was hog-tied to a pole while her mother’s killers butchered, cooked and ate the carcass in front of her. And she is little more than three years old. When I visited the rescue centre she sat quietly, eating watermelon, rambutans and banana placed at the front of her cage. Her wounds had healed, but the mental scars had yet to fade. Whenever a stranger walked by she pulled a sack over her head to try and hide. The good news is, in January 2014, Helen was well and strong enough and along with another rehabilitated Orangutan was released into the wild. Had she been younger or already humanised, the process of rehabilitation before release would have been longer. Baby orangutans, Asia’s only great ape and one of mankind’s nearest biological neighbours, take the better part of a decade before they leave their mothers. Like humans they remain maternally dependent for around four years and then stay close to their mother for another three to four. That strong bond and the fact they act like human babies and are undeniably cute is the driving force of the trade.

A price of their heads Baby orangutans have an intrinsic value as locals and plantation workers know they can be traded. A TRAFFIC report entitled Hanging in the Balance outlines the trade and shows it is generally an opportunistic enterprise and was small scale when the Bornean primary rain forests allowed orangutans to live far from humans, but, with the almost wholesale carving up of the island into plantations, orangutans are coming into contact with people increasingly often and because of that, the trade in babies is increasing dramatically. However, all species of orangutans are listed on CITES Appendix I, which means they are staring oblivion in the face. No international trade is permitted. They also fall under the Indonesia laws in wildlife trade, which prohibits the local market. However, very few hunters and traders

Parsons

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are ever punished and an unknown number of orangutans disappear from the wild population each year. Their first introduction to humanity is almost certainly as traumatic as Helen’s, as they are sold through indigenous people, plantation workers, illegal brokers and finally into a trade that can see them travel throughout South East Asia and world. Jojo was one such individual and it was because of him that International Animal Rescue stepped into the orangutan story. Karmele found him living behind a house on a pallet chained up over an open sewer. The chain had caused a wound on his arm and the unsavoury living conditions had turned it septic. Karmele was called to treat the wound and was so shocked, she vowed to help Jojo and called IAR Chief Executive Alan Knight OBE. “IAR has financially supported groups rescuing and caring for orangutans in the past,” Alan explains. “However the scale of the problem is immense and rescue facilities are stretched to the limit: there was no rescue centre for orangutans in West Kalimantan and facilities in Central Kalimantan were already full. When Jojo came to our attention he was in such desperate need that we couldn’t turn our backs on him or any of the other babies that we found out about and so we joined forces with other groups in the hope of making a real difference.” IAR took over a small rescue centre and has spent several years buying land and developing a purpose built rescue and rehabilitation centre. Jojo was one of the new arrivals at the centre and I travelled to Borneo to document his transfer from Pontianak where he was discovered, to Ketapang – a half hour flight away. Before I arrived, the Forestry Department confiscated another ‘pet’ orangutan and so the IAR centre was to take charge of two new arrivals.

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This is JoJo, the orangutan who’s plight started IAR’s journey to help orangutans as a species. You can see the troubled look on this youngster’s face. Here he is unhealthy, and scared at the start of his journey to take him back to being a real orangutan.

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Jojo and Jingo Both animals were in temporary cages behind the Forestry Department’s Fire Station on the outskirts of town. Jojo was in holding cage that allowed quite a bit of free movement, but the other, named Jingo was in a small wire box that didn’t even let him stand properly. But between the two he looked the most relaxed. At about six years old he was a youngster, but was on the cusp of becoming too big, strong and boisterous to handle and his fate could quite easily have been the same as Jojo who was traumatised by years of neglect and showed signs of stress and poor health. He calmed a little down as he saw Karmele, and accepted food and water and even took her hand gently and placed it on his forehead where a nasty lump had formed. He seemed to know she was the person who had helped him before and he was trying to get help again. She administered an anaesthetic which rendered Jojo unconscious so he could be moved into a special transport cage (Jingo simply climbed straight into his). An anaesthetised orangutan, like a human, needs constant monitoring and,

therefore, cannot be unconscious on a flight. So we waited for Jojo to wake up before moving both cages to the airport. Pontianak airport is a small place, but still busy with raised voices, clanking machinery and vehicles coming and going. It’s stressful enough for people let alone an animal in a small metal box who’s life up until that point had been lonely, quiet and depressing. The tension started to get to Jojo and a worried Karmele had to constantly offer assurance, but she had to leave him at some point and board

Here JoJo lies unconscious in his transportation box. Dr Sanchez monitors him as he is bought around. He though is scared of anything new, which is understandable when you know the journey he’s had to endure to get him here.

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Above: Helen a few weeks after her rescue. The physical scars have heeled, but the mental torture was still as raw as the day she was found.

Above: Dr Sanchez with a baby orangutan called Sigit. The youngsters need nurturing as well as being taught how to be orangutans

the plane. That, it turned out, was too much and he started to rock and beat his cage violently. Understandably the pilot, who sat just in front of the cargo hold, didn’t want to take him and he was left staring out of his cage on the tarmac with Karmele trying to calm him down as our plane taxied and took off. The flight to Ketapang is only half an hour, but to get Jojo there would now take a 12 hour ferry trip. There are no direct roads between the two places as the area in between is rainforest. Correction, it was. From the plane window I could see smoke rising from the greenery and every so often the randomness of the natural forest gave

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Dr Sanchez checks samples in her makeshift lab. This is before the permanent lab was constructed

way to Romanesque lines of palm trees. Oil palm plantations are taking over like weeds in a garden. Six years ago, I infiltrated an oil palm plantation and at its coalface the world took on the appearance of a murder victim. The scene is reminiscent of black and white pictures from 1917 Belgium. Turn of the century artillery turned Passchendaele into hell; today the work of mechanical diggers is doing the same to Kalimantan. And now, as then, because it is away from people’s eyes, no one seems to care.

New home The flight didn’t seem to bother Jingo who came off the aircraft as bright as he went on. He was placed into a purpose built cage and for possibly the first time in his life, the young orangutan was able to climb. His arboreal (tree living) genes sang out as it was the first thing he did – straight to the top of the five metre high cage. He may still be held in captivity, but it was a first step towards a life back in the wild. Jojo arrived the following day. He was covered in sweat and stank thanks to being in the confines of the transportation cage for so long. He too climbed to the top of the cage as he entered it. Karmele though thinks he has rickets induced because his muscles and bones were unable to form properly while living on the ground and being fed a poor diet. www.gavinparsons.co.uk

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After a brief climb he came and sat in one corner of his enclosure and only perked up when Karmele hosed him down to clean his hair and skin. He sat quietly for a few hours, getting used to his surroundings and then Jingo was put in the adjoining cage and for the first time in their lives each one met another orangutan. “We are teaching them to be orangutans again,” explained Karmele. “The need to interact with others of their kind and learn from and with each other.” The meeting was tentative. Jojo appeared concerned and Jingo just wanted attention from humans, but after a couple of hours though the pair were hand grappling through the bars and a friendship was forming. The introduction is a key element in Karmele’s rehabilitation plan. Babies are surrogated with the older females and in time introduced into a large, wilder enclosure and then back into the wild. The programme is working too as several animals I met are now back in protected forests of Kalimantan. “The rescue of each orangutan is a bittersweet moment,” says Karmele. “We are happy and relieved to have saved an animal from its miserable life in captivity, but we are painfully aware that thousands of other orangutans continue to lose their homes and their lives at the hands of the human race. We are doing what we can to rehabilitate the animals we rescue so that one day they can be returned to the wild, but it will require a committed global effort if we are to protect the remaining rainforest and hence the future of the orangutan before time runs out.” n

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This is literally the first time either JoJo (left) and Jingo (right) have met another orangutan.

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L

ook on Youtube and they’ll be umpteen tutorials for making digital photos look like they were taken back in the day. A photographer can spend hours tweaking contrast, levels, saturation, adding grain, adding dust spots, and generally messing with a image designed and crafted in the 21st century. Let me assure you though, no amount of Photoshopping or other image manipulation software can get you that something special that exists in photographs taken at the turn of the 20th century. The only way to get a realistic looking image that represents a photograph taken in the 1920s, for example, is to buy and use a camera produced at that time. So I did. I searched for folding cameras made in and around the 1920s and came across two beautiful Kodak No.3A models. The first was produced in 1902 and while beautiful, is a bit more basic than the 1917 No.3A Autographic Junior. It is a bit of a beast, but lightweight, has an aperture motion that would give any decent photographer a wet dream and even a rudimentary focusing system

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The authentic look How to get the 1920s in 2014

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Gavin


and a couple of options for shutter speed. The Kodak No.3A Junior took Kodak’s 622 film which was the size of a postcard. They stopped making it sometime in the early 1970s so getting hold of some wasn’t really an option, but I saw on the web that a guy had converted one to shoot 120 film. I tried at first using standard raw plugs (I had a lot left over from a house renovation). The concept worked, but it wasn’t great and I lost a couple of rolls to poor tension. Basically the film rolls unravelled and light leaked onto the film before it was processed. So I decided to get some special end caps made. I took the camera and 120 film spools to a local 3D printing firm (www.3dprint-service.co.uk) and they made up a set of endcaps I could put on Ilford film so it would fit inside the camera. They worked perfectly. I also installed a couple of Aluminium strips painted black to act as guides to ensure the film didn’t wander. It all seemed to work, so a couple of quick test rolls and I was ready to go. I like to process films myself (to recapture some of my youth), and I found an environmentally safe method online called Caffenol. It is basically a mixture of cheap instant coffee and washing soda, plus a couple of other ingredients from a hardware store. I’ve made a video of the process and you can see it at: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=djFphBsuchI With everything in place I wanted to do a 1920s style fashion shoot so I hooked up with Cornucopia, a specialist vintage clothes shop in Bridport (http://bridportantiques. co.uk/vintage-at-cornucopia/) and local model Elizabeth Taylor. These images are the first few I have done and there is more to come. The look and feel is as genuine as you can get to the 1920s because the clothes are 1920s and the camera taking them is of the period. n

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Photographer: Gavin Parsons Model: Elizabeth Taylor Clothing: Cornucopia, Bridport

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Gavin


Parsons

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In the

business of saving lives

A look at the work of animal rescue organisation British Divers Marine Life Rescue

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n 1988 the UK’s harbour seal population (called common seals in the UK) was facing a threat of enormous magnitude. A virus, similar to canine distemper was rampantly decimating colonies along the east coast. At the time the government was apathetic towards wildlife and the RSPCA didn’t have the kit to assist the animals, so a group of divers gathered their drysuits and small inflatable dive boats and headed to the Wash on England’s North Sea coast. They didn’t know it, but that action started an organisation that today, 25 years later, is one of the

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world’s premier animal rescue organisations. As well as being a photographer, Gavin is a Director and Trustee of BDMLR as the group is known. The organisation now uses sophisticated animal rescue equipment and techniques and helps seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales primarily. They have though also helped turtles, seabirds, sharks, ducks, swans and otters. BDMLR trains members of the public to help at rescues and now has a countrywide network of thousands of trained volunteers who are ready to help any injured or sick marine animal should the need arise. In recent years, International organisations have requested the help of BDMLR, the most recent being the Born Free Foundation who asked for help rehabilitating two captive dolphins for release into the wild. BDMLR trainers are also requested to attend events overseas and in January 2014 a team participated in the Winter Enrichment Programme at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Over the next couple of pages you will learn a little about what the Charity does. If you are thinking of giving to charity to help animals, BDMLR is certainly a worthy cause to support. www.gavinparsons.co.uk

Gavin


Rescuing marine animals can be pretty dramatic, but perhaps this is the most hazardous it can get. This is a Nantucket Sleigh Ride created when a small rescue boat hooks into a whale entangled in fishing gear or ropes. The small boat, with two rescuers on board, is being towed by the whale. Luckily no whale is in danger here as it is a training exercise, but it is no less dramatic for the people in the boat.

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It’s the people that make an organisation so while on assignment to cover the POLA’s Pilotage services, Gavin concentrated on the man rather than his job.

Using specialist inflatable pontoons, BDMLR can help support, move and lift whales between two and four tonnes. What you see here is a mass stranding exercise. The whales look real and weigh the same as a live whale, but are rubber models inflated with water. They are often mistaken for the real thing by the public though.

Right: A student learns how to handle a seal during a Marine Mammal Medic course. Again the seal is a life-like water filled model. Students are shown techniques learned on real rescues of how to catch and move juvenile seals Another shot from a Marine Mammal Medic Course, this time in Somerset. The whale is in the pontoon system and being floated out into a sea lake. When inside the pontoons a 2 ton whale can be moved by one person.

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Above: One of the most specialist and dangerous techniques we employ is for whale disentanglement. The shot on the opening spread of the feature shows the action involved, but here is the grapple being thrown to catch the line on a whale. This again is a training course. It’s a heavy grapple and a small boat. This is why we train only a selected few to do large whale disentanglement.

Dolphins and porpoises can be lifted with just a tarpaulin and some brute strength. Here are group of Marine Mammal Medic students are moving a dolphin model as part of a course.

Parsons

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Meet the ancients

Prince William of Orange Oak, Newton Abbott, Devon

Gavin Parsons has embarked on a new Fine Art Print project.

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Gavin


Blasted Beech, Rampisham Down, Dorset

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ersonal projects are a favourite pastime among professional and keen amateur photographers. They give you a sense of purpose, of telling a story or showing the collective good (or bad) of something. I am often asked where I get the ideas for projects I work on. Last month I highlighted a project I did at a care farm. This month the subject is completely different from young people, but it occurred to me in the same sort of way. While I was out for a walk in the countryside. At the beginning of May, while looking for a new project I came across a beech tree (above). It was obviously old, so I did some research and discovered it wasn’t just old it was Ancient. It was designated Ancient by the Woodland Trust. This got me thinking about how much trees define our country and yet we pay them about as much attention as dog does a piece of paper in the street. So I have started a project focused just on the

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Totworth Sweet Chestnut, Totworth, Gloucestershire ancient trees. The UK has many grand trees, the odd magnificent tree, but I think the ancient ones are the most interesting. They are the real connections with our past. What else can you touch that was living during the reign of Henry VIII, or at the time Queen Elizabeth I gave her battle rousing speech in Tilbury? Getting a definitive answer to what makes an ancient tree is not that easy as it depends on the species. One way of telling is working out the girth of the trunk. The oldest oaks, sweet chestnuts, yews and beeches tend to have wider trunks than others of their species, but that is also not necessarily the case. That’s why I decided to use trees designated ancient by the Woodland Trust. The exact age may not be known, but they will see their histories in hundreds of years, not just tens like humans. This will be an ongoing project that will see my document as many trees around the UK as possible.

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Oak, Middle Chinnock, Somerset Some are more difficult than others as they are buried deep in woodland, on private land or are just inaccessible. To create a pleasing piece of wall art I need a subject that I can isolate or is distinguishable in the landscape. Thankfully, many ancient trees are parts of old field boundaries and are (like the oak above) now standing solitarily. As you can see the from the examples here, each tree is an individual. They each have personal characteristics. Photographing them is almost like taking a portrait of a person. The Middle Chinnock Oak above, for example, has a fallen sibling next to it and when viewed straight down the old trunk has the look of a dragon’s skull. It would be easy to just turn up at location take a snap and walk on, but these subjects have been around so long that would be insulting in a way. I prefer to walk around the tree and find the most interesting angles to record nature’s art.

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RAGGIES RETURN

Discover one of the most charismatic sharks and their migration to South Africa’s Protea Banks.

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rotea Banks is a piece of fossilised seabed off the coast of eastern South Africa, in the province of KwaZulu Natal. The four-mile long and 800m-wide Banks lie some 7.5 nautical miles offshore from the small town of Shelly Beach, and are among the best places on Earth for getting close to sharks. Sharks have their own seasons here. Hammerheads gather from November to February, but I came at the start of May in hopes of catching the start of the raggedtooth shark migration. Raggies are familiar to many because they are the shark of choice for large aquariums – docile, but with lots of impressive teeth on show. I waited with apprehension on the first dive over the northern caves, listening to the boat cox’s countdown: “Three, two, one, go!”. The dive starts with a negative entry and a fin to the seabed as getting to the bottom is paramount to reaching the right spot. The seabed is at 30 metres, and even a slight current can treat a diver like a dandelion seed in the wind, rushing you across the

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small area and it’s easy to miss the site. But as you kit up, the cox and divemaster assess the current and choose the right spot to start. They calculate it so well that we never once missed our target even in a screaming current. I hit the water on my first dive, turned my nose to the seabed and finned. Luckily, the current wasn’t strong, and vis was a decent 20 metres. The rocky reef and holes that are known as the Caves soon came into view below. Both caves were empty, the raggies hadn’t arrived. A short rummage found a handful of teeth left over from last year, but no sharks. The site is a favourite with ragged tooths because it offers shelter in two largeish holes with overhanging edges, plus a swim-through and a ridge that provides an overflow hang-out when the Caves are full. Depth is 30 metres on top of the cave and 36 metres at the bottom, so dive time is a limited. We could only stay for around 10 to 11 minutes before slowly rising to the surface. This style of diving was to be our modus operandi and the first three dives turned up nothing. We were dogged with poor visibility, warm water and little current. On the fourth dive, as we dropped into the water it was cooler, the visibility had improved and the current was whipping and I could see large, dark shapes inside the cave. Looking over the edge of the hole, I counted five sharks. These were the advance guard; the first of many that arrived within days of last year’s date. By the time I left, there were some 100 sharks around the Caves. When the current runs strongly they stay in them, but when it’s weak they can be found right across the Banks. We ventured into the Caves as the sharks slowly got used to seeing us. These raggies were all males; the females come later. Some we saw were more than 4m long, others less than 1m. They move north as the southern winter approaches, and stay on the Banks until November before heading south again as the southern summer warms the water. Around the world ragged tooths are known as grey nurse sharks or sand tiger sharks, and to science as Carcharias taurus. They are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and critically endangered in Australia, so South Africa’s population is extremely important globally, yet they do not live in www.gavinparsons.co.uk

Gavin


This is how the bears arrived at the sanctuaries. They were afraid and in a lot of pain. Within a couple of hours the dance trappings had gone as had the shackles and although in quarantine, the bears were safe from further harm.

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a protected area. The numbers at Protea seem stable though, according to Roland and Beulah Mauz, the owners of African Dive Adventures. They have kept meticulous records of sightings over the past 10 years, which is heartening news. Ragged tooths feed primarily on fish. They are thought to be mostly nocturnal hunters, and are the only shark known to leap from the surface and gulp air, which they keep in their stomachs to neutralise their buoyancy. Most shark species need to keep swimming to maintain a constant depth. Even nurse or cat sharks that can remain still instead of swimming do so on the seabed. Leaping could be what fish did before developing a swim bladder, and I saw it first-hand as we approached the dive site one day. Ahead of the boat, a grey shape lifted from the water almost up to its tail before flopping back again. A raggie was showing off its evolutionary distinction from other sharks! To get close to the sharks meant being slow, careful and calm. Any sudden movement would spook them, and they would take off with a clap that sounded like a shotgun going off. The 27-32m average depth of Protea Banks could put some people off, but against that is the generally good visibility and warm water. Dive times are always around 45 minutes, because the slow ascent looking for sharks on the way up extends the time in the water, and you never know what

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might approach from the ocean. Divers do need buoyancy skills and confidence in the water, but contrary to popular myth this is not hard diving. If it was, African Dive Adventures wouldn’t attract the likes of Hugh and Klaus, both divers in their 70s. On paper it could be seen as a tricky dive location with not much to see, but here’s the thing. I saw more species of shark here than anywhere else in the world. I found the diving a challenge, but not hard. As for the surf launch and recovery, when the smile on my face subsides I’ll be able to tell you how much fun they are, too. n www.gavinparsons.co.uk

Gavin


All images: Ragged toothed sharks are easy enough to get close to as long as you are calm, still and don’t breath as they approach. You need to be still in the water column so the air in your lungs doesn’t expand. As soon as you move or breathe the sharks know you are there and with a sharp snap like a shotgun going off they turn and are gone.

Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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Lest we forget

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ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO THE WORLD WENT MAD, AND DESTROYED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF MEN

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Gavin


The Canadian Vimy Ridge Memorial stands pout in the landscape to show the world that wickness came here and took the lives of thousands of men from their relatives. I chose to use an exposure of 30seconds to show the landscape around the memorial is fluid and ever changing but the memory stands steadfast as testament to the sacrifice the men made to their government.

Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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O

n 28 June 1914, a few days off 100 years ago from the publication of this magazine, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo which is recognised as the spark that set the tinderbox that was European politics alight and sent hundreds of thousands of young men from across the world to their doom. Last September, before the rush of centenary crowds, I and two friends travelled for the first time to the battlefields of WWI and decided to record the trip photographically. We only had a few days and concentrated on the area around Lille, which offered us a good base to drive north or south. It was my first real taste of a war which has held my fascination for years. I have read a lot, seen books and documentaries and thought I knew what the First World War meant, but no printed material can kick you in the guts like being there. Even viewing my pictures will not give you the sense of what I felt taking it. That is the one failing of pictures and even video. It will never give you the real feelings of the person who pressed the shutter. That is most apparent in the opening picture of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on Vimy Ridge. The Ridge itself rises from a low lying plane, and the monument dominates it and the surrounding countryside. As well as Canada’s statement piece dedicated to the men of the First World War, it is a place for the world to find the names of 11,169 men who never went home and have no grave for relatives to visit. The realisation of that wrapped it’s boney fingers around my throat and squeezed until I almost cried. It was such a great loss of life, just to capture a piece of high ground. Crucial as it was for winning a war. Nearby, still within the Vimy Ridge Memorial Park, was the first of many Commonwealth War Graves Commission graveyards. I was hit by the peacefulness of the place. Should

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The vimy Ridge battlefield Park is mostly off limits due to unexploded ordnance and so the landscape, save for the growth of trees, is as it was when the military walked away in 1918. I have died in a cacophony in a clash of weapon’s fire with shells exploding, men shouting and horses braying, then I would like to be buried here. I would not though, like to be buried in some of the cemeteries. Not because of the state of them. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission keeps every location in immaculate condition, but some are now next to busy roads and there is a constant stream of cars and heavy goods vehicles. I know the soldiers who lie in them don’t care, but in my opinion the living could have paid a bit more respect to the dead when choosing where to put roads and industrial estates. One of the best cemeteries we visited was also one of the smallest. Holding just 50 soldiers is the once forward cemetery called Beehive (after a German gun emplacement). It is now located in the heart of a farmer’s fields. The only sounds are the singing birds and the odd tractor spreading muck or harvesting crops. That is the sort of place to be buried after staring hell in the face. Much of what occurred on the land here during the four years of war has disappeared. The buildings were rebuilt, the trenches ploughed over and trees repopulated the forests. But look closely and you can still find evidence of the war outside the preserved trenches and memorials are subtle remnants. Along the Messines Ridge are a series of mine craters. Most are well documented and have almost become tourist attractions. But in Railway Wood is a smaller, hidden mine crater, which when we viewed it felt as if we’d found a hidden part of the war. And then there is the Iron Harvest. So many munitions were fired, thrown and dropped on the soil that a percentage never exploded. It is now slowly making its way to the surface and farmers find large amounts each season and leave it by the road to be picked up by the Army Bomb disposal squads. As you can see we found a small cache. The three of us scrambled around the unexploded shells like six year olds playing war and kept using the Blackadder Goes Forth quote: Lieutenant George: “Oh, sir, if we should happen to tread on a mine, what do we do?” Captain Blackadder: “Well, normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump up 200 feet into the air and scatter yourself over a wide area.” It was fun and continued to be so until a week after our return there was a news report about a builder in France who died after digging up an unexploded shell. We’d been rather stupid and lucky! For the next four years there will be centenaries for all the battles, deaths, losses and victories that have grasped my interest. The Somme, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge, Messines Ridge, Century Wood, All these battles will be commemorated. There are no soldiers left alive from the Great War, but the conflict still holds an important part in our lives and culture. It should be remembered as a time when the world went mad and the governments of today should learn the valuable lessons the conflict thrust upon mankind, especially today when the people of Europe have voted political extremists to their parliament. n www.gavinparsons.co.uk

Gavin


Unexploded ordnance is still emerging from the ground like a body expelling a splinter. The unwanted corroding metal is found in fields and during construction and is known as Iron Harvest. We found a small pile of the stuff which included a shell, Crapouillot (Little Toad) 20kg A.L.S trench mortar round and a smaller British mortar round. This stuff is still dangerous

Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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Above: The peaceful last resting place at Vimy Ridge cemetery.

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Below: The sun breaks through the low cloud and passes a gentle light over the British and French cemeteries at la Targette. The British one is dwarfed by the French Cemetery next door. There are 638 commonwealth soldiers resting here and over 30,000 Frenchmen.

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Gavin


Below: A young girl playing among the gravestones at Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium. Some people might think playing and laughing among the graves is disrespectful, but the soldiers died just so this young girl could laugh and play.

Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

Above: A preserved section of tunnel beneath Vimy Ridge which was created by Commonwealth tunnellers to attack the ridge

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TOP SELLER

Washing elephant

A few years ago, long enough now to be out of the license agreement, this image was chosen by an international airline who were looking for images that represented similes for their services. This was ideal to show how their staff cared for the customers. The company bought the rights to the image for a number of years and paid a fee commensurate for that use. I highlight it today as I can see those days evaporating as the rights of photographers are eroded. The shot itself was taken in Thailand during an elephant safari. I don’t usually go on these sorts of things, but the elephants were well treated and the staff cared for their charges as you can see here.

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Gavin


Parsons

email: photo@gavinparsons.co.uk

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JUMPING JUNE June is when John Dory start to become common on UK reefs as the water starts to warm.

The end of May and beginning of June is regatta time. This image is from the Pendennis Cup last year.

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Gavin


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Gavin magazine issue 2  

Photography magazine of Gavin Parsons. Includes: Orangutan Rescue, First World War battlefields, Ancient trees and 1917 Kodak No.3A camera.