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Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees, if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. Confucius

My name is Sandra Bogdanova and I have been a volunteer at the Horniman Museum and Gardens since March 2016. As January marks the start of a new year I am extremely happy to share the most memorable trip of our Engage Volunteer Team in December 2016.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, Horniman Museum and Gardens Engage Volunteer Team, Sandra Bogdanova
    Horniman Museum and Gardens Engage Volunteer Team, Sandra Bogdanova

We went to visit The Hive at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew to understand why plants matter and how The Hive tells the story of the crucial role played by bees. I come from Lithuania, where since time immemorial we have had a bee god called Bubilas and a goddess, Austėja. Growing up surrounded with great respect and mythology about bees made me especially happy about this trip.

Our relationship with the honey bee goes back thousands of years, to the dawn of human history. According to the Collins Beekeeper's Bible, bees represent vital principles and embody the soul. The bee also symbolises the soul that flies away from the body in the Siberian, central Asian and South American traditions. The bee to this day remains the symbol of immortality and eternity, diligence, wealth and kindness.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, Bumblebees at Kew. There are over 270 different types of bees. It is estimated that 90 percent of these bee species are solitary, like bumblebees, but honeybees are communal and live in hives, Sandra Bogdanova
    Bumblebees at Kew. There are over 270 different types of bees. It is estimated that 90 percent of these bee species are solitary, like bumblebees, but honeybees are communal and live in hives, Sandra Bogdanova

There are around 680 volunteers at Kew and 60 of them are volunteer tour guides. They have been given the Queen’s Award for their guiding and have undertaken over 1,600 tours since 1992 when the program started! Volunteer guide Leslie took us on a bee focused tour and he was incredibly patient and knowledgeable. Leslie talked to us about pollination and the two types from flowering plants and coniferous trees. He also told us how insects and birds see a different spectrum of colour to humans, so they notice plants differently to us. It also helps them to see which ones they have visited for pollen.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, Cross-pollination between the Kew and Horniman volunteers, Sandra Bogdanova
    Cross-pollination between the Kew and Horniman volunteers, Sandra Bogdanova

Kew Gardens is over 320 acres. The Broad Walk and The Hive are the two latest areas to be developed with more than 27,000 flowering plants, most relevant to our group because of their relation to bees. We started our tour in the Melon Yard, and then continued to the Alpine Nursery and Scientific Research Nursery. When we came to the wildflower meadow that surrounds The Hive, we got to know that it is made up of 30 different species all of which support honeybees. The meadow is part of the installation too.

Ever since 1851 and The Great Exhibition there have been Expos planned around the world to share knowledge. In 2015, there was an Expo in Milan focused on the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for life. This spectacular 17m-tall sculpture formed the centerpiece of the multi-award-winning UK pavilion.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, The Hive was designed to look as though it could be a swarm of bees from afar, Sandra Bogdanova
    The Hive was designed to look as though it could be a swarm of bees from afar, Sandra Bogdanova

It all began when, in search of inspiration, the artist behind The Hive Wolfgang Buttress went to see Martin Bencsik at Nottingham Trent University, who undertakes research into how bees communicate. This planted a seed in Wolfgang’s mind for an installation that celebrated the bee, while immersing the visitor in a sensory experience.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, Horniman Volunteer Coordinator Kate Cooling listening to the vibrations of the Hive, Sandra Bogdanova
    Horniman Volunteer Coordinator Kate Cooling listening to the vibrations of the Hive, Sandra Bogdanova

Bee’s wings beat in a specific pattern (oscillation) which makes the note of C minor and this note is played in The Hive. The floor has hexagonal plates, which echo a real hive and and these vibrate too. There are lights on the walls of The Hive which are lit by the electricity generated from the vibrations.

  • Volunteer cross-pollination with The Hive, These hives at Kew give vibration to the Hive and can be felt on the base of the installation. For the Milan Expo in 2015, they had to run wires underneath the channel to transport the vibrations from the hives in England. The hives at Kew are only a few hundred meters away, so much easier, Sandra Bogdanova
    These hives at Kew give vibration to the Hive and can be felt on the base of the installation. For the Milan Expo in 2015, they had to run wires underneath the channel to transport the vibrations from the hives in England. The hives at Kew are only a few hundred meters away, so much easier, Sandra Bogdanova

The Hive will be at Kew until December 2017.

It goes without saying that it was creative and inspiring, yet unforgettable. As for myself, lately I got enrolled to a beekeeping course with Wimbledon Beekeeping Association and can not put down Steve Benbow‘s book The Urban Beekeeper. A Year of Bees in the City.  I invite you all to visit our Nature Base at the Horniman Museum and Gardens for a closer look at the world of bees.

Wildlife photography - your winner

You voted for your favourite photo from our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and we reveal the winner...

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was really popular this winter. 

When coming to see the exhibition, visitors were asked to pick which photo was their favourite and leave their comments on a card. 

It was a close call. All of the photographs received at least one vote from the public and there were only a few votes between the top winners. 

We can now exclusively reveal the top three most popular photographs as chosen by our visitors are...

*atmospheric pause*

In third place, the graceful 'Wild European Lynx' by Laurent Geslin.

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin
    'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

I was drawn to those big eyes and can just imagine him on his long prowls in the night. 

I really like the way the deep sky is captured in the background and how the photographer spent a long time to capture this. 

The contrast, the composition, the elusiveness of the subject. 

In second place, the characterful 'Lightness' by Matteo Lonati. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Lightness', Matteo Lonati
    'Lightness', Matteo Lonati

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It is simple and yet still beautiful.

I like the way the owl is standing to attention like a soldier.

A very arresting photo.

It looks like Hedwig. 

The winner of the public vote is the excellent 'Shadow Walker' by Richard Peters. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It has a beautiful atmosphere.

It reflects the nature in London.

It says so much about the life of the fox - not in shot, he is the hidden king of the urban jungle. 

Because it captures wildlife in an urban setting and reminds us of its presence and beauty. 

Congratulations Richard for winning the public vote as well as the overall competition. 

You can read more about wildlife photography in our interviews with the photographers from this exhibition on our blog

Wildlife photography - your views

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has been very popular this winter, with people of all ages coming to see the 84 extraordinary photographs on display. 

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to fill out a card where they voted for their favourite photo and gave a reason why. 

Next week we will be announcing who came first, second and third in our visitor vote, but until then, here are some of our favourite responses so far: 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

It is brutal, other worldly, ancient, timeless. Somehow both alien and godlike. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland
    'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland

The photographer has really captured the lioness's expression and the way the water is spraying is excellent.

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Wink', Ingo Arndt
    'Wink', Ingo Arndt

Extremely flirtatious and seductive, like a Spanish dancer or the seducing dance of tango. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali
    'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali

A magical look into a micro world

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev
    'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev

It tells a story in a really inventive way. Being upside down makes it magical, compelling, mysterious and majestic!

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit
    'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit

Sometimes the things on our doorstep can be the most interesting. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

It connects you somehow with a night story happening next to you that you don't know about. It's just outside. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri
    'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri

There are many amazing photos in this exhibition. This one is my favourite because it is a common animal in an amazing situation and it is the only animal with a mohican hairstyle. 

Read our series of interviews with the photogrpahers from this exhibition on our blog

Send us your own wildlife photography by tagging your photos #horniman on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

About the Art: Jan van der Greef

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Jan van der Greef about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Jan van der Greef, 'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef
    'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef

Tell us the story behind your photo 'Mystical Sunset' in this exhibition.

One evening, the sunset nearby our house in the middle of the Netherlands became suddenly very colourful and dynamic due to the sky being filled with clouds and heavy winds.

We drove our car towards a nearby river and while my wife was driving I made an artistic image by using long shutter speeds in order to capture the mystical feeling of that moment.

Photographing from a moving car with longer shutter speeds needs fine-tuning depending on the speed of the car, the movement of the camera, the objective 70-200mm zoom @192mm and the shutter speed (0.5s).

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

First of all, I typically need quite some time in an area to settle down to feel connected. This is a prerequisite for the artistic (impressionistic, abstract) style of photography.

Furthermore, given my physical challenge, the outcome of having polio at an early age, it is sometimes difficult to find solutions for transport to remote places.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I would like them to stop thinking and start feeling.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

As a child, I became interested in nature and since my mother was an amateur photographer, she 'infected' me with the photography-virus. It really started off when I got my first camera - a Konica C35 in my teenage years.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Study the animal's behaviour first. Observe and observe some more. Then decide how you would like to capture the essence of the animal or landscape. The focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide, forget about rules.

Focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide. Forget about rules.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition?

I am currently working on capturing the essence of wildlife in Africa, a multi-year project. I will also continue my hummingbird project in South America hopefully next year.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I love mystical scenes that give the opportunity for everybody to initiate their imagination.

See more of Jan's work on his website and see 'Mystical Sunset' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017. 

About the Art: Tom Way

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Tom Way about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Tom Way, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition

To photograph the largest lizard on the planet is a challenge in itself.

Not only is Komodo National Park difficult to access but getting close enough to the animals can be extremely dangerous. Komodo dragons weigh up to 150kg and have venom and carry fatal bacteria in their bite.

I wanted to try and take close-up portraits of the dragons, so we drifted silently in a small Zodiac boat towards two resting on the shoreline of Rinca Island. The only sound was that of the lapping waves against the beach and the buzz of cicada in the trees. Suddenly there was an explosive whip of the tale as the dragons reared themselves on their back legs clashing together. I wanted to frame the action as large as I could in the frame to show the detail of the skin and to highlight the sand blast against the dark background. There was something extremely prehistoric about this titanic battle as the claws grated against the scales. I felt like it was a snap shot back into a bygone age.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

I was in Komodo National Park for 3 days.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Canon EOS-1d X, 500mm, 1/3200 sec at f4; ISO 320

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

Typically when photographing large mammals, I am looking to portray the beauty, power and majesty of these wonderful animals.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been a professional wildlife photographer for five years. My passion began whilst travelling after university and wanting to document what I was seeing in the most aesthetic way possible. I decided that with both my passion for wildlife and travel a career as a wildlife photographer would be perfect. After leaving my job, I have spent the last five years building a business in this industry.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

I would advise that they would need to both spend time with the subject and learn the lay of the land. In this way, you can foresee where the light focuses at certain times of day and also where the subject is likely to be. By knowing your subject well, you are more likely to photograph unusual behaviour.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

Since the 2015 competition, I have been working mostly in East Africa photographing both Lions and Elephants. As a result, I was very pleased to have one of my images awarded in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I enjoy photographing in scenes of pure simplicity with no tension points. The open savannahs of East Africa appeal to me as I can separate my subject from the background with ease.

See more of Tom's work on his website and see 'Dragon Duel' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017. 

About the Art: Heike Odermatt

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Heike Odermatt about her work and her photograph, 'New Life'.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Patiently waiting for the walrus to do something in Svalbard, Heike Odermatt
    Patiently waiting for the walrus to do something in Svalbard, Heike Odermatt

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition.

One life has ended and another life arises. In July 2010, there was a big wildfire in the natural heathland – the ‘Strabrechtse Heide’ – in the Netherlands. It affected about 200 hectares of forest and heath, over 10% of the total area. It took several days to master the fire and over a week to put it out completely.

Two years later, I went there to look how the nature has recovered. In the severely affected area, new life was emerging including plants such as young heather, pine, Senecio and pionieer plants such as various types of grasses and fireweed.

I visited this area for several times. During my last visit, I found this place with beautiful grey dead heather and I went in search of a new life and some colour among it. In this photograph, you can see a young pine sheltered by the heath plants which died during the wildfire.

The idea of the photograph was to focus on life and death, old and new. An area destroyed by fire where life seemed extinguished but where new life arises.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, 'New Life', Heike Odermatt
    'New Life', Heike Odermatt

Did you use any particular equipment?

This picture was taken without a tripod because there was enough light to easily frame the image. I didn’t want to damage or change the shape of any part of the plant with the legs of the tripod.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

Too many humans and buildings.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I like that people get inspired from my images and so also in nature. I want to bring the beauty of nature closer to humans and make them more sensitive to it. I want people to fall in love with nature so they understand how much we need living things and need to be careful with them.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Northern Gannet on Helgoland (Germany) during the last light. With an exposure of 1/8 seconds I was able to depict the movement of this landing bird, Heike Odermatt
    Northern Gannet on Helgoland (Germany) during the last light. With an exposure of 1/8 seconds I was able to depict the movement of this landing bird, Heike Odermatt

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Sleeping King Penguin on the Falkland Islands. I played with the colour and sharpness to create a more abstract image from the colourful markings of the penguins, Heike Odermatt
    Sleeping King Penguin on the Falkland Islands. I played with the colour and sharpness to create a more abstract image from the colourful markings of the penguins, Heike Odermatt

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, I love it when autumn and winter touch each other, like here in a moor in the Vosges., Heike Odermatt
    I love it when autumn and winter touch each other, like here in a moor in the Vosges., Heike Odermatt

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

As a child I was fond of pictures, especially pictures of animals and nature. I dreamed of being the person behind the camera, creating those beautiful pictures of wild animals and stunning landscapes.
I had never dared to dream that this would become a reality.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, I shot this image of the Gullfoss waterfall during my first visit to Iceland in the winter in 2004. It was a rainy day and all was green. It looks like a fairy tail., Heike Odermatt
    I shot this image of the Gullfoss waterfall during my first visit to Iceland in the winter in 2004. It was a rainy day and all was green. It looks like a fairy tail., Heike Odermatt

It was years later that I had the opportunity to emerge myself into photography. In 2002, I started to work in nature photography. I was photographing in my holidays – trips that I took purely for nature photography. In my daily life I barely had a chance to go out. Lately though, a lot has changed in my life and I hope that nature photography will be a major part of my life in the future.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, The slope of a mountain with snow and the interplay of light and shadow creates an abstract image. I found this detail during my trip to Svalbard., Heike Odermatt
    The slope of a mountain with snow and the interplay of light and shadow creates an abstract image. I found this detail during my trip to Svalbard., Heike Odermatt

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Photograph with an open mind and be passionate. Dare to experiment. Use your heart and your eye to create your images. It is up to us to deal with nature in a fair and responsible manner.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Photoshoot with curious wild Konik horses in the Netherlands. This picture shows my two passions: horses and Nature Photography., Heike Odermatt
    Photoshoot with curious wild Konik horses in the Netherlands. This picture shows my two passions: horses and Nature Photography., Heike Odermatt

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

My favourite scenes are the rough landscapes of the North. Mountains, snow and ice and the animals of these environments. For my next project, I will go to the arctic regions again.

See more of Heike's work on her website and see her photograph, 'New Life', on display at the Horniman until 15 January. 

Send us photos of your local wildlife on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #horniman

About the Art: Marijn Heuts

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. We spoke to photographer Marijn Heuts about his photograph, Intimacy through the keyhole, as well as his approach to wildlife photography.

Tell us the story behind your photo Intimacy through the Keyhole...

It was a cold, foggy morning during the rutting season for red deer (Cervus elaphus). Before dawn, the site was completely covered by fog and darkness. Only the stag’s rutting calls gave away their presence.

When dawn broke and the first rays of the sun penetrated the fog, most of the animals were already retreating into the woods. But one pair of lovers stayed for another moment. I positioned myself behind an oak tree and focused through a gap in the canopy to gain an intimate insight into their turbulent love life.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Heuts' photograph Intimacy through the keyhole, which is featured in the exhibition, Marijn Heuts
    Heuts' photograph Intimacy through the keyhole, which is featured in the exhibition, Marijn Heuts

How did you go about getting that shot and how long did you have to wait for it?

The most difficult part was finding a gap in the canopy that gave a clear enough view of the deer. That required careful, small movement of my gear and me. Therefore, use of a tripod was impossible. Since I was using a heavy 500mm lens, I had to increase the ISO to get a shutter speed that still enabled me to get sharp results.

When I saw it happen, I could execute the plan I had had in my mind for quite some time. It took several days of visiting the site over three years before the deer took a position that made shooting through the canopy possible.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Nothing except my camera and long lens. No tripod as mentioned.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

In the Netherlands, most animals are very wary so getting close is usually the difficult part. Not in this case, as the deer are used to people and get relatively close. The difficulty was trying for a photograph that had not been taken before. Not easy, with the enormous number of wildlife photography enthusiasts visiting the deer during the rutting season and the thousands of images made every day of these enigmatic animals.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Little Fox, Marijn Heuts
    Little Fox, Marijn Heuts

Although I mainly focus on landscapes and abstract images, I find it very hard to resist a good old game of waiting every now and then. I can spend hours on end in a hide or under a camouflage cloth to wait for birds or mammals to show themselves.

Kingfishers, badgers and foxes are animals I go after just about every year. No matter how many images of them I have already ‘bagged’. There’s always a better image waiting to be made. And also, just sitting in a quiet spot, watching animals go about their thing without being disturbed, is something I really enjoy. It’s almost like meditation.

Where do you go to look for shots?

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Heather landscape, Marijn Heuts
    Heather landscape, Marijn Heuts

I spend most of my photography time (very) close to home. It enables me to go back time and time again, get to learn the landscape and its inhabitants and research the best vantage points for landscape photography. When the weather is right, I can go to the right spot immediately and don’t waste a perfectly good sunrise searching for a composition that will probably never materialise. Also, images from your own backyard can really aid in showing other people in your area how beautiful and diverse our direct surroundings can be. You don’t need to go far to find interesting things.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Autumn intimate landscape, Marijn Heuts
    Autumn intimate landscape, Marijn Heuts

When the skies are full of puffy pink clouds, I will go for the drama of the larger landscape. After all, it would be a crime not to include a perfect sky in your images. But when the weather is more adverse, or the sky is just plain boring, I will mount a longer lens and start looking for more intimate landscapes. Small, hidden corners in the forest that I normally pass, on my way to something more dramatic, now become the subjects of choice.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Ice abstract, Marijn Heuts
    Ice abstract, Marijn Heuts

It’s not all about landscapes. I really enjoy trying to find abstracts, patterns and shapes in common subjects. Subjects that don’t scream ‘photograph me’ right away. This kind of abstract images can be found just about everywhere, as long as you move slowly and with an open mind. It pays to look down every now and then, because sometimes images are literally there right at your feet.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

My main goal would be to create a longing to put on the hiking boots and go explore nature yourself. But also, I would like people to look longer than just a first glance and make up their own story to go with the photograph. I don’t want my images to be so obvious that they tell the whole story at first glance. Let people dream, fantasise, imagine. And then go for a walk. On a larger scale, it would be nice when exhibitions like this one create awareness among people about the natural world and the need to preserve what we have. One person at a time, every single one counts.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been a nature photographer for about 12 years now. When I started out, I mainly focused on birds and wanted to fill the frame with as many feathers as I could. Nowadays, I hardly photograph birds and am more a landscape, abstract and detail photographer. I guess one does not only grow as a person but also as a photographer!

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Lion portrait, Marijn Heuts
    Lion portrait, Marijn Heuts

About 90% of my work is made within a 20km radius from my home. That said, over the years I have developed a strong love for the African continent, and especially its wildlife. I try to get the dust of Africa on my feet as often as I can. There’s nothing that gets my heart beat faster than the sound, smell and feel of the African bush. Think campfire, braai and roaring lions and laughing hyena’s at night.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Wildebeest crossing, Marijn Heuts
    Wildebeest crossing, Marijn Heuts

Africa is not only about the enigmatic big cats: lion, leopard and cheetah. The common plain game such as zebra, giraffe, antelope and wildebeest are wonderful subjects in their own right. Especially when lit by the rising or setting sun, hidden by dust clouds or soaked in a heavy downpour. Or when their numbers are larger then one can comprehend such as during a frantic river crossing in the Maasai Mara.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Stay true to yourself. It is all too easy to be taken away by the heat of the moment, the work of others on Facebook and the next hot subject. Go out when you want to, stay home when you just don’t feel like photographing. Go after the subjects you like, enjoy discovering a new area and be open to the opportunities it has to offer. Enjoy adverse weather, try new things, dismiss preconceived ideas and find beauty in nondescript, small things in nature. Don’t be driven by the ever-worsening rush for likes and approval by others. After all, it’s a hobby, isn’t it? Before being marked a mister-know-it-all, I should mention the above mainly comes from experience! Been there, done that.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

I am not really a photographer that works on long-term projects. I go with the seasons and photograph whatever comes my way. That said, I just finished a multi-year project on a local nature reserve. That started out as a small collection of images 10 years ago and grew into a ‘thing’ I had to finish over the years. I am also working on documenting a long list of nature reserves for a handbook for the conservation organisation that owns them.

I am more and more spending time on my writing. I love to write about nature photography and contribute to books, magazines and websites. Finally, I am offering photo tours to (currently) Norway, South Africa and Kenya and just returned from an amazing two weeks in the Maasai Mara.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I consider myself an allround nature photographer and like landscapes, abstracts, macro, birds and mammals. Possibilities of the season and moment dictate my subject, but also so does my mind. Abstract photography and intimate landscapes are only possible when my mind is clear and calm enough to be open to that kind of subject. Sometimes that just does not work and then I resort to more obvious subjects like landscapes and animals.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Marijn in the heather, Marijn Heuts
    Marijn in the heather, Marijn Heuts

You can see Marijn's photograph in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017 and you can follow Marijn on Twitter @MarijnHeuts.

About the Art: Dirk Funhoff

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. To celebrate, we talk to photographer Dirk Funhoff about how he captured the birth of a grey seal. 

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, My typical setup for Heligoland. In fact, camouflage is not needed there, but the protection against sand is important for the camera/lens and I need some tough clothing to allow crawling over wet sand
, Petra Funhoff
    My typical setup for Heligoland. In fact, camouflage is not needed there, but the protection against sand is important for the camera/lens and I need some tough clothing to allow crawling over wet sand , Petra Funhoff

Tell us the animals in your photograph, 'First view on earth'.

It was winter on Dune, a small island in the North Sea. Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) give birth on Dune during November – January. The number of pups born on Dune has increased dramatically from around six in 2001/2002 to 316 during last winter.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, 'First view on Earth', Dirk Funhoff
    'First view on Earth', Dirk Funhoff

Despite the increased frequency of births, to actually observe one during daytime is very rare. Emotions are very high and the experience is beyond words. The pup shown in this photograph is still in its amniotic sac but has opened its eyes already. The first shapes it sees belong to good-willing humans – nature observers and nature photographers – all people who are well-disposed towards it and grey seals overall.

The coexistence of humans and grey seals works very well on the Dune. Tolerance and respect towards the 'largest German predator' is key. Hopefully, it will stay like this in the future.

How did you go about getting that shot?

Dune is an island just close to Heligoland, where one cannot stay overnight during winter. Therefore you need to catch the first ferry at 8am (before sunrise) and you don't want to miss the last ferry at 4pm (before sunset). During the day I normally roam the beaches of the small island taking into account restrictions based upon tide, weather and grey seal occurrence and location (you are asked to maintain a 30m distance although not all seals obey the rule).

In order to photograph a birth you need to be there at the right time – a trivial request, but not easily fulfilled. Firstly, you need to identify a pregnant cow ready to deliver. Once the female decides on a nice birth-place, it will take two - three days until she gives birth.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, The highly pregnant female at 11am. We hope we can make it, the ferry leaves at 4pm and we need to walk about 20 min from here to catch it, Dirk Funhoff
    The highly pregnant female at 11am. We hope we can make it, the ferry leaves at 4pm and we need to walk about 20 min from here to catch it, Dirk Funhoff

You need to observe those closely and decide where to spend your time waiting. Even with my experience of a couple of winters it is not a sure guess.

Secondly, you need to see whether you can approach without disturbing her. There are large differences in the tolerances of the pregnant females to accept neighbours – not only for humans but towards other grey seals as well. Usually, you want to avoid placing yourself between the cow and the water. In any case I use a long lens to minimise impact, as a longer distance means it is not as disturbing to the seal if I change position.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, The pup is coming. Here, the amniotic sac is still intact. Time is about 2.55pm - looking good timewise, Dirk Funhoff
    The pup is coming. Here, the amniotic sac is still intact. Time is about 2.55pm - looking good timewise, Dirk Funhoff

In this particular case, we observed the mother-to-be already on the second day. At 11am we thought it was going to happen soon, but it actually took place at 3pm. This particular mother was very tolerant towards us, she even moved during the whole process to get closer to our small group of observers.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, After birth, it is very important that mother and pup contact each other to learn about the specific smell. They will recognise each other based on the scent. Up to now, there are no large groups of seals with pups around, so normally mother and pup stay close together. After some days some mothers leave their pups in order to catch some fish or simply cool down in the North Sea, Dirk Funhoff
    After birth, it is very important that mother and pup contact each other to learn about the specific smell. They will recognise each other based on the scent. Up to now, there are no large groups of seals with pups around, so normally mother and pup stay close together. After some days some mothers leave their pups in order to catch some fish or simply cool down in the North Sea, Dirk Funhoff

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, After all this labour the mother takes a nap and the baby recognises the observers. Well, not really, this is a picture of the baby turning over on the gravel, Dirk Funhoff
    After all this labour the mother takes a nap and the baby recognises the observers. Well, not really, this is a picture of the baby turning over on the gravel, Dirk Funhoff

Did you use any particular equipment?

Long lens: Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 at 800mm on a Nikon D700 (full-frame), tripod

I strongly recommend using long lenses even if one could come closer to get the picture, it simply minimises the impact on the subject.

Although wide-angle images certainly appeal to many, I would only tackle those remotely controlled for the grey seals.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I would like them to think it is a great image (one that is aesthetically pleasing and creates interest). I would like them to ask ‘what does it show?’ and to try and understand what it is about. It would be great to create a connection with their own knowledge and experience and get people thinking about what they can do to preserve the nature shown in the image.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I am taking nature photography 'seriously' since 2004 when I made my first visit to Lunga (Treshnish Isles, Scotland) together with the first use of a digital SLR. Nowadays I call myself a part-time nature photographer.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Get a camera you like to operate, get into contact with local nature conservation organisations to learn about locations and wildlife opportunities to be seen where and when and start by ‘recording’ nature to get a feel for it and becoming more able to decide where to concentrate upon.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, Area close to the birth location - one year before. A little bit of snow shows nicely in the evening sun, Dirk Funhoff
    Area close to the birth location - one year before. A little bit of snow shows nicely in the evening sun, Dirk Funhoff

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I like to observe and photograph animals without the need to hide but there are only a few places in Germany or Europe where you can do this. Heligoland is certainly one of them.

Additionally, the whole macro world is open for this as well. Overall, I am very flexible, trying to take advantage of the place and circumstances. Time-wise, I cannot react on short notice so I need to use the opportunities which arise or are given once I am out photographing.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, Morning view over sea, beach and seals, Dirk Funhoff
    Morning view over sea, beach and seals, Dirk Funhoff

What projects are you working on now?

My main project currently is Hallo Nachbar – Meet Your Neighbours in Rheinland-Pfalz. It is part of the global Meet-Your-Neighbours project started by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. Currently, I am focussing on the region Rhineland-Palatinate but will extend it to the south-west of Germany. I created an exhibition together with two nature conservation NGOs. This exhibition will tour for about five years through our region.

You can see Dirk's photograph on display in our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017. Find out more about Dirks's work on his website.

About the Art: Jon Langeland

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. To celebrate, we talk to photographer Jon Langeland about his wonderful picture, ‘Lion love in the rain’.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, Lion love in the rain, Jon Langeland
    Lion love in the rain, Jon Langeland

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition.

My picture in the exhibition ‘Lion Love in Rain’ was taken in 2011, in Masai Mara during a sudden rain storm. The lions are from the famous Marsh Pride and the male is one of the Notch sons. This photo was taken during the lions’ ‘love week’ when they are mating several times an hour for several days without hunting or eating.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, The winning picture, 'Lion love in the rain' (top, left) was taken with Nikon d3S, Nikkor 500 mm with converter 1,4 and F 5,6, 1/80s from a safari car. The support for the lens/camera was the shoulder of friend and photo tour leader, Ole Jorgen Liodden. The other lion pictures in the series were taken under the same circumstances and with same settings, Jon Langeland
    The winning picture, 'Lion love in the rain' (top, left) was taken with Nikon d3S, Nikkor 500 mm with converter 1,4 and F 5,6, 1/80s from a safari car. The support for the lens/camera was the shoulder of friend and photo tour leader, Ole Jorgen Liodden. The other lion pictures in the series were taken under the same circumstances and with same settings, Jon Langeland

How did you go about getting that shot?

We were several Norwegian photographers in the safari 4 wheel drive at a distance of 40 - 50m from the lions. It was raining so heavy when I took the picture that I considered stopping but suddenly I realised that a long exposure time and the heavy rain could give special effects to create some unique pictures.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

As a wildlife photographer, you always wait or hope to get into special situations that result in unusual opportunities. This was one of them. The only problem was that we were ten photographers in three cars taking the ‘same’ picture. But I have seen very few of the pictures from the others and nothing like this.

What would you like people to think about when they see your photograph?

To ‘see’ the beauty of the animals, their surroundings and their interesting behaviour.

To understand that this is something extremely precious and beautiful that we need to take care of.                    

How did you get started with wildlife photography?

I started photographing when I was 12. Then I spent a lot of time on school, education, sailing and becoming a dermatologist. I photographed all through these years but all sorts of subjects and without passion.

In 2007 at an age of 56, I started more actively to travel and photograph. I got a few nice shots that gave me a lot of feedback. I started to show my pictures on Instagram and was very much inspired.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, A portrait from South Georgia, Jon Langeland
    A portrait from South Georgia, Jon Langeland

I still work full time as a dermatologist, but in the last few years, I have spent 50-70 days on travelling to photograph wild animals in their surroundings in Africa, Spitsbergen, St Georgia, India, Galapagos, British Columbia, Patagonia and Borneo.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, A bear mother with three spring cubs on its back, taken in Geographica Bay in Katmai Alaska, June 2014, Jon Langeland
    A bear mother with three spring cubs on its back, taken in Geographica Bay in Katmai Alaska, June 2014, Jon Langeland

Recently, I have been travelling less in groups and more by myself to try to figure out some of my own projects, combining a little more with landscapes and working with shorter lenses.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, This Waved Albatross couple is from Espanola in the Galapagos, the only place in the world where this bird is nesting. Taken in April 2014, Jon Langeland
    This Waved Albatross couple is from Espanola in the Galapagos, the only place in the world where this bird is nesting. Taken in April 2014, Jon Langeland

South Georgia was a fantastic place and gave more variations to my photographs.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, King Penguins along the river in St. Andrews Bay, St Georgia, Jon Langeland
    King Penguins along the river in St. Andrews Bay, St Georgia, Jon Langeland

I am working with a couple of different projects, something more with sea mammals and I would also like to go to places where most other people do not go to photograph.   

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

It is difficult to choose, but the cold places with snow and ice around the animals give beautiful settings.

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, Jumping Polar Bear, from Spitsbergen 2015, Jon Langeland
    Jumping Polar Bear, from Spitsbergen 2015, Jon Langeland

Most of the time I am out I just think the most amazing place is where I am just then. 

  • About the Art: Jon Langeland, This Blue Landscape was taken in Iceland at Jokulsoron in the summer of 2014, Jon Langeland
    This Blue Landscape was taken in Iceland at Jokulsoron in the summer of 2014, Jon Langeland

You can see Jon's photograph on display in our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017. Find out more about Jon's work on his Facebook page.

Nares Hornimani

Artist in residence Joshua Sofaer describes some of the work he has been doing at the Horniman.

‘For the last quarter of 2016, I have been lucky enough to be artist in residence at the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

I have been exploring the Horniman collections as inspiration to create a series of false noses. There are many places to look.

The most obvious is perhaps the Anthropology collection: dance, devil, carnival, and ‘ugly’ masks. Equally, I could turn to the Natural History collection: the spoonbill’s beak, the paleomastodon’s nascent trunk, the nine-banded armadillo’s curled protective shell. Less obvious, but no less inspirational, is the collection of instruments: an orchestral horn false nose, a concertina false nose, of course the nose flute already exists.

I collect false noses. I have hundreds of them. Most are human noses, but I also have witches noses, clown noses, animal noses, and other oddities. I even have a plug nose and a socket nose.

In 2013, I showed a series of 452 self-portraits wearing my false noses at the Wellcome Collection in London.

The thing about this collection is that there is a rapidly decreasing pool of noses to collect. As cosplay becomes more popular and affordable, people are dressing-up more ‘authentically’. The false nose, alas, has probably seen its day.

In an effort to try and add to my own collection, I have started making false noses myself. I have made painted noses, papier maché noses, brass noses, clay noses, cardboard noses, crochet noses, and gold noses. I have recently started a digital Nose Museum on Instagram.

Bang slap in the middle of our faces, the nose is often overlooked. There are odes to beautiful eyes, sonnets on the perfect shape of lips, hair practically has a strand of literature to itself. The nose, however, is often cut off. The nose has a rich narrative potential for the absurd, the comic, the mysterious and at the same time, the entirely knowable. We all have a nose after all. As Dr Seuss reminds us, ‘They grow on every kind of head’.

My personal opinion is that all people can be divided into two categories, those who collect, and those who do not. As a collector myself I am interested in people who collect. Frederick John Horniman (1835-1906) was a collector in the Victorian tradition and on an epic scale. It is, of course, his collection that forms the bedrock of the Horniman collection.

In what used to be the main reception of the Museum, but is now the staff and goods entrance, perched on a pedestal, is a bronze bust of Horniman.

  • Nares Hornimani, The bust of Frederick Horniman, Joshua Sofaer
    The bust of Frederick Horniman, Joshua Sofaer

Nobody seems to know much about it. My hunch is that it was created at the same time as the building, which opened to the public in 1901. It fits too perfectly into its nook to be a later addition. One option is that it is the work of sculptor Frederick William Pomeroy (1856-1924). Pomeroy made a bronze bust of Horniman’s daughter-in-law in 1898, and also a memorial tablet for the Museum. I’m still in pursuit of some solid evidence that confirms or contradicts this theory. (If you know something, get in touch!)

  • Nares Hornimani, A close up of Horniman's nose, Joshua Sofaer
    A close up of Horniman's nose, Joshua Sofaer

In tribute to the man that endowed this fantastic Museum, I want to create a Horniman false nose. And what could be a more fitting material for a tribute, than gold?

After discussing my plans with the conservation team, writing method statements, and making patch tests, I was given the go ahead to make a cast of the nose and moustache area of the bronze bust.

  • Nares Hornimani, Ready for your trim sir?, Joshua Sofaer
    Ready for your trim sir?, Joshua Sofaer

Despite having used the alginate and plaster bandage technique literally hundreds of times to successfully cast faces (most recently on the life mask of another Victorian and Edwardian collector, Henry Wellcome) the process failed. Perhaps I had been over cautious about what materials to use, not wanting to affect the patina of the bronze, but still, I thought it would work. The alginate can sometimes ‘go off’ but the batch seemed fine to me. Anyway, for whatever reason, possibly the cold temperature of the bronze, it wouldn’t release without tearing.

  • Nares Hornimani, A first attempt, Joshua Sofaer
    A first attempt, Joshua Sofaer

I don’t mind admitting that I was pretty embarrassed. After all the efforts to secure the permission and cordon off the area, I felt a bit incompetent. Luckily for me Lindsey Bruce, Exhibitions Officer, and my main point of contact at the Museum, was unperturbed. “We will make it happen,” was her refrain.

It was back to the 4D model shop in Whitechapel to see what other casting agents I could safely use. Armed with a pack of Gedeo Siligum, a silicone based moulding paste, I returned to the Museum to run a test on a bronze scrap. It seemed fine, and Julia Gresson from the conservation team, gave me the go ahead for a second attempt.

Poor Frederick looks a bit miserable having his nose cast.

  • Nares Hornimani, Horniman having his nose cast, Joshua Sofaer
    Horniman having his nose cast, Joshua Sofaer

This time, success! A very good cast that also picked up some dirt, which must have gathered up his nose over the years. Once the cast was off, Julia gave him a good clean.

  • Nares Hornimani, A good cast, Joshua Sofaer
    A good cast, Joshua Sofaer

Taking the mould back to my studio, the next step is to make a wax template. Yes, I know this looks like a school project gone wrong, and yes, that yellow stuff really is Play-Doh. Play-Doh is a great way to build up the sides of a wax mould. It’s cheap, washes off easily, and can form a tight seal.

  • Nares Hornimani, Play-Doh, Joshua Sofaer
    Play-Doh, Joshua Sofaer

After a couple of hours leaving the wax to cool and harden, I stripped back the Play-Doh, and removed the mould. The Horniman nose and moustache wax template stands proudly before me.

  • Nares Hornimani, Horniman's nose template, Joshua Sofaer
    Horniman's nose template, Joshua Sofaer

Now that I had at least one good wax copy, I made a plastic polymer version from the same mould as an insurance.

  • Nares Hornimani, Plastic polymer versions of the nose, Joshua Sofaer
    Plastic polymer versions of the nose, Joshua Sofaer

The next step was to take the template to a metal workshop to have it copper electroformed. Electroforming is a process that builds up a metal surface through electrodeposition. Because wax is not conductive, the area to be electroformed has to be treated chemically with a conductive layer, something like a metal paint. The technical term for the template is ‘mandrel’. The mandrel is then put into an electrolytic bath with a copper solution in it and the copper crystals slowly form around the conductive pattern.

  • Nares Hornimani, The electrolytic bath, Joshua Sofaer
    The electrolytic bath, Joshua Sofaer

A couple of days later I returned to the metal workshop to collect the mandrel. The wax is now covered with a beautiful layer of copper.

  • Nares Hornimani, The copper nose, Joshua Sofaer
    The copper nose, Joshua Sofaer

To get rid of the wax, I simply popped the thing into the oven (130 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes) and let the wax melt out through a wire grid into an aluminium take-away carton.

  • Nares Hornimani, Melting the wax, Joshua Sofaer
    Melting the wax, Joshua Sofaer

Back in the studio, I cut out the shape I wanted, following the natural line of the moustache, punched out the nostrils, and drilled some holes for the thread ties.

  • Nares Hornimani, Cutting out the final shape, Joshua Sofaer
    Cutting out the final shape, Joshua Sofaer

This is the final shape.

  • Nares Hornimani, The final copper nose, Joshua Sofaer
    The final copper nose, Joshua Sofaer

Then it’s back to the metal workshop for the golden jacket. The copper nose-moustache-combo has to be polished and thoroughly cleaned. The first bath is just washing-up liquid and water; the second running water; the third acid, in which you can see the dirt fizz away!

  • Nares Hornimani, The washing-up liquid and water bath, Joshua Sofaer
    The washing-up liquid and water bath, Joshua Sofaer

  • Nares Hornimani, The acid bath, Joshua Sofaer
    The acid bath, Joshua Sofaer

Then Mr Horniman’s nose is plunged into a bath of gold. In fact, it is just gold dust in a solution, and the process of gold plating is similar to that of electroforming, only much quicker. I tried to distract the technician, asking questions for as long as possible, so that an extra thick layer of gold would make its way onto the surface (only joking). In reality, it’s only a few microns deep. If you rough handle gold plate, you will see what’s underneath.

  • Nares Hornimani, Coating the nose, Joshua Sofaer
    Coating the nose, Joshua Sofaer

And there we have it. One gold Horniman nose and moustache.

  • Nares Hornimani, Gold Horniman nose, Joshua Sofaer
    Gold Horniman nose, Joshua Sofaer

However, I’m not sure it’s quite finished yet. I want to give this nose some kind of totem. One that makes it an object worthy of the taxonomic principles that form Horniman’s collection and which that collection helped to create.

There are several species to which Horniman lent his name. This happened when entomologists were invited to survey Horniman’s collections. Although Horniman did go on big world travels later in his life and brought crate loads of stuff back to the UK, most of his early collections were purchased through intermediaries. Someone goes off to Africa and collects a bunch of specimens, brings them back to London, and Horniman buys them at auction, for example. He would then welcome experts to look at what he had amassed. Specimens include a moth, Eusemia hornimani, (now Heraclia hornimani), a true bug, Tesserotoma hornimani, and the ‘Horniman beetle’, Ceratorhina hornimani (now Cyprolais hornimani), from Cameroon, described by naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates in 1877.

  • Nares Hornimani, Species to which Horniman gave his name, Joshua Sofaer
    Species to which Horniman gave his name, Joshua Sofaer

Perhaps the most beautiful species named after Horniman is the ‘Horniman Swallowtail’, Papilio hornimani, known only from the northern forests of Tanzania and the southern hills of Kenya. As Jo Hatton, Keeper of Natural explained to me, it was identified by Victorian entomologist W L Distant in 1879, when he was looking through Horniman’s vast collection of butterflies.

  • Nares Hornimani, This is the original specimen that Distant 'discovered', Joshua Sofaer
    This is the original specimen that Distant 'discovered', Joshua Sofaer

As an aside, if you’ve ever wondered how all those Victorian insects were pinned at just the right height, Jo showed me the entomologist’s ‘Pinning Stage’, a metal block that is used to set the specimens and their labels at a consistent height on the mounting pin. You pin the specimen, pick which height you want, and push the pin into the stage. By using the same hole each time, the specimens will always be at the same height.

  • Nares Hornimani, Pinning stage, Joshua Sofaer
    Pinning stage, Joshua Sofaer

Here is the defining Papilio hornimani on its original pin, with two labels beneath the butterfly.

  • Nares Hornimani, Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer
    Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer

It is almost always the open wings of the butterfly that we see pinned up, because they are traditionally seen as the most pretty, the reverse side, which is, I suppose, more commonly seen in nature as the butterfly sits on vegetation, have their own muted beauty. The Papilio hornimani is made up of soft dusty browns, greys and creams.

  • Nares Hornimani, Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer
    Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer

As you might expect, over the years, the Horniman Museum has acquired many examples of its lepidopterous namesake.

  • Nares Hornimani, Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer
    Papilio hornimani, Joshua Sofaer

Where does all this fit into Horniman’s gold nose? Well, I’m thinking of giving him a Swallowtail nose ring, in the spirit of anthropology. I have drawn out the shape and will soon laser cut a piece of 0.5mm steel, which I will then have plated in gold, to match the nose.

  • Nares Hornimani, Drawing of a Swallowtail, Joshua Sofaer
    Drawing of a Swallowtail, Joshua Sofaer

Horniman fell in love with Japan (as in fact, have I) and so I have ordered a length of ‘kiki himo’ (literally 'gathered threads'), 100% silk braid made by craftsmen in Uji, Kyoto, which is being sent over from Japan, as the string to tie on the nose.

Soon I will be able to reveal Nares hornimani. Watch this space.’

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