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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fantastic FNQ photo Friday


When people think of Cairns and far north Queensland they often think of tropical rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef.

But just to the north of Cairns is a huge, practically empty peninsula of land the size of a small European country. It's called Cape York and is one of this country's last untouched wildernesses.

And one of the most amazing things you can do up on Cape York is to help wild turtles survive threats from wild dogs, pigs and man-made rubbish.

This was taken on a trip up to the Cape York Turtle Rescue camp at Mapoon. You go out at night to find laying mothers and watch them as they deposit their eggs in the sand. Then as they make their way silently back down to the water you cover the nest with large plastic devices designed to keep pigs and dogs from digging the eggs up.

Because a lot of the activity happens in the middle of the night you would think photography would be quite difficult but it's actually not so. I took a tripod along with me just to stop too much shake but this image was taken with natural light. No flash whatsoever, as you can tell because the people standing up are silhouetted against the sky.

I'm shooting at ISO400 and had a shutter speed of 4 seconds. To be sure there's a bit of movement - particularly of the turtle flippers. But I think it's a picture that gives a real sense of what it's like to be out on a clear night, surrounded by inky blackness, and in a small group of people helping native wildlife.

You don't always need to reach for the flash when photographing at night - even in the middle of nowhere. Have a bit of an experiment with the tripod and slower shutter speeds. With modern digital SLRs as good as they are you can safely boost your ISO a lot higher than I did and get a faster shutter speed. Just remember that if you have your camera in Automatic mode it might pop up your flash automatically so you'll need to be in Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual. Either that or push your flash back down again.

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