The eyes of a Wolf always see straight into your soul ...

...You can't hide the truth from them


Please visit the main site - www.wolf-photography.com


Saturday, 27 July 2013

Living with PTSD - Exhibition update ...

It's getting closer to the start of the first showing of 'Living with PTSD' and I'm working hard on networking and publicity.

From my perspective, the main objective is to raise awareness of how PTSD can leave you feeling by using some of my poetry and to show how photography allows me to leave my home and find solace, mainly in the natural world.  Creativity allows me to cope with living with my disability.

There are also a series of workshops and presentations available as part of this exhibition - which are free.  So if you're an art group, community centre, a veteran group or company that wants to make your staff more aware of PTSD, please book a session via the website.  This could be particularly useful for customer service operatives ... remember that PTSD affects not only veterans but people that have been involved in Road Traffic Accidents, victims of violent crime, sexual abuse, survivors of natural disasters etc.  The common thread being that your life was in danger and that you were not in control of the situation.

I started promoting creativity as a way of coping with disability a few years ago but I didn't want those people to suffer any further hardship by having their art/creative works abused. Many creatives in society aren't aware of their rights when it comes to the issue of Intellectual Property.  As creatives we have to start leaving tags on our photographs, images of art works, music, poems, books etc that clearly identify us as the owners of the rights pertaining to those works.  There's some basic advice on how to protect you Intellectual Property on the Internet here.  One of my workshops goes into a little more detail about protecting your web content from abuse.

The final wing of the project is to help teach creatives how to make themselves visible on the Internet by sharing tips on SEO techniques.  This is an area that is ever changing, so the relevant web pages are updated when possible.

Now I need your help to raise awareness of this work and of my project in general.  Please remember that this is a Not-For-Profit project and that I don't have access to the corporate publicity machine.  This makes it harder to raise awareness of the project ... so I have to rely on you - the people that read my blog, my website, that read my books or have purchased my prints ... and my friends and family.

So please share this article with your friends, colleagues, families and work colleagues and ask them to click the 'like' button or equivalent on the following pages and keep up to date with developments on the run up to the exhibition?

Facebook User
Twitter Users
Google+ Users
Pinterest Users
Blogger Users

Here's a small video about the 'Poetry of a Veteran Trilogy'.  Please feel free to share it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope I can count on your help and support.


Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wildlife photography ... some basic considerations

What do you think about before doing any wildlife photography

Know your subject
Most of us can't speak the same language as animals.  To most humans, animals are a less able species than humans that don't have 'superior human intelligence'.  Try explaining that to a cougar that's stalking you or a wolf pack out hunting an elk to feed their cubs.

Just because we don't understand their language, it doesn't mean animals are dumb.  If you go back far enough and study human development - we learned a lot from animals in the early years.  If you go out into the wild for the purposes of photography with an attitude of arrogance, you may not return from the trip - depending on the species that you're trying to photograph and the terrain that you're in.  You must have a healthy respect for the natural world in order to become a good wildlife photographer.  A compatible attitude and energy are crucial.

You have to know the subject's terrain and how to walk upon it.  You have to recognise scents (always get the locals to help you with this if you're going after something dangerous away from home). 

Find out if they have any trails going through where you are, what they like to hunt and eat and where they like to rest.  Remember that the diet may vary with the seasons (Eg grizzly bears go after salmon in Autumn when the fish go back to their spawning territories (where available) but at other times they'll snuffle berries, kill other animals - including unwitting humans - and graze on carcasses).

Grizzly Bear eating Salmon at Hyder Alaska

Look for watering holes.  Examine the tracks and see what's around ... and always be conscious of the wind direction and your scent.

Different animals may behave differently to different issues - Eg eye contact, posture, movement.  If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, NEVER turn your back on the predator and run.  Walk backwards, slowly and keep the predator in your line of sight.  A monopod can double up as a defensive weapon that has some range to it.  Do not panic.

Certain scents carry further than others (Eg soap, aftershave, perfume, deodorants etc) - don't use them if you want to see your subject in the wild.  Other scents may spark off a reaction (Eg a woman on or near her period smells similar to a doe on heat - this can bring her to the attention of stags with dangerous antlers or perhaps to animals that eat deer).

If you're taking food supplies with you, don't leave anything open in the wilderness, especially overnight (eg anything that's has had meat wrapped in it must be sealed up into a plastic bag and be properly disposed of in a bin.  Do not leave any opened foods or meat wrappers in your car as some species will try to gain access to the vehicle because of the scent.  Make sure that you're using air-tight containers for all foods.  This video shows you what can happen to a car that has food left in it.  This may have been a female grizzly bear taking food to cubs or just a savvy bear knowing that cars can be a good source of provisions; either way, the bear was making off with food, stashing it and coming back.  The people around the car could have been at risk if the bear had a different temperament and if the actions of the humans had triggered a defensive/violent response.  If you head off towards colder climates in search of polar bears, you can't afford mistakes like this.

Remember that you're leaving a scent trail every time you urinate, so keep monitoring your back-trail.  You don't want something creeping up behind you.

Observation Posts (OPs)
Some areas in the different countries have OPs built in for various species that afford the photographer a unique opportunity to photograph certain species while they hunt, nest or feed their young.  There are numerous osprey projects in the Scottish Highlands.  Between Hyder Alaska and Stewart BC (Canada) there is a platform that allows you to photograph black bears and grizzly bears hunting salmon as they spawn.  Just 'Google' the location and the species and see what you can find.

Osprey hovering before the dive - Highlands, Scotland

Camouflaged Clothing
Pros and cons.  Pros - if you can find a good, sheltered spot and sit still, you'll see more.  Camouflage is essential.  A lot of people forget the obvious - your eyes and hands.  Make sure you use a face veil and gloves if you're hiding out and observing.  I've been in Scotland photographing ospreys hunting and have seen all sorts of creatures walk right past my boots because I've blended in to a bush and been very still and quiet.  Silence is essential.  No mobile phone alerts at all - including vibrate - they'll hear it and disappear.  When you move, do it slowly and quietly.  Cons - it can get really hot!  You also risk surprising a predator if it happens upon you in places like Canada and Alaska ... which could result in serious harm for yourself or you could lose your life through startling a predator.

If you're not using camouflage, take a monopod with you and periodically hit the ground with it - the noise will alert predators and avoid a violent reaction ... but you might not see as much wildlife.

Path of the Sun
As a photographer, you should always be monitoring the position of the Sun and altering your camera settings accordingly.  Try to keep the Sun behind you and find OPs that keep it that way for you.

Make sure someone knows what you're doing and where you're going  (Eg your motel receptionist) ... and roughly what time you're due back.  If you're going to be late - let them know!  If you're deviating from your plans and having a beer with another photographer on the way home - let the motel know.  The last thing you want is to start off an incident abroad.  Be responsible toward the people that may be monitoring your safety.

Take a quad-band mobile phone abroad, it should be able to work in any country.  If you know you're going right out into the wild - get a satellite phone.  If you're lucky enough to get a signal, it may be trackable depending on your phone model.  Also take a mobile walky-talky ... you might get lucky and find someone on your frequency if you need help.  The range may only be 3-12km ... but that could be enough.

If there's more than one of you on the outing - use hand signals - even whispers carry in the wilderness.

First Aid Kit
Make sure you have a good kit - including suturing needles.  If something bad happens and you're by yourself - you have to patch yourself up to be able to get out of there.  Take a good knife as part of your kit - you may need to cut/hack something to make a splint ... or to make kindling for a fire if you're stranded in the wilderness.

Food & Drink
Take only sealed foods that you can comfortably finish as part of one small meal, then seal the empty wrapper(s) in an air tight container.  Fluids are more important.  Water is heavy and you won't be able to carry much if you're carrying a full photography kit - so drink sparingly - you need to make it last.  Make sure you have a few pouches of powders to put minerals/electrolytes etc back into your system - particularly if you're going to areas of high humidity.  If you start to get severe cramps in your legs etc - make sure you drink some quickly.  Always take some water purification tablets with you as well, if you get desperate, you can treat that water and use it.

Your Limitations
Be aware of your own limitations.  How far can you walk with a 22kg pack?  How long would it take you to walk from your vehicle to the OP?  How much daylight time do you have?  Is the route easy to find?  Don't get caught out on unfamiliar terrain in the dark.  Make sure the route back to your vehicle is an easy one.  Tie bits of string or cloth to trees as route markers.

Survival Equipment
You don't need much  in the way of equipment if you're not going far out from populated areas, just do some research online about your needs and the terrain your visiting and take some basic stuff with you.  If you're going further afield, you'll need to balance your photography equipment needs with your survival equipment needs - don't make your pack too heavy!

If you smoke - leave them at base and use gum or patches.  An animal will smell your fumes.  There's also the risk of forest fires in hotter countries.  Don't risk starting one by being careless.

Use all of your senses
You have five of them - use them!  You must constantly observe with them all.  You don't just see with your eyes ... you feel the wind on your skin ... you smell your surroundings ... you taste the air at times ... you constantly listen (don't continually walk - walk a few steps and stop etc) ... feel the ground you're walking on - particularly when you know you're in an area where you expect to see the subject. 

I guess that's about it as a basic run down on wildlife photography.  I hope you found it useful.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Friday, 19 July 2013

Protect your images on Social Networking sites - Protect them on the Internet! Here's how ...

There's such a demand for diverse images nowadays.  Remember, it's a global market now and companies like Facebook and Twitter have already told you that they'll use your images if they want to - without your permission.

'So what?' I hear you say.

 Now UK business will be able to use your photos (including family images) for commercial purposes without your authority if you cannot be identified and contacted to seek said permission?  For more info see my blog post on: http://wolfphotograpy.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/copyright-protection-eroded-to-assist.html

 If you don't protect your images, companies in the UK will be able to use them for advertising purposes without consulting you if you can't be identified as the creator of a photograph.  So please, do yourself and the photography industry a favour, copyright your images - even if they're family snaps.

Here's a really easy way to do it by using a cheap piece of software called jAlbum.  Download the software from http://jalbum.net/en/purchase and install it onto your system.  I would opt for the standard one time fee
if you're using the package for personal use only.

I have arranged an additional 20% discount for you that is valid until  2/8/2013.  The code is: WOLFPHOTO.

Before you use the program, do some housekeeping:

1. Create a folder called 'images' and then create a sub-folder called 'net_ready'.
2.  Move all your photographs into the 'images' folder
3.  Now COPY any images that you're likely to put onto Facebook, Twitter etc or your business site into the 'Net ready' folder.

Now start up jAlbum and use the 'chameleon' skin.  If it isn't installed - get it from http://jalbum.net/en/skins/popular.

1. Select the Chameleon Skin on the left hand side (I think the default is 'Turtle'.)
2. Create a new project and call it 'My net images' and then hit F4 (on the keyboard) to go to the album setting section.  Under Image directory, locate the folder you created earlier (Eg c:\images\net ready).  Make sure the output directory is the same location.  Leave the tick in 'change directory locations'.
3. Click the 'chameleon' tab and then click 'Filters'.
4. Now click 'Watermark'
5. Under 'text' enter '©Copyright of (your name) 2013'
6. Select the font you want
7. Style 'normal'
8. Size is 25
9. If you want it in the centre - horizontal and Vertical align is centre (adjust to preference)
10. Margin is 20 px 
11. Opacity - try 20% - alter to your requirements.
12. Click 'Ok.
13. click 'Make album'  - bottom left with a hammer.

When it's finished making the album - use windows explorer to find the web album - then drill down into a sub-directory called slides.  You will find (amongst other files) a copyrighted 'jpg' of every image.

A good example of watermarking.

Not as good an example of watermarking as part of the set could be cropped and still be used as a separate image for website/blog use.

Once you have done this initial setup, it'll literally take seconds for you to create future copyrighted slides for Internet usage.

The creator of the image is now identified and the image cannot be used under UK law as an 'Orphan Work' without your permission.


Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Review: 'My name is David Cole' by Jon Souza ...

I finally got round to reading 'My name is David Cole' ... I wasn't sure what to expect as I hadn't heard of the author before and I'm a bit of a 'fussy' reader.

The good news is that I wasn't disappointed.  I know a little about the subject matter and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the writing and the story.

The book touches on some serious issues such as childhood abuse and promotes tolerance of different faiths and cultures.

Parts of the book were 'laugh out loud' funny, alongside other moments that portrayed trauma in a way that only a sufferer can.  Other parts of the book were really romantic.  Jon Souza's style of writing is warm and you could be forgiven for thinking that you're sat in a tavern somewhere in Scotland by a log fire, listening to a tale being crafted for your ears alone.

I'm looking forward to his next book. 

Paperback: 626 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451583273
ISBN-13: 978-1451583274
ASIN: B003G2ZE32 Kindle

Recommended!  5 Stars!!

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Monday, 15 July 2013

Are Human Rights granted only when convenient?

Secret trials hiding government activities that are against the public interest are wrong (Eg the trial of Bradley Manning).  People that tell the truth about various nefarious practises shouldn't be held accountable for the sins of the countries carrying out such acts ... particularly when those acts breach Human rights legislation.

Incidentally - why aren't the countries that normally object to breaches of 'Human Rights' on boards against the persecution of people such as Manning, Snowden and Assange?

The Military are accountable to the government ... who are accountable to their electorate.  While I agree that some operations need to be covert and secrecy is crucial to the success of such missions ... governments must not afford the same protection to people that have committed crimes (Eg the deaths of innocent people).

Years ago such atrocities would have been easily hidden.  Now we have the Internet and information is readily accessible when the Media sit quietly at the call of their governments and ignore the stories that they should be reporting on.

Keep an eye on what's happening with the law makers in your countries.  There have been moves to limit the freedom of Internet information over the past. 

In the UK the legislators are trying to bring back laws enabling secret trials  - which are a dead pool for more potential miscarriages of justice.  Beware the shadows in the Halls of Power ... but remember that they're a minority and while Democracy is used as a toy to control the masses ... there is REAL power there if the people decide to make it effective by voting and coming together on issues that matter.

The biggest enemy of democracy is the division being created by various groups throughout human societies.  Such groups are relatively small in numbers and membership but their activities are given undue coverage in terms of the way the press sensationalise the write-ups of their activities.  This in turn generates fear.  If people could stop themselves being dragged into the fear and hatred that such groups create, we'd end up with a wiser, more balanced society that would be able to see past the smoke screens of this sort of political activity ... allowing us to concentrate on building a better society by working together and, either, embracing or at least tolerating our differences.  The effect would be a government that serves its populace rather than a government that's seeking to continually exploit its people for its own material gain.  To that end, would a government of proportional representation be better than the current one party system (current coalition aside)?

In my experience, it takes longer to come up with workable practises and policies that all parties involved in the process are happy with ... but at least they'll all have had a say in any changes and can work together rather being allowed to continually blame unfavourable outcomes and policies on the previous political administration.

On the issue of our differences, does it really matter that your neighbour prays to a different deity?  Does it matter if your neighbours are gay?  Does it matter that you have neighbours of different ethnicities?  Surely all that matters is that we don't force our beliefs/life styles upon each other in any way and that we can allow each other to live our lives in peace and be tolerant of each other?

Please start taking an interest in shaping the environment that you live in -  if you're young.  The future is yours and you're all stake holders in the future of a collective human civilisation.

Make your human society better than it is now ... and never stop striving to make further improvements in the future.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Friday, 12 July 2013

Filters for Summer photography ...

I mentioned the use of filters in an earlier blog entry.

For those of you that are unsure about whether you need them or not ... as well as the expense involved, I've added a couple of links to cheap versions of the filters that are fine for experimenting with.

The ones that I use aren't expensive either.  You can see the results on my website www.wolf-photography.com.

Please make sure that they are the right size for your lens.  Have a look at the side of the top end of your lens and it will give you a measurement - Eg 55mm.  Select a 55mm filter to fit that lens.

55mm Circular Polariser from the UK - click here.

You will find a whole range of filters on this site.

One MUST HAVE filter is a skylight.  It's a clear piece of glass that protects your lens against scratches and possible cracks if something impacts against the lens.  You can find those on the link above too.

The sites above are just examples with images.  Please do a search on the Internet for yourself and see if you can find a cheaper deal.

Good luck.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Poetry and life ... Inequality

I never know what's going to come out on paper when I empty my mind, my thoughts and feelings.  It's an exercise ... a releasing of the valve ... and it serves a purpose that I probably don't fully understand on all levels.

Yet I know enough to understand that it's beneficial to my mental health.

The good thing about writing poetry is that it crosses boundaries.  You might read something that I've written and make it relevant to your life.  It might help you to release something within you.

Once you release words as a poet ... you don't own the interpretation; that's down to the individual reader, their circumstances and their frame of reference at that particular moment in time.

Poems can be personalised and adapted by the reader to their journey ... and if that happens then the poet has been successful in making someone 'feel' something ... and, for me, that's the real positive thing about being a poet.

The following poem is from Soul of a Wolf - Poetry of a Veteran (ISBN 9780956488596.  Kindle ASIN: B00D0EMUV0).


You want to be my friend but you don’t want to make allowances for my differences,
You want to be a part of my life without considering my feelings,
You want to laugh at the humour I bring but you bring me much sadness,
You want my insights into coping but continue to dump your stuff on me,
You want the support I freely give but it's not reciprocal,
You want equality on scales shifted in your favour,
You want the knowledge I possess but give nothing in return,
You wonder at my silence when I withdraw from the crowd,
You conveniently forget all that I have revealed of how I cope,
Leaving me imprisoned in a bubble of solitude for your own protection.

©Copyright Villayat Sunkmanitu 2013

I guess I want you to consider your life.  I want you to be happier, in healthier relationships and to be appreciated for the unique individual that you are.  If you're in a relationship that is unhealthy for you, or hurts you ... contemplate it and do what feels right to address the situation.

Walking away from the relationship might not be the right answer ... changing the terms could be a way forward.  However, if you're in an abusive relationship, you may have no choice but to walk away and if that's the case, I wish you the strength and courage to walk away and set yourself free.

If you have walked away from an abusive scenario ... don't let it taint your future ... but you do need to remember it so that you know what you want to stay away from in your present and future life.

Relationships for the purposes of this poem are wide ranging ... friendships, relationships with lovers, work relationships, family relationships.  Everything successful, in my experience is built upon mutual respect, understanding, tolerance and compromise.  All good relationships are two-way streets.

Soul of a Wolf is available on Amazon Kindle and your local book stores, worldwide. If you'd like to order it locally, just let them have the ISBN number from above.  If you have problems getting the title locally, you can order it here.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The eye sees more than the camera ...

How many times have you taken a photograph only to find that it doesn't look anything like what you actually saw with your eyes?

It's a common thing.  Why?  The human eye is a lot more complex than a digital camera.  It processes light and data in a different way and quality.  Your eye is the equivalent to a 130 million pixel camera.  The average is camera takes shots that are about 15 million pixels.

So we have to be aware of this when we take certain sorts of shots  - Eg sunsets and scenes and objects that display a lot of colour to our eyes.

How do we make the images look like what we saw with our eyes?
Pure manipulation in one or both ways:

1. We use filters to affect the light coming in Eg Neutral Density, Circular Polarisers and coloured filters, as well as the camera settings.

2. We manipulate the images on packages such as 'Photoshop' by manipulating the levels of gamma, brightness, contrast and saturation, as well as the shadows and highlight.

It's not a difficult process but before attempting it, please make sure that you're working on a 'copy' of the original image.  Never use the original ... and make sure you back it up.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tips: Summer photography ... Fast moving objects

The good thing about the summer months (hopefully) is the extra light, coupled with the abundance of outdoor festivals, activities and demonstrations.

What are you going to go after?  Airshows?  Enactments?  Music?

This post is relevant to moving subjects that we want to capture dead - that is to say without any unintentional blurring of the subject.

Aperture setting
In order to do this we have to bring in as much light as possible to the camera to enable a good shutter speed ... but we still need to control the depth of field - depending on the type of shot that we're trying to compose.

Depth of field is how far things are in focus from front to back.  In the shot above I wanted the aircrew sharply in focus and the plane slightly out of focus, so I adjusted the 'aperture'accordingly.  The lower the F number (eg F/2.8) the more the background will be blurred.  The higher the number (eg F/22) the more the background will be in focus.  This is just a rough guide as the other considerations are the type of lens you are using and how far you are from the subject(s).

In the shot below I wanted as much of the composition in focus as possible from front to back.  So I used a high F stop.

Shutter Speed
This bit's easier on the way I shoot at events with movement.  Basically, you want to squeeze as higher a shutter speed out of your camera as possible without it affecting the quality of the shot.

So you can imagine that at an airshow, some of the subjects are going to be flying past you at quite a rate of knots and you have to be able to stop the action 'dead' ... and the shot has to be perfectly in focus.

On a sunny day this isn't a problem (make sure that you're always shooting with the sun behind you).  Less bright days and cloudy conditions can present a problem.  You need to be able to get 1/125 sec as a bare minimum for a jet fighter ... a lot more though if you want to capture something like a Tornado screaming by (as below).

ISO (film speed)
ISO can be a tricky one.  The higher the number the more chance you have of a grainy texture appearing in shadowed areas (or areas of lower light) in your shot.

I don't go above ISO 400.

Shooting mode
When you consider the different elements of composing a shot (as described above) and then add the final element - focusing - that's a lot to do in a split second when you're photographing fast moving objects.

Some people shoot in 'Shutter Priority', some in 'Aperture Priority', while others may choose other methods.  It's a personal preference.  Find the mode that suits you and practise!  My preference is 'Aperture Priority' as it allows me to bring in more light and have control over the artistic considerations of the composition.

Panning is where you follow a subject as it moves across you.  The object is to keep the subject in focus but to blur the background.  To achieve this you must lower your Shutter Speed and move your torso with the subject - keeping your lens locked on to the target.

One other consideration, particularly relevant for airshows, is to ensure that you use a slower shutter speed for aircraft using propeller engines.  If the shutter speed's too high, it doesn't look right.  If you can manage to get it right, it adds to the feel of movement (as below).

Good luck with your shooting!

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

Osprey - Nature section

Osprey - Nature section
Wolf-Photography.com Stock Image Library