Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Moon

This shot of the moon was taken handheld with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM) using the "Looney 11 rule" in March 2014. This rule, which is similar to the "Sunny 16 rule" for sunny days, is a rule for estimating the required exposure for a moon that is full or near to full. It states that at f/11, the required shutter speed is equal to 1/ISO. As this shot was handheld I wanted 1/400 second shutter speed to compensate for any movement due to the focal length, so I chose ISO 400. The resulting shot was then cropped to produce the image seen here.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Amur Tiger

This is Bagai, Marwell Zoo's young male Amur (also known as Siberian) tiger (Panthera tigris altaica). This shot was taken in March 2014 with a borrowed lens (Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM).

Bagai is currently twenty months old, and arrived at Marwell in December 2013. He was brought in to partner Milla, Marwell's slightly older female Amur tiger. He is currently in an enclosure of his own, being allowed to settle in before being introduced to Milla. It is hoped that they will one day produce offspring together as part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

The Amur tiger is the world's largest cat. They are solitary animals, and fiercely protect their territories. They hunt by stealth mainly at night, their striped coats giving them the camouflage they need to creep up on prey before pouncing. Their prey includes elk and wild boar. The Amur tiger's range is primarily the birch forests of eastern Russia, although some are also found in northern China and the Korean peninsula. Females give birth to a litter of two to six cubs, who cannot hunt until they are eighteen months old. They stay with their mother for two to three years, before leaving to find territories of their own.

Tigers have been hunted for centuries, their fur wanted as trophies and various body parts wanted for use in Chinese medicine. They are currently classified as "endangered", and it is estimated that there are between 400 and 500 Amur tigers left in the wild. Many protection programs are in place to help protect the remaining wild tigers.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Charles Bridge, Prague

SUPS travelled to Prague in the Czech Republic in January 2013. Pictured here is the Charles Bridge, which connects the Old Town and Lesser Town districts of Prague. It was commissioned by Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, and construction started in 1357. It was finished in the early 15th century. It was the only bridge that crossed the river Vltava until 1841, and so was an important connection between Prague Castle and the Old Town.

The bridge was originally known as the Stone Bridge, but became known as the Charles Bridge in the 19th century. It is 621 metres long and almost 10 metres wide. There is a bridge tower called Malostranská věž protecting the Lesser Town side, and one on the Old Town side called Staroměstská věž, which can be seen in this photo. Thirty Baroque statues were placed along the edges of the bridge in the 17th century. Today these have mostly been replaced by replicas.

This shot was taken from the Petřín Lookout Tower, which is located on top of a hill that overlooks the city.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Red Arrows

Seen here are the Red Arrows at RIAT 2013 performing the "Twister", which was a new manoeuvre for the 2013 season.

The Red Arrows, officially called the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, were formed in 1965 from the amalgamation of several other RAF display teams, and flew their first display season the same year. Initially flying the Hawker Siddeley Gnat, the team switched to the BAE Hawk T1 in 1979. The team originally flew in formations of seven, but from mid-1966 started flying some displays in formations of nine. The team officially increased in size to a nine aircraft team in 1968, allowing them to fly the perfectly symmetrical "Diamond Nine" formation. The team is currently based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Since their formation, the team have have flown over 4,000 displays in 52 countries.