Travel

17.05.17

CAMERAS HELPING TURTLES!

As our Sri Lanka tour drew to a close, we visited Victor Hasselblad Turtle Conservation Research Center. Supported by camera company Hassleblad (a nice tie in to our photography trip), the centre aims to protect sea turtle eggs and increase hatching rates. Their staff patrol the beach all night looking for mother sea turtles who come out of the ocean to lay their eggs. They protect her during the nesting process, and once she has returned to the sea, they relocate the eggs to the safety of their hatchery.

Since it opened, the centre has released over 3 million baby turtles into the ocean, giving them a greater survival rate than if they were left to fend for themselves. The turtles are released at 3 days old and we saw hundreds of them swimming in their tank, about to embark on the biggest journey of their short lives.

Watching these vulnerable, adorable babies touched our hearts. We worried for them, almost died from the cute of them and wished them safe passage. They made me think of the many creatures who fight hard to survive, either in the harsh domain of nature or from the cruel hand of man. From the smallest to the largest, they all deserve our protection and care … as does our planet as a whole.

These powerful words by Carl Edward Sagan seemed apt.

Farewell Sri Lanka. xx

“Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” Carl Edward Sagan

Image taken with #Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 VC lens. Tamron AustraliaTamron Lenses USA Tamron New Zealand World Expeditions Stemish Travels – the elite way to discover Sri Lanka #SpiderHolster #Lacie#OnTourInSriLanka

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08.12.16

Free the Bears Fund 2017 Calendar

The 2017 Calendar, complete with several Houndstooth Studio by Alex Cearns images from our recent World Expeditions tour to the FTB Cambodia and Vietnam sanctuaries, is now available. Five of the people who travelled with us, who are all wonderful FTB supporters, make a cameo on the rear cover. #Legends

Buy online at http://www.freethebears.org/…/ftb…/product/111-2016-calendar

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14.11.16

NEW YORK NEW YORK!

Gosh, where do I even start to describe our visit to NYC? We filled our time with miles of walking and non stop business adventures. One of our favourite things was just stepping out onto the street each morning and realizing “We are here!”

From working on ‘Zen Dogs’ PR and liaising with my dynamic publishing team at HarperOne, to a catch up with the American Kennel Club and seeing their exquisite dog art collection, to meeting TV and Broadway stars / dog lovers Orfeh and Andy Karl after their show at Birdland Jazz Club, to presenting for Tamron Lenses USA to a packed room at B&H Photo Video Pro Audio Superstore, to spending time with dear photog friends Glenn and Terri from Tingio Studio, to a private wildlife photo excursion with Dennis of Tourist Pics NYC in Central Park, to getting inked with a Pip and Pixel tattoo by Rob at Bang Bang Tattoos, to making an appearance at the Clinton Book Shop and signing books while having a ball with owner Rob, to photographing Aussie photography royalty Steve Fraser on his Ducati in Times Square with the assistance of the NYPD … we did it all.

It was an incredible 2 weeks and every single day exceeded our expectations. People were so kind, enthusiastic and hospitable and we were so well taken care of. We leave inspired, with many fresh ideas and amazing global opportunities, and I’m ready to turn things up a notch and aim as high as I can.

Thank you New York. We love you and we hope to see you again soon. You really are the greatest city in the world. In the meantime, here’s my fave NYC critter.

SQUIRREL!!

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03.11.16

DOGS OF NEW YORK!

With quintessential Autumn weather today in NYC (warm in the sun and pleasantly cool in the shade) it was perfect for spending time in Central Park. Luckily for us, dozens of dog people had the same idea and we got to see and meet canines of all shapes and sizes.

I was on a mission to photograph squirrels, but during our 5 hour wander, we came across two beautiful dogs and I just had to take their portraits.

First up was Archie, a 14 month old Shepherd Mix who was flown to the USA from an island in the Caribbean, where many dogs are in need of homes. Mixed breed Caribbean dogs are referred to as “potcake” dogs, named after the congealed rice and pea mixture that local residents traditionally fed them. Archie now lives a wonderful life in the city – going to work each day with his human and taking walks in Central Park. Just look how shiny he is!

Sweet April the Maltese, was adopted from a shelter in August after being abandoned in an empty house. She was initially scared of some things, like sudden movements, but with lots of support from her wonderful new Mum she’s taking every new adventure in her stride. Today she visited Turtle Pond and saw a lake for the first time. Pretty in pink, April is now treated with kindness and appreciation and will never want for anything again.

Every dog has a story. My wish would be for every dog to have a loving home to go with it.

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19.10.16

USA FRIENDS!

Presented by Tamron Lenses USA, join me at B&H Photo Video Pro Audio Superstore in New York City for my seminar “Animal Portrait Photography: The Art of Working with Animals and Succeeding in a Niche Market”.

DETAILS: I’ll share my journey from law maker to image maker, that saw me leave behind a 19 year career with the Australian Government in policing and airport counter-terrorism, to pursue my love of animal photography. In addition to presenting the top seven factors I believe are essential to taking remarkable animal portraiture, I’ll discuss how I select relevant lenses for each subject and environment, and will introduce my ideas on how to find your own niche in photography and succeed in the competitive photographic industry.

WHERE: Second Floor, B&H SuperStore 420 9th Avenue, NYC
WHEN: Thursday 3rd November 2016 1pm to 3pm
RSVP: For further details and to RSVP please visit http://bhpho.to/2dLm3cf

Limited seats available.
Flyer posted in comments on https://www.facebook.com/HoundstoothStudio/.

Huge thanks to B&H and Tamron USA for their support in bringing this event together. #TamronAmbassador #Tamron

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07.10.16

ANIMAL ATTRACTION!

In the lead up to working with Tamron Lenses USA in New York very soon, I had a fun and informative chat with them about my two great passions, animals and photography.

Looking forward to sharing the Tamron ❤️ in the big apple.

Read the full interview at http://bit.ly/2dGrAh8
Tamron Australia #SPAmbassador #Tamron

 

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24.06.16

The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation

These 4 month old puppies were recently rescued from a dog meat slaughterhouse in Cambodia by the brave and incredible Marc Ching, from The Animal Hope & Wellness Foundation. Marc took 16 of the dogs he saved (including these two) to the Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS), where they received vet checks and vaccinations from PPAWS vet Dr Chamnan. All of the dogs were young pups, and if they hadn’t been rescued by Marc, would’ve been killed in the most inhumane way, then sold off for $4 a kilo. None would still be alive today.

We met these two lucky cuties, Hero and Brucille with their amazing foster Mum Lucy at a Pup-Up Market event held at the Sofitel Hotel Phnom Penh. Thanks to Lucy’s love, they are learning to trust people and each day they discover more new joys, like playing. They loved lying on a big mound of sand in the Sofitel gardens, and Hero, the male tan puppy, thoroughly enjoyed sliding down it time and time again. Such a simple freedom.

The Sofitel has a community committee which gives back to different local charity organisations by hosting events and sharing the proceeds. Tisha from Edgar Allan Paw helped organise and run the event, and Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS) will use the funds raised to assist them with the treatment of the 16 rescued dogs. We met some wonderful like minded people at the Pup-Up Market and it was an honour to meet Lucy, Dr Chamnan, and Tisha and to these pups.

Marc is currently in China working to save over 1000 dogs at the Yulin Festival. He is a man making a difference, standing before torture and death every day and putting his own safety on the line to save dogs. He cannot un-see the horrific sights he has witnessed, things you and I could not even comprehend – they are permanently burnt into his heart and soul. That takes a physical and emotional toll, but still he fights and pushes himself to do more. He is a hero.

If you support the shut down of the Yulin festival, please consider donating to Marc’s organisation http://www.animalhopeandwellness.org/donate/

‪#‎ForTheDogs‬

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20.06.16

LIMITED EDITION PRINT SALE!

Little bears can be very busy and the cub residents of Free the Bears Fund‘s enclosure number six in Cambodia are no exception.

‘Bear Apartment Six’ is a composite print made up of 16 photographs taken by long term FTB supporter Alex Cearns. The single images have been meticulously pieced together to form a visually enthralling scene of bustling bear activity, indicative of an apartment building.

Photographed over 90 consecutive minutes in June 2016, three sun bear cubs are the stars of the show as they climb in and out of their den entrance. Cheeky, joyful and adorable, sometimes they’re solo and sometimes they’re with their bear buddies. Each bear was rescued from the illegal wildlife trade when they were only a few months old, and will now be in the care of Free The Bears for the rest of their lives.

We have 2 year old Bearzilla, seized from people keeping him as a pet in Phnom Penh; Pooh, aged just under 2 years, surrendered by developers building a hydro dam in the Stung Treng Provence; and 15 month old Soriya Sundance, handed over by a Government Official who obtained her from ethnic minority hunters in the Mondulkiri Province.

You can now have your very own copy of ‘Bear Apartment Six’ as part of a Limited Edition release of 100 signed and numbered prints. Each print is 16 inches x 16 inches in size and printed on Kodak archival paper. A Limited Edition certificate is also included to validate the authenticity of each print.

Prints sold within Australia are $100 each (AUD).
Prints sold overseas are $110 each (AUD).

Fitzgerald Photo Imaging are kindly sponsoring part of the printing cost and $10 from each sale will go towards postage and packaging ($20 for international orders).

That means $90 from each print sold goes directly to Free The Bears AND you will receive a stunning print in exchange. Once 100 prints are sold, the release ends and no further prints will be available.

Please share this message far and wide so we can reach our fundraising target of $9000 and help contribute to the forever care of sun and moon bears.

To place your print order please email info@houndstoothstudio.com.au your email address.

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17.06.16

LOOK AT THAT SMILE!

Accompanied by Deb, I’m currently leading a fundraising animal / photography tour with World Expeditions visiting Free the Bears Fund rescue sanctuaries in Vietnam and Cambodia. With us are 7 animal loving people who have big hearts – Angela, Dave, Di, Mary, Robert, Carmen, and Liesa.

Yesterday, this sweet 4 month old sun bear cub was known by her rescue number, “193”. She is the smallest bear in the Cambodian sanctuary, weighing in at 4.5 kilos. Today she was given her official name of “Arya Stark” by Angela who made a wonderful $3000 donation to Free the Bears Fund. This gave Angela the naming rights to bear 193 (or I should say, Arya Stark), plus sponsorship of her for the next 12 months. Being a Game of Thrones fan, Angela’s choice of name was the perfect fit for this little girl who will no doubt grow up to be strong and feisty.

A short time later Dave and Di fell in love with a 7 month old female moon bear, who was formerly known as “189”. They generously donated $3000 for her naming rights and sponsorship and 189 is now known as “Essee”, after Dave and Di’s beloved dog Essee who celebrated her tenth birthday back home in Australia a few days ago. Essee bear is black, furry and cute, so is the perfect namesake for Essee dog. Happy 10th birthday to Essee too.

The $6000 donated by Ange, Dave and Di will be wisely used by FTB and I would sincerely like to thank them so much for making such a substantial financial contribution to the on going care of these vulnerable and adorable cubs.

Long term FTB supporters, Mary and Robert have previously sponsored and named two bears, Jesus and Willow, and are on their 4th overseas sanctuary tour for FTB, after previously visiting bears in Cambodia, Laos and India. Mary is a FTB life member and is heavily involved in the Albany chapter of FTB.

Whilst in Vietnam, Dave and Di spent over $500 purchasing much needed protective clothing and equipment for the Vietnam FTB Sanctuary staff, along cleaning items and hammock making material. The latter was was made into a sturdy, comfortable hammock by our tour team, for a moon bear called Go, who was delighted with his new bed and proceeded to roll around it it with glee. Several members also chipped in to buy the bears dozens of coconuts and watermelons.

Carmen arranged for an article about the work of FTB to go out in the New Town and Kalamunda Toyota newsletter which is disseminated weekly to over 300 staff. Complete with some of her stunning images of the bears in Vietnam, it was an educational and informative piece.

Angela and Dave project managed the building of a climbing platform for the sun bears in Vietnam, complete with two ladders and an engineered design. The whole group also helped out with daily bear enclosure cleaning, enrichment management and food preparation, and Liesa has been conducting preliminary research for her pending PhD into the illegal wildlife trade.

We all still all found time to take a few gazillion photos in there too! There are some amazing shots coming out of the tour and the photo of the day competition is hotly contended.

Before we left home, FTB board member and Houndstooth’s very own Debora Brown coordinated the collection and delivery of 24 Aussie Dog Products treat balls, which were then carried over by Angela, Di, David, Robert and Mary in their luggage. The bears were overjoyed to receive the balls, playing with them endlessly and trying to dig out the treats inside. Watching them made our eyes leak.

On top of that, our tour group as a whole has donated $3500 to FTB. I think these wonderful people deserve a huge, grateful pat on the back for everything they have contributed on this trip to help rescued bears. They’ve given their time, money, blood, sweat and tears … well thankfully not their blood but I’m sure they would if they thought it could help bears in some small way. We are blessed to have spent time with them all on this adventure, and the bears are lucky to have them on their team.

PICTURED: Cub Arya Stark.

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17.06.16

PURE JOY!

Pictured is one of the moments that brought tears to our eyes. A ten year old female moon bear who was rescued from a bear bile farm, plays with a treat ball for the first time. She lives in a sanctuary in the Nam Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam, which was recently taken over by Free the Bears Fund.

This gorgeous bear took her treat ball into the pool and splashed around with it for over half an hour. To see her absolute joy and excitement was food for the soul. We were mesmerized by her enthusiasm, as we remembered where she came from and how far removed from those beginnings she was now. She once lived in a tiny metal cage the size of her body, unable to stand or even move. Now she has a pool and an enrichment toy, two meals a day, a big safe enclosure to roam in, and a team of people who will care for her for the rest of her life.

FTB have greatly improved the sanctuary since moving in, but the even better news is that building will soon commence on a new centre for bears just up the road from the existing one. The facility will be designed with every bear requirement in mind and will blend with the jungle environment.

The treat balls are made from tough plastic by Aussie Dog Products who generously subsidized them for FTB. Huge shout out to this awesome Aussie company helping the bears of South East Asia. Five of the fabulous people on our tour then carried 24 balls over from Australia to Vietnam in their luggage. There are now enough balls to be rotated through for the 35 bears in the centre.

When the bears first saw the balls they didn’t know what to do with them. Then they realised there was fruit and peanut butter crammed inside and they quickly got the hang of rolling the ball and tipping it upside down to get to the the tasty morsels. The balls keep the bears minds and bodies active, encouraging them to use their tongues and claws to reach their food rewards. Each ball can last for several years.

For just $60 you can donate a treat ball to a rescued bear. These simple but effective tools greatly reduce the bears boredom and provides them with recurring joy. It really is the gift that keeps on giving and I can personally vouch for how much the bears love (and need) them.

Click here to donate http://www.freethebears.org/…/ftb-pr…/product/101-treat-ball

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