Zoo de la Palmyre

Over the Summer I did my best to not be anti-social and spend some time with my family instead of disappearing to go and take photos, and maybe eat cake and have a cup of tea. Hmmm, cake…

So, as a father I have to take everyone into account. We’d done a few visits to zoos in the past but had never been to the Palmyre. Well, why the heck not. Ok it’s about 2 hours away, but we can do that without wanting to kill each other. I let Virginie do the driving. Always best.

Many people have various opinions on zoos, ranging from how can you put animals in prison, to how great they are because of breeding programs etc. For me it’s about letting my family, and especially my children get to see animals up close, in a way that they could only see otherwise by travelling vast distances, or see in photos or on TV.

Even when passing from enclosure to enclosure, we take the time to see each animal, to see what it is doing, to see how it interacts with the other animals around it. We see where the animal would live in the wild, what it might eat, and through that information and observation we can maybe understand more about each animal. We also get to form a kind of relationship with the animal too. Even more so when it is fury and cute. But we see how strong they can be. Just look at the muscles on the chimpanzee. Some of the animals can be fed pop corn, which is conveniently on sale at the entrance to the zoo, and at various outlets within… We build a connection, even if it is by proxy. You can ask your child, “Well, which was your favourite animal?” And more importantly, “Why….?” The child will think about everything it has seen, and how those TV images have become more tangible.

For those of you interested in the purely photographical, the photos were taken on the Canon 6D Mark II, with the 75-300mm F4/5.6 zoom. I had no idea how to take photos of animals in a zoo, so treated the thing as a portrait shoot with various models, and not just fury cute ones…

The river Erdre in Nantes and some birds…

It was Ascension Thursday which is a public holiday in France, and as usual I headed out to Nantes with my camera. The Canon had been getting jealous of the Fuji so I acquiesced.

Killian, my son, and favourite travelling companion (have a look at the photos from Edinburgh) came with me. We ate at the Suppli Factory, which was a lovely change, and also happened to be open!

We went round the St Nicolas Basilica (photos of which will be in an other article), and then walked up towards the Île de Versailles, which is an oriental garden themed park on an artificial island on the River Erdre in Nantes.

I had previously promised him a trip out in a small boat (you can hire small electric boats that you don’t need a permit for) and it was time to honour that promise.

The following photos were taken on that boat. It was a brilliant idea and the man that had it is obviously a genius. There was just the two of us. Sometimes joking. Sometimes talking. Sometimes saying nothing but just enjoying the father son moment.

I took out the 70-300mm zoom lens, just in case we spotted some birds that wanted their photographs taken. And it turned out to be yet another genius idea.

Île de Saint Cado

So you now that some of my French family lives in Brittany. Just near to where they live is the Island of Saint Cado. It’s one of those quaint places that you see on post cards. It can get a tad windy in winter, but the last time that I was there everything seemed fine.

So what you’re getting today is landscape photography and some wildlife photography. I’ve always like birds and birdwatching and I’m always on the look out. Today I saw a Spoonbill. It’s basically a big bird that wades in the water and has a beak (bill) shaped like a spoon. 10 out of 10 for originality, eh? It’s a bird that is quite rare in the UK and at 47 years old, this is the first time that I’ve ever seen one. I just stood there looking at him and snapped away. It was like being a child again.

I wanted to test some new ND filters with the 16-35 lens, and as you will see further on, I also had the 75-300 lens with me. All this on the Canon 6D Mark II.