Aug 19
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Spotlight on: Photographer and Photojournalist Heath Holden

We’ve recently added some fantastic images to ARKive from one of our new media donors, Heath Holden, and we jumped at the opportunity to hear a little more from Heath about his work.

Can you tell us about yourself and give us a bit of a run down on your photographic background?

Hi! I’m Heath Holden, I work as a freelance photographer and photojournalist for various clients around Tasmania and also interstate. I started out shooting photos of my friends riding BMX and a few landscapes when we went away on trips to the USA, Canada etc… there is so much beauty out there in this world. I guess it all snowballed from there wanting to take better shots and learn more about the art. My first real photography job was for a daily newspaper here in north west Tasmania, The Advocate. I worked here for about 18 months covering news, sport, features etc. During this time I learnt a lot about photography, those little tricks and techniques I’ll never forget. Work slowed a bit when the financial crisis hit town, I had some choices to make and left Tasmania for a staff job with Wildlife Reserves Singapore (parent company of the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and now River Safari) as the in-house photographer, documenting all the zoological procedures which were then sent out for editorial use around S.E Asia. I also worked with the advertising and promotions department shooting the work for campaigns and other commercial needs, image archiving, educational content etc…

My work is represented by Lonely Planet Images, (which is now handled by Getty Images).

Brown bear photo

Your recent contribution to ARKive’s collection contained some fresh Tasmanian devil images, how did you come about the idea of photographing Tasmanian devils like this?

I had the idea while still living in Singapore, I knew I would leave once my contract was finished so I started to think of meaningful photography projects which were unique and technically challenging, and the Tasmanian devil came to mind straight away. It’s very unique and also facing a challenging future due to the facial tumour disease spreading. After searching the internet and various photo libraries for Tasmanian devil images which were shot purely in the wild (this was an important factor to me) under natural conditions (no bait) which had some kind of wow factor, I found very little. This was it, I knew I had to do it!

Tasmanian devil photo

Sounds like quite a learning process! What’s been the biggest hurdle in this project?

Well… hurdles huh, how much time do we have? I shot an email to an old friend who is a zoologist and works with devils, told him my idea and he said I’d need to use camera traps, basically no other way to do it. I had no idea about these at all or where to look! The bag of worms was about to open… (Internet search then fast forward a bit). Studying videos of snow leopards and tigers being documented with camera traps, I started breaking them down to get some kind of idea of equipment and techniques used by others. I soon bought some infra-red sensors/triggers and the hunt for the more gear began! There have been many little hurdles along the way, waterproofing, locking, sync cables and splitters for multiple flashes, flash misfires and dead batteries… I eventually worked out which flashes to use saving me lugging a load of batteries out every morning to fill the battery packs, 12 AAs! That gets tiring, also there is this fancy cable I need to get which will hopefully solve the problem of missing the first shot while the flash comes to life. Lighting is very important with this project, Tasmanian devils being nocturnal almost never wander around in daylight so it’s always crucial for the flashes to work when I want them to. Generally the issues are getting smaller the further I go and I’m feeling very in control of the setup now, in the beginning I would setup and think “oh I hope it works” but now I know it will work. I used to be a mechanic for about 6 years so I feel fairly handy when it comes to making housings for my cameras and strobes. I have a buddy who’s a great sheet metal worker and welder, he whipped up a couple of alloy boxes for me which I then crafted into a nice housing to fit mid range DSLR cameras and 14mm lens.

Tasmanian devil photo

Are there any projects in the pipeline, or species you’d like to focus on in the future?

Definitely, I’ll be working on more projects all the time to grow my portfolio and skills to the highest possible level. The aim of my work is to create unique images of wildlife and nature which stand out from what people have already seen, in terms of new angles, techniques and overall image quality. I want readers to be stunned with amazement! My devil work as an example – yes, there are plenty of scientists and organisations here camera trapping, but they’re only using the basic trail cam setups which really are no good for reproduction at an editorial level, that’s where the skills of a photographer come in to play, to UP the quality for the show, not just for monitoring purposes. As for species, I’d like to do some work on the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, this is a sub-species, but larger than the more common wedge-tailed eagle. These birds are huge with a possible wingspan of over 2 metres, and they are wise, getting close is very tough! I like a challenge so this could be the next one.

Short-beaked echidna photo

What role do you think wildlife photography can play in conservation?

Wildlife photography is extremely important in conservation and awareness now, and it is getting more important every day, it really is the only voice the animals have. Photography helps raise public awareness in visual ways that scientific data can’t, it triggers emotion and a direct connection. We need to be smart in the way we use natural resources and find a healthy balance, we can all live on this planet but we need to look after it and not let money, greed and endless corporate growth drive everything to self destruction.

Australian pelican photo

Heath Holden.
0487 407 901. (Australian code is +61)
Jun 15
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ARKive’s Top 10 Most Viewed Wildlife Photos

If you had to take a guess at how many wildlife photos are in the ARKive collection at this moment, what would you guess? 1000? 10,000? Actually, the ARKive collection has put a face to 15,500+ species from around the world with over 94,000 images!

Today is Nature Photography Day so we thought it was the perfect time to share the top 10 most viewed wildlife photos on ARKive starting with …

#10

Photo of green anaconda

This picture of a 12 foot long green anaconda has brought loads of visitors to ARKive. Since the species holds the title for largest snake in the world, we’re thinking that might have something to do with its popularity.

#9

Photo of bald eagle

We’re not surprised to see this national emblem of the United States in the top 10 rankings. An interesting fact about the species you may not know is that bald eagles are thought to be monogamous meaning they pair for life.

#8

Photo of giant panda

While the bald eagle is synonymous with the USA, the giant panda is certainly synonymous with China. Perhaps this picture is so popular because it depicts the species doing what it does best … eating loads of bamboo. How much does it eat exactly? Up to 18 kg or 40 lbs of bamboo a day!

#7

Photo of lion

We think we see a theme emerging here with some of the world’s largest species dominating the list! One of the largest big cats in the world, lions can take down prey many times bigger than themselves. This particular lion is using a termite mound as a prime vantage point for a future meal.

#6

Photo of tiger

Coming in a very close 2nd in our World’s Favorite Species campaign last month, the tiger is arguably one of the most popular cat species in the world and also the only cat with stripes. Their stripes are so unique that each tiger has its own set of stripes that identifies them much like a fingerprint!

#5

Photo of cheetah

Are you surprised to see yet another cat species on the list? We’re not! Cheetahs are always crowd favorites and an action shot like this gives a glimpse into how powerful this species can be.

#4

Photo of king cobra

The longest of the world’s snakes, the king cobra is also highly venomous and, instead of hissing when danger approaches, it will emit a low, distinctive growl. It’s encouraging that this picture is so popular since this snake is being rescued from a coffee plantation where it would have otherwise been destroyed by plantation workers.

#3

Photo of polar bear

The largest living land carnivore, the polar bear is one of the best known species in the world and another top species in our World’s Favorite Species campaign. When standing on its two rear legs, the males of the species would tower nearly any living human at up to 2.6 meters or 8.5 ft in height!

#2

Photo of orca

We’re finally diving into the ocean on this list with the most widespread mammal in the world (after humans), the orca. This shot of an orca surfacing shows off the signature dorsal, or top, fin of the species beautifully.

And now, for the most viewed wildlife image on ARKive …

#1

Photo of great white shark

This shot of the tremendous great white shark tops our list of most viewed wildlife images on ARKive. As such a fascinating species in so many ways, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes this species so popular. Its powerful, stream-lined body, ability to sense electric fields with its snout, unique capability to give birth to live young and dominating status as the top predator of the marine food chain may all be factors in making this image the most popular.

What do you think? Would this picture be your #1 most-viewed choice? If you had to pick one favorite picture out of all 94,000 on ARKive, could you? Have a look through ARKive and share your favorites in the comments below!

Liana Vitali, ARKive Education & Outreach Manager, Wildscreen USA

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