A look Back over the Shoulder (2012 In Review)

2012. wow. In my whole life I don’t think I have every been through such a mad year, huge changes in my life,  so much work and everything happening in what felt like no time at all! This post will look back over the last 12 months to look at my years highlights.

2012 started very slowly (photographically speaking), being at school I was busy working hard for my January and June exams meaning I had very little time to get out with my camera. With very limited time available for photography any time I did have was made the most of by continuing the work I had started the year before with my local fox.

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Over about 5 months I spent a great deal of time working with this stunning animal, I would use every free moment I had to get to my location and create new images. Very often I would finish school at 1pm on a friday and be in position for 2 to make the most of this wonderful photographic opportunity!
Fox cub out in the open

Having worked with the mother for an extensive amount of time I had seen the changes in her body and in June she finally gave birth to 6 cubs! Having worked so closely with mum, she accepted me as part of the environment and happily would go about her day to day routine without batting an eyelid at my presence. Eventually after a few weeks working with the family (right in the middle of my year 13 finally exam season…) I managed the shot that I had wanted and luckily for me it was featured in Springwatch! (Below)

My fox family features on Springwatch

In June (after taking the above photo) my work outside of school pretty much stopped and I focused all of my attention on my Final A2 Level exams in photography, Biology and Geography. As much as I love being outside I finally restricted myself for a few weeks of hard core revision before the exams but still would often sneak out for the odd few hours at my local nature reserve!

Young Barn Owl

After finishing my exams (and celebrating) I threw myself back into my wildlife photography over the summer! I scouted out new locations, started new projects and spent many days out in the field. Two of the longer term projects I started was one to photograph Barn Owls (above) and one to document my local kestrels (Below). In total I spent a fantastic 67 hours watching Barn owls and 20 hours watching kestrels! The day I created the image below I spent just over 16 hours in a hide staring intently at this post, watching and waiting for one of the young kestrels to land. I had visualised the image three weeks earlier, positioning the post and hide allowing the birds to get used to its presence.

Young Kestrel

Summer seemed to rapidly disappear and sooner than I had expected the dreaded results day was upon me…. After  a final and uncomfortable night I walked into school and was greeted to my upmost surprise with a set of results I was very proud of…AAB!  A’s in Biology and Photography as well as a B in Geography! I was over the moon and as a treat I headed up to the Birdfair in Rutland the day after (obviously after going out till stupid am in the morning first….that resulted in a less than perfect journey in the morning!).

Tom_Mason_August 22, 2012-redleggedpartridge-_DSC9581

After getting my results I got back down to work and once agin started a longer term project photographing Red Legged Partridges on the farm where I am lucky enough to live. I made around 15 trips to my location and was rewarded with a number of wonderful images.

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In October I made a couple of visits up to Richmond Park to photograph the Deer Rut along with my Good friends Luke Millward and Keith Bedford. I wanted to create images of both the rutting as well as some intimate portraits of these majestic animals. The two images (Above and Below) are two of my favourites from my time in the park this year.

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After completing my few days at the rut I had a period of calm where I spent a great deal of time working to fund trips as well as making new contacts and scouting out new locations.

In November I was very lucky to receive an email to let me know that I had been accepted onto a new scheme for young naturalist and wildlife photographers called “A Focus on Nature”. The scheme provides help and support to young people breaking into the wildlife sector providing them with support both financially and through mentor schemes. I was chuffed when I found out the mentor I had been assigned was David Lindo AKA the Urban Birder and next year I will be working alongside davis and other members of the team on a range of new and exciting projects. The scheme also helped me gain Sponsorship from Opticron who donated me a brand new pair of Binoculars to help me out in the field.

On the Subject of Sponsors I would just Like to thank all the companies who have helped me over the past year and in previous years, the continued support of Wimberley, Wildlife Watching Supplies, Opticron and Lowepro has allowed me to focus on my photography and not on funding gear, so a huge thank you for all your help!

At the end of November the end of the year was truly in sight however there was one final trip before the year was over. After working, Planning and organising along with my friend and fellow young photographer Tom Hughes we had arranged to head up to the scottish Highlands for a week of winter wildlife shooting. Over the week we created a huge number of images particularly focusing on Red Squirrels and Ptarmigan. The week was a fantastic success and also one of the best trip of my life resulting in fantastic memories as well as many many photos! I would just like to say a Huge thank you to Peter Cairns and his lovely wife Amanda for looking after us and making us feel welcome as well as providing us with some amazing wildlife encounters. Please take a look at there website  (LINK) and if you are thinking if staying in the highlands I can highly recommend their Holiday cottage!

Below are a few images from the trip, The final one of the Ptarmigan even made it to be used as the Birdwatching Magazines December Facebook cover!

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Tom_Mason_November 24, 2012-Red Squirrels-DSC_3405

Tom_Mason_November 26, 2012-scotland-DSC_4367

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After returning from the Highlands I really thought it was the end of 2012 and thought nothing else could possibly happen before 2013 started…well I was wrong. For three years I have been after one bird that has always eluded me and in the final run up to christmas I finally got a local tip off and headed out to try my luck!

The bird I was after was the Waxwing and at last I found what I had been looking for…  amazingly it was not even 700m from my own front door!

Tom_Mason_December 06, 2012-Waxwing2012-DSC_6664

The Waxwing was a truly fantastic end to an amazing year, A huge amount has happened and I am so happy that I have been able to share so much of it with you all. Hopefully 2013 will be even more eventful (I already have a few ideas and plans) so please keep coming back to see what I have been up too.

I would just like to end by wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and hope 2013 brings some exciting new adventures for you all!

Tom

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