Monday 31 March 2014

Meadow Mouf

Tiny blue mini-Rex Meadow went to a new home last week as partner to someones own handsome blue Rex.

Unfortunately there have been a few tensions back on his home turf, this does happen occasionally, so we are just waiting to hear how it's going. They may well need a second honeymoon on neutral territory back at the Rescue to decide they are right for each other, but fingers crossed things will work out for her.

In the meantime, from last weeks bonding session, here's her cute little breakfast-hole in a great big Monday-Mouf close-up!

Sunday 30 March 2014

Mr Clumpy

So there I was minding my own Sunday business when a little grey fluffster appeared and decided to bug me for extra snacks.

"Hey, is brunch a thing in this house?"

His attempts to win me over with cute periscopey bunny-begging backfired however, because I spotted a big clump of matted fur in his neck that some unfortunate human was clearly going to need to remove for him.

"Uh oh, I know what that look means..."

Unfortunately, as I spotted the clump, Whisky spotted me spotting the clump and shot off to hide. Fortunately, he somewhat overrates his abilities in the arena of concealment.

Saturday 29 March 2014

The Saturday Results

What a lovely sunny day today! I decided to brave a second outing in the garden for Bobbit this morning, though to be honest he'd barely forgiven me for the last one. Whilst I don't think he had a problem with the garden itself, the strange noises and being carried there and back in the ("OMG, are we going to the vets??!!") pet carrier were not to his liking.

But what a surprise! In a complete reversal, Bobbit was first out today and spent the time enjoying the garden while Anouska just ambled around, lazed about a bit, cleaned herself and headed back into the carrier. Of course that did mean when we were all done it was Bobbit that needed "retrieving"...

"Me? Back in the carrier??! I'll tell you what, you get in there first and I'll follow you."

Friday 28 March 2014

Ears Gavin

My attempts to take a decent picture of Gavin continue. However hard I try, I *still* can't get him to put his ears up when the camera is pointed at him. That said, if I look back at older pictures of him his ears are always down in those too so maybe he just has a thing about cameras!

"Camera? What are you talking about? I was just making it easier for you to stroke my head properly!!"

Thursday 27 March 2014

The Wonderful Wizz...

I really enjoy writing the bunny-photo tips for this blog. They do generally take much longer than the other posts, not only because they are longer than the other posts but also because taking a photograph of myself taking a photograph of Whisky can be an agonising, patience-testing, tricky business. I mean, sure, you'd think having Whisky helping would make it easier...

Well anyway, what with one thing and another, I haven't managed to find enough time to finish the next tip, so if you were expecting one today I am afraid I have to disappoint you. If it helps, please know that I am disappointed in myself for not having it ready in time. In fact, in order to convey the disappointment all round, I have asked Soufflé's partner Wizz here to attempt to gaze at us with an air of disappointed disapproval, whilst also injecting a flavour of cuteness to cheer us up at the same time. Take it away Wizz:-

"Attempt??!! Deffo nailed it, FYI."

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Bubble and Jemima

It is a very upsetting day for me today.

Firstly, I am very sad to report that Bubble passed away this week. Despite outwardly appearing lively and healthy of late, Caroline found her suffering from breathing problems on Monday evening. She quickly went downhill and died later that night.

Bubble was 7 years old and a wonderful character. With her partner Benson she was a source of great joy at the Rescue, regularly making me laugh out loud with their crazy breakfast antics. She will be missed. Binky free, sweet girl.

The other reason it is a very emotional day for me is that around 9.35am it will be one year since Jemima left for the bridge, her life brought to an end several months before her 7th birthday by a rapidly-growing tumour in her chest.

I had hoped to write a longer piece today, about how she was my deeply loved, beautiful, chubby little girl, my friend, the reason my clothes have big chompy holes in and the reason I stopped hating cold mornings (you can't hate going outside when it means seeing that wonderful and excited face come racing towards you eager for breakfast!). But even a year on I'm breaking apart just writing this much, it hurts so much remembering how much pain I saw in her those last few hours and then seeing the life fade from her eyes as she looked up at me from the vets table in her final moments.

Jemima, my beautiful velvet girl, I miss you so much.

Sunday 23 March 2014

The Taxi and the Tick-Off

Since Bobbit has been more confident with me the last few days I thought I'd be brave and turf him out into the garden when Anouska was out for playtime. It was a bit of a risk, he can get very stressed and panicky when he knows he is about to be picked up, so I was dreading the bit when I had to bring him back inside. I needn't have worried.

"Taxi for one? My room please, and step on it..."

Still, despite Bobbit's reluctance to do much more than a few minutes of investigating, Anouska seemed to enjoy having him out there for company. She kept checking on him between bursts of rushing about and I think felt happier knowing he was watching her back in case of danger.

There was of course one other bun with an opinion on their time outside...

"So this is your best efforts of keeping undesirables out of MY garden? This WILL be reflected in your next performance review."

Saturday 22 March 2014

Gavin and Dakota

This is a couple we were deeply joyful to see work out. Dakota, former partner of our dear Rocket, and Gavin, who came back to us after losing his partner Stacey. Not managed to get a decent new picture of them yet though - he is so sweet, he keeps distracting me wanting head strokes!

"Oh, you're back? OK, I'll take another five minutes, but after that I'm really gonna have to give Dakota a go at grooming my head."

Friday 21 March 2014

Queen Leah

"Stop stroking? Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that."

Thursday 20 March 2014

It's Quicker On Foot

OK, so now you are taking your pictures at bunny head height and you are taking lots of them knowing that at least one will have your whole bunny actually in it. You're starting to get cute photo's, but the quality is somehow lacking.

When you look at other peoples bunny pics they are somehow more...detailed. You can see the texture of the fur, the depth of the eyes. They are

You wonder how it is they get their pictures to come out so clear, you think you maybe don't have the right camera or the skill to achieve such quality yourself, but you're wrong - all you really need is this weeks Fursday Foto Tip! And this third tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you...

Bunny Photo Tip #3

"Haha-nice slippers grandad!"

To keep your camera steady while taking your bunny shots, rest it on something. A plant pot, against a wall or even on the ground. If nothing else is to hand, there is always your own body:- your stomach, your arm, your foot.

"How do I look this time?"

There are three main reasons why your bunny pictures might be coming out a tiny bit blurry, or at least not entirely sharp:

  • Something moved
  • The subject wasn't in focus
  • Bunny snot on your lens

For today let's look at that first one.

Now, the blur from motion can be caused at either end, the camera or the subject. We'll maybe come on to how to compensate for moving subjects in a future post, but for now we'll consider different ways to keep the camera steady.

On conventional photography courses they will (I imagine) waffle on for hours about how you need to be relaxed, control your breathing, stand a particular way, keep your elbows in, hold the camera with the both hands etc etc. All great advice if you don't need to have the camera 2 inches off the ground to get your shot, but since we usually do, those methods are useless for bunny photography.

To get that bunny-head-height shot steady, look for something of an appropriate height and rest the camera on it. If there is nothing to hand, use your own(hand)! Make a fist, rest the fist on the floor, rest the camera on top holding it with the other hand. If you are sitting with your legs out, rest the camera on your knee. If you walk into a situation presenting a great photo opportunity, don't waste time - put your foot in a good spot, put the camera on your foot and hit that button!

Even if you take no other advise from me, know this:

Around half my bunny photo's are taken with the camera resting on my foot. Doing this has probably improved the quality of my pictures more than any other technique I use. It's quick, it's easy and it's effective, so when I spot something cute I'm now far more likely to capture it in the moment.

The foot lifts the camera to around the height we want and in the garden helpfully raises it just above the level of the grass. Where there is no grass to obscure your shot and the situation prevents you getting your foot where you need it, the ground/floor can also be used, but you need to be careful not to damage your camera on hard and abrasive surfaces.

If I have a bunny on top of a hutch or table for a picture, I might rest the camera on top of my big fat tummy. Sometimes instead of resting the camera on top of something, I'll go to the side - a gatepost, fence or wall will do it. The result of using these extra stabilising surfaces is keeping the camera as still as possible as your finger pushes down on the button to take the picture.

In our low-to-the-ground positions we are generally relying on the screen on the back of the camera to see where the camera is pointing, even if we are using our fancy DSLR which also has a viewfinder. But it is also worth getting used to taking pictures without even looking at the screen - it can take a little practise getting the angle right, but it pays dividends in both increasing the number of different angles you can take pictures at (so you don't necessarily need to be able to see the screen) and ultimately reducing the time from seeing something to taking the shot.

Well there you go, another simple and hopefully useful tip. As always, please feel free to add your comments and questions below. See you back here tomorrow for more Tiny Tales!

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Meet Bobbit

Bobbit had a somewhat sad start to life. He arrived at the Rescue July 2011 in a bit of a state, having had his nose and boy-bits torn apart in fights. But at the Rescue, with regular washing to keep his fur and skin clean, he was soon looking better and living a relatively normal bunny life. Being a brown bunny who needed a little extra care, he was unlikely to find a home quickly, so in December of the same year Caroline bonded him with Sheba, a sweet and beautiful young girl. Although they mostly kept out of the way of the volunteers, the two of them lived happily together until October of last year, when very sadly Sheba suddenly passed away without warning. This being around the same time we lost Duncan, Caroline decided that Bobbit and Duncan's special partner Anouska would be perfect together, and so they became a couple.

Anouska and Bobbit have been with me as foster bunnies for a little over 4 weeks now. From day one, Anouska has been bold, inquisitive, energetic and appreciative of attention. And snacks, she loves her snacks. Bobbit when he arrived would just hide. Or, once he'd settled in and if he was feeling bold, would sit on the opposite side of the room and glare. This went on for the first few weeks. Hiding, glaring, hiding, glaring. I did wonder if he would ever learn to trust me properly.

Well things have since gradually improved, to the point where as of this week he will be at the food bowl waiting for breakfast and dinner when it arrives. I have even, on two occasions, managed to briefly stroke his nose, though on one of those occasions I did kind of ruin it by giggling with excitement.

Anyway, this increased confidence and predictability has meant that finally I have been able to capture him in photo's. So here you go:- Meet my foster boy Bobbit!

"'re NOT here to deliver food?"

"Well OK - how much of this rug do I need to eat to convince you that it IS dinner time?"

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Tuesday Tail #4

"Er..excuse me? That's my wife's butt you're looking at..."

Sunday 16 March 2014

Whisky's Game

Am I still asleep?

"This is not a dream. I am Capt Bun Bodgers. You are my second in command, Lt Lame Hooman. We were about to board our rocket ship to go fight the evil cat people of Meowvania III, but alas! You were knocked unconscious just as we discovered sabotage - our Enviromax-Vegburner-5000 engines have been drained of fuel! If only someone could bring me 1kg of finely grated carrot I could save the universe..."

Saturday 15 March 2014

The Path to Unchompiness

In retrospect, the first clue that Alabama was unhappy about something was probably when she asked to use that marker pen...

Friday 14 March 2014

Thursday 13 March 2014

Shooting With Machine-Gun Precision

Back in the days of film-only cameras, the life of a pet-rabbit photographer must have been really frustrating. Think about it:

  • You wrestle the film into the camera.
  • After taking just 24 carefully composed pictures of bunnies, the film is full up.
  • You stick the film in the post, then you wait for a couple of weeks.
  • The film comes back and you excitedly open the envelope...
  • The first three pictures are ruined, photobombed by another bunny in the background, the next six are just pictures of noses and who knows what the rest are because the lens was covered in a mist of bunny breath.

With the arrival of the digital camera, rabbit photography changed overnight. Suddenly the capturing of super-cute-and-awesome pictures of our bunnies became not only a possibility but an absolute breeze.

For a start, with digital cameras you can see straight away on the screen whether you have just taken a picture of a whole bunny or just an eye and half an ear. If it didn't work out you can delete and retake the picture. If you have a fancy digital camera it will even tell you if you got the light and colours balanced. In fact, I could write many pages on all the benefits to bunny photography of digital over film, but there is just one I want to focus on today that forms this weeks Fursday Foto Tip. And this second tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you...

Bunny Photo Tip #2

Taking one hundred photo's with a digital camera costs about the same as taking one photo. When you are trying for that one perfect shot you will treasure forever and show all your friends, feel free to also take ninety nine rubbish ones you'll delete today and forget they ever existed.

That's right, todays tip is another simple one. Take lots of pictures. And not just generally:- I mean, say, if your bunny is doing something super-cute as they chow down on dinner and you want to capture it, then to get a single great picture of it, take a whole bunch and pick the best one(s).

There are a few angles on this so let me explain...

You see, the thing is, bunnies aren't landscapes or buildings or people. They are not inanimate and you can't ask them to hold a pose while you get yourself ready to take their picture. (Well, you can ask but...) They move. They especially like to move when some annoying human points something at them, like a camera. Some will move towards the camera, perhaps to taste it, some will move away, some will just move. Even if they are standing relatively still, maybe their head is moving, their mouth, ears, they might blink. So unlike landscapes or buildings or people, it doesn't matter how good a photographer you are, if you've positioned the camera where you want it, focused it, got all the settings right etc, you can STILL end up with a terrible photo. This happens because your subject moved in the split second between you telling your finger to push the button and the picture being captured. You end up with a blurry face, or eyes closed or just a nose. However, take six photo's from that position and chances are one of them will come out as you planned it.

At this point, it is probably worth relating this to my picture above. The final picture in the centre was the one I wanted to capture:- floof blowing in the wind, covering the eyes, mouth open like he's saying something about it. So to get that I took half a dozen pictures in quick succession - one had the fur too flat, another just didn't look natural, in most the mouth was closed etc etc. Only one had all the elements I wanted in the same picture, so that one got used and the others never saw the light of day (until now).

Once you've accepted that you can take many, many bad pictures of your bunnies and it doesn't matter, you should feel liberated. Once the idea sinks in that you can instantly delete any evidence that might suggest you are anything but the next Steve Huff, you will also feel more inclined to experiment. Try holding the camera at different angles and positions, take some pictures without looking through the viewfinder or screen, any weird idea you can come up with for taking a picture, just try it. So often, a huge step forward in our skills comes from something we learned by making a mistake, and all the better when we can erase any history of these mistakes after the lesson is learned!

Let's also not forget the fabulous plays and poetry those infinite monkeys write. Even if you blindfolded yourself in a room with one bunny and waved the camera around snapping away, eventually you would get a great shot. Eventually. It might take 10, 100, 1000 or more, but take enough... OK, I'm not suggesting taking thousands of random shots as a legitimate way to get a good photo, but if I can generally get a decent photo of Whisky within 2-3 shots, then maybe a beginner can get an equally good shot of their bunny in 20-30. And maybe the next time it will only take them 10.

Lastly, when you get that perfect picture you maybe never even thought about when you took it, always be sure to consider what exactly about it you like. The more you reflect on what makes a good picture for you, the more you will notice things and the easier it will get to capture those better pictures in future (and in less shots!).

I hope you find this useful. In future tips I hope to cover some of the technical aspects of bunny photography, like which settings to use on your camera for best results, as well as some more simple techniques for improving your success rate in shooting. As always, feel free to comment below if you have any questions or suggestions of your own for future tip topics and I will see you back here tomorrow for more Tiny Tales!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Former Foster Flaunts Fabulous Fifties Furstyle

I could swear that every time I see BC he has groomed his fur into a completely different style. Maybe it's my fault starting him off the way I did, but he's not even a year old and he's had more different looks than me! And I'm...somewhat older than 1.

"Jealous much?"

Yes BC, I am. I am also half expecting to one day see you pass me on the motorway heading down to Brighton wearing a faux-leather jacket with Montana on the back of your tiny motorbike and OMG HOW CUTE WOULD THAT LOOK???!!!!!

Monday 10 March 2014

Obliging Face

"Hey, whatcha doin' down there?"

Oh, you know, just trying to get a cheeky shot of you for our Monday Mouf feature!

"Well why didn't you just say? Here's a big smile just for you!"

Sunday 9 March 2014

Bunsters In The Sun

Nice sunny day today, so Whisky decided that the conservatory would be the ideal spot for some naptime bun-bathing. And since naptime is most of the time, that meant he was camped out there pretty much all day, especially after he'd worn himself out this morning with a bunch of super-charged laps of the garden.

Well since Whisky wasn't going outside any more, I thought Anouska might like to go out, so I blocked off the exit from the conservatory and sat in the garden while she played. Suddenly somebun didn't want to nap...

"What the..? Why is this flat piece of tree in my way?"

"Bad luck, smelly butt! It's my garden now!"

"Fine. You go play with your new friend. I have things I need to do anyway..."

And then of course I spent much of the rest of the afternoon sweeping those things off the carpet. Ho hum.

Saturday 8 March 2014

Vegetable Liberation

"A human approaches
He holds snacks a plenty,
In seconds he'll leave
With a bucket that's empty.
We'll trip him and take
All the food we we can eat,
We'll scoff it before
He gets back on his feet.
Then tonight when it's dinner
All sweetness and light,
Be the cutest buns ever
He'll squee with delight.
Appear to him gentle
His small fluffy friends,
All prepped for tomorrow
When we do it all again!"

Friday 7 March 2014

The Party State

"It's Friday, let's kick back and enjoy - bring me a carrotini and bowl of bun-party snacky-mix this deep."

Thursday 6 March 2014

At Last -The First Fursday Foto Tip!

People have occasionally expressed interest in how I go about taking the photo's for the Rescue, so some time ago I promised to do some "bunny photo tips" on this blog. Here is where we start. But before I begin spewing my unique and questionable advice, I gotta ramble on a bit so you know where it comes from. If that sounds too boring, feel free to skip ahead to the first tip, which is right at the end of the spewing. Here goes...

I have been photographing rabbits now for more than six years. Despite having no skill in this area at the time, I somehow became the official photographer for the Rescue quite early on in my volunteering. What I lacked in skill and experience I made up for in enthusiasm and dedication and...well... I owned a digital camera, I turned up every week and I knew how to make the pictures the right size to put on RabbitRehome. In the small volunteer team we had back then, this made me the expert.

Well anyway, as the years went on I got better at the photography thing. This happened through lots of experience, a fair amount of advice from photographer friends and just a little bit of reading. I learned which end of the camera to point at the bunny and which end to jam my face in. I found out how to hold the camera as steady as I could and how to change the settings to make up for that being not very steady at all. As I got to know bunnies better I also got better at spotting when the moment to take the picture was. I even started seeing it coming in time to have the camera ready and in the right place. Lastly, I started to find which buttons on my computer made the photographs look better after they were taken.

As the quality of the final pictures improved, so the number of ways they were used increased - not only do they appear on our website and Facebook pages, but on our calendars, and they have also been used by other organisations promoting rabbit welfare, by newspapers, a magazine and even a TV station. And I guess I must have been doing something right because our volunteers even started asking me to take pictures of their own bunnies!

That kinda sounds like I might know what I'm doing but if I'm honest, as much as I know I have improved in my photography, I still don't consider myself that great at it. When I compare the quality of my pictures with those of my photographer friends, it is quite plain that for all that I've figured out, there is so much I still have to learn. But then none of their photo's are of bunnies, so in that way at least I win..!

What is my point in telling you all of this? Quite simply, before you start taking my advice on photographing bunnies, I want you to know where it is coming from. I'm probably not the best person to give you general photography advice, but luckily for you there are thousands of great websites already that can do just that. But when it comes to bunnies, I now know a lot of simple tricks that have made the pictures you see now much better than the ones I produced all those years ago when I started. And here I would like to share these tricks with you. Which leads us to....

Bunny Photo Tip #1

This first tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you. And here it is:-

When taking a picture of a bunny (or any other animal), unless you have particular reason to do otherwise, always take the picture from the head height of your subject. Hold the camera so the lens at the front is about the same height off the ground as the bunny's eyes/nose, make sure you are standing close enough (or zoomed in) that the bunny fills a decent amount of the frame and take the picture.

"Did it work? Do I look handsome?"

Simple, eh? I thought we should start with the easy ones. But so you don't feel all cheated and all, especially if you read the essay above and were expecting something more complicated, let me explain my reasoning:

  • The camera when the picture is taken is the eyes of the person viewing the photo afterwards. If you are at head height (rather than, say, looking down from some distance away) you are right there with the bunny in their world. To make the person viewing the picture feel connected to the scene, you want them to feel part of it.
  • You also want your photo to convey your bunny's personality and mood, and for that you need it to contain the parts of your bunny that express those things. As with most animals, this is mostly in the face:- Ears, eyes, nose, mouth. (Sometimes, if you have displeased them, it's in the tail as that's all you're gonna see, but we'll leave that for another day.) Your average bunny has their mouth tucked underneath out of sight, so if you have the camera anywhere higher than the nose then the image is missing a vital part that your monkey brain is expecting to see when it looks at a face.
  • If you take a photo from some distance below the subject's eye-line they will appear to tower over you, making them seem big and imposing. They are looking down on you, like a bully at school who has just knocked you to the ground. If you take it from a little above then the subject is looking up, like an innocent child. There are times when you want to add elements of this into your photo (like trying to better capture overbearing grumpy bunnies or the sweetness of baby bunnies) but most of the time you just want to capture them as they are, so straight on is the best way to start.

So there you go. If you have any questions about today's tip, please comment below. It is my plan that more Fursday Foto Tips follow, so if any of our bunny friends out there are disappointed with any particular aspects of their parents photo-taking skills, please let us know what you'd like us to help them with!

See you back here tomorrow for more bunny tales.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

It's a Mystery

Well I have some good news. Montana went to the vets last week and she appears to be fine - on the vets scales her weight was normal and the vet couldn't find the lump in her jaw. Maybe it was a stray chunk of snacks, maybe the scales at the Rescue were having a bad day, or maybe there was something and all your well wishes made her better, no-one knows at this point. Typically, I only found out she was fine from Caroline after I gave them extra fatty snacks for breakfast - they didn't say a word of course, acting like they were supposed to be having tubby bunny food and scoffing the lot. Well anyway, the important thing is she is fine.

In other news, foster bunny Anouska was bugging me to get out more, so over the weekend I gave her some time in the garden. Unfortunately it had to be alone as her partner is too shy to go out, but I think she had a good time anyway, what do you think?

"OMG, it's so green!!! Woo-hoo!"

"Er, why have you brought me inside? Did it look like I'd finished nomming all the grass?"

Sorry Anouska, but Whisky said we had to leave some for him, even if he only wanted to chin it!

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Tuesday Tail #2

"Here comes the cross, so stop looking at my butt and get yours nearer the goal!"

Monday 3 March 2014

The Monday...?

Quick show of paws - who thinks last Monday's post had a spelling error? Yes, yes, I can see all the cuteologists among you with their little feets in the air... OK, for those peeps, here is this weeks episode of "The Monday Mouf".

Sunday 2 March 2014

What's Cookin', Whisky?

Here's Whisky just now:

There are only two times he disappears into this out-of-the-way corner of his room:-

  • When he realises it's medicine time.
  • As a comment on my cooking (human food).

He's not on medicines this week, so apparently it's my dinner that is frightening him. As shopping day isn't until tomorrow, it was a bit of an experiment in things I found in the cupboard and corners of the fridge. So while I could have taken his criticism personally, having just eaten the offending item, I actually think he might have a point.

"Oh OK, so I'm right now? Well if you agree with me about your food, perhaps next time you'll listen to criticisms about the quantities you give me of mine!"

OK Whisky, we'll discuss extra pellets when you've finished your hay...

Saturday 1 March 2014

The Saturday Scare

There was a loud crash behind me, the door swung shut and suddenly the room was plunged into an impenetrable darkness. I could feel a chill draft against my cheek. And then it started.


That sound. Like a broken heart beat.


Every fibre of my being screamed at me to run, but as I could see nothing in the blackness I held fast. Then slowly, oh so slowly, I edged away from the sound, feeling along the floor with my feet, but somehow it only became louder.


My own heart beating heavy in my chest, pulse pounding in my ears, and yet still, that terrible sound...


I could take it no more, I turned, I lurched forward, but my feet caught something on the floor and I fell.


As I threw my arms out before me to save myself, the bucket slipped from my hands and clattered away into the dark.


And there, right in front of me, a tiny terrifying shape appeared from the dark and fixed me with its eyes. At that moment I knew. I just knew.


I'd never forget to include a small piece of carrot with Meadows breakfast again.