The Japanese macaque

I started this blog a while ago to talk about my experiences around the world and dabbling in the art that is photography (not that my work is necessarily worthy of the name ‘art’). Obviously I read other people’s blogs as well – and I think the thing that baffles me the most is how professionals find the time to edit their photos and write well-constructed prose whilst being away on location. Perhaps that’s where they find their writing inspiration. And I guess photographers spend a lot of time to themselves, meaning there might be plenty of time to work on a decent online post.

Through recent experience, I’ve come to the conclusion filming trips are completely different. You spend most of the day in close proximity to others – luckily I’ve always been surrounded by lovely people – and then in the evenings you’re either organising the footage you’ve just shot, you’re being sociable or you’re getting that rare but vital performance-enhancing activity: sleep.

EdR_With_the_cameraIn the past 3 trips, or 5 shoots, for this production I have done cold weather and hot weather shoots, day and night shoots, macro and large animal shoots, and I’ve done sit and wait shoots as well as run and gun shoots. I have finished work at 6am, and started work at 2am. I have recorded sound, filmed making ofs, camera assisted and even field directed in a way.


My latest adventure? Working with monkeys; specifically Japanese macaques. Did I hear you utter the words ‘snow monkey?’ Please no! This is not actually the name of the species (whose latin name is Macaca fuscata), and not all individuals live in places where there is snow.

Although they are the most northerly species of monkey, Japanese macaques are actually wide spread across the whole of Japan, and do far more interesting things than sit in a hot spring. The fact that people consider this to be the most well-known wildlife feature of Japan, ‘exotic’ in some way, and natural not only baffles me but can send me off on quite the rant. The realities that they are encouraged to stay in the area and any member of the public can literally pet these animals (or try to with the potential result being a monkey bite) are ignored.

(Rant over) – these animals are far more impressive than just sitting in a hot bath. Monkey planet recently did a great feature on them in their first episode using thermal cameras and huddling at night for warmth (though George McGavin does quickly revert to calling them snow monkeys, ahem) and a few years ago Steve Backshall did a trip to Japan where he visit macaques that go to the beach to wash their food (and misnamed the island it was filmed on).

And then there is our sequence. To find out what our Japanese macaques are up to, keep an eye out for the Japan series on BBC Two, coming in 2015.

Our filming location

Our filming location

Cameraman Graham MacFarlane hard at work

Cameraman Graham MacFarlane hard at work

(Next blog post eta is probably when I come back in 4 weeks’ time)

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