The best of Dorset in words and pictures

Animals on coast

Steve Belasco shoots coastline fauna in its natural environment

A grey seal bobs on the surface of the sea at Portland Bill

A grey seal bobs on the surface of the sea at Portland Bill

There’s a certain sterility to capturing a perfect shot of an animal, without any distractions. The ‘distractions’ are normally the context of the shot. Steve Belasco is the first to admit that he’s not a wildlife expert, he just takes pictures of animals and then tries with some help from his friends, and online search engines, to match the animal with the pictures he’s taken either out on his boat or when out walking with the dog.

Bottlenose dolphins in Weymouth Bay. The clearly smaller juvenile dolphin is on the other side of the pod from the photographer's boat and sandwiched by older members of the group

Bottlenose dolphins in Weymouth Bay. The clearly smaller juvenile dolphin is on the other side of the pod from the photographer’s boat and sandwiched by older members of the group

A mallard near Abbotsbury takes time out of his day to rest on a warm wall and keep out of the prevailing wind

A mallard near Abbotsbury takes time out of his day to rest on a warm wall and keep out of the prevailing wind

Of course context can also, almost inevitably, lead the viewer to anthropomorphise the animal: to view its actions through a human prism and ascribe human value judgements to it.

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Not so much chaffinches as chav finches. These two brawling males in East Bexington kept Steve busy with his framing and focusing.

Not so much chaffinches as chav finches. These two brawling males in East Bexington kept Steve busy with his framing and focusing.

This is exactly what Johnny Morris used to do on Animal Magic before that kind of wildlife programme fell out of favour. But the one of the joys of taking pictures of things for the fun of it, rather than for ultra-serious natural history purposes, is that you can allow yourself to add amusing titles.

Cormorants carefully trying to observe and obey the regulations on the Fleet Channel marker in Portland Harbour

Cormorants carefully trying to observe and obey the regulations on the Fleet Channel marker in Portland Harbour

Looking like a penguin that's just on the cusp of solving an insoluble problem, this  razorbill attempts take-off in Weymouth Bay

Looking like a penguin that’s just on the cusp of solving an insoluble problem, this razorbill attempts take-off in Weymouth Bay

Where the animals are looking back, normally specifically the mammals, you very much get the sense that they are as much observing you as you are them.

 'Angel of the South': Steve Belasco's title for this photograph of a cormorant lording it over the other seabirds in Lyme Bay

‘Angel of the South': Steve Belasco’s title for this photograph of a cormorant lording it over the other seabirds in Lyme Bay

With the exception of the marine shots, taking these pictures required no more than walking around with a camera and stopping to properly see things, which should be an inspiration to us all.

 A wall butterfly – which gets its name from resting two-thirds open on any surface, chooses to warm itself on the pebbles on Chesil Beach near Abbotsbury

A wall butterfly – which gets its name from resting two-thirds open on any surface, chooses to warm itself on the pebbles on Chesil Beach near Abbotsbury

A barrel jellyfish lurks just beneath the sea's surface. Weighing up to 35kg, the animal lacks a brain, heart or indeed blood. They eat plankton and are ancient in evolutionary terms, being twice as old as the oldest part of the Jurassic Coast.

A barrel jellyfish lurks just beneath the sea’s surface. Weighing up to 35kg, the animal lacks a brain, heart or indeed blood. They eat plankton and are ancient in evolutionary terms, being twice as old as the oldest part of the Jurassic Coast.

Steve Belasco's book, Dorset from the Sea, is published  by Veloce Publishing (01305 260068), www.veloce.co.uk.  It is available in two versions:  a hardback coffee table version (ISBN 978-1-845847-62-3) at £25, or a pocket souvenir version (ISBN 978-1-845847-64-7) at £9.99.

Steve Belasco’s book, Dorset from the Sea, is published
by Veloce Publishing (01305 260068), www.veloce.co.uk.
It is available in two versions: a hardback coffee table version (ISBN 978-1-845847-62-3) at £25, or a pocket souvenir version (ISBN 978-1-845847-64-7) at £9.99.

 

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