Friday, February 28, 2014

Lions, bats, hawks and dragons.

Unfortunately I didn't shoot any of those animals, a dragon would be cool, maybe even cooler than a unicorn, but we all know how hard they are to find and shoot.

Chinese new year just passed earlier this month and they sent me down to Crown street mall and the Nan Tien buddhist temple to shoot some lunar new year celebrations. Nan Tien is beautiful, it's the largest buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere I hear, architecturally very beautiful with fantastic gardens as well. Having spent the last couple of Chinese New Year's in Gladstone it was nice to come to a city where they had a lion running and jumping around. Obviously it's not Melbourne, Sydney or Asia but hey, it's better than nothing.

Sometimes in my job I have to go and photograph things that are pretty confronting, things that make me feel uneasy, usually i'm not too bothered by things, i've been to my fair share of fatals, sure they're bad, I don't enjoy seeing people die, but i'm usually pretty distant from it. I'm an observer just documenting what's happening in front of me, however this time it was different. 

I wasn't at a fatal shooting someone who had driven into a truck and killed themselves at 100km/h, or someone who had been murdered by their significant other, it was a bat, a grey fruit bat. We covered a story about people putting nets over their fruit trees because they didn't want birds or bats eating their fruit, sounds fair enough, when I was growing up my uncle would always put nets over his apple tree to deter the birds - and it worked - however I never thought about what would happen if they got trapped or if they ever injured themselves on the nets. 

The job description for this was pretty basic "meet such and such who is a carer of fruit bats." in my head I had the perfect shot, she would be smiling at me and her arm would be out with some bats hanging off her. Brilliant photo, lets go. 

I walked up and introduced myself and prepared for my shoot, I asked to see the bat we'd be shooting. She scurried off to the other room and pulled a bat out of a cage who'd been severely injured when caught in nets. 

It was not what I expected, he was dying, practically dead. She pulled him out slowly and he let out what seemed like his final breath, the smell of rotting fruit is what struck me. Here was this little creature about to die, dying right in front of my lens. 

I'm usually not bothered by these things but anything to do with animals hits me right to the core. We shot him for about 10 minutes and when we put him back, Sandra, the fruit bat volunteer told me. "He's gone." She slowly put him back in the cage and covered him with his blanket. 

Feeling pretty despondent I asked to see if she had any bats which were on the up, not so.. dead, to be blunt, luckily she had some.

Speaking of 'on the up' the Wollongong Hawks won their 4th game in a row last week against the New Zealand breakers. The hawks have been pretty up and down this year, unfortunately NBL is no where near as big here as it is in other countries, there are rumours of clubs shutting down due to lack of funding and low ticket sales, but the Hawks are one of, if not the only original club left since the inception of the NBL in the 70's. They're playing for their 5th win in a row tonight, fingers crossed they get there.

Last week I shot my first NRL game, I don't know anything about league but being in a stadium with thousands of fans cheering really gets the hairs on your neck to stand up. I've shot league before but never at a professional level. I don't know any of the players, hopefully I can learn them within the next few months so shooting them and identifying them will be a LOT easier.