According to Ruurd Jelle van der Leij: “With all the birds feeding in the garden on the seeds I drop for them, there is always some left for nightlife. This resulted over the year in a group of about 5 rats visiting my outdoor ‘studio’ every night.
With an infrared camera and an app on my phone, I could follow in detail what they were doing every night, finally deciding this had to become a photo project. From the start, I wanted to portray the rats as nicely as possible. There are a lot of prejudices about rats and a lot of negativity surrounds them. In my series, I wanted to show them in such a nice way that the animal in combination with the setting would make you love the image and therefore the rats without maybe even realizing it.
I started with a simple setup just to see if the rats would accept me sitting 5 meters away and with their feeding spot all of a sudden in full light. I decided to use a 100-watt LED lamp so I would not need to flash and shock them. This worked from the start, the rats accepted the light immediately and only had to get used to the sounds I made with the camera. By moving slowly and starting with one click at a time I could gain their trust. Once all of this was done I could start building the settings I really wanted. I worked on my water table which, during the day, is used by birds to drink. It gives a great reflection as an extra dimension to the pictures.”
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