D800,Zeiss 100mm, email@example.com
A positive approach to life has had a profound way in which I can continue to enjoy our amazing world. When conditions for image making are not ideal for one subject, its time to rethink your plans and look at other areas of our world in which images might follow. On this particular day I didn’t have the chance to join a friend for some warbler photography in the early morning, but I still wanted to go and enjoy the natural world in another way. The 600mm stayed at home and I headed for the local wood to enjoy what I could with just a wide angle and a macro lens. The bag sure felt light and as I entered the woods I was amazed at the carpet of woodland flowers. The late spring had allowed the spring flowers to bloom in abundance due to the lack of leaves on the trees. The macro sure was a good choice and I got down to ground level to focus on the delicate flowering Wood Anemones. I did make sure I didn’t destroy the habitat by selecting a patch of flowers next to an area of dead leaves which gave me some room to spread out so to speak.The negative of not being able to go out in the morning photographing birds was now turning into many positives as I explored the flowers through the Zeiss 100mm lens, and I was playing a visual game on the macro level. So not to dwell on the negatives but look to gain a positive is an absolute must in todays changing climate and challenges, and the images will follow.
Thanks for viewing.
The alarm bellows out its unsavoury beeps, it’s 4.30am. Why on earth would I be rising at such an hour? The dawn light on an April morning with the sounds of birds is just a magical time. The world seems to be at peace and I just love being with nature with no one else around and being bathed in the golden light of dawn. I think the term ‘Golden minutes’ would actually be a more exact phrase to use, because it can last just for that length of time, and you had better be ready and have some sort of plan ready. Arriving after sunrise and the light will be gone and you will just be running around like a headless chicken! The cool night had produced some nice mist over this lake and from past experience I knew where to roughly be. The tufted ducks proved an added bonus anchoring the image and providing scale and connection to the moment.
Great crested Grebe
See how the light was already changing on the above image, and that’s just within a few minutes. I was lucky this grebe passed by me and a slight elevated position still allowed some colour within the image. A very happy few minutes of enjoying ‘the golden minutes’ The rest of the morning was spent looking for various warblers and a nice encounter with a weasel and I still possess my amazing squeaking skills to bring the weasel back for a few brief seconds. I didn’t get anymore images of worth but I was more than happy with those glorious few minutes in the dawn light. I have been struggling with lack of subjects and varying weather conditions just like everyone else, but the warblers are back and I’ve seen my first swallow and yellow wagtails spring is finally here, so let the games begin! Thanks for viewing and set that alarm clock.
A recent period of forestry management around one of my local woods revealed some nice surprises. I had been stumbling around over branches in a new cleared area and came upon this damaged tree. The pattern and layers of history had been revealed and I was captivated by the details and folds of the bark. I spent a good hour looking and trying different compositions. How do you really describe moments of joy in nature , no matter how benign when connecting with our natural world. Well, the sound of the shutter capturing a brief moment in time sealing the connection between eye and brain and prisoning pixels in a computer. Photography is just a tool used to pass on the message, read the message how you will. I saw a visual history of layered growth when capturing the above image, someone else might see destruction or colours and patterns never seen before. Some people don’t see anything! Or maybe its just an image of some bark? I was just happy to be out with a camera and lens in nature albeit in the rain and cold, and just enjoying any moment connecting and prisoning pixels when my eye and brain decided to pass on a message.
I like colour, we live in an amazingly colourful world, so for me to post any black and white images takes a lot of guts.Just sometimes it works. The afternoon I was out walking the light was very subdued and little colour was being revealed so it was just a day to think in black and white, which is basically looking at contrasts and tones. Shooting at f2 on the Zeiss helped with compression and isolating subjects. It was not a wide angle type of day even though I had a 24mm 1.4 in the bag, it stayed in the bag all afternoon.
Thanks for viewing.
The above image has probably taken me about 5-6 years to finally achieve. Conditions have varied from year to year with weather and light, to there being no birds to work with in some winters, not to mention the varied river levels which have had a profound effect on the birds behaviour. The grasses and weed they feed on only being accessible when the river is in a certain flood. Of course my skill levels have risen and a belief that you can achieve your goals if you persist. I have written before on learning behaviour of birds and how this can translate into more rewarding images. I hope you can follow this idea of watching and learning your subjects, its probably the best skill you learn before spending tens of thousand of pounds expecting the gear to do all the work for you.
I have only managed a couple of images of the female to date but I will try again for some better images within the next 5 years!.Like most ducks they move at a very rapid rate. Tracking a bird that moves so fast is very hard and takes a lot of failures just to get a few decent images.Keep persisiting. Reducing focus points and using the af/on button usually on the back of the camera really helps in capturing fast moving subjects, the af button is doing all the work on autofocus and not the shutter button, it works so keep practicing.Also use a very fast shutter speed to freeze those wings. More chances can be had when the birds you are watching start to display in an unusual way. Ducks when sitting on water start to move their head and seem to elongate their necks and generally start to look a bit nervous, just prior to erupting into flight. I have missed loads of times even when watching intently but also timed the birds erupting well but missed due to me being to slow in tracking.No chimping allowed during duck photography!!! It does seem to make you a bit nervous also, so have fun and try not to curse too much!
The duck fest will continue. Thanks for viewing.
I decided to finish my period of owl photography recently. I had managed to photograph the local Short-eared Owls in a variety of light conditions and also some nice environmental images depicting the owls in their winter habitat. I have been more than happy with what I photographed and it was time to work on other local subjects. My files do not contain too many images of ducks so I have set about trying to capture some species which frequent the reservoirs and rivers close to home. The normal challenge of time and light condition not to mention having a species close to the camera, I think Brian Cox might have a formula to use but for now I will just call it birdphotography=bloodyhardwork. Anyway with my normal resolve I have added some nice images of late. The strong wind conditions coupled with some nice light enabled some great chances. The Goldeneyes put on a great display on one morning which resulted in some displaying action and portrait shots of both male and female. Naturally I returned the next day for more action but the ducks had disappeared.
One of the finest Tufted Ducks I’ve seen locally with the strong winds causing the duck to have a bad hair day. I have always struggled to get low angles, always ending with me having a bad neck and back and not lasting long laying in the goose poop. I know there are some expensive equipment you can buy or adapt a frying pan but you can’t always be carrying that around along with a tripod. How could I get the low angles required? well I used a vital piece of equipment that is always with me, my tripod of course. I simply placed the legs and head at right angles to me, and rested the lens in the wimberely head. Not perfect but a quick way to get low and rest the lens without breaking my neck. I will post some images in the near future to give you the idea. One species which is quite common on ponds and reservoirs is the Pochard. I had passed on them too many times but on a windy cold morning recently I finally managed some images of both male and female. All in all a nice few weeks capturing some shots of ducks but there are plenty of shots which I have pre-visualised which might make for more fine images, but you know the formula!
Nikon D800,600vr,tc-1.4,iso 1000
Birds of prey can be very hard work. Sitting in a dead nettle patch on a small stool covered in camo’ netting could hardly be called fun. However when you have owls hunting right in front of you the visual rewards are incredible and the discomforts soon disappear. I have been watching carefully what the local population of wintering Short-eared owls have been doing while hunting some grasslands. Failure in terms of images on many occasions but an understanding of the birds behaviour all adds to the trial and failure of photographing these wonderful birds. Owls are very captivating and the more you watch the more you enjoy. Images have been few but I have managed some fine photographs which show the birds hunting over grasslands. In-fact I do seem to be doing quite well for owls this winter. I managed to photograph one bird a few weeks ago sitting on a dead thistle with the aid of a friend in his 4×4. I captured a few shots in the fading light with my heart racing and the vr function on the 600 mm working overtime , but it has certainly got the ball rolling in terms of owl images added to my library.
In terms of images and challenges 2012 has been quite a good year for me. I don’t tend to look at volume of images captured but more about quality and my ever developing vision. A big landmark for me was the purchase of Nikon D800 in spring. At long last a camera that can give me quality in bucket loads and amazing autofocus, wrapped in a professional grade body and at a reasonable price. My images are now going beyond what I was creating with velvia 50 film back in the days. That is a massive moment for me.Another was purchasing a Nikkor 600 mm vr lens moving up from 500 mm has been a massive jump in the type of images I have been able to capture. The ability to shoot without the aid of teleconvertors has seen a large move forward in terms of quality and coupled with the D800 has become a stunning combination. Zeiss, Zeiss, Zeiss, holy smoke the 100 mm macro. The quality of that lens is just stunning and has become one of my most used lenses in the very short time I’ve had it my camera bag, just stunning. The weather has been challenging, but thats the same for most photographers. I have had to really push myself to capture images of a grade which I expect of myself and having a mixed bag of light and conditions hasn’t helped, but I feel it’s actually been a very good year for images. Keeping a positive outlook on life . A few highlights include photographing a Four-spotted chaser dragonfly landing next to me in some amazing evening light in spring, puffins and gannets hovering just feet away in some windy weather in summer,star watching in Northumberland on a deserted beach,watching hundreds of butterflies on the wing on a beautiful summers day and more recently my work with Short-eared owls. My recent macro work has also been very rewarding. A great year for me and hopefully 2013 will bring many visual rewards.
A big thank you for all following my blog. I have been very humbled by all the likes and views from all around the world. I hope you have a peaceful new year for all your families and friends.
A visit to the Newark Air Museum in Nottinghamshire, proved to be a wonderful way to spend some hours viewing the static planes and exhibitions. Although my main interest is with the natural world I do challenge myself to try and capture images outside my so called comfort zone, so I am constantly looking for excuses to invigorate the mind. I have found this keeps the mind open for photographic ideas. So with an open mind I walked around the museums planes and started to see some images worthy of capture, I looked for details, colours and compositions and with the Zeiss 100 mm stuck on the front of the D800 this proved even more challenging as the perspective remains the same. The lens isn’t actually stuck, I just can’t seem to take it off at the moment, it’s that good.
Planes in their very nature offer wonderful curved lines and contours which gives the photographer amazing images to capture.
Details abound and a rare venture into the black and white.
I may just have to visit again as I am just wondering what different lighting might produce. The glowing warmth of a winter sunset might just be spectacular with all that metal!
Sorry for the image heavy post but I did have a great time and I have lots more, but the last image is probably my favourite and captured in the final light of the day as a huge black cloud was about to swallow the sun for the day.
Maybe you might just do something out of the norm and don’t forget to take plenty of images, it can be great fun.Thanks for viewing.
I have passed the red box in this certain village countless times but tonight I finally opened my eyes. Telecommunication has changed beyond our wildest dreams, so it was good to see the local community using the vessel to take people on even further adventures.Just a fun image to capture. Thanks for viewing
Autumn colours abound and more importantly the light is warmer making for some amazing image making. This time can be also be a bit overwhelming and care has to be taken not to fall into repeating last years crop of images which somehow failed to convey the glorious changing of light and colours. I like most fall into the same traps of visual failings, but not this year. I am sort of following on from my previous post about depth within images and how this can convey a more rewarding image given the right subject. So I’ve been out in the woods searching for the subjects and light to put my ideas into action, easier said than done!
The last light of an autumns day glancers over decaying plant stems on a recently discovered small grassland. I was fighting time and only had a small window to achieve the above image. I was trying to capture light and the feeling of autumn light and has become one of favourites to date. I don’t think its an easy image to view with no striking subject for the eye to grab hold, but I kind of like the mystery and the light falling within the image making for an image to captivate.
Another example of the changing season, this time seed pods. Isolating the pods against a misty background again using a narrow depth of field. I have been using a Zeiss 100 f2 macro lens for the images in this post, which seems to be almost glued to the front of the D800 recently. I just can’t stop using it, it’s so amazingly sharp with great colours that post processing is minimal and the feel of manually focusing this precision tool is magical. I hope you get my flavour of autumn and are enjoying the light and colours also. Thanks for viewing. Coming soon ‘A Day at the Museum’……
Holy Island Boats
D800, 24mm 1.4
Many images especially landscape can almost all be the same. Large depth of field showing details from foreground to the distant hills have their place but I find them somewhat of a visual blanket, producing an almost repetitive visual experience although there are some exceptions. I used to believe the only way to photograph a landscape or subject would be to follow these guidelines and the equipment of others. All changed earlier this year when after a long time of saving the pennies I invested in a Nikkor 24mm f1.4 lens. The magic number of course 1.4 would give that cinematic 3d look. Beautiful soft out of focus backgrounds with the subject highlighted by a narrow window of sharpness. The trouble starts in finding a sharp copy of the lens, it took me three attempts before the magic happened. I am glad I stuck with my plans, it’s proving to be one of my sharpest . Can you produce the effect with f1.8 and f2.8 lenses if money is a bit tight? Yes! Just maybe compromising a bit with the effect you will achieve. Of course you can use these type of lenses for many aspects of photography. I used mine for star photography recently with stellar results and I’ve used the lens at smaller aperture like f8/f11 for general landscapes with stunning results. A couple more examples with the 1.4.
Interestingly while I was having fun hand holding the 24 1.4 photographing these interesting blocks, a couple of photographers were working their magic with grads and 10 stoppers along the water’s edge probably producing the same type of image produced a thousand times before, who knows I know I was having lots of fun using the 1.4 and I don’t have to carry a heavy tripod if I don’t want to, thats liberating for sure. Maybe a camera mag’ told them this is how to photograph near the sea!
Thanks for viewing.