Monthly Archives: September 2011

WWT London Wetlands Centre – It isn’t always birds

While visiting a few friends in London a few weekends ago, I managed my usual pilgrimage to WWT London Wetlands Centre. It was relatively quiet on the bird front photographically speaking. I’m sure for birdwatchers with their more powerful telescopes and binoculars there was more going on. The revamped wildlife garden as you head towards the WWF, Tower hide, etc. was showing some great colours and even though I was restricted to my telephoto lens I made some plant photos. I have always found that when it is quieter on the bird front most WWT centres have plenty of other subjects to photograph – plants to insects, it is just that I never normally have the correct lens with me!

Most of the birds were too far out on the water to get good images, so below I tried to get some form of interesting pattern with the position of the ducks. I like the contrast between the group of ducks and the lone duck by itself. To emphasise this separation, the focus point was on the group of ducks to draw your attention to them first. The only bit I’m not to sure of is the white eye look to the main bird due to its waterproof membrane covering the eye. I couldn’t seem to make an image with it having the normal black eye showing.

I always find the centre a good place to photograph little Grebes. Being used to the visitors allows a close approach, making it easier to get frame filling images. I find that if you just spend some time with a particular bird, the photo opportunities will come. This particular bird below had a chick, but it kept well hidden on the side of the pond. When it did come into view, reeds got in the way ruling out a picture. The chick had some great stripes on it, a similar but darker pattern to Great crested grebe chicks. Another reason to return and try again next time.

Broad Pool, Gower Peninsula

I always find Broad Pool a great place to visit in the evening for some sunset images. You can get stuck in a rut somewhat and keep producing similar images, so I set out to try and get something different at this visit.  I think I partially succeeded in doing this. I really like the abstract nature of the image of the reeds above. With the perfect reflection, it is difficult to know where the reeds and the reflection begins. The colours and water surface texture provide a contrast to the straight, graphic shape of the reeds.

The final two images are more conventional in style. They show the patch of reeds that originally caught my eye and that resulted in the first image. What I have found on the workshops is that other photographers sometimes struggle in distilling what ever caught their eye in a scene into a successful image that they feel reflects what they saw. Most of the time they are trying to get too much into the image and need to leave things out more. The saying less is more is just as true for photography. 

If you go down to the woods today….

I manged to escape the normal work day for a few minutes the other day and headed off the Gelli Hir Nature Reserve near Cilonnen, Gower. Normally on a sunny day I wouldn’t consider going out to make any pictures in a woodland. The bright sunlight makes the scene far too contrasty, making it difficult to get good pictures. Bright light can work well sometimes, but you are limited to backlight images generally. It still pays to wait till a bit later in the day as well as some of the harshness of the light is removed.

I didn’t follow my own advice and deciding that I needed to challenge myself a bit I went out at the ‘wrong’ time to see what I could manage images wise. It certainly made me think more, plus in noticed that my failure rate on images was greater. Overall the results were not too bad for 30 minutes playing around.

It was the mixture of ripe and ripening berries that drew my attention to the black berries below. I wanted something different from a normal image, so I used my shadow to place the black berries in shade to contrast with the sun lit background. This was an attempt to try and produce an image that was different from a straight image with every thing in the same light. The image sort of worked, but the berries were too dark and lifeless. A weak burst of fill in flash, about 1.7 stops less than the camera exposure, lifted the berries and added some shine back to the ripening fruits. The use of a shallow depth of field, helps to focus the attention on the fruits and looses distracting leaf detail in the background.