Monthly Archives: October 2011

Sunday Morning Dilemma

With the clocks going back an hour and having been busy with the workshop yesterday, I decided to have a lazy Sunday today. The F1 Indian Grand Prix was on at a reasonable time and the papers arrived in time for me to read them over breakfast for a change. Everything was going to plan; an interesting if not exciting race, an article on Foley sound recording for movies in the Sunday magazine, until I noticed that the berries on the pyracantha bush in the back garden were proving very popular with all types of birds. Dilemma. To continue watching the Grand Prix or to take the opportunity to get a few images of the birds if possible. The light was quite good, but I was concerned what the white window frames of my neighbours house would look like in the images.

Luckily for me the best photographic vantage point for the birds was by opening the sliding patio doors next to the TV. Brilliant! Now I could watch the F1 race and photograph the birds at the same time. Who said men can’t multi-task! By taking a low view point, the white frames of my neighbours house were mostly removed from the background and their brick work produced a great out of focus background as well. I noticed that the yellow berries were more popular than the red berries on the neighbouring bush. This meant that I could predict where the birds were most likely to be, which allowed my to alter my position again to get a better background as well as a view of the TV. If only all nature photography could be this simple!

Mewslade Bay Day Course 2011

Unfortunately we were not that lucky with the weather today. At least the morning was relatively dry, even though the light was very flat.  Wider views of the bay were still possible, but the final image would have to be in black and white. Closer images of the rock formations could be taken for colour or black and white images. The challenge was to find an acceptable pattern to isolate.

The rain proved too much in the afternoon. So after lunch we retreated to the Gower Inn, hoping to get some shelter from the rain and a hot drink. The plan was to carry on into Ilston Cwm where we hoped to get some cover from the rain and get a few more photos. The rain kept falling and the light got darker, so plans to continue were abandoned.

I would like to thank David, Debra, Nigel, Roger and Sandra for joining me.I hope you enjoyed at least some of the day if not the weather! This was only the third weather affected day in nearly 3 years, so I can’t complain. Now for Rhossili Bay in a few weeks.

WWT National Wetlands Centre Wales

I had a few moments spare a weekend ago or so. I hadn’t been to the WWT reserve for a while, so I spent a morning wandering around and seeing what was about. Although it was relatively quiet on the bird front, I managed to get a few images I liked. The challenge of making an image in bright conditions with a blue sky and high contrast got me thinking a bit more than normal at least.

I like images that have a complete reflection of the subject and find that Herons and Little egrets work well in the high contrast situation of photographing into the light. Normally the dark area at the top of the image above would be distracting to the viewers eye, but for some reason I think it works here.

The audio recording below is one I made at the same time as the image above and below. It has more species on it than I managed to photograph, but it gives a great impression of the sounds of a tidal marsh.

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One problem I find at a lot of bird reserves is the positioning of the hides and the direction they face. At WWT National Wetlands Centre Wales a lot of the hides are south facing; directly into the light. Luckily this time of year with the sun lower in the sky it can produce some great backlit situations. In cloudier conditions, with the light more difuse, the direction of the hide doesn’t matter. High contrast lighting is alway a difficult issue to deal with and can spoil a good image. Side lighting in the image above helps provide some texture to the grasses, but makes it harder to get a good exposure on the birds without loosing too much detail in the shadows.

Wildphotos 2011, Richmond Park & WWT London Wetlands Centre

Another Wildphotos has come and gone. Once again it was a great two days with inspiring speakers and the option to speak to some of the leading lights in Nature and Landscape photography. The variation of speakers and their specialities was excellent with most areas of nature and landscape photography covered. Images shown were exceptional and proved inspiring and depressing at the same time. Each year the bar seems to be raised higher. I have started to implement some of the ideas I had from from last year. I still need to catch up with some of these, but I found that this year I was ahead of the curve on some of the ideas spoken about – I just need to stop planning them and get on producing some images to show!

Check out the speakers and their websites HERE.

On the trend front it looks as if wide angle images are gaining the upper hand at the moment, whether remotely controlled or with the photographer present. Subject matter seems to require an all encompassing coverage, from wide landscape to macro images, with a conservation theme for the overall message.

   

After two days of sitting in a lecture theatre in the Royal Geographic Society headquarters, I needed to get out and about and take some photos. The forecast was for a sunny Sunday, so I though I would visit Richmond park for the rutting red deer. It turned out to be a dark, cloudy morning and not the clear sunrise I had hoped for; so the lighting was quite flat. Photographing the deer is quite popular, so quite a few other photographers were around. Most of these seem to have no idea of field craft and observing the behaviour of their subject to see if it is happy and relaxed or not. At one point a stag and his group of 15 females was virtually surrounded by photographers, mimicking a pack of animals attacking the herd. All the deer were very alert and looked nervous. The photographers were completely unaware and carried on finding the best positions to photograph from. I left to try and find other deer to photograph, but due to having a bigger lens than most, I seemed to attract other photographers more than any thing else.

I decided to leave the park and visit the WWT London Wetlands Centre. Although it was quiet on photographic opportunities, it was great to wander about without hordes of other photographers. I’m looking forwards to Wildphotos 2012, but it is time to start pushing forwards with some of my own projects.

The fruits of Autumn

The colours of the leaves in Autumn tend to get the headlines, but autumn brings out a wide selection of fruits. These fruits tend to have the same vivid colours of the autumn leaves but on a smaller scale. Often overlooked by photographers, they are easy to find in most locations. The key is to try and find the best and freshest examples.

Fungi are probably the most popular of the fruits of Autumn to be photographed, but require quite a lot of effort to find pristine examples. Fungi tend to deteriorate quite quickly so regular visits to a location will be required to find perfect examples to photograph. Flash may be required or the use of reflectors and aluminium foil to lighten up the dark areas underneath the main cap of the fungi. Lenses for photographing fungi can range from extreme wide angles, with their close focusing ability, all the way through to telephoto lenses with or without extension tubes, to allow you to really isolate the subject from the background.

So far the autumn leaf colours this year are not as strong as other years. Normally some cold weather is needed to encourage the change from green. I’m not sure if this year is going to be good for autumn leaf colour, some of the trees are loosing their leaves and they still look relatively green or not a very strong orange, yellow or red.  Acer trees tend to be quite vivid with the leaf colour, but so far the ones in my garden are looking subdued compared to other years. This may all change quite rapidly if the cold weather arrives, so lets hope for some frost!

Back from a few weeks in Iceland – still editing!

I managed to sneak a couple of weeks travelling in Iceland at the start of September. What can I say about Iceland? Wow, a photographers dream. Weird landscapes, all types of weather and great people. I felt that I only scratched the surface in my two weeks even though I purposely tried not to cover too much of the country and targeted a few areas in particular.

Jokulsarlon is amazing. Large chunks of ice break off the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier and enter a lagoon of glacial melt water which then travels out to sea. I managed three days here and each day the weather was different, allowing some variation in images so hopefully the images are not too repetitive.

Geysir has a collection of hot pools and well ….. geysirs. Geysir itself only goes off with an earthquake, but Strokkur next door goes off every 5 to 7 minutes which helps us photographers get an image to our liking. I found it difficult to get some variation here, but managed a few different images.

I didn’t expect to see the Northern Lights, but managed to see them 3 nights running. The best display was on my first night typically when I was not sure of the exposure I needed and a bit of experimentation was required to find out. At least I know what settings to work from if I have to do it again!

I stayed 3 nights at Vik, which acted as my base for visiting a few waterfalls, but it was the beach and surrounding cliffs that proved more successful photographically speaking. The black sand immediately made the images different and it was just a matter of using different angles and locations to make the most of it.

I hope to visit again some time soon as it would be nice to get some winter images plus delve into the wildlife as well. The country is geared up to all levels of tourism, from camping to luxury, so if you get the chance to visit, give it a go!