Monthly Archives: November 2014

Autumn in the Elizabeth & Rowe Harding Nature Reserve, Gower Peninsula

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Being in an old quarry, most of the trees in the Elizabeth & Rowe Harding Nature Reserve near Ilston, are sheltered from the prevailing winds and tend to keep their leaves a bit longer as a result. I always find woodlands a challenge to photograph in, as the wider view tends to be very chaotic and difficult to distil down into one photograph. Normally a good photographic composition is more about what you leave out than what you include, but in the wider woodland setting it is difficult to exclude things. To counteract this I normally choose a more telephoto view to allow isolation of part of the woodland and then add a shallow depth of field to de-clutter the background. It doesn’t always work and is awkward to to as you have to look through the lens at all zoom settings with each possible framing to really see what the camera will see.

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I spend a lot of time looking down or across when photographing, so I am trying to look up more. The sky was alternating between blue and white patches or grey clouds, so I waited for a blue patch to appear behind my chosen leaves  to help with the colour contrast. Grey clouds just tended to flatten the image, but unfortunately my attempt  to use a white background didn’t quite come off as I could never get a white cloud that would cover the whole frame. Without total coverage of the background in white, the non white part always became a distraction.

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Macro is always great with autumn leaves, so I picked up a few and set up a macro studio on the arm rest of a bench. Even though there wasn’t much of a breeze, what little wind there was makes a big difference when dealing with such a high magnification and long exposure. As the leaf was slightly curved, I used an aperture of F29 to get as much depth of field at a reasonable shutter speed as possible. Even with this aperture the top left and bottom right corners are out of focus. The variation in colours and texture between the upper and underside of the leaf is quite stark on some of the leaves, giving you a large variation of options to photograph.

Photographing Oystercatchers at Whiteford NNR, Gower Peninsula

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Originally I set off to Whiteford NNR to photograph any Dark Bellied Brent geese that over winter in the estuary. The few that I did see right at the end of the reserve were soon scared off by some dog walkers, so I decided to switch to the flocks of Oystercatcher being pushed closer to the shore by the rising tide.

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The strong wind was causing real problems keeping my camera and lens still. Even with high ISO and fast shutter speeds, getting sharp images proved difficult. Normally I would get the camera off the tripod and down to the ground, but the wind was drying off the top layer of sand on the beach and blowing it directly towards me. Even with my rain cover over the camera and lifted up on my tripod, sand was already getting in all the nooks and crannies.  I wasn’t going to put it on the deck.

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Back on the land part of the reserve, there wasn’t much sign of autumn yet even though a lot of the berries had been and gone. Most of the foliage was still green with only a few areas  of colour on some of the smaller trees.

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I liked the different colours of the back lit grasses and small trees at the edge of the marsh, but photographing them with the light directly shining into the lens proved really difficult without getting flare. Normally I like lens flare, but in this shot it didn’t look right. Even with some clouds coming along, 4 stops of hard graduated ND filtration was needed to balance the sky with the foreground producing the result below.

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