I was up in Rhayader a week or so ago collecting a print from Andrew at Actpix who prints and frames all my prints for me, so I thought I would pop into Gigrin Farm as the weather forecast was for some sun for a change. Well the sun disappeared rapidly after 11.00am and it went dark and rainy. Not the best conditions for photographing fast flying birds and not the most interesting of light.

Having attempted previously the style of Vincent Munier at an another?visit, I was up to experimenting a bit more. It also gave me a chance to test my new cameras. See if you can work out which image was made with a ?400, ?1500 or ?2000+ camera body. You won’t be able to I’m sure at this size, but also if you could see the files next to each other, you wouldn’t notice any difference. I was using 1600 ISO as it was so dark, plus I like to over expose the sky to retain detail in the underside of the Kites. I can then lose this detail if needed later. The quality of the files out of the ?400 camera body is superb and it was one of the images from?that camera that Andrew had printed for me into a 2 1/2 foot long image.

The image above was forced on me by the conditions. The light on the birds vanished and a bright patch of sky opened up behind them. I decided to shillouette the birds and expose for the sky. Normally I try and avoid making images while there are too many birds in the sky as it is visually it is chaotic and hard to isolate individual birds. For the lighting conditions I had, the?multiple birds in frame?worked well.? I took a sequence of images as I wanted to keep the sky in the image. I framed the patch of sky that I wanted as the background and then took images as the birds flew into the area I had framed. Of the twenty or so frames only this one had some semblence of order and composition. There is a slightly menacing feel to the image which I like.

Below are a few more conventional type images for those who like that style better.


Author Nick

More posts by Nick

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Benedict says:

    Nice set of images Nick,but there is nothing there that I haven’t seen a hundred times before.

    What does interest me however is your first image in that it demonstrates a flight movement for which these raptors are well known. This brings me to an earler blog of yours where you were discussing ‘Blur’ when you last took Red Kite images. For me that series spoke more to me about these fine raptors – speed,agility,etc.

    I think that those who forte is to photograph these birds photograph their different characteristics and that includes all other species that abound our landscape – should try and record these characteristics and not serve up what I would call static images – those we can record any time – so for me the introduction of Blur is a way of achieving this,so long as the image remains fairly recognisable for what is is.

    That’s my view although many would disagree for sure.

    Anyway a Happy New Year to you. AND when are you going to reveal what new Nikon kit you have purchased(LOL) …a D600 maybe?

  • Nick says:

    Hi Benedict,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with you mostly, although I have seen some “static” images that do convey a sense of motion (I’m thinking specifically of a Danny Green image of a kite flying in a snow fall). With a subject as popular as the Red Kite it is quite a challenge to get away from the same images that everybody makes. My quest for something different is still on going and hopefully will produce something worth showing soon.

    I think the framing and other options of capturing other characteristics of the birds life that you mention are also important, but harder to achieve, hence the lack of images of that type. It is these type of images that the Swedish nature photographers excel at, check out Jan Tove, Pal Hermansen etc. I think the static image is a typically British/North American disease. European nature photographers, especially the Scandinavian ones, tend to be much less inclined to produce the static view. One of my favourite images in the last Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards was of two fighting bears in Finland. Enough blur to convey the fight, but static enough to know that it is two bears fighting.

    As for the cameras, I’ll have a blog post up soon about it, so you’ll just have to wait a bit longer!

    Best wishes,


  • Benedict says:

    Nick – I think that Pal Hermansen’s bird images is what I was alluding to previously. I like his use of movement very much.

Leave a Reply