Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Turnstone and Black-headed Gull

Two more edited shots from the weekend before last, when some glorious – if fickle – light was available.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m


























Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 400
Distance to subject: c 7m

Common Gull

This Common Gull is one for Toffeeapple, who is often among the first to post a comment and always has something nice to say...

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/250th sec, f/6.4, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m


Monday, 30 January 2012

Trio of Turnstones

Such was the quality of light over the weekend here on the North Norfolk coast, it was possible for the first time in a while to drop down the ISO. The result, of course, is cleaner images with far less noise.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/250th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Common Gull

Lovely tonal values in this shot, I think.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/6.4, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m

Cock Pheasant

It's interesting, isn't it, how this Chinese import has come to be so emblematic of the British countryside.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at IDSO 640. Dostance to subject: > 20m

Black-headed Gulls (with attitude)

A quartet of shots showing just how vocal and animated Black-headed Gulls can be when staking out a claim to a patch of ground.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/6.4, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/125th sec, f/6.4, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m



























Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 250. Distance to subject: c 5m

Friday, 27 January 2012

Snow Buntings (abstract)

Technically there was little to recommend this shot when I called it on to the screen, but I did like the way the birds have been caught against a bright sky and there is something about their Arctic homeland in the feel of the shot.


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320th sec, f/6.4, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: > 15m

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Curlew

Another image shot in RAW, converted to an 8-bit Tiff file and then levels adjusted before applying a 7% blue filter to counteract any yellowing of the 'monochromes'.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/200th sec, f/7, 400mm at ISO 640. Monopod. Distance to subject: c 4m

Monday, 23 January 2012

Red Squirrel

In pretty gloomy conditions neither of these images – both of captive individuals – should have worked (1/85th sec is way too slow for predictable results at a focal length of 400mm) but what they lack in sharpness they more than make up for in their sense of intimacy. The key, I think, with captive animals is to compose the shot in such a way that the setting appears as natural as possible, paying as much attention to the background as, for example, to what the animal is doing. I do think both of these images look as if they may have been captured in the wild. Also, if you have to shoot through the wire mesh of an enclosure (as I did here), get the front of the lens as close as possible without the risk of scratching the glass and ensure it is absolutely flat to the fencing. That way, the wire strands will virtually disappear, too close to register in any intrusive way.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: c 4m

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85th sec, f/5.6, 370mm at ISO 640. Distance to subject: c 3.5m

Female Bearded Tit / Reedling

Another Bearded Tit from the weekend, this one a rather dainty female.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640. Distance: c 6m

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bearded Tit/Reedling (Panurus biarmicus)

For a short spell today in North Norfolk – between skies leaden with rain showers and then later near gale-force winds – there was the most glorious light. This brace of shots of a male Bearded Tit emerging from the shadows of the reed beds into a shaft of sunlight were the highlight of a wonderful afternoon at the Pensthorpe nature reserve.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/400th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640. Distance: c 6m

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/400th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640. Distance: c 6m

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Common Gull (Larus canus) monochrome

A simple enough shot, but I like the sense of a bird utterly at home in its watery world. The images were created by adjusting the levels first in CMYK and then again having converted to mono. Each was then given a 6% LBB colour filter to cool down the low colour temperature, which can result in yellowish monochromes.

Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

























Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Such a common bird, but nevertheless one of my favourites. The matching beak and legs are very handsome, together the white and grey are striking and – because it's fearless and happy to make a nuisance of itself – It's always such good value for wildlife photographers. This one had just scared off a group of Snow Buntings.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: c 5m


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: c 5m

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Two more Turnstones from a recent trip to Salthouse beach just a few minutes from home in North Norfolk. Interestingly, according to the BTO, the Turnstone – which can flip over stones of almost its own body weight – has been recorded feeding on a variety of food sources, including birds' eggs, chips and even carrion.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: < 4m









Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/400th sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 200. Distance to subject: < 6m

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis)

North Norfolk is blessed with regular visits from Snow Buntings and these were part of a flock of around 35 individuals which would fly off in unison when disturbed, normally by a Little Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull or human walker. When they did so, they would form a loosely knit ball and would circle overhead until assessing that the coast (literally) was clear. In summer in the Arctic, the birds have white heads and underparts; here, in autumn/winter plumage they have a much more sandy hue. According to the RSPB, they are a scarce breeding species in the UK, placing them on the Amber list.


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500th sec, f/6.3, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: c 7m

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000th sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 640. Distance to subject: c 7m


Monday, 16 January 2012

Sitting pretty

I know it's not an emotion of which they are capable, but this pair of ducks seemed perfectly content, tucked up in the grass together, their work for the day just about done.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 320. Distance to subject: < 5m

Little Gull (Larus minutus)

Sympathetic colours and an interesting perch make this shot of an adult Little Gull in winter plumage.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,700th sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 5m

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Thistle head macro

Proof if it were needed that beauty lies in some unlikely places. The head of a thistle shot with the afternoon sun just starting to dip below the horizon. The 'golden hour' in miniature.

Canon 350D, Canon EFS 60mm f/2.8 macro USM, 1/125th sec, f/2.8, 60mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: < 25cm

Black-headed Gull & Turnstone

Two more edited shots from yesterday lunchtime's hour spent on the beach at Salthouse in North Norfolk, just along from the Norfolk Wildlife Trust's visitors' centre at Cley Marshes.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/250th sec, f/14, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: > 5m






























Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/200th sec, f/13, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: < 4m


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)


A trio of Turnstones – one of the shots designed to show just how effective their camouflage is – from 30 minutes spent on the beach this lunchtime.
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/200th sec, f/13, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: 4m 
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/200th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: 4m 


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/400th sec, f/11, 400mm at ISO 400. Distance to subject: 4m 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Is nature-watching a spiritual exercise?

This weekend just gone I took a friend with me on a trip to the RSPB reserve at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk. My friend has been having a hard time of things recently and has been receiving counselling, during which it was suggested she should make the time to "get more in touch with nature". I've always found it immensely rewarding simply to sit and view the natural world, whether with camera in hand or not. But I had never before stopped to consider, in any depth, why it should be so. There was relatively little happening beyond the hide that day, save for the mallard and wigeon pictured, which were spooked off their watery resting spot by something unseen or unheard by us. My friend sat quietly looking out from the hide windows, saying very little. But when I asked – worried she might have been bored – how she had found the experience, she told me it had been "absolutely wonderful", adding that it was "the first time I have sat and done nothing, with a completely empty mind, for years". Perhaps that it is it; perhaps what spending time watching nature run its course does for us is to take us away from day-to-day reality for a while, providing the chance to switch off briefly, to recharge a little. I think this is so, but I also find nature humbling, fascinating, educational, illuminating, distressing, frustrating, beautiful and ugly and sometimes even amusing. Equally, I find it rewarding slowly to build up a level of expertise, to improve my fieldcraft and to use these skills to capture shots which – when they come off – define a moment for me. I also like to lose myself in the eternal struggles being played out at the end of binoculars or camera lens: the search for food, the building of nests, the raising of offspring, the fight and the flight. When immersed in such things, it really is so easy to forget about life's slings and arrows. Even if just for a short while. I would love to know what others get from this obsession of ours…

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/2,000th sec, f/8, 400mm at IDO 500, Distance to subject: c: 30m

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Male Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

From a hide at Sculthorpe Moor reserve in North Norfolk, I was watching the activity around a bird table (many of the usual suspects lined up – chaffinches, robins, tits) when I noticed this male Reed Bunting in the branches of a nearby tree. I managed the first shot at distance, but then it surprised all in the hide by coming down to the table itself. While it gorged itself on seeds for the next couple of minutes, no other bird went anywhere near the table. Then, as quickly as it arrived, it was gone. If only there had been decent light.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 20m

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 15m


Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 15m

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Just another Blue Tit

I spent a couple of hours today in hides at the RSPB reserve at the delightfully named Strumpshaw Fen here in Norfolk in the hope of catching sight of an Otter or Kingfisher. In the end, neither showed and – with high winds – little was up apart from distant Marsh Harriers, a far-off Cormorant waiting on a perch and a gathering of Mallard and Wigeon. With the camera not even called into action, I stopped off at a feeding station near the exit and did catch this Blue Tit in a very pleasing composition.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/85th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 6m

Friday, 6 January 2012

Blue Tit and Robin

The only two worthwhile shots captured today during a lunchtime break in the garden.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/125th sec, f/7, 400mm at ISO 640. Distance to subject: > 12m





























Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320th sec, f/7, 400mm at ISO 1,250. Distance to subject: < 3m

Harris Hawk

Another shot from the archives, recently edited. While glorious in colour, I think the mono gives the shot an added elegance and a the bird a certain majesty.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/640th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: < 2.5m

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Harris Hawk

This beautiful and imposing Harris Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) was caught flying into its handler's glove, its huge eyes focused intently on the titbit it had earned after hunting for pheasants and rabbits. I like the shallow depth of field, the movement in the body feathers and the sympathetic colours of the background.

Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: > 3m

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Best of 2011

I have read with interest how other bloggers have picked out their best of 2011 shots, so – a little belatedly – I thought I would do the same. I scanned the files and, after much deliberation, settled on this shot of a pair of puffins on the Farne Islands in Northumberland. It gets my vote not because it's technically a decent shot (it's not – the light was bad, the image is noisy and, too far away, I was stretching the limitations of the lens) but because the symmetry of the birds' pose is just one of those moments which, when spotted and captured on the memory card/film, gives you a tingle all over and makes it all worthwhile.




























In second place is this abstract shot of a dandelion, chosen because it's not a studio shot and technically it's tricky to capture in focus the seed heads and their delicate umbrellas as they are jettisoned by the plant.



















And finally, I went for this simple shot of a Greenfinch, chosen because it was one of those moments when the light was perfect, allowing me to capture in all their glory the myriad colours that make up the bird's surprisingly complex patchwork quilt plumage.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mr & Mrs

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800th sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 3.5m

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

This little beauty landed on a wall less than two metres from me as I took a break from taking pictures for a few minutes. On New Year's Eve, Christian – who writes an informative and entertaining blog called Hiding in Cars (click here ) asked how good the Canon 100-400mm lens was. Well here's proof of how good the image stabilizer system is. With a cigarette and bottle of water in one hand, this was taken with the camera held at my waist in the other. Not bad at all for such a heavy lens and camera body.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320th sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject < 2m


Robin

I would have preferred, of course, to have included the whole bird, but it's posted here because I like patterns created by the background foliage and, viewed at 100%, the cross-hatching in the robin's chest and wing feathers is wonderful.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/125th sec, f/6.3, 400mm at IDO 500. Distance to subject: c 5m

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Another shot from the series taken of captive birds at the Pensthorpe reserve here in beautiful North Norfolk.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/160th sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 4m

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

This little Dunnock (such a handsome, unassuming bird, I think) seemed to have found the perfect vantage point from which to search for insects, worms and seeds. Typically, however, he didn't hang about for very long and this was the only half decent shot I got. Indeed so fleeting was the opportunity that I didn't have time to expose the shot properly and was forced simply to hope for the best at 1/30th second at f/10. So much for a shutter speed no less than the focal length...

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/30th sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 500. Distance to subject: c 4m