Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Thing about Photography

A recent post on a camera forum got me thinking recently, as this person was unhappy with his camera (not something unusual on a camera forum) but they said their camera, a Canon 6D, was an ‘antique’ and ‘wasn’t up for the task and it ‘only’ had 20 megapixels.  He didn’t go into details as to what he took pictures of or why 20 MP wasn’t enough for him, but he was determined to by a new camera.  Every response was to agree with him and give him advice as to which new, expensive camera he should buy.

Since getting my first digital camera, a 350D, visiting forums the trend has remained the same – so many people not happy with what they currently own, always wanting the next best thing. It makes me wonder why they even bother with photography.  They seem to be constantly feel limited by the camera’s ability, the next great camera will improve their photography.

This summer has been as slow and frustrating time, with little in the way of images to show for it, but it has had little to do with the equipment – the only time was with my visit to the Farne Islands when the dull grey weather caused problems with focusing on the fast flying Puffins.  A shiny new expensive camera may have fixed some of that but at the end of the day the lack of images this summer is down to my ability, motivation, luck and opportunity.

In September I decided to spend some money, not on new equipment but on a week away to the Lake District, Windermere to be precise – that was my motivation and opportunity taken care of.  The Lake District is known for its scenery but also for it’s unpredictable weather and on this case, rain, and it did rain.  Only on one of the days I was there that it didn’t, but that was all I needed.  On the third day I got up bright and early and headed off to Rydal Water, a small lake just north of Ambleside, in the hope to catch the sunrise but instead there was a very heavy mist that morning which, with any luck, would remain until I got on site.  The luck part was complete as it did.

So now it was just down to my own ability. To be honest, I tend to be my own worst critic and was a little disappointed with the mornings results as the didn’t convey the scene that I saw, which was frustrating.  I sometimes forget though, a large part of the enjoyment is simply being out there, seeing the views, breathing the fresh air and getting some exercise.  The following images are a selection of what I did manage to capture, most taken that morning.

IMG_7667-3Canon 6D + Samyang at 14mm f 22 1/100 ISO 100

IMG_7677-3Canon 6D + Samyang at 14mm f 22 1/15 ISO 100

IMG_7763Canon 80D + Canon 18-135mm at 18mm f9 1/125 ISO 100

IMG_7711_DxOCanon 6D + Canon 17-40mm at 34mm 1/200 ISO 100

IMG_7766-2Canon 80D + Canon 18-135mm at 20mm f11/125 ISO 100

IMG_7774Canon 80D + Canon 18-135mm at 135mm f9/320 ISO 100

IMG_7757Canon 6D + Canon 17-40mm at 17mm f111 1.3 sec ISO 100

IMG_7726-PanoRydal Water Panorama Stitched from 5 images - Canon 6D

IMG_0398View point of Rydal Water from one of the surrounding hills - iPhone 6s

IMG_7729-PanoLake Windermere Panorama Stitched from 6 images - Canon 6D

I guess at the end of the day, I take the view that most photographers, (as in those who don’t take just casual photos) fall under two categories. Those for who the tech, i.e. pixels, resolution, etc., is more important and those where the image or the art form of photography is.  I fall into the later category.  Although I like the tech and it plays a part in photography at the end of the day, the limitations are nearly always mine and not the camera.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


It’s been a while since I’ve really managed to photograph Kingfishers and four years since I blogged a post showing them.  They can be very elusive but one of my favourite birds to watch and take images of.  After a couple of unsuccessful attempts during the last few weeks, I finally got lucky with the best of images I managed, below.







Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Farne Islands 2017

It’s become an annual ritual to visit the Farne Islands over recent years, so much so that I usually take a week or so off work around the busiest time for the seabirds there. Unfortunately, on all but one occasion it’s been overcast this being the worst trip weather wise.  Not only was there no sunshine at all but it was particularly dim which, if you want to take a photograph of a smallish, fast flying black and white bird against a grey sea or sky, it’s not only difficult to focus but as you can see from the pictures below, makes the image background washed out. 

Now I could with the magic of software, replace the background with blue sky (see below example), but that just wouldn’t feel right to pretend that was the way it was.

You can book your place on one of the many boat services that take you to the islands but I don’t, rather hoping on the day there will be spaces, especially during the week days. However, this time they were booked up and I had to wait a couple of hours for the next available boat with free space.


The trip itself was the usual journey around the islands and a chance to see and photograph the wildlife from the sea, though if you want to take photographs I recommend you get a seat at the side of the boat which I wasn’t and had a hard time trying to get a view past a person who thought it was a good idea to bring their iPad along as a camera (who brings their iPad along as a camera on a boat trip to the Farnes!! Why can’t they just use the camera on their phone?).




If you land on Inner Farne you have to pass by the Terns who nest right on the walkway so are not too happy with people walking by.  A good photo opportunity if you don’t mind braving being attacked by one or more of the angry Terns.  You have two ways to do this.  Follow someone else and let them be the bait and photograph the Terns attacking them or put a wide angle lens on your camera set it to a fast frame rate, manual focused to around a foot and just hold that above your head as you move through a swarm of them.



It is mainly the Puffins I come to see and photograph however, though perhaps next time I might just spend a bit more time looking around and just enjoying the brief time you have on the island.  I spent too much time trying in vain to get decent images of the Puffins flying in from the sea and conditions were just against me.  Not only the lack of contrast of the bird against the background made focusing difficult in the grey, dull conditions but I had to use exposure compensation to prevent a dark silhouette, which instead meant blowing out the skies.  A quick bit of editing below could fix that but not sure about the photographic ethics of that.

IMG_6592 Blue Sky

Trying to photograph the Puffins in the sky meant I neglected what was happening on the ground.  Anyone who has been to the Farnes will know what a hard time these poor Puffins have when brining in food for their young as waiting by their burrows are various gulls, ambushing the Puffins on arrival.  To avoid this, the Puffins try to fly literally, into their burrows.  This means getting that iconic image of a Puffin standing around with a beak full of eels, difficult, but if you’re quick you might get an action shot of the gull trying to rob an incoming Puffin.








The next couple of photographs are poor but do show a few things.  The first just how close the Puffins get when flying in and can fly right past you.  The second, just how close the an angry Tern can get to you.



Photographic Details

If you’re interested the technical details all but the last were taken with the Canon 400mm f5.6 lens, the last being a Canon 17-40mm at the widest view.  Because of the lighting conditions exposure compensation of +1-2 stops was given.  Auto ISO was also used.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Same Time, Same Place…

…different results.  As is so often I’ve found, you can rarely ever re-create the same success previously achieve, as was the case on this occasion. I wasn’t going to bother posting this as the images aren’t good and are few and far between but I did think it was a good example of how unpredictable wildlife, and particularly photographing it, can be.

I went to the exact same location at the same time with even the weather being the same, sunny, warm condition, in the hope of achieving the same success as before in seeing and photographing some young Foxes.  Result?  Completely different. 


As with a couple of weeks earlier I waited quietly in the same place and again, after a couple of hours the Magpies started to make a noise suggesting a predator was about but I only got a quick glimpse of a Fox.



Certainly the Rabbits were on high alert, obviously due to the Magpies activities.  The grass was a little higher than last time making any sighting harder to photograph, so when a particularly loud commotion came from my right, I went to investigate.  I stopped at a good vantage point only to see a Fox sprint across after one of the Rabbits.  Ironically, had I stayed where I previously was, I would have hand the perfect view!

The Fox, obviously unsuccessful in its hunt walked back the same way, spotted me, out in the open having not settled down yet – took one look at me and was off!



The Rabbits remained wary for a while but eventually settled back into their feeding.  The Magpies continued excitedly back and forth for a while but I didn’t get any further glimpses.


As I said, I wasn’t going to bother posting this due to it not being particularly exciting.  The Fox images were fleeting snaps and the sun was bright and in my face – and so behind the subjects making exposure difficult and way too contrasting.  Still, a morning spent in the warm sunshine is always a good thing.