Sunday, 25 May 2014

Still Learning

One of the things I love about photography is the constant learning.  I think this is maybe why I’m happy with the equipment I have and don’t constantly feel the need to get the latest camera – the limitations are my own skills, knowledge and abilities and this is despite doing photography since I was 16 and studying it at college.  When first wanting to take photographs, I wanted the latest SLR camera, but my parents wisely thought it was just a ‘fade’ and would pass so gave me their old Zeiss Ikon – everything manual – and I loved it.  If achieving a picture was easy and the camera did everything for you, then where’s the interest, challenge or feeling of achievement?

It’s become a bit of a yearly regular for me to visit South Shields where a large number of Kittiwakes nest, as it gives a great opportunity of photographing birds in flight.  Hundreds of these birds gather here every summer to nest and all within a small area and with some good vantage points, it’s a good chance to practice your camera and lens technique.

This may not be the most glamorous bird – it doesn’t have the colour of a Kingfisher or the grace of a Kite but collectively, this location and these birds are a sight and sound worth visiting and from a photography point of view, tests your technique and ability.

Admittedly, this was also a test of my cameras autofocusing system and lens speed as the birds were constantly moving and twisting particularly the nearer ones.  Just keeping them in the view finder and not cutting off a wing or tail was a challenge.  I tried my camera at different settings and settled for the inner 9 focus points, not all points as you might normally use for birds in flight as they kept crossing changing and cluttered backgrounds – sea, rocks, beach – and it risked loosing the focus.  I also found simply tracking the bird in the viewfinder before attempting to focus, more successful.

Anyway, hundreds of images and aching arms later, I had some half decent images to show for it.


A Fulmar added to the mix


A view from the bottom showing the nests

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