Monday, 28 February 2011

Racing the light

Snowdrops are now out in force and so I decided to see if I could improve on last years failed attempt when I missed the most ideal window and light to photograph them. These are my first attempts for this year though I intend to post with some better shots when they open up a little more as they aren't quite in full bloom in these shots. The reason for racing the light? Well the site was a 20 minute walk away to uni and with little over half an hour left of daylight by the time I intended to arrive to be in place for the best light timing was tight. Shadows were long and the light was soft with even small stones glowing warm orange. I had arrived started shooting and within 10 minutes the sun had dipped below the far hedge engulfing everything in shadow, shutter speeds dropped, and the light was gone. That was my window, only 10 minutes. Back lighting is only possible within the last half an hour before sunset anyway so short of arriving 10 minutes earlier again this time I had would have been about it. This is the first time I have taken the time to put myself in a place to get the light I wanted and use it rather than let the light control me. Learning to control exposure in these situations means I need to keep on my feet as there are things I still need to learn about this but if I can learn how to best use this amazing light I will be half way there.

Snowdrops are quite hard to compose in that there are many of them in clusters sometimes making an image look messy yet a single snowdrop is so simple in appearance that images sometimes look boring.

Friday, 18 February 2011

A print on canvas

I have never made a canvas print of an image I have taken before but interested in seeing what the results would be like I sent off an image I thought would work well...
...well, not too bad. I chose this photograph to print in the hope that the colours would burst from the canvas and I think it worked rather well. Also, as so many cm of the image had to be lost to stretch around the sides it also tightened the crop, to improve the image further still. If I was going to be picky I think the whites in the image should have been lightened as they were a little too grey but thats only a minor issue. This gives me the idea that if I managed to get a stunning squirrel shot (much much better than any I currently have) and print it onto canvas there could be a market. A future project..? this space...

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

And the firsts keep rolling in...

Today was my first sighting of a wild otter, not just one but four of them. A dog otter, female otter and two cubs. It wasn't quite the same as the thrill of a chance encounter as they were more than used to people and well known in the area but none the less it was amazing to watch them hunting for fish. Their high pitched squeaks of comunication from under the jetty where they spend most of their day was also amazing to hear, the clarity and volume made it an astounding sound to listen to. A pair of swans floated in and out every so often from the side lines in the hope of getting some attention but no one was even slightly interested in swans at the time, we were all fixed, attention sharp on the flick of a tail....bubble trails....and then surface of these stunning creatures only but a few meters from us. A few hours very well spent. Also noted, my first long tailed duck not far from the otters with thanks to Cain (holywell birding) and Geltsdale Wildlife Warrior for spotting and scoping it. Another good sighting of the day.
So here's my first post on otters and here's the best image I managed to get from the day.

250th sec, F2.8, iso 800, 170mm

Somehow the water turned green which I feel is much better than the usual grey/bluey tones. The colour lines in the water are from the reflection of the light jetty planks with the gaps in them becoming the black lines. It's an odd quirk with photography in that sometimes there are days when in the first few images or sometimes last few images I've taken somehow there has been one image in them that beats every image I might have taken all day. In one case the very last shot I took all day turned out to be the best. Take this image. It was the 13th image I took yet even though I took many more after that I never managed to capture better.

And the rest....

As with all wildlife it can be the source of great joy but sometimes also great frustration. Most of my shots were of the back end of an otter disappearing into the depths as unless your quick by the time its spotted surfacing, you've found it through the view finder, focused...and its gone again. Timing and practice...always more to learn.

If all goes according to plan with the weather I will be heading off tomorrow afternoon to see them again...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Pick up the pace...

Still from Weatheriggs. Second visit but for a filming project instead of photography (well maybe a little photography). This time we ended up inside the squirrel enclosure. Being clambered on by squirrels trying to bury nuts in our jackets and investigate us and all our equipment whilst fighting amongst themselves for posession of the nuts on offer. Its the first time I've seen a squirrel tackle a massive walnut shell! With all this going on the pace was fast. This shot was most likely a little luck with the quickness of the lens providing an edge but I like it, the best shot from the shoot anyway. (just for the record it isn't a grey or a red squirrel but in fact are a different species again, the name of which escapes me. They keep them just to educate the public.)

The macaws were flying today unlike the last time I was there. This is my 2nd best image of the day.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

I said they'd be back didn't I...

More rain in the soggy land of Cumbria. I'm growing to appreciate L lenses the more I see the colours, tone and detail in the images I am capturing with the lens I have. Peanuts are sometimes in short supply at Center Parcs when waiting for the next delivery so some squirrels resorted to eating sunflower seeds. Short food supplies made it harder for me to photograph them as they didnt visit the feeders too often and spread out across the park to check other feeders and search for food they had stored already. I stayed for 3 hours or so then decided to call it a day. I'll get a natural looking shot of one not on a feeder one day!