Monday, January 07, 2019

Yellowstone - glancing back, looking forward

I'm not great at picking pictures to post, tending to post too many rather than choosing a few good ones.  Maybe difficulty sorting the chaff from the chaff?!

Anyway I quite liked the concept of the little video I made for the last blog so I decided to have another go using the pics and some video from last years Yellowstone trip - a bit of nostalgia and increasing my anticipation of another trip back in a few weeks.  I eventually found that the best way to present the video was to load it to Vimeo first, allowing decent quality playback.

Yellowstone 2018 from Brian Williams on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Naples 2018

A consistently favourite part of our annual trip to Florida is being on the beach as the sun comes up, fishing rod and camera in hand.  Fish a bit, snap through the golden hour then fish again.

This year Kay came down with me on the first day and we went to have a look at the osprey one of the beachside trees.  Last year thy were in the process of rebuilding the nest after the hurricane, and on processing the pics I was taken aback at how much taller it was now - as you can see from the changed height of the main tree limb below - the osprey,s feet in 2018 are higher than it's head was in 2017.


I still haven't got the picture I want of the black skimmers, but I feel I am gradually creeping nearer the shot I have visualised.  If only I could control the wind direction!

Rather than a long blog of multiple photos from the trip I have put them together into a short (45 seconds) video - I have been playing with the quick video tool in Msoft photo.  If they look soft it's Blogger or YouTube!

Monday, December 24, 2018

The battle for the last sprout

It's been a pretty poor winter so far, but last year the snow came late so there's still time.  When we do get snow a few apples on the lawn soon brings in the winter thrushes.  Although space constraints mean it's hard to get a clean background with the 100-400 I decided to take a few snaps, in the hope of a bit of thrush grumpiness.
As usual the first few birds are a little wary resulting in the ground level equivalent of bird on a stick shots,

but in time they relaxed a bit and some of the action I was after took place.

  To the victor - still with a bit of attitude - the spoils

If we do get snow this year I'm going to try scattering some apples in our community field where the extra space means it should be possible to get a bit more background blur.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hope on the Horizon?

If you have followed this blog for a while you will know that we tend to have a trip to Florida each winter.  This year it has been in doubt but maybe just maybe we might make it again .....

Anyway given my usual backlog of doing something with my pictures it's time to catch up with 2017's trip to Naples.  We arrived a few weeks after Hurricane Irma to find most of the city OK but the hotel lake had some of the surrounding trees in it,

the pier was mostly closed and there was no direct access to our favourite beach.  Some harder to access beaches had more birds than people.

Still they say it's an ill wind that blows no good, and seeking another way to reach the beach I stumbled across a beachside osprey nest which the pair were doing their best to restore, with some BIG twigs as well as lashings of seaweed.

With the pier out of the equation dawn each day found me looking for birds in the blue and golden hour, then having an hour or 2 fishing from the beach before breakfast.

And more ospreys ……

Doesn't get much better.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Goldilocks photography

So why would anyone take 3 (or more) photographs of their alarm clock 15 minutes before midnight?
One too dark, one too bright and one 'just right'.

At one level the answer is Paul Hobson and his excellent book Wildlife Photography Field Skills and Techniques. At another the answer is this …….

Have you got it?  The phone picture is a glow worm larva, which I saw crossing one of the local roads back in May.  Scroll forward to July and on our usual late evening (post sunset) dog walk on a different track we saw a glow worm, and then a couple of nights later 4 glow worms, frustratingly all tucked well into clumps of grass, and not snappable without more environmental tinkering than I could justify for the sake of a picture.
Then I remembered the glow worm larva and nipped down to that site, to find another 4 shining away, 2 of which were in more open but less photogenic spots.  It was late and I had work the next day, but I headed home to grab the camera.  But how to snap them?  That's where Paul's book came in as I remembered a section on glow worms in that.  Bit of a practise on the alarm clock and down to the worms, where I again ended up doing the Goldilocks too dark, too bright and just right exposures.  

Not the best backgrounds but a chance to practise in the field - quickly.Still the best ones hidden down in the grass.

Over the next week I tried a few more times - still not great backgrounds and once the glow just wasn't working so well.  It was only later I realised that was because the females both had males attached!  These are long exposures (4-8 seconds) so a bit of blur on the male.  Over exposed to show the males.

Finally back on the original track I got a chance to try snaps with some more exposed worms on 'better' backgrounds.  The first shows how they hold their tails to shine the light skywards

and this last has had more post processing done, but gives an idea of just what the beetles look like.

All too soon the season was over, but next year I will have retired so no concern about work.  Mind you I wouldn't want to spend too long on any one individual - after all they are trying to mate.

And what's the recommended technique …………………. I suggest you buy Paul's book!  Available on Amazon or direct from Paul here.