Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Winter wetland

For 5 or 6 months of the year I live near a lake bridged by the M48

but most summers it disappears.

I have realised I get satisfaction from taking pictures on my local patch, but I haven't spent the time there I should have really - there are sometimes good flocks of wintering wildfowl, and the whistling of the wigeon is one of my sounds of the winter.  A couple of years ago when the flood didn't recede I snapped the little egrets and a kingfisher, and seeing some egrets reappearing as the water falls back this year I thought I'd have another go, even though the old bistort stems do tend to get in the way of snaps.

The egrets seemed wary of my hide even though it's a low level one but over e few hours other birds did show.  I'm afraid the coot nest may soon be high and dry - a couple of others have already been abandoned, maybe even raided by the local foxes.

Eventually the egrets dd come a bit closer, but still wary and never the good views of last time.

Oh well, another time....... 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More work needed

It feels that chances to get out are restricted these days - having the dogs doesn't help, especially the collie who needs a couple of good walks a day - but I do grab the chances I can.  Ask non-photographers about the preferred light conditions and most would say sunny, but the truth is bright sun is a challenge.  Better dawn or evening light, but that may not work for the target species.  High cloud which just takes the edge off isn't so warm, but is next best often.  One of the problems in woodland is the high contrast you get in sun because of the tree shadows and one recent trip saw a load of pics binned for that reason.
In relation to the conversation around the last blog post another problem was a bluebell leaf which at one point just caught the sun wrong, completely burning out in some shots giving that white line I hate.  Still I did manage to salvage a few shots and it's been nice to see a few new species for the year - bullfinch and blackcap came in pairs, the song thrush was a bit big for the frame.  More squirrels, coal tit, siskin, goldfinch, robin, etc.
The first day started well.  Walking up to my site it was worth a pause to watch a male blackcap singing his socks off way up at the top of a pine.

Once settled in a robin appeared and helpfully decided to drink from the wrong side of the log -

fortunately not a sign of things to come.

This first site needs some work - the pool needs to be a bit bigger and I need to be even more fastidious about the background.  The water needs to be shallow for bathing at the far end only so I don't end up cutting off the point of contact with the water.  I'll get there.

Back at the other site I messed up by not levelling the tripod well enough.  When the goldfinch landed nearer the camera than I expected I panned round and snapped.  I wasn't at the best angle and didn't notice how off level the framing had gone, so the reflection shot had to be cropped into portrait to straighten but avoid cutting the bottom head off!  Yet another lesson and a reminder that preparation is key.

In relation to the light issues one thing I have found with bathing birds is that they tend to come later rather than early so the light tends to be harsher.  I guess feeding is more important at first.  The one exception used to be the goldcrest of a few years back which always sneaked in well before everything else.

Not sure what to do next - I get hooked into my puddles, but the egrets are showing well at present, and redstarts and pied flies are calling again this year.  Too much to do, too little time.  And the foxes ..... and badgers - a definite aim for this year.  Before they all get gassed.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Not just birds .......

Time with the camera has been a bit restricted and the one opportunity I did get didn't lead to any birds coming to pose.  For the first time though another new subject appeared.
 In the last couple of months I've been to a couple of talks - Danny Green and 20/20 Vision - as well as reading about photography for the first time in a while. and it's been good to think again about how I approach my projects. 
I enjoyed The Handbook of Bird Photography by Markus Varesvuo, Jari Peltomaki and Bence Mate.  A lot of it is not new, but it's good to be reminded, and Bence Mate especially has an innovative approach that appeals even if I don't see myself ever going as far as he has.
When writing about photographing with water he's a fan of reflections, but I'm not so sure, even when there is perfect symmetry and a 'clean' mirror image.  I think they can look contrived.  The top shot above is not a great example I will admit, but personally I prefer the second framing.

That said this snap from a few years ago does work I think.  Shame about the distraction to the left - a case for a bit of photoshopping?
From Woodland puddles