I have neglected to update the site for a while. Having completed our second semester of the masters degree I am undertaking, to be finished in August this year, I have spent almost exclusively all of my time capturing images and editing images, and learning and perfecting layout using Adobe InDesign, Lightroom, Illustrator and Photoshop. It has been a great experience learning to use these tools effectively and efficiently. My second semester final project was a full 96 page magazine, completed by myself using entirely my own photography and my own researched and written, scientific articles. I am very proud of the result and will post up images from the magazine in due course.
Now we are working on our final summer projects for completion of the masters, and my subject is a local National Trust estate, Calke Abbey. I am spending eight weeks taking images at the estate including some of its wildlife – invertebrates, birds, mammals, plants and trees – its old gardens and buildings and some of the internal rooms of the house itself. It is proving to be an enjoyable and rewarding project thus far. The final result will be a book to be printed and submitted for marking by August.
So far I have layout and many of the images needed, although far from all of them. Birds and mammals are proving more difficult than trees, plants and insects, for obvious reasons. Invertebrate photography is not as straightforward as it seems, as they are always on the move and it’s a fine line which aperture to use to capture as much detail of the insect as possible while maintaining nice bokeh and background.
Some of these images were taken while working on the summer project, and I will be adding more in time. They give a general idea of the images which will be included, however none of these will be included in the book, as I have many others.
Obviously, everyone is out taking images of rutting and prancing stags at the moment, as it is that time of year! I have been up to my eyeballs in uni work and actual work, and have been unlucky with sunrise and sunsets. I did get a few images of the very friendly deer at Nottingham’s Wollaton Hall and Park site (and a cheeky crow).
At the end of September I started a Masters course in Biological Photography and Imaging. This has meant a huge shift in terms of comfort levels when using my camera. My obsession with AV mode on the Canon EOS 5D Mk III has been fixed!
We have a number of assignment deadlines coming up already, but I have managed to get out and about both on the incorporated field trips and in my spare (haha) time. Here are a few images from our various trips and my own trips out.
One of the things which always lifts my mood is photography. The other is spending time in wild spaces with wildlife. Combining these two is awesome. I have spent more time in Calke park’s bird hide and attempted to get some slightly sharper images. I have, in the process, come to the conclusion that I need to be using a tripod all the time!
These images are still not sharp enough and, in some cases, the sharpness seems to have become distortion instead, where feathers look overly textured and spiky. I use Lightroom to adjust sharpness in places, where I think it is needed, but I try to keep sharpening to a minimum as it can look awful. I have left some of these without sharpening. I find photography frustrating and confusing at times, and close up bird photography is the greatest source of both of these for me!
Equipment used was a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5 Mk. I telephoto lens. Handheld. I set the ISO to 400 to avoid too much grain and stuck to using AV mode to gain a shallow depth of field. My shutter speed is often fairly low, and I need to try again using TV mode to increase the shutter speed and capture in-flight images.
I spent a magical week in the Isle of Mull, Scotland, visiting Staffa island and Iona too. It was an opportunity to capture images of Scottish wildlife, and to practice photographic techniques. In that sense, it was a relative failure. My equipment wasn’t up to my requirements, and my abilities aren’t up to the standard I needed to make the most of photographic opportunities. However, it was a learning process, to some extent, and made me see how much I have still to learn.
Staffa island blew me away – I had not expected to get so close to puffins and was completely surprised by their proximity (and some people’s willingness to get far too close to puffins and their nests), which meant I was then unable to focus on getting the best images possible of the puffins. I would like to go back and re-try. I was fairly unlucky with sightings of eagles and other birds of prey, not getting close to any large birds. Even the herons were determined to make life impossible for me!
However, I loved it in Mull and plan to go back again, very soon. These images were the result of a couple of late night and early morning drives out with my dog to see what we could get close enough to and capture, and some are from Staffa island.
I found a new hide yesterday. Great little find nearby, with so many species frequenting the feeders – including two Great Spotted Woodpeckers at one point! I was excited, it’s true, and spent an hour or so with the camera trying to get some decent captures. However, I was limited in light levels as, by the time I found the hide, it was beginning to darken. To up my shutter speed meant losing depth of field, and I do like my DoF… so I left the camera in AV mode and did my best with low light.
Many blurred images later, I have concluded I need to visit this hide in lighter hours, and use TV mode more for wildlife shots to obtain the really sharp results I want! I managed to get a few sharp(ish) shots, however, and have used LR to adjust the sharpness and shadows in the relevant areas. Here is a small selection – a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major pinetorum).