Wollaton Stags: October 2018

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).

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Chasing light: September/October 2018

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.

 

Calke, Derbyshire: August 2018

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.

Focus

I can’t decide if I prefer the previously posted image of the lilies where I’ve focused on the petals, or the image here where the focus was on a tiny point on a stamen, and the rest of the image has a blurred quality. I love the colours and shapes. Suspect I prefer the blurred version here, with shallow depth of field, as it feels more artistic and subjective.

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Flower Dreaming

Just lately I’ve been frustrated at my attempts at photography. My complaints have revolved around not having access to amazing landscapes, not having access to much more knowledgeable photographers and their skills, not having the best camera and lenses… and then I realise that with macro and plant photography I can just step outside into my garden and shoot some flowers with a cheap 50mm lens and produce personally satisfying and fulfilling images.

The purple lilies were my birthday flowers. The others are Echinacea and Anemone. The camera was hand-held (I pondered using a tripod and may try again using it), and there was a slight breeze. Despite it being annoying as it moves the subject about thus making sharp images much more difficult, a breeze also creates some nice blurry bokeh and movement in the background. In fact, I’m falling in love with blurred, arty backgrounds achieved with extremely shallow depth of field. Would it be too much to make a collection of images of just smooth and silky backgrounds produced by using the crazy depth of field possible with a 50mm lens? I may find out.

 

Mull, Scotland: July 2018

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.

Spring is sprung

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).