First Session in the new Bridge Hide

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It’s not the most comfortable hide I’ve ever been in but already it’s throwing up some interesting encounters. Finally this weekend the bridge hide on the river at Home Farm was finished and today I spent four pretty uncomfortable hours over looking the stretch of river that I hoped would fill in some of the gaps of the birds I have ,to date, managed to photograph at the farm.

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Friends of Skomer and Skokholm

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This Sunday saw the annual Friends of Skomer and Skokholm meeting at Bishop’s Cleeve near Cheltenham. It was the first time I’ve been but will certainly be making it a diary event from now on. Not withstanding a wealth of current information on the state of the Island’s wildlife and updates on current plans for some major changes, particularly to Skokholm, it was a chance to meet up with some old friends from my time running photographic trips to this part of Wales.

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Snow and Bounce Light – A Natural Studio

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A second fall of snow last week meant another opportunity to visit the feeding station and try and photograph the regulars under very different conditions. In any studio the control one has of the light is obviously a great advantage over working in the natural environment. There are of course techniques that can be applied outside that come directly from a controlled  studio environment, bounced light is one of these. A white card can be placed on the opposite side of a flower for instance, producing a bit of ‘fill” or a light tent can be placed over your subject, creating a soft, even and flat light.

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Home Farm Snow

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Tuesday 3rd Feb 2009

A good covering of snow at the farm today gave a chance of some different shots. It’s the first significant snow of the winter and for a while was heavy enough to cause disruption on the roads.

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Working with Ambient Light and Flash at Night

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It’s been an interesting 24 hours, with a good fall of snow last night and a further heavy shower for a couple of hours this morning. When it comes down like this, and that’s not very often round here, you have to make the most of it and it simply draws me out. There’s no possible way I can sit in doors knowing of the opportunities just beyond the comfort and warmth of the house. So between 11pm and 1am last night I roamed the streets! The dampened down sound created by freshly fallen snow is something I have always loved and by eleven last night Llantrisant was under the spell.

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Workflow and Post Processing

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To help explain this side of my work I’ll take a typical days shoot and describe how I process the images from downloading to saving as final ‘print ready’ photographs. Back in the autumn I was at Ogmore Estuary when I came across three Grey Phalaropes. I stayed with them for about four hours and took 701 JPEGS. They’re a fairly obliging bird and continued to ply a predictive route up and down the river all afternoon. As the session wore on it gave me more and more opportunities to try something different as I was confident I had secured some fairly decent ‘stock’ images.

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RAW v JPEG

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I’m frequently asked which file format I shoot in, particularly when I talk to groups or societies and have a good number of mounted A3 prints for them to look at. There is often surprise when I reveal that the majority of the work is shot in high JPEG. RAW obviously has more information, often as much as ten times that of a JPEG. It has a greater latitude with regard to exposure and more control over the basic settings that are available to the photographer; such as colour balance, contrast, sharpening, saturation and hue – but all of this doesn’t necessarily make it the obvious and only choice. There are advantages and disadvantages in shooting in both. Once you have some understanding of what is involved with each it becomes a matter of personal preference and pragmatism, often related to the type of work you are involved in.

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Polaroids from Poladroid

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Just come across a quirky little download, but a bit of fun. It recreates your images in a Polaroid style and the images develop on screen. You’d get a little frustrated if you were doing loads, but it does put a real time factor back into the process and the effect isn’t bad at all.  But what was originally seen as an instantaneous process becomes one were you now have to wait, all be it for a bit of fun. – thats computers for you! It’s a free download from www.poladroid.net available for PC amd mac

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All About Geese

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Going up to Liverpool to see family over Christmas always offers the chance to visit the Lancashire mosses. Phil and I managed a couple of afternoons on this occasion. The expectation is always as enjoyable as the event. Having a few hours ahead of you not knowing what may turn up is as good as it gets. I remember in my teens cycling out on  weekends to these flat expanses and although they have changed since those days they still offer a good days birding.

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