Some images from a day at the feeding station at Home Farm – Weather; bitterly cold with snow flurries. Goosanders have returned, but are very flighty. The bridge hide has been put on hold due to high water.
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.
Iâ€™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 â€“ but all of this doesnâ€™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.
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.Â 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
There is a lot written about the rules of thirds on the Internet as an aid to photographic composition, much of it giving sound advice with regard to applying the rule, its origins and the fact that it must not be seen as the â€˜holy grailâ€™ for the creation of fine images.
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 onÂ weekends to these flat expanses and although they have changed since those days they still offer a good days birding.
I’m talking to Neath and District Photographic Society this evening and will be giving them a new presentaion that I’ve been recently working on. It explores the wildlife of Wales and is broken down into two parts. Part one, this evenings presentation, looks at farmland, woodland, meadow and mountain. Part two considers the estuary, rivers, Islands and the coastal fringes. For other presentations I am currently offering click here.
Sometimes you get what you don’t necessarily expect. On New Years Eve, whilst having a cup of tea at my mums, a Wood Mouse leaped from the ivy on to one of the feeders. A moment of wondering whether or not to extract, and it feels like that at times, the camera and 500mm lens from the rucksack, or simply watch and enjoy the spectacle followed. You really know what the outcome of such wonderings will be!
Between Christmas and New Year we had, at last, a couple of bright days. December being one of the dullest on record. At the farm it was a chance for the buzzards to use the thermals. They would welcome this opportunity to use these currents for a spot of static soaring as the energy they save whilst hunting in this way is substantial. A Buzzard will reduce its energy consumption by as much as three quarters by soaring rather than conventional flying using flapping flight.
The sun shone on Christmas Day and raised cheers in our house. It has been particularly dull over the last few weeks, not much rain but just those drab flat days that close in a good hour before the official lighting up time. Boxing Day dawned without a cloud in the sky and saw me heading off to the farm.
I had been watching the BBC weather forecasts for a few days before deciding on which day it would be best to pick my daughter up from Aberystwyth University. The plan was to meet her late on in the day after I had managed a few hours photography on the way at Nant y Arian, about ten miles east on the A44. I was then due to drop into the town and photograph the Starling roost at the pier. With a setting sun over Cardigan Bay it would all be set for a well planned and organised days shoot.
I’ve been thinking about this hide for a while. It’s under the old railway bridge but will give decent views down the Ely towards the sharp bend in the river. On approaching this spot over the last year it has yielded some good sights of Dipper, Green Sandpiper and Goosanders, which haven’t yet returned to the river this winter. It’s also a regular flight path for the resident Kingfishers. Hopefully, unlike the temporary hide we built earlier on in the year , it will be a little more permanent!
We decided to spend our last day at Pensthorpe near Fakenham. An interesting choice and one governed by a number of factors, not least of which it being a convenient place to have a hire car delivered! We had traveled from South Wales together in the same car, it gives a chance to catch up and plan the days ahead and have a laugh and joke, as brothers will! Traveling over night, as we always do, alleviates the traffic, although I was amazed at how busy the M25 is at 4.00am! On the way back we were going our separate ways, Phil back to Barrow and me to Llantrisant. Pensthorpe would also give the opportunity of working with some British birds in the aviaries at the reserve.
Our two proposed sites today were Salthouse and Cley, one area really but there are hides at Cley whereas Salthouse is an area of shingle, with a carpark at the bottom of a short dead end. There is always a chance of Snow Buntings at Salthouse and Cley can offer much at all times of the year. The morning was a little brighter than we expected, but it soon deteriorated and the afternoon saw a low mist engulf the reserve.
This was a difficult day by any standards. It was forecast for heavy rain and high winds and for once they got it right! We had planned to spend the day at Titchwell, getting to one of the hides and remaining there all day. It’s the way I prefer to work. Setting up camp with a couple of cameras and beanbags and waiting to see what comes by.
I spent the last few days in Norfolk with my brother Phil. It was very dull, weather wise, but I firmly believe there is no poor light for photography, just different light. Whatever you are faced with you make it work and after you’ve traveled overnight from South Wales, some 280 miles or so, you are pretty determined to get something out of it. We journeyed through the night to gain a full day and at this time of the year the usable natural light has all but gone by 4.00pm, so you have a long evening to recuperate.
The idea that beauty only resides in the natural world has to be contested. It is fair to say that I find most inspiration from the landscape and natural history, but at times I have been moved by urban and industrial environments.
It’s hard not to look on with astonishment and wonder at the city scape that is New York. At night it is simply beautiful, and despite my misgivings about what it represents and stands for its raw impact cannot fail to have an effect.
I was down at Cosmeston yesterday to try and photograph the Bearded Tit that has been around for a couple of weeks. It’s a bird that has eluded me over the years and I have only managed glimpses of it at Leighton Moss before today. Met some folks down there looking for the same and spent an enjoyable few hours on the boardwalk hoping for lots of elements to come together.