Photography is an addictive passion that once embraced can never be forgotten.
This is a journal of my passion for photography which I will endeavour to update regularly with my latest photographs. I hope you enjoy my efforts.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Captive Birds at WWT Llanelli. 6th May 2012

Continuing with my series of captive bird projects I visited WWT Llanelli on 6th May 2012 with a view to photographing the resident collection of ducks and geese. For the photographer these collections provide excellent opportunities to get close to many photogenic species enabling us to practice and improve our skills with the camera. Patience is as necessary here as with wild birds because even the captive species like to move about. The difference is that they are right there in front of you whereas with wild bird photography perhaps the patience has to last a little longer. For all of the photographs shown from this trip I used my Sony a290 DSLR fitted with a 55 to 200mm zoom lens and a 2x converter giving a maximum focal length of 400mm.

The first subject that presented itself for a photograph was a male Eider Duck which sat quite happily whilst I readied the camera and framed him the way I wanted.
The camera settings were as follows:
Focal length 400mm
ISO 200
Aperture f13
Shutter 1/400

This lovely female Eider was next in line and it took 3 attempts to get this shot.
Camera settings were:

Focal length 400mm
ISO 200
Aperture f11
Shutter 1/125

Being able to get this close to the birds allowed me to get the background blur.

A male Smew was well within reach of the camera and I managed to get several reasonable photographs of him. The two shown here are my favourites. Camera settings for the first were:

Focal length 400mm
ISO 200
Aperture f11
Shutter 1/250

The second shot was from far closer and for this one the camera settings altered to:

Focal length 400mm
ISO 400
Aperture f11
Shutter 1/640

These are really striking birds and I was lucky enough to observe the wild male smew that was on the lagoon that day although a little too far away for me to get a decent photograph.

This Red-crested Pochard was quite a challenge as he was extremely active I like this shot as the reflection of his head gives an illusion that his bill is larger than it actually is.

Camera settings:

Focal length 400mm
ISO 100
Aperture f11
Shutter 1/160

This male Red-crested Pochard was a little more sedate and sat quietly whilst I photographed him.

Camera settings:
Focal length 400
ISO 100
Aperture f11
Shutter 1/20

this was quite a slow shutter speed considering the shot was taken hand held but it turned out ok.

And to finish with, this lovely headshot taken at focal length 400mm, ISO 400, Aperture f11, Shutter 1/1250

The next trip is to Slimbridge WWT and the blog will be updated soon with the resulting photographs.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Easter 2012 Photo Shoot at Pensthorpe Conservation Centre in Norfolk

You don’t have to venture out into the wild to find decent opportunities to photograph birds and wildlife. Pay a visit to a wildfowl trust or somewhere like Pensthorpe in Norfolk and you will have no end of photographic subjects to capture on camera.

Over the Easter break this year I did just that. This was my third visit to Pensthorpe  Nature Reserve and Conservation Centre and it seems to become more enjoyable on each visit. With captive birds, wild birds and Pensthorpes involvement in the Great Crane Project there was plenty to see and do.

My aim was to show that photographing captive birds, including foreign species, can be as rewarding as taking shots in the wild. 

The first point of interest for me was the enclosure containing the White Storks which were nesting at the time of my visit:

Then it was on to the wader house where Black-winged Stilts mingled with Lapwings, Redshank and Curlew:

The Lapwings were quite used to visitors and because they were in fairly close proximity there was ample opportunity to get some reasonable shots.
 I waited for a while before getting this shot of a Black-winged Stilt in the wader house. There were several stilts there but I think this shot is the pick of the bunch. Even though the birds were close enough to get a number of photographs they were not always against a good background or in a suitable position. A little patience paid off and this photograph with a great reflection in the water is the result.

In the next section which housed the Egrets and Ibis, the Cattle Egrets were quite happy to pose for photographs as were the Little Egrets although they were a little 'flighty'.

Great colour on the Scarlet Ibis made them an obvious photographic target. Again patience was key here as they were moving around the enclosure quite a lot and so it was necessary to wait quite a while for the position to be right in order to get this shot.

Then a stroll passed the lagoons before entering the park:

 With such a great selection of wildfowl I was spoilt for choice.

The male Mandarin Duck is a stunning bird  and is always a great subject for a photograph. Placing him just off centre in this photograph works well I think as it gives him more of the photograph to look into whereas centralising him wouldn't add that interest and would make for a far more ordinary shot.

The male Goldeneye were moving around quite a lot but were swimming in quite close when anyone passed by, hoping that someone had remembered to bring along some duck food!

Striking birds. I did take perhaps a few too many shots of the Goldeneye but they were such an interesting subject.........

.......particularly when the males started displaying to  attract the females.
Again, a little patience was required in order to get this shot but it was worth it.

This shot of a male Pochard was constructed so that it is swimming into and accross the photograph.
The colour of the Pochard's head contrasts beautifully with the pale grey back against the somewhat murkey water.

Apart from the birds at Pensthorpe there is other wildlife to see. 
There are Muntjack in the wooded areas and there are Otters on the reserve.

Whilst in one of the hides this Grey Squirrel dropped in for a snack.

It took several attempts before I got the shot I wanted.

I could not resist this view as I looked accross the wader scrape:

It rounded off a fantastic day at one of my favourite venues which has plenty to offer the photographer and wildlife enthusiast.

I hope that you will consider visiting a wildfowl reserve or nature centre to explore the possibilities there and of course your entry fees will ensure that you are doing your bit for conservation by helping to support the valuable work that centres like Pensthorpe do.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Reflections in the Pond

As I was driving past this scene at St Brides I just had to stop and take a few photographs. The reflections on the pond caught my eye and as the light was fading I decided to take the shots hand held as I didn't think I would have enough time to set up the tripod before I lost most of the light.
Having purchased a new Hoya polarising filter earlier in the day I decided to try it out on these shots and I must admit it made a difference over the old filter. I am still using my trusty Sony a290 on manual setting and for this shot it was fitted with an 18 to 55mm kit lens set to 18mm with an ISO of 400, F5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/6 sec.

For more of my photographs please visit my website

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Llangorse Lake in Freezing Fog

The freezing fog hanging over the lake had turned the branches of the trees white which made the scene surreal.
It was extremely cold during the shoot which only lasted an hour due to the weather but produced some great photographs. Further photographs will be published shortly. Equipment used: Sony a290 fitted with a 15/55mm zoom lens set at f10 and a shutter speed of 1/250 with ISO set at 400.