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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

BBC Springwatch 2009

BBC Springwatch Starts on Monday 25th May remember to watch it. 

This Year they are in Wales. Check out the Link: Springwatch 2009.

Happy watching. 

Monday, 18 May 2009

Another Goal

I forgot one big goal that I have set myself over the next couple of months and that is to Build a couple of hides on my mates farm. There is so much wildlife there. It is to good an opportunity to miss.

Check out this blog entry I found on Tim Colliers Website.

Maybe it will inspire you to do the same.

Goals for the next couple of Months.

Over the next couple of months I have set myself some goals. These goals are to photograph birds that I have failed to photograph so far. To photograph this birds I am going to have to do some research into things such as:
  • Where they are - Habitat, Location, Environment.
  • Best time to photograph them. Time of day & year.
  • How easy are they to see and get close to.
  • There feeding habits. Where and when they like to eat.
These birds are such things as:

A kingfisher. 
A Dipper.
A Kestrel. 
A Gannet.
A Puffin - A decent shot of one in flight is what I am after.

I would also like to photograph some rarities as well. Amongst this are:

Crested Tits.

One of my main aims is to photograph the Elusive Red Squirrel as well. I remember when I was young in Birmingham, I used to see the all the time. I have heard that they are in and around Llandovery in the RSPB reserves. I will have to Investigate.


Friday, 15 May 2009

Gigrin Farm, Tower Hide.

Finally at the beginning of May this year I was able to get into the Tower Hide at Gigrin Farm at Rhayader. This gave me the opportunity to test my 300mm to its limits. I had heard a lot of good things about this hide. The inspiration for this shoot were from the World Renowned Photographer Andy Rouse. I regularly read his blog and remember coming across images that he took at Gigrin during february this year. ( I very nearly went there that day, I was totally gutted.)

You can see the images that inspired me on his blog at

On this day I set myself some goals for this day they were as follows:
  • A Red Kites Diving.
  • A Red Kite in the Landscape.
  • A Red Kite flying towards me.
  • A Red Kite eating in the Air.
If I got any of these I would be happy. The main one that I want is a Red Kite diving and that was my main aim for the day.

I found this quite a challenge at first as I was taking the photographs with the Camera attached to the wimberley head on my Gitzo Tripod. I found that as the birds are so fast I had to take the Camera of the tripod and handheld it. This was quite hard as the lens got heavy quite quick. The way I got around this was to watch the birds habits and when they started to dive, I would track one bird then wait for it to dive and take a few frames. Although the success rate was not very high I came away that day with images I was very Happy with.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Camera Equipment Hire

I was on the Gigrin Farm Blog the other day. ( See my links) I found this information on camera equipment hire. The prices are very reasonable.  

Check out the link on the right under Camera and lens rental.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Gigrin Farm, Gateway Hide 2.

As promised some of the images taken in the Gateway Hide.

Camera gear used.

Canon 1d mk11n
Canon 300 f2.8 IS
1.4 converter

Wimberley Head mounted on a SLIK 700DX tripod.

Camera settings used

ISO between 200 - 1000 depending on the lighting conditions. I was aiming to get a shutter speed of between 1/500 and 1/1000 second anything more was a bonus.

whitebalance was set to sunny.

Metering spot.

Camera was set to Aperture Priority Mode (AV). I find this mode gives me the control over the camera I need. If this fails I will take a spot meter reading with my light meter and dial it in manually and leave the camera set to that.
The camera was also set to Alservo mode with just the centre point active. By doing this I know that if I focus on the head of the bird it will be in focus. Although only the centre point is active, in the camera settings I have made active another 13 points around it. This is a major advantage of owning a 1D series camera.

Exposure compensation was set to 1/3 under.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Gigrin Farm, Gateway Hide.

As I said in my last blog. I find the Gateway Hide very good for getting images of the Kites in the air. What I really like about his hide is that there are a maximum of 5 people allowed in this hide so you have plenty of room. Another good feature is that you are able to use a tripod and that you have plenty of vision of the birds as well.

Some people that I know think that capturing
images of Red Kites is easy. I would like to tell you that it isn't. The thing that is challenging is to isolate the birds from the others as there can between 200 and 400 birds there at any one time. The trick is to follow one bird and then photograph it when you have it isolated from the others. This on times could mean you following a bird for a couple of minutes. Another point to note is that don't keep pressing the shutter release all the time. Think about what you are photographing and you will get better results in the long run. Whilst taking these photographs as well, keep checking the back of your camera, looking at the histogram to see if you are getting any of the highlights burnt out. The way I overcome this in my photography is to underexpose my shots by 1/3 of a stop to prevent this. I would like to thanks Andy Rouse for that tip.

Another good investment I made recently and I would recommend them to anyone that has a big lens is a Wimberley Gimbal Head. I managed to find a bargain on Ebay (they are not on there very often). This has also improved my photography as it allowed you to track birds easier, the main advantage of it as well is that you mount it on a tripod and this gives you a steadier platform. Therefore taking the weight of the camera and lens off me.
Best investment that I have ever.

Gigrin Farm, Red Kites

This place is probably the best place in the UK to see Red Kites.
Over the last couple of years I have visited this place at least twice a year. This year however already I have visited the place at least 4 times already and it is only spring. I find the place very addictive and if you want to really test your photography skills this is the place to do it.

Late last year I invested in a Canon 300 f2.8 Image Stabiliser lens. Thank god I did it before the price went up as it would have cost around £100o pounds more now. The lens is awesome, and until recently I have only really used it to photograph rugby, the results are excellent. I thought that if I really wanted to put this through its paces Gigrin was the place to do it. The things about this place is that last year they made the place more appealing to photographers as they built two new hides. The Gateway Hide and the Tower Hide.

These were specifically aimed at photographers, the thing about them is that you have some much more of a view of the birds and you can use a tripod as well. I have always found that using a tripod slows you down and it makes you think more about what you are photographing.

Having used both hides now I find both of them have there advantages. The gateway hide I find better for taking photographs of the Kites in the Air. Where as the Tower hide is better for getting the birds in the landscape.

I will post my images in the next blog.

To those who wait comes just reward.

Over the last couple of years I have had many encounters of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers. To date the best two locations that I have found for these are:

 1. Slimbridge WWT, which is a fantastic place to get to grips with wildlife in a controlled environment.
2. My wife's parents garden in West Wales.

 The problem I have had is that the woodpeckers have only ever  landed on feeders and although I managed to get some good images they don't look that photogenic.

With this in mind after having a discussion with my father in law Tommy he decided that he would try and alter this by placing a log in the garden and drilling a few holes in it and placing peanut butter and brazil nuts in them. 

Above you can see the results.

Welcome to my blog.

Hi all. For nearly four years now I have been photographing wildlife. Mainly birds and I really like trying to capture them in flight. Sometimes I have been successful sometimes I haven't. During this time I have learnt a lot about photography and myself. Like most photographers I am very passionate about what I do and strive to get better images every time I go out to take photographs. I find my Inspiration from photographers such as Andy Rouse, Elliot Neep and the up and coming Ben Hall. 

My Aim of this blog is to give myself a online presence and also hopefully pass on some of my knowledge to others. I will, where possible update this blog at least once a week and keep it as informative and interesting as possible.