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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Talk by Andy Rouse and Laurie Campbell

I went to WWT slimbridge today for a workshop with Andy Rouse and guest speaker Laurie Campbell. It was fantastic to be in a room with two people whose work really inspires me to do what I do.

From this workshop I found out a lot of information. Although the room did have the odd geek in there, it was really good and as per usual Andy was on form. Laurie as I knew was quite reserved and quietly spoken. Both of them had some beautiful work and you can see why they are in the industry. It was really nice to see Laurie's work- especially the Sea Eagles of which he was one of the first photographers to photograph them.

What I really like about these two photographers is their morals and ethics within the field of wildlife photography, I only wish some photographers were as honest as they were.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Day 4 a the hide and the results

Arrived at the farm around 08.30 today. Still cold around 3 degrees and the wind is still here as well. Today I have decided not to deploy the flash guns as it seems to be sunnier. Got some good results today however I think that If I had deployed the flashguns I would have had more as I would then have had more opportunity to take shots of the birds when they were in the shade. This time I concentrated on a particular spot on the branch and waited for the birds to come to me. I used both lenses 500 and the 300 and found that I was using the 300 more. The nuthatch very busy again today and also the woodpecker is getting closer still. I think he is getting used to me now. No sign of the sparrowhawk and the longtail tits. Why, I do not know. The light seemed to on the branches for longer today I put this down to the nights getting longer.

I used the sidekick and ballhead today. I wanted to try this as it seems more versatile that the normal Wimberley head. I found it very good and it is more flexible and you can lower the lens so much easier than with the Wimberley, where you would have to alter the legs.

I think in future I will deploy the flash guns as it allows me more flexibility and also allows me to use a shutter speed of 1/250 at iso 200 at f5.6 and f8 of a second. At times today the shutter speed went down to 1/100 of a second at f4. This was also at ISO 400 where as with the flash guns I could use ISO 200. Therefore allowing for better results and also if the subject is static the image will be sharp.

Considerations for the future. I am thinking of putting another log in place to try and bring in the woodpecker. I am thinking of getting some water and putting it on the logs as sell so that they look better. I am also going to look for another log to replace this one as it is looking a bit bashed now. No doubt down to the squirrel.

After talking to Martin I found at that there are hares on the farm. I think a early morning recce is called for to find them.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Day 3 at the hide and the results

Got up early this morning with aim to be at the farm for 8 o'clock. I wanted to be taking pictures by 9 so I had to be on the ball. I got there and it was minus 3, however it was sunny and it seemed that it was going to be a nice day.

Everything went like clockwork today. Instead of using two tripods I decided on using one. I have considered whether to make a platform which I can attach my two heads to via manfrotto superclamps this would also allow me to have more room in the hide, and maybe allow a second person to come into the hide at the same time. Ultimately I would like to put a permanent hide there which would be longer and house around 3 people at any one time. This I need to put to Martin. The trail camera had been set off around 100 times this time. However I could not see most of what that it had seen as the flash that goes off at night seems rather bright. I think I need to move it back so that I get a bigger picture view.

The weather today was really good but the wind was really cold, it felt more like minus 10 at times. I deployed flash guns again this time and had decided that they would only be used when the light was not good.

The nuthatch was very busy today and also the woodpecker seems to be getting closer every time I visit. I need to fence off the hide so that I can leave it there permanently. This I think will allow the woodpecker to get used to it so that it will then hopefully come to the feeders. Also need to consider maybe putting some peanut butter somewhere close by to draw him in.

Happy with images today got some good shots of nuthatches and chaffinches.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Day 2 at the hide and the results

A full day in the hide today, prepared my equipment last night to make sure that all batteries were charged and that the memory cards were empty.

Set off early-ish however would have like to have been there at first light. Need to speak to Martin to see if I can stay one night so that I can do this. The other thing is, if I am in the hide before first light it would be interesting to see what comes in as I would have not disturbed them at all. Every time so far I have visisted the hide the woodpecker has been there as well. This I want to capture for this project.

I borrowed my Father in-law's 500 f4 as I thought it would give me more flexibility and allow me to get closer to the subject. With this in mind I decided to take the following to site:

2 x cameras

2 x tripods and Wimberley heads

500 f4 and 300 2.8 and 1.4 and 2 x converter.

Initially I set the two cameras up but found that I then had a limited field of view and also I could not pan the camera how I wanted to. I decided that I would concentrate on the use of one lens at one time but have the other one ready to hand. The light today was excellent, I was so glad that I set up this other perch as when the light had fallen away from the other branches, it was still on this perch at the front. It was actually constantly on it all day. When I filled the feeders, I had also on the previous visit bored some holes into the log so that I could stash some food in it.

I think I need to maybe put some peanut butter somewhere as this will then draw in the woodpecker as from previous experience they really like it.

One thing I did notice was that the front perch was too close for the 500 f4. I worked out that by moving the hide back about 1ft that I could then use the 500 all the time.

Results of the day

The results were actually quite surprising and I was very pleased with the days results. I found that at times using the flash really worked as fill in flash when the light dropped off. I need to experiment with the positioning of the flash guns to accentuate the bird. Rik has also said for me to think about blowing them up really big using genuine fractals. I will look into this. The best image of the day was however taken using natural light with the 500 . It is a blue tit on my log with a vey muted background. If the rest of the images are as good as this I will be very happy.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Day 1 at the hide and the results

This is my first day in the hide. Couldn’t get up this morning as was busy doing other things. When I got here I noticed the light was fading a bit, I was thinking have I missed the best light.

I set up the hide refilled the feeders and went to check the camera. It had been set off however nothing had been captured. Battery is now dead so have had to take it home to recharge. Need to consider investing in a second battery so that I can just hot swap them.

Went to car and got camera gear. Sneaked up to hide and set up camera. Light not fantastic so decided to set up a remote camera to the right of the hide so that could if needed to have some fill in flash. Also by doing this I would test out my new radio triggers that I have invested in on the advice of Rik and John.

Nuthatch very busy today must be hungry. Have heard the woodpecker - however they are being very weary of me. I think that I need to leave the hide in place permanently so that they get used to it, like they have the cam net. I will discuss this with Martin the farmer.

Martin has agreed to me fencing off the hide, now need to find time to do it. He has also said he will help me as he knows what he is doing.

Results of the Day

Got some interesting results today. One image in particular I am very happy with as it is a shot of a nuthatch arching its body - a shot that has eluded me for years. Have looked at the results of the flash, this needs to be looked at. I think I need to use two of them and use the light meter to set them so that I can use my camera set to manual mode and this will allow me to have more control of the exposures. Need to look at where to set the flash guns to think about the lighting of the birds. Could consider snooting them.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The setting up of the feed station

1st of March 2010, St David's Day.

I have decided how to set up the perch. I didn’t want it to be heavy and the props needed to be portable. I have invested in two broom handles which I will pre-drill so that the nails do not split them when I nail them home.

Arrived at the farm and firstly went to fill the feeders again, they were empty. Good sign that the birds are using it. Woodpecker flew off when I approached the feed station. After that I have decided to check the camera that is in place. Something has set it off so I am curious what has done it. I have a my Canon g10 so that I can look what has set it off. I think the it is a fox. I will have to wait till I get home to check this. I can't wait.

I have decided to set it to video to see if I can get a longer exposure of what is there. I have also moved the camera closer to the hole to see if I can get a better picture too.