Click on image above visit my wildlife gallery!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Rabbits at Mercers County Park

...of which there are a great many! Just a couple of shots from this morning.

Nikon D300 + 500mm f4 +1.4x TC @ f/8, 1/400th sec, ISO 560

Nikon D300 + 500mm f4 +1.4x TC @ f/6.3, 1/400th sec, ISO 720

May is in the South East of England has not been so great for photography - so far at least. It's been weeks since good weather and weekend coincided. Seven days to go until my trip to Wicken Fen, Blakeney Point and Minsmere - fingers crossed that it will pick up a bit.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Red Foxes in Horley

A few weeks ago, I had just taken a new lens from it's box and put it on my camera, when I glanced out the window and here is what I saw:

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II @ 200mm, f/4, 1/200 sec, ISO 1000

So this was the first picture I took with the new zoom. Not bad going I reckon - better than a brick wall anyway.

I've never seen a fox in our garden before, although I expect he passes through there all the time. Last autumn, I spent some early mornings photographing foxes in a local church yard - there are plenty in the area.

Nikon D700 + Sigma 100-300mm + 1.4 TC @ 420mm, 1/400th sec, f/7.1, ISO 1250

Nikon D700 + Sigma 100-300mm + 1.4 TC @ 420mm, 1/400th sec, f/6.3, ISO640

The weather for this weekend isn't looking good, so no new pictures until the sun returns. In the meantime, I'm getting ready for a week long trip visiting Wicken Fen, Blakeney Point and Minsmere at the end of May. I've made endless lists of what to shoot and the kit to take out each day. I've studied the maps and I know the sun up and sun down times and the tides too. Hopefully this kind of planning will pay off when I arrive.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Lincolnshire Barn Owl

Near Cath's parents house in Lincolnshire, there is a barn next to a river, in which there lives a barn owl. Each time we travel up, weather permitting, I spend the last couple of hours before sunset waiting by the river, hoping to see it. Most times it does make an appearance.

Barn owl's are extremely difficult bird to photograph, I'm finding. They are small, fast, low flying, and white. Even with a teleconverter fitted, and using a crop sensor camera body, it's hard to get close enough to get a decent shot with my 500mm lens. Tracking them in flight is a real challenge too - the auto focus on my D300 has a hard time keeping up. Exposing correctly, to avoid blowing the highlights, isn't easy either - especially in direct sunlight.

After plenty of attempts, my favorite shot is the one shown on the front page of this blog. Here's another, taken on the same evening back in February.

Nikon D300 + 500mm f4 + 1.4x TC @ f/8, 1/1000th sec, ISO 400

Next weekend we are heading up again. For the last couple of visits the weather has not been good, so hopefully there will be some decent light this time.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Macro in B&W

Something you don't see a lot of is B&W shots of insects and spiders. After all, these animals are often very colourful, or at least are often sitting on something colourful (flowers, leaves), so why would you want to shoot in B&W?

As a reaction to the glut of insect on flower shots I finished with last summer though, here's something that I'd like to produce more of this year:

Nikon D300 + Nikkor 200mm f4 AF @ f/10, 1/640th, ISO 560

A shot of a Butterfly on a Buddleia says nothing more to me than "colourful insect on colourful flower". Once you've seen half a dozen of them, they can become boring record shots. This wolf spider shot though has something different. I guess what I'm saying is that shooting B&W macro allows you to portray aspects of these animals beyond "this insect is colorful".

It only seems to work with some shots though. I tried converting about a dozen old shots to B&W yesterday - only this one seemed to work. I guess it's a matter of working out what will work in B&W and what will not. With this spider shot, I think it's the menace and the undergrowthy feeling it has to it.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Macro Time

Nikon D700 + Nikkor 200mm Macro lens @ f/9, 1/500th sec, ISO 320

Summer is just around the corner, which means insect photography is too.

If I could only do one kind of photography, it would be close up photography of insects and other invertebrates. If you like wildlife photography, but you've never tried macro, I recommend you give it a go:
  • It's easy to find a subject to photograph. This means the chances are high that time spent out with a macro lens will be rewarding. The diversity and sheer numbers of insects dwarf that of other animals. Even the average back garden has plenty in it!
  • In comparison to say, bird photography, it's cheap to buy a high quality macro lens. Consider a pro-spec birding lens like a Nikkor 600mm f4 - these go for about £7k in the UK. While something like a Sigma 50-500mm is great value for non-pros, it's just not in the same league as the 600. On the other hand, even Nikon's top of the range macro, the Nikkor 200mm f4 AF, costs only a fraction of the 600 (in fact, it's about the same price as the Sigma 50-500mm). Lenses like the Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 VR or the highly regarded Sigma 150mm f/2.8 are cheaper still. 
  • Macro is difficult. Even just judging the depth of field and getting the focusing right is non-trivial, to say the least (c.f. photographing a bird on a stick). Be prepared to take and discard a huge number of images to get the shot you want. If you like a challenge, macro photography will keep you interested. 
  • Unlike bird photography (again!) there's no need to carry around a heavy lens or tripod. Just a single, relatively small, macro lens will do.
At the end of May, I'll be spending 4 days at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire, UK ( This site is famous for the diversity of the invertebrates found there, which include a large number of rare species. Last year I ended up photographing a large number of bees on flowers. Pretty as they may be, it's time for some less common subjects!

Nikon D700 + Sigma 150 mm Macro lens @ f/5.6, 1/400th sec, ISO 320