Snipe

Snipe – have you seen any lately? That was the question put to me in the bird hide. Actually I had. Only a couple of weeks ago at least four of these well camouflaged birds were about.

Heres a couple of them:

Snipe
Snipe

Snipe are reasonably common and love wet grasslands. The average lifespan is around three years for this medium sized wader. In a previous post I joked I needed to find bigger birds or get a longer lens. I took these images with my Nikon 1 V1 and the 70-300mm AF-P zoom. The V1 has a silent shutter and the 70-300 is extremely quiet in use. With the crop factor of the V1 and the 300mm end of the zoom that gave me an equivalent of 810mm lens.

If you look carefully there are definitely four in this image….possibly more

These birds have some marvellous gold and black bars with a brown and gold head and a very long bill. When they stand still they are very difficult to see and blend into their preferred habitat quite nicely.

Snipe in wet grassland
Only two in this picture

As you can see in the picture above the one on the right is harder to see than the chap on the left.

It was only when these guys started moving that I noticed them at all. Chances are if they had stayed still I might have missed them completely, that is why I always take few minutes when entering a bird hide. Set up the gear and have a look around before taking pictures.

Take your time and have fun.


Camera/lens: Nikon 1 V1, FT-1 adapter, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

A walk in the woods

A walk in the woods – what does it do for you?

For me, I get outside, get some fresh air, say hello to other people enjoying the outdoors, listen to the birds and get to look around for potential pictures. I also pay attention to the weather, if it has been raining or is about to rain, watch out for squirrels or maybe deer and keep an eye on the light. While I do all that I get some exercise and get to relax.

And you thought it was just a walk in the woods 🙂

Some images from my last walk:

Cliff edge

In the picture above I imagined the lichen to running off the cliff a bit like lemmings. I don’t know why. Now I’ve mentioned it you can see it too, cant you?

How about this one:

Fungus on a tree
Stuck on or growing?

At first glance this fungi looks like it’s been stuck on this tree. I was fascinated by the shape and layering.

Talking of things that look like they’ve been placed:

Fungi between the branches

I couldn’t have made a better job of putting this here myself. It’s like it was jammed up between the two branches.

And finally:

Plant root
Waiting to ….

This root structure looks more like some creature that is about to jump out at you. In fact I was expecting it to move while taking the picture.

Don’t always look for the obvious

On this walk I could hear some woodpeckers although they were quite elusive. There were plenty of other birds adding to the sounds of the wood. All of them seemed camera shy on this particular day.

So I wondered about looking at what else was around. We’re almost into spring here so in a few weeks this same wood should have more leaves on the trees. Hopefully a bit more colour and some sunshine too.

I am going to make a point of returning to see the difference.

And I won’t just be looking for the obvious…

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 85mm Micro

Deer

Deer, sometimes you see them other times you don’t. It could be weeks in between sightings at the local nature reserve.

This morning I was fortunate:

Once this young chap noticed me, he didn’t hang around very long. I tried getting closer but he decided enough was enough and wondered off further into the woods.

If you ever tried photographing deer you will know they only tolerate you for so long. The slightest noise will spook them.

So today was a good day. Got some deer pictures, had a nice walk and enjoyed some sunshine.

It’s the simple things in life……..

Camera/lens: Nikon 1 V1, FT-1, Nikkor 70-300 AF-P VR DX.

A quintuple of black and white

A couple of weeks ago I ventured out with the camera. The weather wasn’t too good and neither was the light but I decided to put together this quintuple of black and white images.

Now if you are of a certain age and had a darkroom, you will know the nuances of using different papers and developers.

The best, richest blacks I ever got always seemed to be with Kentmere paper. The Kodak and Ilford papers of the time just didn’t seem to compare. Now I realise this is purely subjective, but that was what I found.

Either way its not quite the same on a monitor. I’m not saying one is better than the other, they are just …….different.

Each with their strengths and weaknesses.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

Dont take pictures into the sun

We are frequently told not to take pictures into the sun, preferring to try to keep it behind us instead. In fact when the wife is out taking pictures on her phone I quite often remind her of this. To which the usual response is it will be fine. Much to my amazement they usually are as well.

Have a look at the photo below:

St Mary’s Loch
St Mary’s Loch, Scottish Borders

I wouldn’t normally take pictures like this, but on this occasion I think it might be OK.

That brings us onto how much we should think about photographic ‘rules’. I don’t normally pay much credence to things like the rule of thirds.  To me any ‘rules’ in photography should be considered more as guidelines. They may work in certain situations and they may not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the photo though. If in doubt shoot. You could always adjust the composition later if you need too.

Isn’t that cheating?

Changing things in post isn’t really a new thing. Although regarded as something that is only done in digital, anyone could do so using an enlarger. In fact burning, dodging, toning, changing composition by cropping are probably all things anyone with a darkroom has done. I certainly use to.

So I would say no its not cheating. It could be regarded as part of the process.

The next time your out and about taking photos don’t rigidly stick to the rules. Take the shot and see if it works.

You might even begin to develop a style without realising it.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 10-20mm AF-P DX VR.

Seagulls

The other day I was out and about and happened to come across some seagulls at the local coastal town I frequent.

Nothing too unusual about that. You get seagulls almost everywhere these days, not just on the coast. Quite. But have a look at the image below.

seagull
This could be a black headed gull..which apparently for most of the year doesn’t have a black head

I thought there was something odd about this particular bird but couldn’t quite place it.

Seen it yet?

Yep…its standing on one leg, with the foot missing on the other. Now perhaps I lived a sheltered life but I’ve never really noticed this before.  I looked at the other birds perched around thinking this must be a one off  but to my amazement there was another bird with a foot missing.

I’d gone from not noticing this before to seeing two within minutes of each other. No they weren’t the same bird!

Getting a thing for gulls?

Possibly. I quite often watch seagulls and practice my BIF technique on them. And yes I do need the practice. Seagulls are plentiful and generally accommodating by flying quite low. They also seem to associate humans with food, so don’t tend to scare too easily around our presence. I recall getting mugged for my chips by a seagull in my childhood on Blackpool seafront. That was a very long time ago. Some 20 years ago a similar thing happened in Scarborough.

So for me the seagull has become a source of intrigue. I notice the differences between them, currently up to four different breeds.

My OCD will kick in soon and I will have to identify them so I can get a good nights sleep 🙂

Edit: I captioned the above photo. Told you my OCD would kick in.

Camera/lens: Nikon D5300, Nikkor 70-300mm AF-P DX VR.

Return to Albert Docks

An anniversary visit provided an opportunity to return to Albert Docks, Liverpool. This wasn’t a photography visit Per Se, so I just used my phone and added to the 12 Pics series here.

Albert Docks, Liverpool

 

You can see that in some of the images the phones camera was starting to struggle a bit. Perhaps a flagship model would have coped better?

On the one hand the images are OK as record shots. On the other, the photographer in me thinks I should have used one of my cameras rather than my smartphone.

Nobody pays any attention to people using smartphones to take pictures, but in some places using a ‘big’ camera would have security guards twitching. You cant help thinking if you were doing anything untoward you would blend in better with a phone.

Normally I would have brought my Nikon V1 as my travel camera, but for this weekend I left it at home. There could still be an argument for something more capable than a phone but not the size of a DSLR.

I hope the race towards full frame mirrorless doesn’t leave a gap in the smaller more portable camera category. The trend at the moment seems to be mirrorless full frame with big expensive lenses.

Just when people need a smaller alternative it looks like that option could have less choice in the future.

 

Highlands 2018 gallery added to 12 Pics series

Highlands 2018 gallery has been added to the 12 Pics section after a recent visit.

You never really know what sort of weather you will get in Scotland. You could get rain, sleet, snow and sunshine all in one day.

Our last trip saw some lovely sunshine with warm temperatures.

We also had some cloud making for very overcast conditions. As the light changed the colour of the water also changed from a nice blue to a dull grey.

Not much you can do about the weather so enjoy what light there is and if doubt click away. You can always hit the delete button later 🙂

Highlands 2018 can be found here.

 

 

New pictures added to Eyes Down Gallery

There’s some new pictures added to the Eyes Down gallery here.

Here is an example:

 

My son Andrew takes all the images in the Eyes Down gallery.  He has Down Syndrome and some communication difficulties but enjoys going out and taking pictures with his father. He is also has a gift to make people smile.

It’s fascinating to see what Andrew finds interesting. He liked the ducks on the water above, sometimes he takes pictures of paths other times its signs.

Nikon 1 V1 macro

I’ve added a Nikon 1 V1 macro picture to the macro gallery. The image below was taken with the 30-110mm Nikon 1 lens with attached Raynox DCR250 adapter. A previous article here gives more examples of what this setup can do. It’s a lot lighter and more portable than my dedicated DSLR  lens and can give some amazing results.

 

OK…. so I clipped the wing on the right hand side a little, but I did manage to get a reasonable amount of eye detail. If you’ve ever tried getting this close to flies you’ll appreciate how difficult it can be. They don’t tend to stay still very long 🙂

 

Recent trip to Albert Dock, Liverpool

We recently had the good fortune to be able to visit Liverpool, England. It’s not somewhere I’ve been before, I tend to avoid big cities because I’m not that keen on large crowds of people or busy places.

So why go there in the first place? It was a weekend out to see Michael McIntyres’ world tour show at the Arena. The show was actually quite good and we managed to book a hotel literally a stones through away.

Echo Wheel, Liverpool
Echo Wheel, Liverpool, with the Arena just visible on the right.

In the morning (after the compulsory full English breakfast) we had a wander around part of Albert Dock. It wasn’t a photo tour so rather than incur the wrath of the wife I grabbed a couple of quick shots as we walked round.

 

Albert Dock with the Echo wheel in the backgound
Albert Dock with the Echo wheel in the background. Nikon V1.

The above shot really pushed my little Nikon 1 V1 sensor to the limit. There is detail in the shadows under the arches, while just about retaining the highlights in the cloudy sky. This was really more of a record shot, but I’m surprised how well it came out considering the 1″ sensor.

 

Albert Dock, Liverpool
Albert Dock, Liverpool

 

Another record shot again pushing the sensor on the V1.

Not quite sure what this building is (maybe the Open Gallery?), kinda liked the reflection.

Around Albert Dock there were some interesting styles of architecture, the old mixing with the new. The clock tower on the right is part of the the Royal Liver building.

The Nikon V1 is great for slipping in a pocket when you don’t want to carry larger kit around.  When my V1 finally gives up I might have to move to m43, that then brings up the issue of whether to run two different formats. A story for another day I think.

In terms of visiting Liverpool, I think we will be returning at some stage.

 

It’s a question of perspective

It’s  a question of perspective.

While out at the local coast on a cold and windy morning recently I came across these guys:

Lifeboat
Lifeboat practice

 

This lifeboat crew were practising for when they are needed most. It was a bitter day and I had the luxury of warming up in the car while they were still out.

Kinda puts things in perspective.

Heads up

After a few cloudy days the weather has warmed up, the sun makes an appearance and I take the opportunity to look for dragonflies at the local reserve. The last couple of years, warm days in September resulted in some decent dragonfly activity so I was quite hopeful.

Sure enough they were out and even with the breeze, fairly active. If you’ve ever tried to photograph dragonflies in flight you know how quick they move. Out of all my dragonfly shots I’ve only got two or three decent in flight captures. Today I went for the (slightly) easier resting poses.

I like to try and capture dragonflies at different angles if I can. While a decent head shot is nice the wings and body can also be quite interesting.

Talking of wings the shot below shows some detail. I found it covered in dew on top of a post. Don’t know what happened to the body.

 

More dragonflies and other insects appear in the macro gallery here.

 

All images taken with a Nikon 1 V1, 30-110mm lens and Raynox dcr250 adapter.

 

 

Macro with the Nikon 1 V1

Not many people do macro with a Nikon 1 V1. Not many people have or like the Nikon 1 series full stop. I ‘m a bit odd ( as my  wife will testify), in that I quite like the V1. It’s a shame Nikon messed the 1 series around so much. With the right marketing they could have achieved so much more. It didn’t help that Nikon couldn’t decide what body style the V series should take. Three very different body versions was the last thing the V series needed.

Anyway, I tend to take my V1 all over the place. I get a body and the equivalent focal range of 27 -300mm in my pockets quite easily.

I’ve mentioned before I use a Raynox close up adapter. Fit this onto a 30-110mm Nikon 1 series lens and you have a nice little macro capable setup.

The day I captured the images on this page I was actually looking for dragonflies. Although the weather was warm with no wind, the dragonflies weren’t cooperating.

 

Instead I turned the camera to these more accommodating chaps.

 

Just for good measure here is a third one:

 

All these were taken with the Nikon 1 30-110mm lens and the Raynox 250 adapter:

 

The image above shows the Nikon 1 V1 with 30-110mm lens. I removed the Raynox adapter from its normal adjustable holder. Fitting a 40.5 to 43mm step up ring instead. The whole setup measures about 6″ or 150mm in new money.

Not too shabby for a kit lens and relatively cheap (compared to a dedicated macro lens) adapter.

 

 

(This post has sparked my interest in  flies. If you can positively identify these would you be kind enough to  email me here. 

Many Thanks.)

Hardknott Roman Fort

For some reason I never posted Hardknott Roman Fort to the 12 Pics series so here it is.

Hardknott is a steep pass on the Western side of the Eskdale Valley in Cumbria. The Romans built the fort to protect the route Eastwards from Ravenglass  onto Ambleside and Kendal. Known to the Romans as Mediobogdum, soldiers posted here must of felt a long way from home. Spending some time looking around the ruins, you can soon appreciate how hard it must of been in winter.

Hardknott Pass

The fort is at an altitude of 800 feet. The pass continues on to a height of 1289 feet and shares the steepest road in England title with Chimney Bank in North Yorkshire. Hardknott itself  misses being the highest fort in Britain, which is Whitley Castle (Epiacum) also in Cumbria at 1050 feet.

The road up Hardknott is narrow and steep. There is not much parking and access to the fort will involve a short walk from the road.

You can find Hardknott Roman Fort in the 12 Pics series here.