1 December 2018

A day's birding (or not)

As yesterday’s forecast promised a few hours when rain wouldn’t be the prominent feature I thought I’d spend it birding.

That might have been a mistake on my part.

I headed to Portland Bill and, sure enough, it stayed dry but the wind was still blowing as the last results of storm Winifred or Gertrude or whatever made itself felt. Even the Oystercatchers decided to group together in a field and go worm hunting rather than attempt the shoreline and the lack of birds eventually had me watching the waves instead, I might be easily distracted but they were hard to ignore.

After I’d had my fill of getting coated in sea spray I headed to Radipole RSPB in Weymouth for my annual visit. I say annual because the place depresses me so much I only go once or twice a year just to see if any improvement has taken place but  it never does. It used to be a great place to go when I started birding in the early 90’s but not for some time now. If it was a commercial business you would swear that it was being run down intentionally so it could be closed and claimed as a tax write-off.

As I write this light rain is falling steadily and the mist is getting thicker, looks a day to keep the coffee flowing and look forward to better days.

Oh, and I'll try to make the next post a little happier rather than a grumpy old man session!

27 November 2018

Birds with the Nikon P900

I wrote in an earlier post about changing my camera system from Canon to Fuji and I've experienced no regret whatsoever, the Fuji kit suits me and my photography style so well and I certainly wouldn't want to go back again.
The only drawback has been the loss of the longer lens for pictures of birds and other wildlife but there is no way I can justify spending around £1,700 for the Fuji 100-400mm lens so I've been looking at bridge cameras. I know I will take a hit regarding image quality but as these pictures will mainly be for blog posts and therefore reproduced at a smaller size I think I can live with that.

After much searching and ploughing through reviews I settled on the Nikon P900, not the most up to date or best available but with a very long lens and a bargain price it was too good to pass up. It needs good light to make a decent picture and that is something in short supply at the moment, thick clouds, strong winds and rain seem to be the constant feature but I managed to give it a trial run at Portland Bill a couple of days ago when the sun was able to peek through for an hour or so.

This Kestrel was very distant and I wouldn't have bothered raising the camera with previous lenses but the reach of the P900 is remarkable.

This Rock Pipit was a lot closer, just a shame I couldn't get down to eye level without spooking it.

All in all I'm pleased by the results of the first trial run and hope for some better weather soon so I can get some practice in and put the camera through its paces.

24 November 2018

2019 - Dreams and Nightmares

A single Black Redstart, who would have thought it was such a forerunner of doom and despair, condemning 2019 to be a year of lost dreams.

I was quite happily working on the computer and minding my own business when this evil feathered fiend landed on my garden fence and started to pose, drawing my attention away from google. For a good few minutes it hopped from this post to that one, showing itself from every angle as if to say “look what you’ve been missing by not birding this year, bet you’re sorry now”.

Needless to say that a few days later I had (quite literally) dusted off the bins, created a spreadsheet to record 2019 sightings and started to mentally plan my local patch visits for the coming year. This can only go one way, like leaves circling the drain, making 2019 a year of unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. 

Plans like this are all too often the kiss of death so by the time January rolls around I will no doubt be train-spotting or wondering which stamps to collect and if the gods hate me as much as I think they do I might even have bought a set of golf clubs, in which case feel free to shoot me on sight! Then again, at the rate they are disappearing I might be a cabinet minister before January, who knows!

Ho hum, we shall see. Watch this space………………………………………..

Now, remind me again, what are the identifying characteristics of a robin?

13 November 2018

Portland Bill and the 6 stop addiction

A look around Portland Bill this morning in one of those rare periods of sunshine after the rain and strong winds we've been getting lately (yet I still managed to get caught out in what will no doubt prove to be the only rainy spell of the day).

More photography on the coast was the plan, again using the 6 stop filter which is becoming a favourite of mine, and although I read the tide table wrong and confused the high tide and low tide times it worked out alright in the end.

Still enough breeze to push the sea up against the rocks with a little force.

I love the green and blue of the background wave, it turns this into something with an almost abstract feel.

Although I'm not exactly a fan of milky looking water I do like how the 6 stop filter manages to blur and show movement without overdoing it.

I cropped this one to more of a panoramic format to concentrate on the movement of the water against the rocks.

I understand that long exposures of moving water are not to everyone's liking but I'm really enjoying making this kind of photograph right now.

2 November 2018

Chesil Cove

A few weeks have passed since I was last here, another bout of the recurring arm problem meant I haven’t been able to drive anywhere much further than the end of the road and the thought of lifting a camera was enough to make me reach out for the nearest painkillers, but I’m still here and a 10 minute drive along with an hour or so of photography are becoming possible again even if I pay for it later.

I’ve made a couple of trips to Chesil Cove as it’s close enough to get to and only a hop, skip and jump from the parking spaces (that is if I was able to hop, skip or jump in my rapidly advancing years) so not far to carry the kit.

 This first image is mainly about the colours, the red and orange of the pebbles surrounding the grey rock, then the lighter toned rocks in the blue/green water. A 6 stop ND filter was used to soften the water which shows more of the movement than a frozen fraction of a second would have done.

This is another image made with a 6 stop ND filter. The pictures made with no filter produced very boring representations of what I was seeing with little movement being captured, just a small wave heading towards a rock, boring enough to make me want to head home again. Adding the filter not only made the images more dynamic but have introduced an almost painterly effect in the water and although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea I really like this one.

This last picture follows on from the previous one but is more about the rock and how it is continually pounded by the waves, large and small, that give it its shape and texture.