Thursday, 25 May 2017

More badgers



I tried for an eye-level shot of the badgers this evening while two of them were enjoying their evening meal of peanuts. The second badger arrived at about 11.45pm. I very slowly opened the front door and peered out camera in hand while lying on the floor about 10-15 feet from them. I lay there for a few minutes getting focus - not so easy in the low light - then got two pictures. In the first shot they they had their backs to me. The flash prompted them to turn round, but after a few seconds pause they went back to eating. I then got this second shot before they moved away.  

Eye-level shot of two badgers

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Heritage museum

The camera club is now holding additional meetings at a museum which is providing new photographic inspirations. The museum is the Alford Heritage Museum which displays artifacts from local rural village life in days of yore, with many of the items being presented in context, so we have a smiddy, a joinery, a cobbler's workshop, a schoolroom, a shop and so on.

Rebate planes in the joinery

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Badgers

 

Badger eating peanuts at bird feeder station


I've been taking pictures of badgers for the past few months.

We've had badgers at the top  of the hill for many years, sometimes seen running across the road at night and roadkill once or twice in 25 years.

I spotted a badger in the car headlights on the house drive in autumn last year. I got an impression of the tail end before It disappeared. It happened so quickly that I wasn't 100% sure of what I'd seen. Then a few weeks later I saw it again, definitely a badger.

Badger (infrared)


In January I set up a trail camera (approx £70 "Crenova" from Amazon) and was soon taking night time infrared photos of a badger in all parts of the garden. 


On the drying green 


There are at least two badgers visiting, possibly three, with least one just about every night. The trail camera gives a faint red flash when taking a picture. The badgers aren't too perturbed, but they did investigate the camera when it was first set up - I've got a few over-exposed super-close-ups of badger whiskers.
 
The badgers eat any left-over bird food under the bird feeders. In the evening I scatter extra peanuts on the ground under one of the feeders about 3m from the living room windows. These peanuts get eaten overnight.

A puzzle: the badgers spend long periods under the ivy at the front of the house, sometimes only their backends are visible, and other times they go fully underneath. The badgers are more-or-less motionless for perhaps half an hour at a time before moving on. I have a mental picture of their mouths open waiting for a mouse to run across the mousetrap. Badgers have serious teeth.  What are they really doing in the ivy? 


 Badger emerging from ivy


The badgers tolerate noises from general household clattering and living room lights. Last night I opened an upstairs window and took a few pictures of a badger eating peanuts - telephoto with flash. 
 
 

Eating peanuts - telephoto and flash from upstairs window


 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Bird photography - Red Kite


I got  a telephoto lens at Christmas with intention of doing some bird photography. I've now discovered that that this requires a whole new set of skills. The subjects are typically too far away to get a usable image. And when I do get close enough they don't sit still. If I do get close there is usually little opportunity to work the scene. Bird photography is forcing me to think more about exposures and shutter speeds; the camera settings must be right before the opportunity for the shot arises.

I'm fortunate to live in a part of the country red kites have been reintroduced. There are plenty of photo opportunities, but most of the time the bird is out of range for my lens. (I'm using a 100-400mm lens on a full frame camera.) This means I have to be very close to the bird if it is to fill the frame. I've spent a few weeks driving around to learn the good locations for shots.



I finally got lucky with this shot. I was driving in an area where red kites can be seen every day when this bird flew across the road in front of the car. It landed in a tree about 50m from the road. The bird was well hidden by branches but I could see movement and it seemed to be tearing at something that it had caught. After a few minutes the bird rose out of the tree and flew straight towards me. It then made several circles directly above me. If you look carefully at this image you should see that it is still carrying the remains of its lunch.


Both shots were taken with the camera in manual mode with with lens at 400mm, and settings f/5.6,
1/1250s and ISO 1250. The white background is the result of the sky being filled with cloud and blown out. The sky is is white, but the bird is properly exposed and sharp. Those few minutes while the bird was in the tree gave me the chance to check my camera settings.

To get a sense of scale - a red kite is 24 - 28" long and has a 69 - 70" wing span (Wikipedia). The reintroduction programme involves attaching coloured tags to the wings. Most kites have tags on both wings, but this has only one, a purple tag on left wing bearing number 35. It also had a ring on its right leg.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Intentional camera movement - colour and simplification

Intentional camera movement (ICM) causes the image to be smeared in the direction of movement. The amount of smear depends on how long the shutter remains open and the speed of movement. With most scenes this smear results in the loss of fine detail and the mixing of colours that were adjacent at the original scene. If ICM is successfully done, both effects can be desirable strengthening the final image. Photographers often compose an image to achieve simplification, the general aim being to remove anything that does not support the main idea. Everything that remains should support the main idea. The ICM loss of detail can achieve this and the colour simplification means that colours in the final image can bold.

Lochan, Cambus O'May

Yesterday I went for a short walk at Cambus O'May. The sun was shining and the air was warm - enough to be glad of the shelter of the trees and make me believe that summer had arrived. These ICM images were both captured at the start of my walk through the trees. The path goes up a slope rising above a small loch, so you must look down to see the loch through the trees. 

Footpath, Cambus O'May

The images were captured using a 3 stop ND filter and CP filter, ISO 100, small aperture f/18 or f/20 and long shutter speed 1.3s or 2s.

"One does not photograph something simply for 'what it is', but for 'what else it is'."
Minor White

Monday, 14 March 2016

Cucumber sandwiches

Continuing the food theme ... cucumber sandwiches are wonderful, simple and elegant! Bread and butter with slices of cucumber and a sprinkle of salt - presented on fine china. The china in this image is Japanese.

 Tea and cucumber sandwiches

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Serving suggestion - pie sandwich


A previous serving suggestion blog image was "inspired" by some poor examples of images on food packaging. The image was semi-abstract, including cut-out photo images of food items. The odd appearance of some food items was obtained by including the shadows in these cut-outs such that the shadow cast by a lettuce leaf is included in its photo cut-out. The colour and placing of the shadow is therefore deliberately inappropriate to the lighting although it works for me.
The image below is more realistic, but again each item is a cut out from a separate photo. Shadows have been selectively added after the fact, but these are still deliberately odd, so that there is something not right about the overall image.

Pie sandwich

The pie sandwich is something that I first encountered in an episode of Coronation Street, being eaten by Corrie's Gary Mallett. The Urban Dictionary tells me it is also known as a Wigan sandwich. This food concept is also known in Dundee.