Sunday 31 January 2010

Anyone worked out the point of the iPad yet?

Like lots of people, I like my technical gizmos and enjoy staying well connected on the move.  It has been fantastic this last year with my little Samsung Netbook and 3G stick, both from a personal and work perspective.  I am enjoying even better and easier connectivity via my new HTC Hero phone.

So when Apple launched the iPad last week, many of us have been scratching our heads and wondering just why.

I can see absolutely no need for something that is the same size as the Netbook, has got a fraction of the facilities, and over twice the price.

There are some very funny You Tube videos already posted that made me chuckle, particularly based on the Downfall of Hitler film.

So what is the relevance of this post to this blog.  Well as I have said here in the past, the Netbook is a brilliant tool for backing up images, plus processing, plus blogging while mobile. 

Sadly the iFad fails to hit any of these needs for me, and yet again an outrageous price.  They are beginning to make Canon's comedy prices look reasonable.

So to conclude, yet again another triumph of style and high pricing over substance.......a solution for a problem that doesnt exist or has already been covered well by existing phones and netbooks.
Have a look at the different options below if you want value and performance for money.

Right that's enough of that.  I am off to see some wildlife.


Quick Reminder

As posted back a couple of days ago, this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch.

I just submitted my results from first thing, total of 12 species with the scarcer species of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Mistle Thrush.

Let us know what you recorded


Saturday 30 January 2010

Trip Report-New Jersey-Fox Gallery

I visited New Jersey in Oct for a day whilst i was in New York with the in laws, I went to a state park there but couldn't get in as there was a marathon on that day, I mentioned to one of the locals that i had tried to get in and they asked if i has seen any foxes which i thought strange as i had told them i had only managed to get to the gate, Any ways i went back a for a couple of mornings on my last trip in the hope to of seeing some fox and get a shot or 2, Now the only foxes i have ever shot have been wild and timid and any images have taken max effort and time-a challenge that i love to take, I spent 2 mornings shooting the robins and waxwings and didn't even get a sniff of a fox but when i mentioned to other photographers that i had been there they all said the same thing-did you see the fox, so i decided to stay there for a day, I shot the birds all morning then went for some lunch, The late afternoon light was lovely and as i entered the park i drove about 1/2 mile when i saw a photographer on the side of the road taking a shot of a fox sleeping on the other side, Another look and i was amazed to see a second fox sleeping under his tripod!!, So i pulled over and grabbed the gear and quickly set up, I had seen sleeping fox images and have always wanted one so that was my first shot, The fox soon woke and looked over, The sun was behind is so the light was near perfect, I spent the next couple of hours shooting 3 fox and chatting to locals, It seems that about 5 years ago there were 35 fox there but mange has reduced the numbers considerably is it does when the fox density is too high,You can see that the remaining fox are in great condition, I think the images are great and i am sure the agent will be happy but and its a big but i didnt get the normal high that i would get after spending weeks preparing for a shoot, There was no challenge as the fox were so used to people and i am sure in the summer will have a great time cleaning up after kids have left half eaten sandwiches on the beach, I will return there again maybe summer time and try and get some fox on the beach shots as i havent seen anything like that-anyways enjoy














It's the colours of tits that affects sperm

Apparently!!!!........... according to the National Geographic

So there you go Ricky and Andrew.  Was that the headline you had in mind when you sent me the story?   :-)


Friday 29 January 2010

Starlings at Slimbridge

As a promised in recent posts, I said I would put the Starling images up, but Dave has been putting up so many great images recently, I wanted to wait until he had reached the end of that series, which I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing, and judging by the many comments so have you.  Keep the coments coming we do welcome them.

I missed the starlings for the last two years at Slimbridge but they were back aplenty when I was there at the beginning of the month.

What a spectacle, it was worth the wait, and I have to say I was well impressed with the 1Dmk111 AF acquisition in near darkness.  Why cant it work light that in better light?  :-)

All shots were at ISO3200 with the 70 - 200f2.8 IS L at either f2.8 or f4, with shutter speeds as low as 1/60 on the blurry one, but I liked the effect.





It was good to get in a warm car after this as I was frozen


That time of year again - RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch

It's this weekend folks, so get your chairs pulled up to the windows, get your binos out and a nice big mug of hot tea and toast and get your results in.

Not sure what day I will be doing it, but all the info is here.

Lets us know of any unusual sightings that you might have on the comment section.


Thursday 28 January 2010

Canon 1D MK4 Firmware upgrade

See Here


Trip Report-New Jersey-Bird Gallery 2

Now all the sea birds are out of the way, I will finish the bird galleries with some birds taken in a State park close to where i was staying, I wasnt expecting any of these so they were all a bonus, Most shot from the car with the aid of a beanbag to support the D3 and 600/extender combo

Cedar Waxwings

 Northern Mocking bird who seemed to like the noise from the camera and not only came right up to the car to get a better view but also followed me down the road when i moved-see 2nd image


 American Robins 


Northern Cardinal (cropped from Landscape mode)
Catbird (i had never heard of one either) looks like a European Blackcap on steriods

House Finch male and female


So there you have it, The target bird was the Harlequin duck and everything else was a bonus and i must say it was a very productive trip, The very last gallery from the trip will be the fox gallery and after that i promise you some beaver shots!!


Wednesday 27 January 2010

Time to look out for Brown Hares

It's that time of year again.  I am starting to see more Hares in more locations as I drive about.  I noticed one while driving to work on Tuesday and a couple the previous week while we were at the Short Eared Owl site.

With crops in the very early stages of growth now is the time to get out there and see if you can photograph them.  It might involve long hours laying down in the cold getting nothing, but you could strike it lucky.

I will be checking out a few locations near me over the coming weekends.

Just a quickie tonight as I am up to my neck with other stuff.

Have still got lots of 7D stuff to tell you about and I still have to do the Starling images from Slimbridge so plenty to come soon


Tuesday 26 January 2010

Trip Report-New Jersey-Bird Gallery

Bear with me there are only 2 galleries after this one before its back to normal, Its taken a couple of days to finally get my PC working properly again after various infections but now fingers crossed we are back up and running, So here are the last of the sea birds, Most are Full Frame with a couple cropped, All taken with the usual Nikon gear, Some of the sandpipers are shot using fill flash from the SB90 and better beamer combo

Black bellied Plover-winter plummage

Common Loon with crab

Gull feeding on barnacles

Red Throated Diver-winter plummage


Turnstones and Sandpipers in flight

Purple Sandpiper



Monday 25 January 2010

Surprise Garden Visitor on Sunday

I have seen a Reed Bunting in the garden on a couple of fleeting visits over the last couple of years but they are very infrequent.

I rattled off a few pictures today of this one that popped in for a few feeding sessions, essentially just for record purposes.  Taken through glass it is not as sharp as I would like obviously and with the messy feed table, but thought I would share it with you all anyway. Virtually full frame and ISO 1600.  1Dmk111, 500f4L + 1.4 EF TC

It provided a bit of light relief for me while I was wading through a massive report I am writing.

This male is on its way to breeding plumage.


Sunday 24 January 2010

Trip Report-New Jersey Red Breasted Merganser Gallery

When i lived in Switzerland i used to photograph the Common Merganser or Goosander as we called it in the winter, On one occasion i was in Geneva and there was a Red Breasted Merganser with the Goosanders, It was the one time that i didn't have my cameras with me and i always regretted it and have always wanted and good clean shot of one for my files, When i was in New Jersey there were lots of RBM's flying around but always down the centre of the channel which was about 1/2 mile away, I had been there a couple of days and had kept an eye on the birds when i noticed that when the sun was going down the RBM's would leave the channel flying up the centre towards the open sea then taking a hard right and would fly past the end of the jetty, So one evening i positioned myself near the jetty end and low and behold i had a couple of fly bys that i managed to convert into nicely lit sharp images, I seem to remember punching the air when checking the screen and histogram, One day also saw one of the RBM's fishing out in the channel, They can stay under water for a considerable time and it popped up in front of me in good light, It stayed for a few minutes before it was gone so i ended the week with both static and flight shots of a bird that was high on my wanted list, you cant ask for more than that but it does go to show that if you watch your subjects  behaviour over a period of time that it can/will work in your favour
I have actually quite a few images of both males and females from the trip but as i have said before my PC is still playing up after some kind folk sent a trojan horse over the web but its nearly sorted so again these are done on my laptop and proper service should resume next week
All images are full or near full frame-all shot with D3 Nikon with 600mm VR and extenders



Saturday 23 January 2010

Quick Update - General Stuff

Just another quickie from me, particularly as Dave has been doing some lengthy photo posts with some great images.

I am still tied up writing a long environmental report for work which is taking a lot of my time and will do again tomorrow so no chance of getting out with the camera.  So fingers crossed for next weekend, although having said that the light has been awful today so no real loss there to be honest.

It is pleasing to see a lot more comments and interaction on a number of our recent posts with a big thanks to Ashley, Julian and Peter in particular for their inputs.  It does make it much more worthwhile for us to get your comments, so thanks, and we will always welcome more.

Also numbers of readers and daily visitors have been good so if you are a new reader, then welcome to our blog.  Please feel free to leave comments, take an RSS feed or sign up as a blog follower via the various links on the right hand side.

We also are signed up to, so even if we are not showing what you specifically want to buy, if you click in via us to whatever you are looking for we would be most grateful.

I  must add some banners so that all of our US readers, and in fact UK and rest of the world  readers can get stuff that way too.

I have had a bit more hands on time with a 7D over the Christmas  and New Year period, so will think about a bit more useful feedback.

On a different note, I have read an awful lot of rubbish on various forums about the 7D. Simply put, if you want to get the most from it, then you will need to think about it and set it up.

Coming from a few years of 1Dmk3 experience it is very easy.  I think if you are upgrading from say a 450D or 30 or 40D, it is a much bigger leap, and if you employ the same techniques, you may well struggle, as seems to be the case from a lot of what I have read.

In terms of processing 7D RAW files, the best tool you can use is Phase One Capture 1 v5.  Simply put it really is the best tool for the job. There are Pro and LE versions - there is a big price difference, and the LE version will cover just about all your needs.  Again I have seen lots of people having problems with some of the Adobe products.  In addition, the latest update v for Breezebrowser Pro will now also process 7D RAW files.  Only for PC users, so if you have a MAC, bad luck you could always upgrade to two PC's for the price of your white plastic  :-)

Anyway, I will cover the 7D in a bit more detail in later blogs.  If there are any particular aspects you want covered, please let us know through the comments, and I will do my best to cover it off for you.

Finally, I have cleaned up the 'Other blogs' section down the right hand side, removing a couple that were essentially dead as they weren't being contributed to, and replaced them with a couple of others  that I have come across recently  that are both active and enjoyable in terms of content.  So I hope you enjoy having a look at them too.


Friday 22 January 2010

Firmware update for Canon MK4 AF

All looks a bit familiar dare i say-see here

Trip Report-New Jersey Surf Scoters Gallery

I had seen Surf Scoters (pronounced Scooters) once before when i was in California but they were too far away to get a decent image, I had heard that there were some in New Jersey and before i went i said to my wife that i would really love to get a decent image of one, The first couple of days when everywhere except the sea was frozen i found good numbers of them with the other ducks and once i had been in position a while they came close, I always start off getting a few standard images in the bag and then become more adventurous and ended up spending some time trying to get decent images in flight, Like the other birds they liked the surf and rough close in waters and so i did some shooting there as well showing their habitat and conditions that they live in, A fantastic looking bird but with mostly black with bright white areas its an exposure nightmare, I always expose for the whites i.e make sure that they are not blown, so as before i shot manual exposure, My main PC is once again playing up so these are from my uncalibrated laptop, Images taken with either a D3+ 600 and extenders or D300+ 600 and extenders, Some full frame and some cropped







Thursday 21 January 2010

A Few News Stories

Wow, the last subject that Dave posted has certainly appeared just about everywhere.

From mainstream media right through to thousands (probably) of different on-line sources.

My thought pretty much concur with the comments left by Dave and Julian on this thread.  So let us know your views too.

But it was while looking at other stories in the UK, I came across a good one about Barn Owls doing well in Grizedale - this is great news, although a pity they have used a picture of a captive Owl. They should have asked me  :-) and then sadly shootings of Red Kites in Northamptonshire.  Just what is it with some people

Also thanks to Ashley Hugo for the link on his blog down in Cornwall.

Ashley is clearly a remarkable young man so pop across to his site and have a look at his work.  Wish I had been that good when I was 15.


Wednesday 20 January 2010

Wildlife Photographer of the Year loses crown

After weeks of speculation the WPOTY crew have made an announcement, A very sad day for the worlds premier wildlife comp

Links here and here


Trip Report-New Jersey-Long tailed Duck Gallery

The Long Tailed Ducks were one of the highlights of the trip for me, I wasnt expecting them and they were there in large numbers, They were also approachable, Either where you could walk close to them comparatively speaking or where you could stay in one spot and they would approach you, The way to get LTD in flight would be to have some close by and just behind you, At some point a flock would fly in from the sea and land close to birds in the channel, This would mean that they came straight at you and then dropped (they don't land delicately) into the water close by, I think they are a very beautiful duck with a comical face, I think i spent more time shooting LTD's than anything else, They have very white heads and you had to make sure that your exposures were good and not to blow the whites out, As they were fairly numerous i would every now and again take a shot of a duck and check the histogram to make sure the light hadn't changed and that there weren't any blinkies, New Jersey was certainly a great winter venue for the Long Tailed Ducks and i will be visiting again this time next year, Some images have small crops for presentation, The images were processed on my uncalibrated laptop so any colour problems are easily solved, These are just a small selection of the LTD images, I have still to download and go through all of them so just picked a few of my favorites