Wednesday 31 March 2010

One Swallow doesn't make a summer......

.....but we were fortunate enough to see half a dozen or so in two different locations on Sunday.

Having lost an hour of sleep due to the change to BST, I tentatively woke Jac before our good friend and fellow wildlife photographer Robbie came by.  For regular readers, you may remember Robbies great blogpost a few weeks back.  If you didnt see it first time round, then it is not to be missed and here is the link for you

We set off across to Worcestershire to see a Slavonian Grebe that has been around for a while, but sadly for us, it appears to have moved on.  I shouldnt be too disappointed really as i did get some great images a couple of years back while on Mull.

But while there was no Slav, we did see dozens of Sand Martins darting across the surface of the ponds.  What a great view this was of my first Martins of the year.

We moved on to another location and saw a good mix of water birds including Wigeon, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe and Great Crested Grebe among many others.  We also heard our first singing Chiff Chaffs of Spring, which was joined by Blackcap.

We then moved on to Upton Warren Moors Pool near Bromsgrove, managed by the Worcester Wildlife Trust.  Here we saw our first Willow Warbler and Swallows of the summer.  About a dozen Great Crested Grebes were busy showing on the far side of the pools, but closer to hand there were a couple of Little Egrets and some noisy displaying Oystercatcher.  It was good to see these so far in land.  There were also plenty of Shoveller, Teal and Snipe hidden down in the grass.

 Single Oystercatcher

Pair  mirroring as part of mating behaviour

Pair calling as next phase of mating behaviour

Caught in the act just before he fell off her

Little Egret

We heard  Kingfisher and Cettis Warbler but didn't see either.

Next stop was Brandon Marsh near Coventry, this one managed by the Warwickshire Wildlife Trust.  This is a great reserve with a good mix of habitat, and it delighted us with our sightings.

Swallows and Sand Martins were much in evidence as were many of the water birds that we had already seen, but we did some some lovely close up Snipe in the open just in front of the hide.

Snipe in open habitat

Another one of the Snipe

 As you can see from the light on all the images, it was a generally overcast day.

The blue flash of a Kingfisher was one of a couple sightings for us as it sped across the lake.  I heard the call before I saw it.

Walking back through the woods we were delighted also to see Male Bullfinch.  Robbie's finely tuned ears heard it before we saw it but it did look fabulous.  Too far to photograph really so we just enjoyed watching it.

Other highlights included some great views of Treecreeper, and we also heard three separate Water Rail, with a fleeting glimpse of one of them.
As an aside, I think Bullfinches must be like buses.  You don't see them for ages, and then three turn up, as I was lucky enough to see a pair in my garden yesterday when I got home.

So all in all a great day - loads of species, good weather, great company and a few images to share on the blog


Tuesday 30 March 2010

First of the year

Butterflies are starting to appear over here, Today i was at the local lake and 2 swallowtails were flitting around, Last year i planted a couple of buddlia (butterfly bush) to attract them into the garden, I have been busy the last couple of days planting in certain areas of the garden where i shoot the opossums so hopefully things will work out and have some very colourful images soon, Temperatures are rising fast and later this week we expect mid 80's so i will be out testing the EWA housing before i head off to Florida in 10 days time, Last night was a FULL moon, In my last blog you will see a moon taken a few days ago but last nights was perfectly full, I think i prefer the part full as there are better shadows across the craters-see below


Monday 29 March 2010

Moons and Raccoons

You may remember that i shot some opossums last month using the flash back lighting technique, It struck me that it would look good if i had added a moon image to it making a composite, The problem was i had just missed a full moon and would have to wait a month for the next one-well the month has passed and the full moon is about now so 2 nights ago after spending a cold few hours trying the opossums i grabbed the 600 and added a 1.7x extender and armed with the D300 gave me the longest focal length i could have, I set the tripod up and used a remote release, I had the camera set to 1/125 @ F8 and took a test shot, The histogram showed that the exposure was spot on and i tried using Live view and Manual focus, the moon was high in the sky making LV difficult to use so i relied on my eyes and manual focus, the shots came out ok as you can see here so now its just a matter of adding it to the opossum image, I will post that later this week, One of my wifes work collegues has a Raccoons nest in a tree in his backyard so i hope to start shooting them this week as well-more to come


Sunday 28 March 2010

Frogblog pt 5 - Overnight sensation

Well what a shock I got when I looked out of the window first thing yesterday morning.  The pond surface was boiling with activity.  Looking through the binos I could count 24 heads sticking up, and there may well have been more as many of them where mating, so their partners could have been under the water.

On closer inspection, they all scarpered and hid below the surface of the water, but there was now a total of six  clumps of spawn.  I did get a couple of images.

This one was taken from distance with the 7D, 500f4 and 1.4 EFTC from the bedroom window.  This shows the large number of heads up, with plenty more out of shot.

Second image shows the first of the largest clumps of spawn

Later in the day, whenever I looked out of the windows throughout the day, the surface continued to boil. The good news was that as it got later in the day, the frogs seem to be more relaxed with me being close to them.  The clunks of spawn continued to grow and by the end of the day there was ten clumps.  So we have beaten last years record already.  They also became more comfortable with me taking photos too which was a relief.

A couple of bystanders watch on

Finally, one of my favourite types of image

After a few small blogs, I thought I owed you all a few images on this one. Hoped you enjoyed the images and this installment of frogblog.


Great News - The power of the blog

Long term readers of the blog may remember that last year I did a few posts with some images of various orchids species, many of them taken close to where I live.  Sadly, many fine Bee Orchids were chopped down by council employed grass verge cutting contractors.  Now clearly this was an unfortunate accident, but made doubly heart breaking as it had happended twelve months previously.  Now I ran the story here on the blog which was also picked up by The Stratford Herald, our local newspaper.

I also contacted the Warwickshire Principal Wildlife Officer to bring this to the notice of the County authorities.

Well the great news is that I was asked to go to a  recent meeting of a number of interested parties to discuss the care of these wonderful wild flowers.  Sadly, I was unable to attend as I was poorly, but I have now received a marked up map with all the locations that are going to be protected.  Some bits are missing, so I will add these and return them.

So it will be with hopefully much better coordination and planning, we will keep them throughout their full period of bloom this year.  I will keep the blog informed.


Saturday 27 March 2010

Opossum update

I have continued to shoot the opossums most nights although things have slowed down some what, I have made a few changes to the set up, I have moved my hide a small amount and also turned it around so that the door face the set up, That was i can shoot through the window or get low and shoot through an opening in the door,The main thing i have done is to plant some spring flowers to try and give the images some colour and make them more commercial, I did get some shots after i planted them but they were not out in bloom but at least the opossums didn't mine them being there, They are now fully out so its time to put some hours in before the deer find them, I put a small amount of food out the other night and during the evening i watched 2 opossums and a fox eat and sit in and around the area so although i was in the living room looking after my dog who had just had the snip it is encouraging.


Friday 26 March 2010

Frog Blog pt4 - Frog Spawn

I took a look at the pond when I got home tonight and was pleased to see the first clump of spawn has now been set.  Last year there was seven visible clumps, so lets see if we match it this year.

Newt activity also continues to build and it was good to see a particularly large male Smoth Newt with his breeding markings.


Welcome to new friends to the blog

We would like to extend a warm welcome to new followers, Stuart Immonen and Mark Whittaker as followers on the blog.  We hope you enjoy the posts from Dave and me, and look forward to hearing your comments.


Thursday 25 March 2010

Nikon 16-35 F4 VR second impressions

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in NC so i decided to pop out and go down to the local lake for an hour and give the new lens a work out, The lake is one of the few here where you see people feeding the ducks and geese so they are very used to people and approachable, There is a section of board-walk where the ducks will fly onto and beg for food so this the area i had in mind, I took some bread down and threw some in, They seemed reluctant to fly up so i stood talking to local photographer John whom i had met there before, A couple of mum,s arrived and fed the ducks with their toddlers and then a female mallard flew up followed by a male, I had my D3 set at AV and F10 so put the camera on the handrail and put some bread in front of it, The birds wanted the bread but didn't want to get that close to the lens but after some coaxing they came close enough-not at 16mm but in the 20's and 30's-good enough, Obviously you cant look through the viewfinder but let the DOF look after itself, I don't like images with food in but this was just a test for the lens rather than anything commercial, I think the lens did OK its certainly sharp at those settings and the nano crystal coating gives a nice contrasty image, The images have very little processing, just a touch of curves and sat and that's about it

Original content posted at


Wednesday 24 March 2010

Photoshop CS5 videos

Some very clever and interesting new toys in CS5 see here


Photoshop CS5

Adobe will make an announcement on its new version of CS5 on April 12th see here


Update:  perfect timing - see here  :-)


Frogblog pt3 - Frog's porn

As promised in part 2, some images for you.

Clearly frogs are into group sex mating rituals as there have been a couple of threesomes and even one foursome.

In the first image, there are actually four frogs - there is  another one underneath.out of sight . I think if you just see an additional leg or two in there.

On this image, this is one of the foursome taking a bit of a rest.  He cetainly seems to have a smile on his face

Shame about the bit of reed in the way, but he probably needed the support

This final image is back to a threesome.  The female in the middle has a very strong yellow/orange hue to her.

None of these images are of stunning photographic merit, but I am pleased to share them with you in terms of the wildlife interest.

One of the features that I said I wasnt fussed about on the 7D when I did this review was the combined RAW/jpeg button.

Well on a couple of these images, I remembered to press it and so for images where I want to do the minimum of processing for record shots, this is a good option.

Just always goes to show that hands on experience over a period of time can change first impressions.


Tuesday 23 March 2010

Nikon 16-35 F4 VR

The new baby arrived about an hour ago so this is just a first impression, Its light or should i say light compared to the Nikon 24-70 and Nikon 14-24 so that's a good thing, I had read on some forums that there is some play in the manual focus ring and there is a small amount-i am not sure why but there is, I don't see this being a problem for me at least but the tolerances could be better, Its like the 24-70 in that's its long and thin as possessed to short and fat, But the main thing for me is that it doesn't change its length when zooming in and out like the 24-70, I am going to use this for the manatee images so it fits nicely in the EWA Marine housing and not the tight squeeze of the 24-70, I intend to use this lens for the manatees at around 20mm as i have read that the distortion at 16mm is quite bad and wide you will get some vignetting-both things that are easily rectified in processing, I took a few test shots and at F8 its certainly sharp, I will get down to the local pool and give it a good test but will get it insured first just in case, So first impressions are good as they should be with a lens in this price range

p.s The living room image was taken at ISO 3200 with the D3 more or less straight from the camera with no NR, 16mm @ F8


Computer bits

Following on from Martins blog yesterday i thought i would add a few bits and bobs, I too had a lot of virus problems a few months ago-nearly made me go to a mac it was that bad but i came to my senses and got the problems resolved, I added a new anti virus called trend micro and paid a little extra for an engineer to dial into my PC and sort the problems out, I also use Defraggler which is free which as it sounds defrags the hard drive and another free software called CCleaner which checks your system and gets rid of any crap-i got 16 MB back on my laptop!!! and i also cleaned the registry with it, Once i had given the PC and laptop a run through with these programs everything run much better, When i stop buying lenses (the new 16-35 should arrive today) my next purchase will be a top speck PC, I know what i want but it going to mean digging deep but like Martin says the files are getting bigger and bigger so its a must have rather than a luxury


Monday 22 March 2010

A few random musings

No real structure to tonights blog - just a few thoughts and things to share with you.

First a quick PC update.  After spending a significant amount of my weekend faffing about with my desktop, I have finally managed to kill off the pesky virus.  It was complex and has taken out some functionality, including getting internet access as it has killed the ability to renew the IP address.  Fortunately, the router is fine and wireless is saving me with the Netbook.  But it is a real nuisance and I have lost access to my main email address, although my reserve webmails are fine.

I was minded just before Christmas to update and replace my PC but hung on  Well now I have ordered a new one that should be with me in just over a week.  I have ordered it from, who built my last one for me.  It is great to get things built to the specific spec. you want, at a great price.  I prefer to go this route rather than buying a bespoke system.

I will go into a more detailed review of this at a later date.  Suffice to say I have specced to a high performance in the expectation of a soon to be announced Adobe Photoshop CS5.  Probably next month if any of the web rumours are to be believed.  I will go straight past CS4 in that case.

With the file sizes from the 7D i.e. 100mb for 16 bit TIFFs, decent processing power is now needed.
On the wildlife front, I was delighted to see my first butterflies of the year, with two Brimstones flying through the garden, and one Comma that landed - I did get some images which I will post once I have had the chance to process.

I took a walk along my local canal first thing yesterday, hoping to see Kingfishers.  I saw them back late last year, but we had serious cold weather throughout the winter and the canal was frozen solid for quite a while.

It was while reading this story last week that I thought I would take a look to see if we were affected.

Certainly there was no sign of any kingfishers, so I have to hope that they have just moved on rather than succumb to the weather.

Frogs are still very active in my pond, and the Smooth Newts have also come to life, with males, females and plenty of last years young starting to swim freely.


Sunday 21 March 2010

Just when you think you are sorted

When i purchased all my new Nikon gear i was very particular in what lenses i got, I bought purely for full frame cameras knowing that they would work well on a cropped body, The wides include the 14-24 and 24-70, mid range covered by the 70-200 and 200-400 and then the 600 big gun, so if you look every millimetre is covered when extenders are taken into consideration, so i wouldn't need to buy any more lenses-right-well up until now yes but then i came across a small problem, The 14-24 doesn't fit the underwater housing that i have and i think that the 24-70 may be abit long for the manatee shots as i hope they get very close, it also extends abit at the wide (24mm end) and is very tight in the housing which tries to compress the lens to about 50mm unless i tape it up, So last Friday i pulled the trigger on the new Nikon 16-35 F4 VR, It doesn't extend like the 24-70 and will be about the same length as the 24-70 closed so will be easier to get in the housing, Now it may seem extravagant to fork out nearly $1300 for 2 days with the manatees and i guess it is but it has a couple of bonuses over the 14-24, firstly it takes filters and secondly it has VR which most people may seem over the top for a wide but it may save the day underwater, I have ummed and arred for a month about getting the lens but at the end of the day i can always sell it after the trip if i feel it wont be used much as i have the focal length covered by other lenses-time will tell, it should arrive here Tuesday so i will give it a workout at the local pool some time next week

Saturday 20 March 2010

Frogblog Pt 11

So the naughty stuff has commenced.  Much mating activity is being seen and heard.  Great frog chorus at night time now with quite a few singing males.  I am now seeing up to 8 frogs popping their heads up out of the water

They are all very nervous at the moment and easily scatter below the surface before you have a chance to get to close with a camera. 

However, I did get some interesting shots this morning which I will post as soon as my main PC is out of intensive care.  It is currently poorly having been virused and undergoing loving care. Maybe I should have shot in jpeg.

On a wider view, Blackbird wars have started and lots of territorial scraps are kicking off.  Plenty of regular sightings of a couple of Blackbirds and a Song Thrush collecting wet vegetation from around the pond for nest building along with lots of Goldcrest song from the conifers, although only a couple of sightings.

As Dave said last week, Spring has well and truly sprung now.

Back later with images


Friday 19 March 2010

Best Selling images

Its that time of year when tax returns have to filled, So i spent this morning at the accountants going through last years figures etc, Last night i got out last years statements and invoices and had a quick run through to see if anything stuck out sales wise, I noticed that there were 3 or 4 images that out sold the rest my a large majority, So i dragged them out to see why-here they are


The red squirrel has been my biggest single sale so far and this one and some from the same series have sold multiple times globally as have the fox and sea otter images, Each has a human quality to it and it seems that what people like so here are a couple taken recently that i expect to out sell standard opossum images

You can relate to each image and they both put a smile on your face, I make no apology for the copyright across each image for obvious reason, Award winning images they may not be but they help pay the bills

Original content posted at


Thursday 18 March 2010

Guest Photographer - Ashley Hugo

Today we are pleased to host our fifth guest photographer on the blog.  I bumped into Ashley via the blogosphere and a link from Bob Sharples great blog and it was while looking at some of the fine work that is being done down there in Cornwall by a number of photographers that I realised what a remarkable young man Ashley is. So having seen his work, and left some comments, I badgered him into doing a guest blog for us.  I will let his own words do the talking, because I think once you have read his words and particularly looked at his images you will come to a similar conclusion.


First of all, thank you to Martin for inviting me to be a guest on the blog, I am honoured!

I am a 15year old wildlife photographer based in Cornwall, UK.  I have been photographing wildlife (mainly irds) for about two years now and I think I'm just starting to get to a standard where I can put my images on the internet.  I started off with an old Minolta film SLR a family member gave me; it had a 35-80mm lens which I used to take garden birds while I was saving for a better camera.  You can imagine trying to take wildlife with an 80mm lens, it was very hard.  I borrowed a few SLR's and bridge cameras until I had saved enough to get the Canon EOS 450D when it was first released.

After I got my 450D and Tamron 70-300mm lens I started photography properly. I would visit local nature reserves taking pic's of any bird that appeared.  This set up worked quite well for a beginner and I got used to all the different camera settings, modes etc.  After about 18 months of using the 450D/70-300 set up I was looking to upgrade.  After looking, researching and considering the different models I bought a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM.  I thegot used to the 450/400 combination and for my birthday that year I got a Canon 1Dmk11!!

The 1D2 and 400mm f5.6 is my current set up for wildlife and I think it is great.  I mainly shoot birds because I have never got close to other stuff.  I spend most of  my time out photographing birds and even sometimes get a decent shot!  Next I'm hoping to invest in a hide and try to get close to some of the local breeding species this year.  Why not check out some more of my images on my blog here  and

Below are some of my favourite images taken in 2009 and 2010
Red Kite, February this year at Gigrin Farm, Wales

Baird's Sandpiper, September 2009 at Davidstow Airfield, Cornwall - a very obliging bird

Little Egret, January 2010, Marazion Marsh, RSPB,  Cornwall.  Not the best of images but I like the warmth of the image (taken with a borrowed 500mm f/4 and 1.4 TC)

Tawny owl, February 2010, Screech owl Sanctuary, Cornwall.  Part of a Cornwall Wildlife Trust photographic group field trip (captive)

Little Owl, Screech owl Sanctuary, Cornwall. (captive)

 I am sure you will agree Ashley is both a very competent photographer and also amazingly modest as to his abilities from his words.  I know I certainly enjoy visiting his blog and seeing his latest work and contributions.  Really like the Black Kite images by the way Ash.

 I would like to thank Ashley on two counts.  Firstly for contributing to this blog (and being the youngest contributor to date)  and also for his regular and frequent comments to our posts.  We do appreciate them.


Wednesday 17 March 2010

Quick Heads Up

Just a quickie to say we have a great blog tomorrow, going up at 08:00 UTC.

Our fifth guest photographer is from a remarkable young man from Cornwall, so make sure you drop by and read the article, and leave him some encouraging comments


Softly Softly-softboxes

I have had some good comments on the opossums that i have been shooting over the last few weeks but a couple of people mentioned that the light from the flashguns is quite harsh, So i had a trawl through the internet to see what people where using and recommending, There are various light diffusers around but as i was going to using these outside the stofen/gary fong types didnt seem appropriate and i dont have enough space for bouncing light off of reflectors so i looked at softboxes for flashguns and the one that seemed to fit the bill was the Lumiquest softbox III, Not too expensive and easy to use and store, Just stick the supplied velcro to the 4 sides of your flashguns and stick the softbox to it-easy and quite sturdy and afterwards it folds flat, Last night was the first chance that i had to use the 2 softboxes that i purchased from B+H, I used these on the front 2 lights and had a normal flash for the background, The softboxes take away 1.5-2 stops of light so i needed to position them close to the set up to get enough power to light the area, This also helps with the flash recycle times, I only had an hour or so as i had other plans but luckily enough an opossum appeared for 10 mins and allowed me some shots, I still have some fine tuning to do but so far so good

 Original content posted at


Tuesday 16 March 2010

Way back when........

......................I bought my first DSLR, I remember my first memory card was a 512mb Lexar, and I got a cracking deal on it at the Focus show at the time.

The price had recently been slashed to a mere £95 for what was, IIRC, the fastest card, although obviously not the largest.  I think that was a 2GB card for about £500

Now at the risk of ending up like we are in a Monty Python Sketch, it would be great to hear of what you paid for your first card and what size it was -  so why not leave us some comments.

Which brings me on to my current way of thinking, which has actually remained unchanged for the last two years.

I generally use 4GB Sandisk Extreme 111 cards which cost about £17 two years ago.  I remember taking some out for Dave and Peter when I went to Switzerland.

Now that price for that card has remained pretty much the same although it is now a faster card with write speeds of 30x

Technology continues to move on, and cards are getting larger and larger, and write times are going through the roof, with up to 600x.

Now why would you want that.  Well I guess if you are a pro sports shooter, with a 10fps pro body, than you probably don't want buffer capacity to limit you, and if the card can keep up then, the more the merrier.

For wildlife, that may or may not be important to you.

On the two bodies I use, the 7D and 1Dmk111, faster cards would be an improvement on the 7D as the files are just about twice the size of the those on the Mark111 .  As I shoot RAW, those are big files.

However, my approach is that I very rarely machine gun anything.  I have found as I get to understand my subjects better, I can use the slower drive speeds and only press the shutter when needed.

For example, when I took these Short Eared Owl images this year, with the Mark 111 I was shooting at 5FPS and only a couple or three in a burst, and that was when the bird was at it's largest in the frame.

Whereas, other photographers nearby were busy machine gunning them to death long before and after I had taken mine - so maybe they would need the larger cards.

Back to Compact flash cards, and it seems the 600x write speed cards are available in 16, 32 and 64 GB sizes.  This is now truly on an epic scale when I think back to my first card purchase, although with prices of £145, 260 and 480 respectively, they are at prices to match.

So on that basis, I am happy to stay with 4GB Sandisk 111 for both bodies for the time being.


Monday 15 March 2010

Its Official

Spring has sprung, The clocks went forward here on Saturday and the weather is now pleasant and warm, I went for a walk around my local lake at the weekend and the turtles are coming out of hibernation and warming themselves on the logs in the water and the lake edges, There are a lot of geese and mallards on the lake and at this time of year they get territorial and that leads to fighting which can lead to some nice images so today i spent a few hours strolling around with my D3 and 200-400 just shooting whatever happened along, I started off shooting a close in heron that was fishing and then shot the geese and turtles, I spent some time shooting the breeze with a local photographer called John before heading back, I haven't shot the opossums for a few evenings but have been watching them from the house so i will continue with them tonight

Original content posted at


Sunday 14 March 2010


OK apologies for the corny headline, but thought I would do a number of posts this year on the progress of the frogs in my garden pond.

I woke a few up last weekend while doing a load of clearance work in one part of the garden.  There were three adult sleepy frogs, so I relocated them into the pond, where I had seen at least one moving.  I placed them at the edge and watched to see if that's where they wanted to go and sure enough they did, and swam to the depths.

Today while continuing that work I disturbed four little froglets, probably lasts years.  So I took these to the pond too, and again in the hopped.

It was while looking out of the window this morning, I saw an unfamiliar shape sticking up in the open water of the pond.  A quick scan with the binos revealed it to be the first mating pair of the year.

On closer inspection, I also saw two additional couples.

So I should be expecting the first clutches of spawn fairly soon.  Last year I observed at least ten mating adults and will now be listening out late at night for the croaking chorus.

Will keep you posted on the frogblog


Original content posted at

Good News

Our little blog robbing thief has removed all of our material from his site

Normal service has resumed   - although we will probably keep the 'Original post etc etc' on the bottom of the posts for obvious reasons.


Worth getting out of bed for

I really do love this time of year.  Lighter mornings and more prevalent bird song.

I got myself out of bed early yesterday morning and went for a couple of hours wander around another part my local patch.  I didnt bother with the camera - just me and the binos.

What a treat - still hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfare.  I guess with the colder winter that we have had this year that they are now working their way back north again.

Song thrushes were blasting out their varied and repetitive song, and a few Mistle Thrush were seen hopping around too.

Wood Pigeon are in flocks of 50's and 100's as they start taking some of the early growth off the crop tops.  The reverberating reports of 12 gauge shotguns rang out as  various farmers try to protect their crops.

Great and Blue Tits are engaged in courtship with flight chases and much chattering between them in the hedgerows.

I aslo saw a couple of Hare, the funniest sight was one running at full tilt across an open field, with a Raven about ten yards behind making its croaky calls, as if it was goading the hare to run faster.

I mentioned on my last post with the Male Sparrowhawk images that I hadnt seen the female for a while.

Well I had just sat down in my lounge with a cup of tea and my breakfast after my walk when I saw the bird fly down into my neighbours hedging actively chased and mobbed by four noisy crows.  She didnt stay long as she was soon harried away.

So if you haven't made the effort to get out early this year, it is time you should, you won't regret it.


Saturday 13 March 2010

New Filters for Nikons 14-24

Probably the best wide angle zoom lens on the planet at the moment is Nikons 14-24 but it does have one problem-you cant use filters with it due to the bulbous front element-Until now, Lee filters have designed a new huge filter system purely for this lens, i am sure its going to be very expensive but i am glad that they have taken the time to get it sorted-its a brilliant lens and deserves a descent set of filters

see here

Another thing is that Lee Filters have a new 10 stop ND filter out, I will get one of these as soon as they are available over here

Details from


Friday 12 March 2010

Another new garden visitor

Just for our 'friends' at Photogrind, this post has been stolen from without our permission, so pop across to our blog and see the real thing.

Anyway, regular readers, after I shared the juvenile female Sparrowhawk image here with you a couple of weeks back, I chopped down all the offending clutter on the plum tree, most of which is now dead in case she came back.

Well I haven't seen her since, but the male came in.

Clearly a mature bird from the colour of the eyes. In  Accipiters,  Sparrowhawks or Goshawks, the eye colouring can be a clue to the age of the bird.  The younger they are the more yellow they are and the older the bird the deeper orange they are.  I have never seen this written down in a book but was reliably informed by a falconer of this some years back

Anyway, here are a few images for you to enjoy.  Sadly, I could do with the leylandii hedge moving back about fifteen feet, but I am stuck with what I have.


As you will see the colours are completely different on the back and also with the chestnut flank, and if you followed my thread on megapixels and cropping, I could also easily tell he is also much smaller

Original content can be seen at

Thursday 11 March 2010

Use Protection

There are plenty of scumbags around these days that would like to take your images and either sell them or use them on their sites to make themselves look better like Photogrind for instance,  One of the best ways is to put a watermark on your images, It wont stop people taking them but will make life harder for them to try to remove the watermark and if they dont then you and others can see who owns it, There are many ways to put a watermark on your images so i wont go through it here, Have a look on you tube as there are many tutorials on there like this one


Wednesday 10 March 2010

Nikon on the marketing spend ascendancy

By the time you read this, Focus on Imaging will either be on it's last day or have come and gone.

Even though I work at the venue, I haven't bothered going in this year as there is nothing I need to spend my money on there, particularly as most things can now be got from Amazon more cheaply these days or I tend to support my Pro dealer for the larger items.

But walking through the venue yesterday, I noticed loads of Nikon ads - banners, posters sites and massive great 40 foot hoardings on the drive in but nothing from Canon at all.

Crappy phone pictures for you


Tuesday 9 March 2010

Photogrind steals Wildlifeacrossthe water material

Photogrind steals    material

 Including one of my images here

Originally posted here back last October

So all you Photogrind readers you can see where all your good material feed  is coming from now


Update:  Clearly this pirate has no clue or shame and does not read the content and has repeated this post verbatim on his website  - at least his reader will see where the material is now sourced.

Dave and I will be looking at our options over this thief in the next day or so

New Set up and New Gear

I have continued with the garden wildlife, Whilst the fox is proving elusive i watched it last night eating seeds that had fallen or been knocked off of the bird feeders so at least i know its coming into the garden, The old branch that i had been using decided to collapse the other night so i have removed it for the time being, Its pretty rotten and a new one needs to be found, I decided to move the set up down the garden a bit, My garden is very small so there i didn't have to move it far, There are a couple of decent sized trees at the edge of the property and i decided to use the base of the tree as a place to shoot, The root doesn't stick up too far so an ideal place to put some food without it being seen in the image, I wanted the animals to find it straight away as the hide was in the place of the old set up and i didn't want them sniffing around the hide, I decided to smear some peanut butter up the tree as it has a strong odour, It worked, I watched an opossum come out of the woods in the farm and after sniffing the air came directly to the set up, I took a couple of shots but it decided to leave, after 30 mins another one came followed shortly after by another, These 2 stayed for 5 minutes before leaving and 10 minutes later a huge opossum came wandering out and had a sniff around, So a good start to a new set up, I used the D300 and 200-400 and once again under estimated the size of these animals and at 200mm i struggled to get them all in including the tail and with 2 there it was impossible so i went for closer images,
I am off to Florida for a couple of weeks next month (cant wait) and have a couple of days shooting manatees under water-my camera housing arrived yesterday and i managed an hour playing with it last night, Its a compromise as a proper one costs upwards of $2500 including ports etc so i got one of these, Basically the most expensive plastic bag in the world, Cumbersome to say the least, You basically have to set your camera up and then just press the shutter button as once its in the bag its almost impossible to change any buttons, So AV and AF will be used and the D3 will become a point and shoot-We will see how it goes-fingers crossed