Sunday 28 February 2010

Garden Update - Female Sparrowhawk

As promised earlier today, here is just one of the female Sparrowhawk pictures that I got in my garden last week.


This was taken with the 7D and if you read this post I did last week, in particular the second link,  I can tell you how relevant this thinking is for this image.

I took some images with the 1Dmk111, 500 + the 1.4 extender, but to get an equivalent crop to this size, I was down to something like 4.1MP.  Now that is fine for the blog, as I only tend to post at something like 800 x 600 max. (click image for full size viewing).  However, with the 7D file sizes, the equivalent crop was 11.6 MP or thereabouts.  So as you can see still more MP's left than I started with on the 1Dmk111.  So very printable in terms of file size.
I will do a follow up post with some more detail and images around this cropping subject later in the week, with full and cropped examples from both bodies, along with some more behavioural shots of this bird.

Sadly, the plum tree that it was sat in is far from photogenic with the 'clutter' behind the bird.  I got the ladders and the cutters out today, so if she should make a return, then I can now get a much cleaner shot.


How wildlife adapts to the challenges of feeding

One of the food options that I put out in my garden is a suet/fat/seed/nut mix that I wedge into the cracks in trees and my mark 2 feeding tree.  I place it for Woodpeckers and Tits to feed on.  All the other species have plenty of other options.

But as the Chaffinches, Blackbirds and Sparrows eat all of their food, they then start to adapt their feeding techniques to go for the fat/suet mix.

I have always put the feed into areas where the trees are leaning over so the wildlife has to work to get it and does not have an easy option.  It also makes more difficult for any marauding squirel.  

However while I spent some time watching the birds yesterday, I noted two different and unusual behaviours that I thought I would share with you.

Firstly, I saw the Blackbirds flying up to the underside of the overhangs and either pecking (more like head butting) or footing the suet/fat to dislodge it.  Then they shuttled around on the ground eating up their gains.  This continued for quite a while.  They clearly learn quickly as different birds where doing the same thing in different parts of the garden.

The next behaviour of interests was from the Chaffinches.  Now I have seen them come into a seed tray or one of the feeding stumps and hover overhead just before setting down on many an occasion.  But with the suet/fat, they would approach the tree and go into the hover while eating the mix while on the wing, just like a humming bird.

Will come back later today with the female Sparrowhawk images.

Saturday 27 February 2010

What a strange but good day

Yesterday was a strange day, We awoke to snow falling and the ground was already covered-I dont think anybody saw that coming, My wife needed to go to the office so on the way we stopped to pick up the post, As i pulled up at the communal post boxes a flock of birds dropped out of the tree and landed next to the car-waxwings, I had spent some time with them last year when it snowed, This year they were late, I dropped my wife off and rushed back for the camera and went back, They stay around the pool area as there are alot of berry bushes there, Its a matter of being close by and waiting until one bird drops down to feed instantly they all follow and then you can slowly move the car into position, I had only 2 hours to do this and so only managed a few reasonable shots, Nothing like last year which was amazing, By lunchtime the snow had gone and so it was out in the garden to decide on what to do opossum wise, I decided to use an old log that i got last year, Its Y shaped and bent, I stuck the Y through the fence and decided to have the small fir as a backdrop, I cut some plastic and wedged it in the Y to put some food in and then would make a trail of crumbs up to the log and hope the opossum would climb up it, Opossums are excellent climbers, It took a few goes before i was reasonably happy with the set up and only the images if any would tell me if it looked good, I ummed and arred about the flash set up trying to make sure everything would be illuminated, I ended up with a 4 flashgun set up, 3x SB600 and 1x SB900, I am very impressed by the SB600's they are half the price of the SB900 but for this type of work anything else would be overkill, They seem to recycle faster than the SB900 as well, if you shoot too fast the 900 doesnt always fire and needs a couple of seconds to fully charge, Obviously distance has a lot to do with it, Anyway night time comes and i am position, I take a couple of test shots and decide to move 1 flash to better light the background, Then its time to wait, The wait didnt take long, Darkness was around 6pm and by 7pm the opossum was in front of me, It followed the trail of crumb and then had a walk around looking for more, It went and thought that was that but 5 minutes later it returned and went next to the log and had a good sniff of the air, It was very windy but it must have caught the scent as it stood up next to the log and sniffed again, This time there was no hesitation and it slowly walked up the log and sat at the fork of the Y, A quick snap and look at the histogram showed all was well and the face wasnt burnt out so now just a matter of composition and the hope that it would look around every now and then, When viewing the images after i think the fence post to the left is starting to intrude so i will lengthen the Y and move the log out a foot, I am unsure about the fir tree but for now i will keep the set up there, I will use the 600 and 1.4x soon for some head shots but at the moment the 200-400 is proving itself as excellent for the job and very sharp

 Saying a prayer before eating


Friday 26 February 2010

Canon updates for DPP,EOS Utility etc

See Here

Trip Report - Forest of Dean Part 2

After I had taken the Crossbill pictures, and before we went on for another llok for the Hawfinches, we popped down to some ponds that I knew of where there had been Goosanders reported.  Sadly there were none of these lovely birds, but we were blessed witha number of other species.  many of the common water birds were there, along with four beautliful male Mandarins, and a couple of females as well.  The males certainly do bring a bright splash of colour on a winters day.

Could have done with a bit of a head turn, but he only had eyes for the female he was following, as did the other males with him.

And just to show the trip was not all wonderful rare or unusual birds, here is one of my favourite little birds, signing at the top of his voice to me, in a dark part of the woods


Thursday 25 February 2010

Project Opossum

One thing to keep in mind when taking on a project is not to be phased-You have time, So when the 3rd night turned wet and i didn't make it out i didn't panic so i just sat and watched, 1 opossum and 1 fox eating nose to nose-Fantastic, You have to realise that you wont get all the shots you want in a few days/nights and that you will go through lean times, I once went 21 nights without 1 badger image, Enjoy just being there and any images are a bonus and don't panic-IT WILL HAPPEN-you just don't know when,I decided that i needed more control over the composition so the next day i set up my pop up tent next to the fence and decided to use a small fir tree as a prop, That night i set up the 3 flashguns and got into the tent along with the D300 and 200-400, I took a couple of test shots and adjusted the flashguns via the SU-800, I had 7 deer next to the fence at one point and the fox kept coming and going, Eventually an opossum arrived and followed the small trail of food to the fir, At this point i realised that i had under estimated the size of the opossum, I went to zoom back and just touching the lens coat made the opossum look at me, I slowly zoomed back and waited but the opossum was very nervous and before i had a chance to take a shot it was gone, I waited 30 mins and called it a night, Maybe this isnt going to be as easy as i had first thought, I decided to swap the pop up tent for a pop up hide/blind and move it back another 6 feet, The reason for using a pop up tent is that its low and gives a nice perspective, The problem with it is thats it has a built in groundsheet, Great for keeping warm but the slightest movement and it makes a noise, By moving the hide back i could still get a reasonable perspective-not too high, I use a bright garden light powered  from the house and its bright enough to just allow AF and composition, By using flash as my main light i can keep the ISO at its base level-200 for the best IQ, So now to see if it works, Well take a look at the images,The night again was wet but i had time to prep, I covered the flashguns with zip lock freezer bags and strapped a plastic bag around the end of the lens to keep everything dry, The deer came first followed by the fox and then the opossum came and stayed for 20 mins-very relaxed, I managed to zoom in and out and even change from landscape to portrait-very carefully and slowly-without disturbing the animal, The fox arrived at the fence and the opossum run off but 10 mins later a different one arrived for a few minutes before leaving, I have noticed that the opossums have different markings on their ears so easy to I.D, So far so good, I am now in the process of finding new props for future shoots


Wednesday 24 February 2010

Gear Review - More on 7d v 1Dmk111

The dpreview review (yes that is right) on the 1Dmkiv made comparisons with the 7D as part of the review.  It fairs very well, particularly if you consider you can get three! of them with grips for the same price as just one 1Dmkiv.

Dave also sent me this link comparing the 7D with the 1Dmk111 with specific considerations for bird photographers.

Now if you have been following my reviews on the 7D here, here, here and here you will have seen that I am coming to the conclusion that this is a good piece of kit for 'wildlifers' on many counts.  I have still yet to do another part to my review which will cover off noise and high ISO, and how to process for best effect.

As you will have seen in this post where I got some images of Crossbills, and also yet to be posted images of Sparrowhawk in my garden, the 7D is increasingly the body of choice, with the 1Dmk111 being relegated to that of back up.

So when I see forum posts that say 'Would the 7D be a good back up to my 1Dmk whatever?'.  I would say no -  more likely your 1D will be a good back up to your 7D.  Of course, I will caveat that specifically for bird photography at distance, which is where I have been testing it.

But the key is you need to test for your genre of photography, and not just believe others, in particular Canon's marketing spin.


Tuesday 23 February 2010

Welcome to new friends

Just a quick welcome to three new followers of the blog

David Gifford, Donald the birder, and JRandSue.

Good to see you and hope you enjoy our thoughts, views and images.

Comments on any of the posts are always greatly welcomed.

In addition, we will always be pleased to see contributions to our blog from guest photographers.

Here is a recent one from Robbie from The Shetlands.  So if you have a story to tell or some images to share, please get in contact with us

And so it begins-Project Opossum

The last couple of nights i have been trying to shoot the Virginia Opossums that come into and around my garden, I have been putting for down for months and have a mix of Opossum and Grey Fox as well as the odd Raccoon feeding there, I have been putting the food just the other side of the dividing fence between my garden and the farm next door, Consistency is the name of the game and even when i am not here i have somebody put food down, I have been putting the food over the fence to get them used to the area without dogs in it, Now i need to start enticing them into the garden and the next step is to make a type of studio in the garden using props like branches and tree stumps and anything else that is photogenic, I have 2 buddlia in the garden and an opossum or fox under that when its in flower will do nicely, I started out with my D3 with a 24-70 poked through the fence, Set to single shot and manual focus, I focused on a leaf that was on the floor and then put the food on and around the leaf, The first night i used 2 flashguns (SB600) just to see the reactions the opossums had to the flash-None, Well nearly none, After a couple of flashes the opossum moved away and then came back, This was great, I was concerned it would flee and not come back for hours, Some animals like badgers can take a while to get used to flash and projects using flash take some patience and sometimes 1 shot a night is it, I used a remote release to trigger the set up and watched from a small window that leads up to my office, At first one opossum came out and started to feed, I had a garden light directed over to that part of the garden so i could clearly see what was going on, Quickly a 2nd opossum joined the first and started to feed with it, I took a shot and then another, Trying to only shoot when their heads were raised, I was surprised when a 3rd opossum came out, I had never seen more than 2, I want the opossums to get used to the flashguns going off as when they have young which they carry on their backs i want them to come to the baited area without concern, After the opossums had gone i bought the camera gear in and checked the images, It would be hit and miss with framing etc, I noticed that some of the images had a good exposure whilst others were blown out on the opossums pale faces, I checked the flashguns and noticed 1 had a slightly different setting in the menu, I changed the settings and decided to add another flash to add more light to the background, So 2nd night and 3 flashguns, The SB900 was up high on a tripod and set at 200mm and full power, I had 1 SB600 set at 50mm and  -1 with the foot screwed to a post, The 2nd SB600 was set at 50mm and full power and set to the right of the set up and positioned low, All the gear-camera and flashguns set to manual for better control, The 2nd night came and 2 opossums appeared but individually, 1 fed and went up a tree and then another came and fed, I also had 4 white tailed deer feeding next to them on some corn i threw out-Not bad for a suburban garden, I put the corn out to attract the deer which would hopefully make the opossums at ease, I ended the 2nd night with around 25 images, Composition is the main problem so the images here are cropped to help with that, Alot of people don't really like the opossums as they can be seen as ugly, I however think they are very cute and will enjoy spending some time with them, I did have a grey fox come to the baited area, It was very shy and fed shortly before moving away and coming back, On its third approach i took a shot, It backed off and sat down,after a while it approached again only to stop as it could see itself on the lens-it left, The foxes are not going to be easy but they are something i really want to shoot and i have the time, Thats the thing with taking on a project, You need to put some time and effort in-what you dont get this year hopefully will come next year, I have plenty of shots in mind so its down to me to mak them into a reality

The set up



Monday 22 February 2010

PMA show

I have been looking at all the new goodies at this years PMA, Not alot really and Canon didnt show there which says something, Sigma probably has the best in show this year with a new body but more to the point some nice lenses, The 70-200 EX F2.8 now has I.S, I used to have one of the originals many years ago and it was a very good lens, That and the 50-500 which also has I.S added i am sure will find their way into a few wildlifers kit bags, There is also a nice 85mm F1.4 which looks cool and should be a good portrait/low light lens, Apart from that more compacts than you can shake a stick at
See Here


Dpreview Canon 1D MK4 review

Dpreview have there 1D4 indepth test now showing here, Gets a clean bill of health but does show how close the 7D is to it in everyday use-maybe time to save some pennies


Trip Report - Forest of Dean

Well it was great to get out yesterday into some late winter sun.  More snow overnight here and quite heavy falls on the higher ground over the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean was quite picturesque.

We set out early with a mission to see three key target species, with the objective of getting images of one of them.  However, the ones I got were not quite what I had expected.

The first target species were Hawfinch - the place we were going has had thirty reported recently. Sadly, we drew a total blank on these.

But while searching for the Hawfinch we did see quite a few Goldcrest in the binocs, along with four different tits and a few Nuthatch.

On to the next site with some grey and cold weather.  Didn't seem promising either, but as we all know you need  lots of patience with our subjects.  Gradually the light got better and better.

Ravens croaked from the treetops, woodpeckers drummed, and then I noticed a couple of crows divebombing the tree line in the distance.  This was my clue, as I was looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

I swung my spotting scope to where the crows were divebombing and there was my second target species - a male Goshawk, looking non plussed at the noisy corvids.

It was happy to sit there for twenty minutes or so.  I must thank the crows for showing me where it was as I wouldn't have seen it.

Meanwhile, more little Goldcrests flitted across the pine trees in front of us.  While watching the Gos, I heard  the call for the next target species, as Jac picked up the little bird on the tree in front of us.

There it was, a beatiful male Crossbill, glowing red in the winter sun.  But too far for a decent image with the 1Dmk111, 500 f4 and 1.4 TC.  I quickly stuck the 7D body on the lens in case it reappeared to give a better reach.

Then in a flash, two little green birds landed in front of me.  My initial thought was Greenfinch, but once I found them in the viewfinder I could see that they were female Crossbills.  After a couple of frames, a male came in much closer than the first opportunity, with the light behind me.


 Female Crossbill


Male Crossbill

So I am really pleased to share these two with you.

Walking back to the car, overhead a Buzzard soared, with  another bird much higher above.  A quick check with the binos showed it to be another Goshawk.  Again too far for the camera.

We did take another run back for the Hawfinch but again no signs although we did see another Buzzard and Goshawk.  They might have been the ones we saw earlier, or they could have been different birds.

After lunch and the afternoon with my mum, we drove back through the snowy Cotwolds to see many Buzzards, as well as three Fallow Deer running across snowy field. Sadly much too dark for photos, as it was five minutes, later when we saw a Fox doing the same thing.

So a great day.  I will be heading back for more Goshawk in the weeks to come with a bit of luck.

Coming later this week, will be some full frame images that I got of a female Sparrowhawk who sat down in my garden on Saturday morning for half an hour.

So make sure you check in.


Sunday 21 February 2010


Noise, or grain as we used to call it in the good? ol film days is a very subjective subject, What is a noisey image for one person is perfectly acceptable for somebody else, I wont shoot my Nikon D300 over ISO 400 as for me the images show too much noise, In fact its not really for me its what i know agencies will except, In the days of slide/film agencies didn't like taking images over ISO 200 but these days they will take any ISO as long as they are low grain, What does that mean? well to me its ISO 400 on a D300 and ISO 1600 on a D3, Now if i was shooting purely for personal reasons those figures would go out of the window as i could use a noise reduction software like noise ninja or imagenomic, Agencies wont allow the use of NR software so a well exposed,sharp and low grain image are the order of the day, alot of the new cameras these days are sold as low grain and high ISO but that doesn't mean that you can shoot willy nilly at high ISO and get nice smooth images-exposure is ALL important, Get the exposure spot on and the images are great but if the exposure is slightly off and needs some adjustment in PP then grain really shows, Exposure to the right is ok but when i shoot at high (for me) ISO then i prefer to get it right in camera so in PP i just have to add some curves and sat and that's it, Plain backgrounds are not your friend with high ISO and will show grain more than say a forest background, In reality grain today from most modern digital cameras at ISO 800 is better than grain from film/slide at ISO 200/400 and with the D3/s you can up that figure to 1600 or more-remarkable,However with all the talk of cameras being able to shoot at huge ISO i think we need to remember that for Nature Photographers these ISO's are not really designed for our use, mainly for press and indoor sports guys, I would always recommend using the lowest ISO as possible for the very best image quality
Last night i did my first opossum shoot and will show these in my next blog


Saturday 20 February 2010

Breezebrowser Pro Update - V 1.9.5

 As regular readers of the blog will know, both Dave and I are fans of Breezebrowser Pro software.

Well there was an update a couple of days to V 1.9.5 that you can see here and download.

Support now available for a whole raft of cameras including the Nikon D3S and X as well as the Canon 1Dmk1v, and loads of others.

Only for PC users luckily for us.  Another good reason to upgrade from over priced Macs.  Why have one piece of white plastic when you can have a desktop and a laptop or netbook with the same specs. and still ave change over  :-)


A few thoughts

Building on a couple of Dave's recent posts here on DxO mark and how you use your gear I thought I would add a few thoughts.

Predictably, the DxO Mark information published caused the outbreak of forum wars on a certain forum.  I say predictably, as whenever I drop by there, there are always fights going on.  Which sort of got me thinking that if people made the most of what they had and stop worrying over tiny little numerical differences then the forum world would be a happier place.  As if by telepathy, Dave's second post linked above covers this

I found this great link from Luminous Landscape which puts most of the stupidity that I read in a pragmatic sense of order.  It is worth a read.

In terms of Dave's second post, I can wholeheartedly endorsehis views.

Having seen many images taken by users of Canon 1Dmk111 and even the latest mark IV on various forums, with such great lenses as the 500f4L prime, they still make a complete hash of it in many ways.  Either composition, basic handling and in particular post processing.

Loads of images get totally mashed with really poor RAW processing, and many times the Adobe products of ACR and LR have been very badly used.

In these cases, instead of shelling out 4K GBP, they would be better spending it on the right software and some training of how to use it.

I will cover this in more detail in my next instalment of user review of the Canon 7D, as much of the  noise issues that some people are troubled with are easily dealt with.

Finally, I hope many of you UK readers caught the last episode of Simon Kings Shetland Diary on Thursday just gone.  If not, get the iPlayer sorted - there was some great Red Necked Phalarope footage.


Friday 19 February 2010

Canon press release highlighting 1D MK4 AF performance


Its not what you've got its the way that you use it

With all the talk lately of the Nikon D3s and Canons 1D MK4 you may be thinking that you need the top of the range all singing all dancing gear to get great results-well you dont, Technology has been filtering down the ranges for years and now even base model cameras give excellent results, They may be light on a few features and generally have slower FPS but when set up right and some time is given you can images to be proud of, Once again money is better spent on a decent lens than an expensive camera, If you are starting out in nature photography then a second hand Canon 40D along with a Sigma zoom lens in the 150-400 range will give you good results, Since digital became popular and camera companies realised that they can bring out a new body every year the secondhand market has boomed and people are willing to loose lots of money just to have the latest model whether it is better than the previous model or not, The average Joe will only shoot at the weekend and a couple of holidays so even 2 or 3 year old kit will be lightly used and a good buy, A well used cheap set up will get better results than a badly used expensive one so dont be intimidated by people with all the kit, Learn to use what you have and progress from there


Thursday 18 February 2010

Gear Review - Canon 7D AF System

As I promised a couple of days ago in this blogpost, I would add my views on the Canon 7D AF system based on my experiences 'hands on' with it.  My thoughts are based on comparisons with my 1Dmk111 and I used the 7D in the same vein to ensure true comparison.

The 7D is equipped with 19 cross type AF points, with only the centre point having f2.8 sensitivity, which helps determine my thinking in the way I set up for use with my longer lenses.

In terms of mode, there is One Shot for still subjects, AI servo for moving subjects and AI Focus for still subjects that might move.  I dont tend to bother with AI Focus.  If it had a decent purpose  in life, they would put it on the 1 series, which they don't.

AF points can be selected either singly, grouped by Zone or letting the camera do it for you with Auto.

I have only used single point as it is what I am used to, and allows me to place the AF point exactly where I want it on the subject.

With Zone AF, you can select groups of four points at the top, bottom or on the sides of the group, or the central block of 9.  Again I have not trialled this.  It might work for some subjects, but my concern with long lenses wide open, is that the nearest part of the subject will be grabbed by the group.  This might work OK with a small subject, but for a large bird in flight for example, you could end up grabbing the wing tip rather than the head.

I never bother with Auto, as I like to maintain the control.

An additional option with the single point  mode is Spot AF.  The AF point is actually quite a large area, much larger than the little black or red square in the viewfinder, so for more accurate focussing the Spot AF can allow you to be more accurate.

When I carried out this test in this blogpost, I used AI servo with centre point.

But that is not where it ends.  Many of the better functions hidden away in the Custom functions have been carried over from the 1Dmk111.  These include the AI servo tracking sensitivity, which I tend to use a one click left of centre towards slow, and works OK for me on both the 7D and 1Dmk111. C.Fn 111-3 works better on the 7D in my opinion, and the gull test shots demonstrate that extremely well, again I set it to Continuous for birds in flight.

I didnt have the time to mess about with lens micro adjustment, but I think the only way to get this done properly is by Canon in the lab, with the lenses you intend using on it.  I had this done on the 1D and it helped.  The 7D gives you the opportunity to mess about if you wish and it might worth using the facility to check, and if your lenses are off then send them to Canon to get it done properly.

Dave's recent post covers some thoughts on this in more detail.

One useful little function is the ability to let the camera shift the AF point to the corresponding location when you switch shooting from landscape to portrait format.  For example, if you are using the top right point in landscape, it would become top left when you switch to the top left as you rotate the camera anticlockwise.  With this function, it will keep the top right AF point selected for you.

One change you have to get used to as a 1D shooter is if you want to select the AF assist points.  You don't go into the Custom Functions.
You need to go to the Q in a square button, toggle to the AF area on the back screen, then pressing the M. fn button next to the shutter button, you scroll through to the various AF mode choices, and one of these will give you the AF assist points option.  You need to remember if you want to make the change in a hurry.

Unlike the 1D though, you only have the choice of all surrounding points to do the AF assist function.

As I mentioned in my original AF testing blogpost, the AF system on this camera is quite excellent and very easy to use with consistent results.  However, there is a much greater level of sophistication when stepping up from any of the XXD or XXXD series Canon bodies.  This is why I think many of these users have been having difficulties and blaming the camera.

With some hard won 1Dmk111 experience under your belt, you would be very happy with the results.

This makes the 7D a good back up to a 1 series.

In the next part, I will cover off some of the ISO and noise issues that I see that some people have experienced.  I have not seen these issues based on how I shoot and then post process, so will share my thoughts in the next installment.

So that was our 500th post since we started over a year ago.  How time has flown by.

I have to say I was most upset while writing this particular post as I had got about two thirds of the way through when I lost everything I had typed.  Normally Blogger autosaves, and I believed it had but something went wrong.  So after much gnashing of teeth and a few choice words, I had to start over again.

Anyway we got there.  Looking forwards, I should be able to get out taking some photos over the weekend, so should have some more new material to share with you.  Roll on the lighter nights and mornings too.

Goshawks are on the agenda - if they come close enough


Wednesday 17 February 2010

DXO Mark

The DXO website now has been updated to show the Nikon D3s and Canons 1D MK4 and 7D, The tests show each cameras Dynamic range,Colour depth and low light ISO
More info here and here

Spring is in the air

I have noticed in the last couple of days that the birds have upped their bird song and at the lake birds are in and out of tree holes and the ducks are very busy mating, The air temperatures here are still down and its extremely cold at night, The lakes and rivers have cat ice on them most of the day but it is slowly warming and this weekend will see temps around 55 which it hasnt been for a few weeks, We still have a lot of winter migrants here but i expect them to start dispersing in the next couple of weeks, I know the East coast above NC are still in the grips of winter but here it has that feeling in the air-Cant wait its been a long winter


Nikon D3s review on Dpreview

Dpreview put their review up yesterday on Nikons D3s, Their reviews are always worth a read as they go in great detail all the features as well as IQ etc, The D3s does seem to have a bug in the AF that needs sorting as a few people are finding in certain circumstances the AF can be very slow to initialise, Apart from that it seems a dream camera, I have considered upgrading not for the higher ISO capabilities but for the sensor cleaning, Quiet mode and easy Live view access, I like to hit the LV button and use the live histogram feature to set my exposure, On the Canon this was quick and easy, On the D3 i have now its not a quick method and hence i now dont bother, I am going to hold off for the time being as the D4 will be out sometime next year, For me to upgrade would cost around $2000 so i have just put this towards a couple of weeks in Florida in April, Going back to the review it compares the D3s to the D3,D300 and Canons 1D4, What it does show is that the ID4 is about the same as the D3 when comparing ISO an thats something Canon users will be very pleased with, Being able to shoot grain free at ISO 1600 is very liberating, Dpreview will publish the Canon 1D4 review soon so keep your eyes out for that
Review on the D3s here

Tuesday 16 February 2010

News - a quick wildlife update

After my lengthy post on Sunday, thought I would make it a short and quick update on some wildlife stories that caught my eye.

This story about frogs in the cold weather caused me a little concern as I have yet to see any activty in my pond this year.  It is still early and cold so I am hopeful that normal frog service will be resumed in the next week or two.

Sadly, there are some undesirable folk around and the killings, cruelty and poisonings continue here, here and here.  To add to this theme, the RSPB report that killing continues in Malta and with the migration due soon, we can only hope that this sad story ends.

Meanwhile off the coast of Wexford in Ireland, a young male Humpback Whale has been captured on film breaching.  Some of the stunning images can be seen here on this movie clip.

Hope this is a positive end to the sad stories in the middle of this blogpost.


Monday 15 February 2010

Nikon D3s Video

Whilst there are still alot of people moaning about having Video in a Dslr-Its here to stay and whilst Nikon are currently lagging behind Canon with 720P as opposed to 1080P (not for long as Nikon recently announced a 1080P compact) this video shows that 720P is still very usable-See here and here

Making the effort

We had a weather warning on Friday that it was possible that we could have another dump of snow late that night, I was still full of a cold but decided to go and swap the hide for a pop up tent, We don't get much snow here and if i didn't make the effort then it could be another year before we get some more, The reason for using the pop up tent and not the hide is that it has a built in ground sheet and sitting on the floor would make for a better angle especially if i was to shoot birds on the ground, Saturday morning i looked out of my bedroom window and sure enough we had over an inch of snow so i dressed in multi layers as i didn't want to kill myself and spend 2 hours shooting birds, I was hoping that it would snow some more as falling snow adds nicely to the images but it wasn't to be and by mid afternoon most of the snow had melted, I had my usual set up-Nikon D3 with a 600 and 1.4x set up low on a Gitzo 1548 tripod with Wimberley head, I had set the camera to manual mode and spot metering, I metered off of the snow and added 2 stops and took a test shot and then adjusted the exposure from there, After a while it became obvious that to expose the bird properly i would need some fill flash or blow the background out so i set up an off camera flash just to add a small amount of light and give a glint in the eye, One thing that is obvious is that i need to spend some time in the woods and find some decent perches, The one i have up here was nice and mossy last year but is now very drab, After i had come in and downed a coffee or two i looked out of the window in my wife's office and noticed a couple of Eastern Bluebirds in the tree and then watched as they dove into the bush under the window and started to eat the berries, I rushed to the car and reversed it into the drive and waited, I had the camera gear set up on a beanbag on the window, The bluebirds flew into the neighbours and did the same thing so i slowly moved the car into position and grabbed some shots, Not the best but clear enough and always nice to see these beautiful birds

Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Wren

Dark Eyed Junco

House Finch

Eastern Bluebird

Male and Female House Finch warming up on an exterior light

Sunday 14 February 2010

Gear review - Hands on with the Canon 7D

I have been promising this for a while but have been so busy, plus there has been plenty of other stuff to tell you about as well.

Back in November I did a Canon 1Dmk111 v 7D high ISO test blog for you followed by a test of the AF system on moving subjects, the one area that 1Dmk111 users have had difficulty with, or at least Dave's two cameras did as well as all three of the ones I used or still use, when it comes to birds in flight, in low-ish contrast light.

In this first part of this review, I will cover some of the handling aspects, and cover the things that I like from a user perspective.

The body is quite light and small to hand and the first thing that it needs is the battery grip.  This makes a huge difference to the feel and balance particularly with big lenses on.  As a 1D user, I prefer the feel of a larger body, plus the fact that the controls are replicated when shooting in portrait format.

It doesn't quite have the robust tank like feel of a 1D but is pretty good nevertheless.  The battery compartment will allow for two of the new LP E6 batteries, a spare will cost you plenty, but Amazon are as good as anyone on price.  They last for ages, and a nice touch is the carrier supplied for AA batteries, which gives you a little more flexibility.

One of the things that Nikon have always amazed me with is the seeming random scattering of buttons all over their bodies.  Canon seemed to be following in their wake, with no fewer than 13 buttons on the back.  However for Canon users there is a pattern that is followed, and switching between a 1D and the 7D is an easy thing to do, and I found I wasn't caught out in any way.

Starting at the top left, the mode dial with the on/off switch is a good arrangement and easier than the 1D.  I really like the C1 to 3 settings.  I set the C3 which is the last place on the dial to default bird in flight settings .   This means that if you are shooting ground or static subjects, and you suddenly get a BIF opportunity, you can blindly turn the dial to the end stop and know that the settings will be just right.  This is a great feature and a huge improvement over the 1D.

Sadly, for what is billed as Canon's most technically advanced camera, or at least it was when launched they chose to put a green square on the dial.  Why?  At least they didnt put the silly pictogram settings so I suppose that is a blessing.

Working across, the viewfinder is excellent, full size and really bright.  I noticed this the first time I put one to my eye on a dark grey day. Sadly they chose not to put a viewfinder curtain like they do with the 1D, and supply that stupid bit of rubber on the strap.  This is a real faff as you have to remove the eyecup, which you then risk losing it.

On the top right hand side, the buttons and screen are standard Canon features and well placed, although I would have preferred the light to be on the far left of this group, with the ISO on the far right as the 1D, for consistency.

On to the rear, and starting on the left hand side, there are a number of new buttons.  A RAW + jpeg button which if you press yopu can get both file formats saved.  Not for me really, but I guess OK if you want it.

Then the Q in a square button.  This is an important button as it brings up the shotting settings, which can all be changed using the rear wheel, top wheel and multi toggle.  This makes setting changes very easy,  and I like this feature.

Below this the MENU button is familiar and allows full access to 11 separate pages of options that are colour coded in terms of shooting, playback, general tools, custom functions and my menu settings.  All easy standard Canon stuff here.

Below this is a picture style button so you can easily change this, and access the individual parameters via the INFO button.  As a RAW shooter generally, this is pretty much irrelevant to my needs, particularly as it is easily available via the Q button.  This could have been the Mirror Lock up button that I see lots of requests for, but we know about the listening powers of Canon don't we?

The INFO button can be prgrammed within the Custom functions, which I like.  First push to show shooting settings, followed by the artifical horizon function.  Looks a bit like an instrument that I am used to from my flying days.  When you are level both in pitch and roll axis, you get a green line.  Now I usually use a hot shoe spirit level, but this is a useful feature, and also works in Live View mode so you can do those arms length above the headshots, or low level waist height shots and still get it level.  The third push will take you to the same page as the Q, but you can customise that out if you wish.

INFO works in conjunction with Live View to show data and also live histogram.  This is a great feature that I have really enjoyed with the 1Dmk111, particularly for macro and landscape work.

The next two buttons are the playback and bin buttons, so nothing new there.

In the middle is the wonderful new screen - big, bright, and very sharp.  Makes the 1D screen look very poor -  a great and overdue update, although to be fair the 50D and 5Dmk2 have had these for a while too.

On the right hand side, there is a stop/start button, with a integral toggle.  This allows you to switch from either camera  Live view to movie mode.  Top right three buttons are standard Canon AF point selector, AF -ON and Exposure lock.  These can be customised and I switched the * and AF-ON as I use back button focussing as this replicates the mk111.

The multi function toggle and rear wheel are standard, although the wheel on/off button has changed.  I have heard others say they like this, but I never had any problems with the previous style, so no issues there.

So in summary, the handling and set up is easy coming from the 1D experience.  There are some great new features, plus a few superflouous buttons.

It definitely benefits from the outrageously expensive battery grip - £200!!!! - some on Canon stop ripping us off..

I like the mode dial which has definite benefis to wildlife shooters, particlularly the customisable options of C1 to C3.

The screen is great and the method of setting selections via the Q button is also easy.

In the next part, I will talk about the AF system, and some of the other new functions in a bit more detail from wildlife shooters perspective.



Saturday 13 February 2010

A quick welcome

to Luke Ormand and Joe Pender who are the latest two that have signed up as followers of the blog.

Plus a special mention to Julian who is a regular comment contributor with some thought provoking views, and thanks to all of our other comment contributors.  Robbies post this week certainly got plenty of responses....quite rightly so.

OK - I am off to write up the next part of the Canon 7D review


Ramlings-RG is your friend

Well i had planned to have a few days near the NC coast shooting Snow Geese, Tundra Swans and Bears before the birds migrate in the next couple of weeks but my wife has kindly passed on her cold and now i have sat here for a couple of days sweating and sneezing and have a nose like a piece of raw steak, So i have had plenty of time to read up and play with the flashguns as i said in my last post and luckily for me Rob Galbraith has done his review on the Canon 1D MK4 AF system, Its not the review that i look forward to but the upraw from the Canon fanboys who see RG as the devil when in fact he is a Canon users best friend-Why? Well who was it that made Canon sit up and look at the MK3 AF system, It was only after his extensive tests that he proved that the MK3 AF system was troubled, Without his written word Canon would have buried their heads and kept stumm and the MK4 system would have been as troubled as the MK3, Most of the people who complain that RG doesn't say that Canon are the best have never used/owned a MK3 or MK4 and are purely fanboys, I see people on forums saying that they will only ever use one brand-always have and always will-how sad is that, Its a camera-a tool and you use the right one for the job,What happens if the company folds like Minolta, Do you stop shooting?There are those who have never seen a problem with the MK3 and refuse that there was ever a problem-well Canon didnt have 2 recalls and various firmware upgrades for nothing, Now you have to read between the lines with the RG MK4 review, Firstly even though he caused Canon (not Canon users) a hard time Canon sat up and listened, they worked along side him with the MK3 so they must take him seriously and even after his last MK3 review where he said it still wasn't up to scratch they supplied him with the MK4 for testing-so if he says something good or bad Canon listen, Now as a sports shooter he is shooting wide open i.e F2.8 and this is the biggest test for any AF system, I don't shoot at F2.8 or extremely rarely, His test shows that the MK4 struggles with red-ok so that's something that Canon can tweek, He also says that the MK4 is worlds apart from the MK3-Fantatsic, So Canon have worked hard and made huge improvements, What the Canon fanboys don't like is that he says that the MK4 lags behind the Nikon D3s in consistency but excels in many of his tests over the D3s, They seemed to have only read the first part, This was something i first noticed when i changed over to Nikon, The MK3 AF system is very fast to acquire the target but then got confused and the Nikon D3 that i use is slower to grab the target (but still not slow) but once it locks on thats it-sharp shot time after time, RG said in the MK3 test that the AF was fast but got confused and would front or back focus thinking too much how it thought the subject would react, The MK4 sounds similar but much better, There will never be a perfect AF system and both Canon and Nikon have strengths and weaknesses, For the MK4 to excel in places over the D3s shows just how far Canon have come and at the end of the day its sounds like a great system, I am sure Canon will take RGs findings and will be working on those results, The Olympics are starting and this info along with what the Canon shooters will find there will give Canon lots of valuable info,I personally don't understand all this fanboy stuff, most people who complain or wont hear anything bad about their kit have never used anything else, I am lucky to say that i have extensive knowledge of both Canon and Nikon systems and can see both sides of the story, I though RGs review was well written and informative, He shot with 5 different cameras-some supplied by Canon and am sure he had Canon techs working with him as he did with the MK3, He has hundreds of test shots for download for people to analyse his findings and make their own conclusions and he shoots more images per year than many people do in a lifetime-i think he is as good a guy to test any AF system, He does mention the Nikon system and says that its not perfect and that he will come to that in the future,We can then hear the Nikon fanboys bemoaning him, He puts it on the line and if people don't like that then don't read it, You must also realise that he tests kit in his own everyday shooting situations which are probably different to yours and mine, i know as much as anybody else that when you switch systems there are certain childish people who for some reason take it personally as if you are having a go at their system-its not good enough or whatever, I have had people have a pop at me about it-so did Andy Rouse and RG, Well the thing is some people need kit that works for them, Most people have too much money tied up in lenses etc to make the swap but if they could would they?, I know people who shoot both systems and if i could afford to i would as well as both have strong points and weak points, We all have 1 thing in common-photography-why be small minded and have this them against us business
Any way back to the lem sip and hot water bottle and continue to enjoy the battles on Dpreview


Friday 12 February 2010

Wildlife on the Television

Apologies to all of our non UK readers as you wont be able to see these unless you have any special arrangements.

Ther have been some great wildlife programmes on our screens recently.

If you missed then then use the BBC i Player and make sure you catch up with Simon King's Shetland Diaries as we trailed in Robbies post from earlier in the week and also The Wilds of Essex from the Natural World series, which was fascinating and beautifully presented and told.

Coming up on Sunday is another from the Natural World on the bonds between parents and their offspring, and then on BBC1 straight after is Countryfile, a series that I am getting more and more into as it has a good coverage of wildlife.

Make sure to set your recorders if you are doing Valentines things though, as I wouldn't want to be responsible for getting between you and your love  :-)


EOS movie plug in

Faster movie editing for EOS 5D2,7D and 1D4 See here


Canon 1Dmk1v v Nikon D3S - High ISO comparisons

To follow on from Dave's post yesterday, I found this article comparing the high ISO between the two rival bodies.

So looks like the Canon gets a kicking on both ISO and AF.

In the UK, the Nikon is a clear £600 cheaper too.  I know, if I was in the market, which way I would be going now, that's for sure.

By the way, I haven't forgotten that I promised more on the Canon 7D - will start writing over the weekend


Thursday 11 February 2010

Rob Galbraith Tests the Canon 1D MK4

The first of what i imagine to be a few articles on Canons new flagship, Its shows comparisons to Nikons New baby the D3s as well-read on


Flash Time

Firstly i would like to thank Robbie for this post yesterday, A great place to live by the sounds of it and some fantastic oppotunities

Now i mentioned that i had received 3 new flashguns at Xmas-Nikon SB600's to be exact, Now these are base model strobes unlike the all singing all dancing SB900,s of which i have one, I actually wanted basic flashguns to act as remotes for night time work that i have planned for this year, I am going to have a set up in the woods for Opposum, Fox and Raccoon all of which are nocturnal dwellers in my part of the country, They are total unhabituated and will take some time and effort to get any images of, The type of challenge that i love and a long term project, the last couple of days the weather has been so so, So today i decided to get the camera gear out and do a dummy set up in my house,I closed all the blinds and turned the lights off to get the room as dark as possible, Set the camera to manual focus and manual exposure-1/25@F16, I used 3 and 4 flashguns controlled by the Nikon SU 800 transmitter which is similar to Canons ST-E2, The Nikon is very easy to use as it has an LCD screen on the back which you can control 3 groups so i had 2 flashguns in 1 group and the other 2 flashguns had a group each, You can then take a test shot and looking at the screen determine if any areas need more or less light, You can then control the flash out put by the SU 800 by compensating the group up or down, All very easy which i like, In the wild i use a flash each side of me,1 high and 1 low to light the animal both above the head and under the chin and then 2 flashguns behind to light the background, If you just use 2 flashguns in front of the animal you tend to end up with a black background and it looks like its been done in a studio as the image had no depth, I had 1 willing subject-a bunch of flowers and 1 not so willing subject-Alfie my dog, The flowers were easier to deal with and after a couple of shots Alfie had had enough, I played around for a couple of hours in total and will make a studio in the garden to get all the setting right before i go into the wild, One way of going about getting consistent night exposures is to measure your set up, I tend to use a log or similar as a base to put some food on for the animals and then measure a metre or so from the set up for the flashguns-you can use a length of string, then every time you set up use the string as a measure so that the flashguns are the same distance from the set up,Once you have your flash settings then as long as you do this you will always have a consistent exposure-easy,Flash is one of the most misunderstood parts of photography so if the weather is crap and you have nothing important to do then get the flash out and have a play-Digital makes this easy,Check the screen for flashing highlights and the histogram for exposure
Note when looking at the test shots here that the room was nearly pitch black and all the light was from the flashguns ,The flashguns didn't have any diffusers on and that's something i will be playing with to soften the light on the front flashguns
Also note that Alfie had a flashguns pointed at the back of his head/body-hence the rim lighting-This i wont do in the wild


Wednesday 10 February 2010

Guest Photographer - Robbie Brookes

It is a great pleasure to welcome our fourth guest photographer since we started the blog thirteen months ago.

I first met Robbie at the same time I met Dave when I organised a trip to Mid Wales about 2 1/2 years ago.  I had gotten to know Robbie through a photography forum, the same way Dave and I met.  Robbie has been a life long birder and has been a great source of knowledge to me in that short time, and I marvel at his recognition and general birding skills.  So over to him for his story.


Four Seasons on Shetland

Before I describe a year on Shetland, it is probably a good idea to just tell you a little about me.  I lived for 50 years in the same village (indeed the same house) in the North Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England - apart from one year living in Malawi, southern Africa..  Then just over two years ago after a two week holiday on Shetland, we decided to move to 60 degrees north and to the island of Unst. Ask a lot of people what they know about Shetland and the reply is usually along the lines of woolly jumpers and 'Thelwell' type ponies, but ask a wildlife person and the result will be much more interesting and detailed.  This second response is why I am so enthusiastic about the islands; they are teeming with wildlife all year round.

I have had a life long interest in wildlife - especially birds - and have been taking photographs for over 35 years. For most of the time, I used Pentax equipment but when I decided to go digital four years ago, I switched my ancient Pentax gear to Canon and I would be the first to admit the change to digital was not a smooth one. I am currently using a 40D which is almost permanently attached to an EF500L + 1.4 EFTC. I also use the 300f4L and an EF 70-200 f4L and several other lenses including the Tamron 90 f2.8 macro.


We arrived here in the summer of 2008 and my first thought, as a bird watching photographer, was the approaching autumn migration.  We had six weeks of unbroken sunshine that was then followed by a south easterly wind and then rain. The birds literally fell out of the sky.  Scores of Willow Warblers, Redstarts, Whinchat, Spotted Flycatchers, a number of Wrynecks and also 'exotics' like Bluethroats were scattered around the islands.  These birds were obviously all potential subjects for photography and as most of them were very hungry, they were very often easy to approach.  I'm a firm believer that the subject comes first, and if they showed signs of anxiety or stopped feeding, then I would immediately stop or retreat.  Due to the open nature of the terrain, a lot of my photography is done from the car, as more often than not, birds would use the roadside fences and dykes as perches to feed from.

 Apart from birds, it was and is otters that I love to see and photograph.  During the late summer and autumn of 2008, I discovered the home range of a mother with two mature cubs. Despite now having had scores of otters sightings around the island, it was this family that, so far, I have had some of my best quality time watching otters.  Given the right approach, otters can be fairly easy to get close to - if the wind is in the right direction and you are not silhouetted against the skyline.  When looking for food, they usually dive for 20 to 30 seconds, which is helpful in getting close.  Make no mistake, despite them having relatively poor eyesight, they have a phenomenal sense of smell and also know their home range so well that they can pick out a change of skyline, if you do not blend in with the terrain.  On one occasion, I came across a sleeping dog otter that was on a small skerry just offshore.  The wind was blowing from me to him, so I decided to lie down and see what would happen.  In less than a minute, its nose started twitching, shortly after it opened its eyes, lifted up its head and then crept away over the rock and into the sea.

For otters, I have I have two methods of photography, either chance encounters from the car (quite regular as the roads are close to the waters edge in many places) or following one feeding and then stalking it.  The second method is often limited by wind direction, terrain and direction of light..  For both methods, my 'standard lens' is now the 500f4L + 1.4 - as I can then also do birds if they should appear.  I very rarely use a tripod for otters as the terrain and the fact that you are constantly moving makes it impractical, so I use a Wildlife Watching Supplies double bean bag with carrying strap which I find valuable for support and also for something to sit on.  Unless the batteries (two in the grip) are running downn, the only other items I carry are spare CF cards and binoculars and that's it.  I only carry a bag if I am out for a few hours from the car or say walking across to Hermaness.


Winter has its own problems for photography here, such as low light levels, strong winds and rain.  When the sun does shine however, it does make up for all the wet and windy days.  On anything other than bright sunny days, the amount of 'usable light' ( i.e. suitable for moving subjects or long lenses) is limited to just a couple of hours either side of midday. If the wind was blowing, even the firmest tripod would shudder and often using the car as a hide would be out of the question as it would rock from side to side in the wind.  Unfortunately these conditions often made for good pictures as 25 to 30ft waves roll in to the bays ( I have frequently seen otters fishing in these conditions).  I would still take pictures however and often this would mean using the 300 or 70-200 instead of the 500.  The biggest problem however - even more than the wind or rain is sea salt.  In anything other than a gentle breeze, just taking the camera out would get the front element covered in salt spray.  This all soon fades to a memory when on a good day you get results or see something special.  The winter of 2008 will be one of those winters .  I was fortunate to see and photograph Ivory Gull, Humpback Whale and an otter in the snow - the last two within an hour of each other.

Grey Phalarope over the stormy breakers

Otter in the snow


Spring seemed to start in early March when the first daffodil shoots started showing yellow on them, they weren't however in full bloom until mid April ( we had snow just before Easter).  I don't think that Spring truly arrived until early May and by then the island was full of bird song - predominantly waders - these being Redshank, Golden Plover, Curlew, Whimbrel, Snipe and Lapwing.  For these birds, my car is the best option as the birds are used to vehicles and rolling to a standstill would often allow a close approach.  For the smaller migrants, visiting the local 'hotspots' (overgrown gardens) could produce things like Bluethroat, Pied Flycatcher and a number of the more common warblers and by just sitting quietly and waiting the birds would often come to me.  I don't use a hide as such - time is one of the governing factors, but I do have a double thickness WWS bag hide.  I've used it on a couple of occasions so far with a small amount of success.  I had a sleeping bag zip sown in the back of the bag which when unzipped, opens the bag up to make a sort of ground sheet/tarp which I could use more effectively if lying down.  Now I know the island better and its habitats where various species hang out, I hope to use it more often this year.

Golden Plover


Summer here for me started in early June 2009 with a big reminder that literally anything can turn up and anyone can find a rare bird and on this occasion it was mine.  I had gone to Skaw (Britain's most northerly house), which is a magnet for birds coming in from the North Sea or that have been driven down from the Arctic.  In the vegetation by the burn I found a sub Alpine Warbler which basically should have been in the Mediterranean.  Checking the book, I found that it didn't fit the colours of the two races of the species, so, due to my lack of experience of these birds I concluded it was maybe an immature male.  How wrong I was.  It was in fact confirmed by others later to be of the race 'Moltonii' - which has not been proven to have occurred in Britain before (although it probably has).  The plumages are so alike that the only way to be sure is to either hear it's calls and song or take DNA.  Work is being done in Italy at the moment, which may well lead the race to become a new species at some stage.

sub Alpine Warbler (Moltonii)

There is so much that could be written about my 'Simmer Dim' experience (roughly the twilight following the 19 hours of mid summer daylight) that I could have just written about summer.  The biggest problem is that there is just too much daylight!  After several weeks of getting up at 4am and going to bed after midnight is it begins to take its toll.  On one occasion, I had seen the sun go down at 10.45pm and then decided to photograph the sunrise at around 3.15am.  It was a magical occasion and as I waited in the half light, in windless conditions, a Minke Whale passed the headland causing barely a ripple.  There were many experiences like this with orcas and dolphins, gannets and puffins at Hermaness - and I have not even mentioned the landscapes and botany.


 Puffin yawning


Tern Food Pass

I am obviously biased but I think Shetland is a magical place to be, either for a holiday or to live.  I am sure that many folk here in the UK will have recently seen Simon King's 'Shetland Wildlife Diaries'.  Well after 18 months of being here, I think that he did a terrific job of conveying the magic of these islands.

For more information, do please have a look at my friend Brydon Thomason Shetland Nature Holidays and Tours site

Robbie Brookes

Now one of the problems I have experienced with the Blogger software is when I try to cut and paste words into the software the html coding goes bad, so I have to retype it.
For this blogpost, this has been an absolute pleasure and I feel I have lived through this time with Robbie, felt like I was there and witnessed the four seasons with him.

Now knowing Robbie as I do, he is a very modest man, but what he does, how he goes about it, his knowledge, patience, skill and care all make him a brilliant role model for any aspiring wildlife photographer.

Anyone can be a photographer of wildlife but it takes so much more to be a wildlife photographer, and he has my immense respect for it.

Do click on the images and look at them in a larger view, these are very special wildlife moments.

I know he has got so many more brilliant images that I am sure you will want to see more, so please leave your comments so I can encourage him to do a second slot for us some time