Thursday 30 June 2011

Dead Dragons and frogs

When did you ever see a dead dragonfly-i dont ever recall seeing one then yesterday i stopped at a coffee shop and there was one covered in ants-its was a real biggy as well, Today i opened my back door and there was another on the patio, Perfect condition but dead as a door nail, A few ants had moved in and i picked it up and blew them off and took it indoors, I set up in the kitchen with thick white background paper and 2 flashguns, I used the D7000 on a tripod with the Sigma 150mm macro lens and 3 extension tubes to give maximum magnification, It was dark where i set up so using the live view was not an option however after a couple of test shots and focus tweeking i got an image i was quite pleased with, I could have liked to have focus stacked some images but i do not have that software so F16 was the order of the day

Last night we had a very big storm with lots of rain, The frogs were very vocal and i said to my wife that they seemed to be enjoying themselves, Well i didn't realize just how much until i checked the pond today to find it full of fresh frog spawn, We have hundreds of tadpoles already that have been in there a couple of months, A couple are very big and back legs are starting to grow, Time to try and get some images


New PC

Well i seem to have talked about it for ages but i have finally managed to get a new PC on order, Its pretty high spec and i purposely did it that way so it will last for a few years without locking up when new power hungry software is introduced, Here is the spec

Coolermaster HAF-X Gaming Full Tower Case w/ 1x230mm Red LED Fan, 1x200mm Fans, 2xFront USB 3.0 Port
Intel® Core™ i7-2600K 3.40 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA1155
CyberPower Xtreme Hydro Liquid Cooling Kit 360MM w/ Triple Fan
Asus Maximus IV Extreme ROG Intel P67 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard
16GB (4GBx4) DDR3/1333MHz Dual Channel Memory
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB 16X PCIe Video Card
850 Watts - Corsair Professional Series CMPSU-AX850 80 Plus Gold Power Supply
120 GB OCZ Vertex 3 SATA III 6.0G/s Gaming MLC Solid State Disk
3TB (3TBx1) SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD
Sony 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive
INTERNAL 12in1 Flash Media Reader/Writer
Microsoft® Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
Microsoft® Office® 2010 Home and Business (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook + OneNote)

I have been looking and reading for months and after asking some advise from those in the know i pulled the plug and dropped plenty of money, Its being built by CyberpowerPC's in California and will take a couple of weeks to be built and shipped
I looked long and hard at the new Imac from Apple and i really do like them but there are reports of people having problems with the screen-a different problem to last years model where the colour white faded to yellow but more like severe dust under the screen, This means a replacement which is a pain, I also read an interesting article from OWC and it seems that you can not add and replace hard drives yourself which is ridiculous, One thing i dont understand and to me is typically Apple is that you get the new super dooper thunderbolt ports and then instead of adding USB 3 ports to support them they still have USB2 , To me Apple give with one hand and then take with the other, I really wanted to go to Apple but you are getting last years product at next years price, My new PC will walk all over the Apple at a lower cost

I cant wait for it to arrive and put it through its paces, To be able to have CS5, Breezebrowser and Capture One open and the PC not hang will be heaven


Wednesday 29 June 2011

Mid week Quickie

With a small handful of hot days recently, it is remarkable how the butterflies have come back to life again.

With new garden species for the year of Large Skipper and Ringlet, we have also seen lots of Whites, a Common Blue ( I think - it would be nice of course if was a little more special, but it was on the wing so I can't be totally sure), plus Tortoiseshell and Comma, things are picking up again.  Still very quiet on the damsel and dragon front, although Jac did see a Banded Demoiselle two mornings ago, which is another garden first.

The garden is still alive with lots of juvenile birds, and the screaming Swifts are building into ever large gangs and flying later into the evening.  They have been wonderful to watch as always and I shall make the most of them for the next four weeks until they clear off again.  And I am still trying for that elusive half decent image on one.

Other than that it has been quiet on the wildlife front for me as well as Dave.


Tuesday 28 June 2011

USB 3 Devices and Tennis

As i mentioned in my last blog, I had purchased USB 3 external hard drive cases so yesterday evening i cloned my main drive which is a Western Digital Caviar Black (2TB) to a Western Digital Caviar Green (3TB), The difference apart from the capacity is that the Black is 7200rpm and the green is 5400, The green uses less power and makes a perfect back up drive, The last time i cloned my drives it took 27 hours using USB2, The USB3 is said to be up to 10 times faster, Well it ended up just short of 13 hours so about half the time-way short of 10x but still way faster, The drives load images very fast into software like breezebrowser which was already fast-now its almost instant, I used my laptop to clone the drives so maybe a desktop with a faster processor may speed the process up-i hope to find out soon
I spent Sunday shooting some tennis matches, It was mid 90's and very humid and i have no idea how people play a long game in such hot conditions but they do, Luckily i could set up in the shade, I used my D3s and 200-400, tripod mounted and must admit i really enjoyed the session, Here are a few images for those interested


Monday 27 June 2011

Good night for Mothing

I out the trap out on Saturday night/Sunday morning as the weather was warm, still and only slightly overcast.  In what was one of the bet nights of trapping since I built the moth, I recorded over 20 species of macro moth, and goodness knows how many micros.  I haven't worked my way to i/d-ing those yet as I have enough trouble with the macro moths at the moment.

Anyway, there were over 250 moths in there so I was pleased.

I recorded a few new species including this Scalloped Oak, although a rather tatty example, it has some nice markings.

Another lovely species that was in there was a Green Arches, although sadly that one flew away while I was setting up the image.  Pity.

I have trapped a Brimstone moth on most occasions this year too, yet I have never managed to get an image worth having as once again these do not hang around when it is light, no matter how cold or warm they are.  I will keep trying as they too are beautifully marked.

Finally I got another Buff Tip similar to the one I recently posted.  This one was much larger in size though.

But a great thing to see close up.

We have had a couple of really hot days here and it has bought out the butterflies again, after a gap of seemingly months since an active April.

First Ringlet of year came in the garden, although I saw these further afield some time ago.


Sunday 26 June 2011

USB 3 Devices

Firstly i apologize for the lack of wildlife blogs by me for the last week or so, My house is on the market as we want to get a house with a good amount of land, So that means some touching up of the paint work and carpet cleaning etc, Add to that my wife has offered my services as a dog sitter whilst a friend is on holiday for 3 weeks and you understand why the cameras have stayed in the bag, I am shooting a couple of tennis matches today but nothing on the wildlife front, What i have been doing is getting getting all my drives etc turned over to USB 3 for added speed, I purchased 3 Rosewill external enclosures for my 3TB and 2x 2TB drives, I have a USB3 port in my laptop so i purchased a USB3 express card bus as i have a card bus port in my laptop, This now gives me 3 USB 3 ports for backing up etc which i use Acronis software for, The last time that i cloned my drives it took 27 hours so i will be interested how quickly it does it using the USB3 ports


Saturday 25 June 2011

Another orchid species for you

Last year, I bought you this blog , sharing an image of a rather poor little specimen of what I incorrectly identified at the time as a Common Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza fuchsii.

Well I had a closer look at it this year, and can confirm that is indeed a Heath Spotted Orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata  as can be identified by the pattern on the petals, and also on the label when I bought it now I have found it again.

To be fair, it was so scruffy last year, that I will forgive myself the poor i/d. And I can console myself that none of our readers told me I had got it wrong :-)

So here it is this year hiding down in among the rest of the wildflowers in the garden.  Just a mere ten steps from my kitchen door.  Like many orchids this year that have suffered with extreme dry conditions the bloom could be bigger, but I am pleased that it has come back again, as I have a bit of soft spot for our native orchids.


Friday 24 June 2011

Filters-yes or no

I am involved in a very big discussion on linked-in about the use of UV/Skylight/protective filters.I do not use any of these on any of my lenses, I do use a ND Grad and Poloriser filters (Lee Filters) when its needed but as i have the very best in lens glass i cant really see the point in putting an inferior piece of glass on the front of it, I did use to use filters and these would be $100+ so good grade glass but in the end i just prefer the lens and nothing attached, There were a few times when i would get lens flare caused by the extra glass and sometimes thats unavoidable, I always use a lens hood even when shooting indoors and to me thats as good a protection as you can get, There is a tongue in cheek look at the effects of filters on lens rentals site, The main bit i would look at is towards the end where they have 5 filters stacked-even the good quality filters knock the IQ way down, Imagine the image divided by 5 and you will see that adding a filter still has an effect on an image, My camera gear is insured so if it does get damaged in any way then i will claim, In all the years that i have been shooting i have never had to claim, The most important thing to me is image quality and for me that means less is best when it comes to glass


Thursday 23 June 2011

From the Kitchen Doorstep part 2

As a follow on to my last blog, as I mentioned I have been grabbing 30 minute slots of time in the garden when I get home from work to get some images of our garden visitors.

All common species, nothing 'special' but I enjoy watching them, studying their behaviours and enjoying the interaction between the different species.

The juvenile Starlings are great fun and go around in little gangs and they are certainly getting through the fatballs - 6 today!!


Wednesday 22 June 2011

Smoke stops play

It was a strange start to day, We were up early to get the house ready for its first viewing, A short while later i said that i could smell smoke and guessed it may be from the farm next door,  I drove a couple of miles away and the smoke seemed to get worse and a couple of hours later it really was thick, I turned the news on and it seems that there are wild fires in the south of NC some 2 hour drive away and yet here we were in thick smoke-must be some fire, I decided to finish off a website that i started months ago, Its still with livebooks who do my main wildlife site but it will be for portraits which is something i enjoy doing and have a small home studio, Its certainly different from wildlife but a nice change and in these days you need to diversify, So the website is now live but not advertised and will undergo some changes over the next week or so but you can be the first to see and comment,


Tuesday 21 June 2011

From the Kitchen Doorstep

As I mentioned recently, photo opportunities have been rare and short.  With that in mind, I have set myself a few 30 minute challenges in the garden to see what I can get.

Pond life has been limited - frogs and newt tadpoles are all growing but pretty boring photographically until they change a bit more.  There are no damsels or dragons at the moment, although it shouldn't be too long before we get a few more.  The next flush of butterflies are also due as well, so it was time to think about a few bird challenges.

So with the wildflower meadow at its highest I had to go for a few shots around the edges.

With a bit of food on the lawn, the little birds like to come and sit on my rustic wonky gate through into the wildlife garden, before dropping onto the food.

Sitting on the kitchen step after my return from work while Jac rattled the pots around making supper, it was a struggle of available light v acceptable ISO but I got these few to share with you that I quite liked.

Back next time with Blackbirds and recently fledged Starlings - cheeky things

PS - Happy Summer Solstice for all our readers in the northern Hemisphere, and for you guys and girls down under - summer is on its way to you now


Monday 20 June 2011

Fun in the Sun

There was a big Lacrosse tournament in North Raleigh this weekend and a friend had come down with his son from New Jersey so i decided to cover his team for the 2 days, Boy was it hot, 94 on Saturday and 97 on the Sunday-we actually recorded over 100 in my garden, I took a variety of kit down but ended up using the D3s and 200-400 with the occasional use of the 600, I think its good to have a go at shooting different things, I had never seen or watched lacrosse before so it took a game to really understand what was going on, Its fast and furious and not always obvious who has the ball, One thing that stood out was the amount of camera gear around the playing areas, every mum and dad had theirs and there was a complete lack of understanding on how to use it, I spent alot of my time telling a guy how to use his D3s and 200-400 and then there was a woman with a Canon 60D and 70-200+2x combo who didnt even flip her screen around, When i asked her about her exposure and histogram she said 'whats that?' so there is a good market here for training, Bright light overhead and helmets mean dark shadowy faces and i had to decided on what to trade off in exposure, I set my camera so that the white helmets had some blinkies but overall they came out pretty good, Whilst its not wildlife it certainly was good practice at fast moving subjects in difficult conditions
I set my camera to ISO 400 and had shutter speeds ranging from 1/2500- 1/3200 so plenty fast enough to freeze the action

Thought that i would have some fun in Photoshop with this one

Sunday 19 June 2011

Sunday Quickie

Well it has been a busy time for a number of things for me of the last week - nearly all of them work related at work or home, so the opportunities to get out and about with the cameras have been limited.Today Jac and I went to the annual Gardeners World Show at the NEC.

One of the things of interest was the WildLife Whisperer stand selling all manner of 'wildlife' stuff.

I was interested to check out their various camera traps that you can check out on their site linked above.

I know Robbie has been trying out one at his home in Shetland.  I guess when you have Otters for neighbours, it is a 'must have'.  I am in two minds for the application in my wildlife garden.  I would expect to get plenty of different cats, and the odd squirrel.  The best is likely to be the Foxes passing through.

  But I am thinking of other applications that might include remote location photography where I could set it up and leave it, and I have a couple of projects in mind.  These will however have to wait for next years breeding season.

There are a number of different specifications on these traps and as always the more you pay the more features you get.   Photo quality is never going to be at the standard we are used to with pro DSLR  + pro lens kit, but as a great way to study wildlife and check out locations for activity, they could have some decent uses.

It would be good to hear from you if you have any experiences of using these.



Saturday 18 June 2011

Creepy Crawlies

My wife called me last night to say that there was  large spider by the back door, I opened the door and there was a large (read very) dark shape in the corner, It looked huge and an oddish shape, I could not see what it was and as i tried to put a plastic container over it i hit its back and BANG an explosion of hundreds of tiny spiders hit the deck, I grabbed a bottle of insect killer and blasted the little ones, Mum ran out with her front legs held high, I didn't want to hurt the female-well any of them really but as we now have our house on the market i did not feel that buyers would appreciate hundreds of spiders running around, Unfortunately mum went where i had sprayed the kids and would not last long, I managed to get her and a couple of the tiny baby spiders in the plastic container and in the freezer she went, Today i let her thaw out and straightened here legs on my kitchen set up, I managed to get one of the tint babies in the image, They were so small that i could not tell if it was upside down or not until i had taken a shot, The female was the biggest spider that i have seen here, We have an exterminator come to out house and spray chemicals to get rid of all the nasty bugs that live in the area so i am guessing that if i had not managed to kill her she would not have lasted long
So again i used the D7000 with the Sigma 150mm macro and a 32mm tube, Tripod mounted and with 2 flashguns


Friday 17 June 2011

A few more from the Local Patch

As I mentioned here a couple of days ago, we took a quick wander out to our local patch to see what was around.

It was definitely 5 Spot Burnet day as there were dozens of them, either in singles, pairs mating or three just having a chat.

Last year this site was fantststic for the beautiful Marbled White butterfly.  Only a few early ones were out and we maanged to see a couple, although they were pretty flighty so I had to grab this one from a bit away so it is cropped more than I would prefer.

Here is one of them on an Ox Eye Daisy


Thursday 16 June 2011

Sigma 150mm Macro

I mentioned before that my Sigma 180mm macro lens had gone in for an update and that the update is not yet ready, Sigma kindly offered to loan me a 150mm macro until they can update my 180 which could be months, True to their word the 150mm arrived, A couple of days before it arrived we found a largish spider in our house-dead-it was a wolf spider, It had a couple of legs missing which may have been down to the dog but apart from that it was in good condition, I said that it was a shame that i didnt have the macro lens and my wife suggested that i put it in a container and keep it in the freezer until the lens arrived which i did, I made a makeshift studio in my kitchen by putting some white paper on the work surface and curving it up and sticking it to the tiles, I put the Sigma 150 on the D7000 along with a 32mm extension tube for extra magnification, I set the lens to 1:1 and moved the rig forward until it came into focus, I shot at ISO 100 and set the aperture to F11, I tried it with 1 flashgun on a cord at various angles but the shadows just did not look right so i put a flashgun either side of the lens and had a SU800 transmitter on the extension cord so that it could 'see' the flashguns, 1 flashgun had a large diffuser on it and boy did that make a difference, the light was really nice and soft, covering the spider and background, I can tell you one thing-That it one sharp lens, Sigma has discontinued the 180mm macro and has just updated the 150 to include image stabiliser-should be a cracker
I would like to thank Sigma for the loaner and can highly recommend their macro lenses


Wednesday 15 June 2011

Lunar eclipse tonight

Except for North America-DOH
See Here

Three Orchid Night

Yesterday was a very hot hot day, or at least by recent standards.  So with that in mind, I expected it to bring forth new species and we took a little wander round one of our local patch sites last night after supper to see what was emerging. 

Well the most numerous species were the newly emerged Five Spot Burnet moths.  I will bring you some of these in the next blog but suffice to say, we gave up mentally counting once we got to fifty.

As well as new sightings of Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Marbled White butterflies in this location, I was pleased to see all three orchids species at this location in bloom.

 Common Spotted



Well it has been a good year for numbers of orchids locally but the specimens themselves have been quite poor.

There is a view that the incredibly dry spring, in particular during May, which has resulted in small and stunted blooms.

Oh well - till next year then


Tuesday 14 June 2011

Its getting expensive and complicated

Since getting the D7000 i seem to hear nothing but people complaining it being disappointed by unsharp images or rather that they can get sharper images from the older cameras, I see this in Canon forums as well with bodies like the 60D (Both the D7000 and D60 being consumer cameras so in a lot of cases are somebodies first Dslr), I think there are various reasons for this, These days cameras have adjustment for lens calibration and i think its now going to be crucial for all lenses to be properly calibrated if you wish to get critically sharp images, Higher and higher megapixels mean higher pixel density and this again will show up like camera shake and mean technique will be all important and then we come to lenses, At some point the sensor will out resolve the lens and we will start to see more and more new kit lenses coming out to help compensate this like Canons recent announcement of the 55-200, This will be offered as a package with the standard kit 18-55 type lens, Now of you have just bought a 16-18 MP camera and are using your older type kit lens you may not be getting the best results that is possible, Some people have asked how i am getting such nice sharp images out of the D7000 and saying that i must be lucky to get a good one when i think in all honesty that the reason is that i calibrated ALL my lenses using the Lensalign system, I use only Pro lenses and i am 99% of the time shooting using a big sturdy tripod and still keep up a health shutter speed-lots of things that all added together will give a sharp image, I see images put up shot indoor ,handheld and too low a shutter speed and wonder why the image is not sharp, There are many elements in getting a nice sharp well exposed and well composed image and i try to make sure i cover all of the elements as best that i can, The hobby is getting expensive for everybody but especially beginners who just want a nice sharp image and would be better off buying an 8-12mp camera and then working up, Unfortunately that means buying a camera a couple of years old and most people buying electronics like myself prefer new, Its a double edged sword, We want the latest technology which means more pixels and then struggle to get the best out of it, I hope that soon camera manufactures will realize that somebody new to photography does not want to have to buy expensive lenses, does not want to have to calibrate lenses and does not want to have to buy big CF/SD cards due to the fact that a base camera has 20 mp, May be time to sit down and re-evaluate todays wants and needs, Maybe the new range of mirrorless cameras will change things and be a stepping stone up to a Dslr

Monday 13 June 2011

Strange Spring in the UK this year

Well after a cracking April when I got lots of work done in the garden in hot summer temperatures that resulted in a good 'Builders Tan, it all went a bit AWOL in May.  Cold, easterly winds, constantly blowy  and really very poor for macro photography.

The rush of life from butterflies and pond insects just seem to vanish throughout May in the garden.

Just one Speckled Wood a week ago and two Painted Ladies on Saturday just gone, and hardly any damsels after the first flush and just a single Hawker dragonfly that was prey for one of the many Blackbirds that come into the garden.

After a huge amount of rain yesterday here, after the driest period on record, I am hoping that the wildlife starts to get back to normal now.

In the pond, the tadpoles are now starting to get their back legs, and I will go on a hunt for Newt babies soon.

On the bird front, I think we have seen more freshly fledged youngsters this year than in any previous year here, with the first Robins and Blackbirds about three weeks ago, and now we have Starlings, more Blackbirds, Wood Pigeon, Thrush, Blue and Great Tits and plenty of House Sparrows.  In fact the latter are eating me out of house and home on the fat balls.

With a very busy work schedule at the moment getting out with the camera as much as I want is proving challenging.


Sunday 12 June 2011

Field Guides

A good field guide is invaluable for the nature photographer, Especially somebody like me who is in a new country, Its impossible to know every bird,animal and insect and if you shoot for agencies then you will need not only the common name but also the scientific names, I prefer field guides with photographs rather than drawings, Here are my 3 favorite and most useful American field guides

1.For birds
2.For Insects and Spiders
3.For Reptiles and Amphibians


Sigma repair and redemption

i sent the Nikon D7000 at the same time as the Sigma 180mm macro, The Nikon D7000 was repaired and delivered back to me and yet i still had heard nothing from Sigma, Friday i was a little pissed by this so i called them, I was told that the guy dealing with it was out and then he appeared and i was put on hold for a few minutes whilst i waited for him, I was then told that he had gone out and to call back-now i was really pissed and barked back at the woman that I am the customer and he could call me back,, Whilst i waited for the call back i thought that i may get it back and sell it, Either get a Nikon macro or a 300F4 and use that with the extension tubes, It did not take too long before i got the call back, I was told that Sigma Japan was working on a firmware update, I asked why i had not been told this before i sent the lens in, So although they are working on a firmware update there was no date-could be months, So i was told that i had 3 options
1, They keep the lens and wait for the update
2, They send the lens back and i wait for the update and send it back
I was just going to explode when he said
3, We send you a 150mm macro and keep it until the firmware update appears
Instant redemption, So i said i would go for option 3 and they are working on getting me a lens until mine is sorted
The 150mm has an excellent reputation and i am looking forward to putting one through its paces


Saturday 11 June 2011

Saturday Butterfly Walk

One of the useful things about joining the Butterfly Conservation is that you can get access to some sites that are not open to the public as part of the visit/event programme.

Today was such a day and I went to some of the old limestone quarries in part of Warwickshire.  These areas are some of the few strongholds of some of Warwickshires rarer butterflies and wildlife.

At the first location today, there were few butterflies, but we did have some cracking views of 4 Spot Chasers.  This is the first time I had seen them in Warwickshire so it was  great to see them

Also there were a few Blue Damselflies which makes a change from the Azure ones we get in the garden at home.

Moving on to another site, it was great to see plenty of Bee Orchids and a few Small Blue Butterflies.  These are only found in a small handful of locations and are very tiny, making them difficult to locate in the first instance.

 Male Common Blue

 Tatty Small Blue on Kidney Vetch

 Small Blues mating

Small Heath

Kidney vetch is an important plant for the evolution of some of these species and it is the availability of that plant throughout the county that limits the availability of these species.


Friday 10 June 2011

Nikon D7000-The return

I received the D7000 back from Nikon a couple of days ago, The list that came back with it was strange showing that within the service they replaced the LCD, Its doesnt look like it and i have no reason why they would do that bit still it showed that they upgraded the firmware and that was already done by me-who knows, What i do know is that it is back to full health and they even gave the sensor a clean-well done Nikon
Yesterday i popped the battery back in along with a SD card, attached the battery grip and put the custom functions back as i like them then decided to go and give it a try, The rear dial now works how it should which was the main problem, I put the 600 vr lens on and attached it to the tripod with a SB900 flash on a remote arm and went into the garden and set up by my hummingbird feeder, I set the ISO to 800 so as to get a fast shutter speed, It was mid dayish so the sun was high and it was over 90 degrees, The shutter speed set to 1/2500 along with the flash set at -1.7 i knew that i would not freeze the wings totally but it should be pretty good, It did not take long before one of the 4 hummingbirds that use the feeder came along and had a drink, The females take their time and take multiple drinks whereas the males dash in drink and go in a split second, I was there about an hour and ended up with the 1.4x on to fill the frame, The images came out pretty good and all were sharp
This is full frame and i have cloned the feeder that was just poking in the frame at the bottom left, The background is a distant bush, You can see that the light was harsh but the full flash has softened the shadows, A few hours later and the temperature is now 97 and i am tucked behind a bush near to the pond, I start with the 600 with tubes and then change to the 200-400 with a 1.4x and tubes just to allow for better framing, The other day i wedged a stick up against the pond and instantly the dragonflies started to perch on it, Its become a favorite place for the blue dasher and the common white tail who buzz each other and try to dominate the stick, The background is all important in images like this and i had to jiggle around abit to get the distant trees in the image rather than grass to tall weeds that surround the pond

Blue Dasher
 Common White tail

The dragonflies were in shade and the shutter speeds were very low, 1/40 along with the long focal length meant that the images would more than likely be blurred or soft, The fill in flash has helped freeze any movement and i ended up with plenty of keepers
So pretty good test and so far so good, If you read certain forums you would think that the D7000 is a troublesome camera with oil spots on the sensor, front or back focus problems blah blah blah, Lots of people returning their cameras because of a speck of dust on the sensor, Well my experience with the D7000 has been great, OK its just come back for repair but i have probably put more images on it then most people would in years, Remember its not a pro body, The sensor is great, The images above are all at ISO 800 with no noise reduction, Bang for your buck its a bargain


Thursday 9 June 2011

Make Nature Count

The RSPB are running a public participation survey until 12th June.  It is called 'Make Nature Count' and it can be found here on this link.

Unlike the Big Garden Bird Watch, this survey is interested in all types of wildlife in your garden.

So why not give it a go, you have still got a few days left, including this weekend.

Let us know what you score.


Wednesday 8 June 2011

Bandits at 8 o'clock

Yesterday evening i was sitting on my patio with my wife and a neighbour when i looked over to the tree where i put some food down, The raccoon was there and right next to the fence was my dog, The dog and raccoon were less than 20 feet from each other but both were calm, Alfie my dog was laying down and trying to take in what this strange creature was, The raccoon visited the 3 areas where food is put down, The last area was very close to Alfie and when the raccoon had finished and began to move off Alfie let out a loud bark and the raccoon lept up into the nearest tree, Halfway up stopped and looked around-it would have made a great shot, and then continued up into the tree foliage, I grabbed the camera/lens/tripod that was already set up and told Alfie to back off, About 10 minutes later the raccoon started to descend and stopped to have a look
It carried on descending and i gave a small whistle and it stopped for a split second
Then Alfie barked again and it turned around
And finally it came down the back of the tree-took a final peek around the base of the tree
Then decided to call it a night
In all about 10 minutes start to finish but very enjoyable, Its great that the raccoon is coming out in the light although these were taken with ISO 6400 and the last one at ISO 3200, I have used a small amount of NR on all the images except the last one, The grain/noise at ISO 3200 is minimal on the D3s which is an incredible statement in itself when you think about it, The shutter speed on the last image is 1/40 yet beautifully sharp considering i was using a 600mm lens, Fantastic kit and anybody who asks why the kit costs so much more than basic kit only have to look at these, there is not another camera currently around that could give results like this