Monday 31 October 2011

wet wet wet

The weather has been against me for a couple of days although yesterday evening was not too bad but i was out late and it was too late to grab the cameras when i got back, Today we woke to rain and its been wet all day so just unpacking and getting the electrician back out for another fault, The good news is that last night we had 4 female deer in the garden along with a fox and an opossum which was really great to watch through the window, I had a flood light out and they did not seem to mind at all, The birds have found the feeders and we have had a lot of chickadee, Tufted titmouse and cardinals on the feeders, I am not surprised as a cold spell will always make them look for food, We also had one of Martins favorites on the feeder-a grey squirrel so all in all the wildlife situation is looking good even though it will mean mainly night time shooting for the mammals, We have a nice area underneath the screened porch that i will turn into a blind and it will be a nice all year shooting place as it was be completely dry for the wet and wintery days and cool for the summer, We have had a couple of long days unpacking and i would think by the end of the week it will be all over and the cameras will be out on a daily basis-cant wait


WWT Slimbridge Day Trip Part 3 - last bit

My days out to Slimbridge are usually spent photographing the wildfowl from the wild hides capturing the sorts of birds in my last post. But when I went a couple of weeks back, the water levels were low and there were very few close in birds to photograph.

So taking a walk to the western end of the reserve to the Kingfisher hide (no Kingfishers ) I set about getting some images of common garden birds. Yes, the sort of thing I get regularly in my back garden.

I haven't put much time into these common little birds over the recent past, so I set about to rectify that.

Lots of sightings of various Tits, Finches and a delightful Reed Bunting, which sadly didn't pose in a suitable place for me.

But here are a few common birds, that always give me great pleasure to watch.

Back next time with Red and Fallow Deer from Bradgate Park for you


Sunday 30 October 2011

Welcome guests

Although we are in the new house it seems that the work has just started, Both my wife and myself are absolutely knackered and there still seems hundreds of boxes to unpack and desks etc to put together, The fall colours around Falls lake are gorgeous, I will try and pop down there this evening is the weather holds out, It has rained hard for the last couple of days and today i awoke to the first frosts of the year which will add to the colour, Last night i watched a fox feeding in the garden which is great, They have found the food quickly and i will keep it up now until the are confident and coming at a regular time, I wish i could say about the bird feeders which have sat there unloved for the last few days, It will only take one bird to trigger it off and i remember waiting for 3 weeks for the first birds to feed in my garden in France but when it started it went mad, I hope they start soon and the cold weather should keep them looking for more.
I have to say that its great being in our new home, Its beautifully built and the setting is lovely, We had a nice welcome pack from the neighbours with wine and chocolates and a gift for our dog, So far so good,


Saturday 29 October 2011

WWT Slimbridge Day Trip Part 2

Following on from my part 1 report here, here are a few more images from that day.

Nothing particularly special; but a few more images to share with you.

Incoming Tufted Drake

A couple of Great Crested Grebe,

Cheeky Grey Squirrel after the nuts at the feeding station

I have a few more common bird shots from this part of the reserve to come next time. Again, nothing special or rare, just some quite nice shots of common garden birds, a subject I have overlooked for much of this year.

I also had a cracking day at Wesonbirt Arboretum (home of the BBC Autumnwatch for the first four episodes this season, before they head off to Slimbridge next week) yesterday morning, with some really wonderful misty light, so I shall look forward to sharing some special shots from that visit on future blogs.


Friday 28 October 2011

We are in

Finally and seems like forever we are in our new home, It seems that nothing is easy here when purchasing in a house and the signing was held up for hours as under writers held back and back and then back some more, I was told that every closing has been this way for a long time and some have been held back for days forcing people to get hotels, Its ridiculous, Its a shame that they did not do this a few years ago instead of allowing anybody to have huge mortgages even if they did not have a job-anyways its job done and now time to unpack and get settled
Last night my wife and i sat in the screened porch after a very long couple of days and popped open a bottle of bubbly, The dog gave a growl and we could see a large female white tailed deer in the garden going for the corn that i had put out, Its great to have that kind of wildlife so close,
The bird feeders have now gone out so time to sit back and await our first arrivals


Thursday 27 October 2011

A few random thoughts

Just a few disconnected thoughts from me to share with you today.

Firstly, the weather here in the UK. Just what the heck has been going on in our part of the world. Once again, unbelievably dry until today, when I have a day off work!! But a consequence of that has been the total lack of fungi this year in my favourite haunts. I was really hoping a few weeks ago that this would be a good year, but with the the very occasional show on one of two non descript fungi, it has been the poorest year that I can remember since I have had a photographic interest in them.

Maybe it the rain of today, and the cooler temperatures things might change.

I guess many of our UK readers will have seen the new BBC natural history series, Frozen Planet, that was on last night. Wow what a stunning HD spectacle it is. Reading through my twitter feed last night afterwards, it seems many were live tweeting the events, judging by the comments about the 'poor seal' that got dragged off the ice by Orca. The pack hunting of these creatures was stunning, and if you haven't seen it, then get it iPlayer. Some tough scenes and the tweets reflected that. I guess if Killer whales were called something a little less dramatic, they would get a better press. I certainly admired the resolute filming by the guys less than a metre away as they came through the ice hole.

While I am on about twitter, please let us know how many of you have a twitter id as it would be good to see your daily thoughts through that media. I know many people don't use it, but I find it invaluable for a lot of wildlife sightings and information. There are too many to id on hear, but check out who I follow here, and there are some good wildlife people and photographers on there. Our last guest photographer blog was by that route. My id is @martind01 . Leave us your id via the comments.

With the next few days off, I am hoping to get out with the camera a bit more so looking forward to sharing some of the recent material I have got plus some I am hoping for.

One final good news story I picked up yesterday was here with a wind farm planning application not being permitted due to Hen Harriers. Good to see these scars on the landscape being refused.

Best of luck to Dave today with his move. It can be a stressful time.

Back next time with some pictures.


Wednesday 26 October 2011

Moving on

Lol to Martins last post, I remember it well, Good friends, Good times-shame about the MK3 which really did show its limitations at Gigrin that weekend, I will have to take a look through my archives as i know that we all got some good images that weekend, Sometimes its not all about the shot and spending time with friends that you dont see too often is whats important.
My home internet gets turned off tonight as we finally pack up here, We move on Thursday and 99% of our gear will be packed up tomorrow, I am not sure when the new house will have internet so i will to pop into Starbucks to give updates
We met with the builder today and he said that there were 6 deer in the garden when he arrived this morning, I could hear a Kingfisher at the pond although i could not see it through the trees so all good signs


Tuesday 25 October 2011

So where did four years go then?

It was four years ago today that Dave and I met in the early hours of the morning at my home in Stratford after quite a long while of 'virtual' friendship. The reason was to do a trip across to mid Wales that I had organised for ten people and Dave had come across from Switzerland for a long weekend.

Dave turned up the night before and we had an evening out in Stratford before heading across to Wales early the following day for some photography of British birds of prey, captive in a controlled environment, and a run down to Gigrin Farm for the Red Kites on the day after that.

It was a fun weekend and we got some good images.

Here are a few from the archives that were taken with either my first original 5D and the 1Dmk3. Getting Red Kites in flight was a very fraught process for all five individuals that were using the 1Dmk3, which at that time was in its first set up, so we hadn't been through the multiple levels of firmware, and two recalls for hardware upgrades.

The result was that the Red Kite images were taken with the 5d, with its apparent backward AF system. Well at least it did AF accurately unlike the mark3 at that time.

Here are just a few from that weekend. We also photographed a beautiful Goshawk, Barn Owl and a Tawny Owl at the Mid Wales Falconry Centre.

Dave (in Canon days)

Long Eared Owl

Common Buzzard

Hybrid cross Peregrine/Saker Falcon

Wild Red Kite at Gigrin

Wild Buzzard at Gigrin

PS - Just two months or 61 sleeps to Christmas. Time to get shopping ladies, and 60 days left for the guys


Monday 24 October 2011

The Wedding

It should be the week when we move to the new house, I said should as there is still a lot of work to be done on the house, We are supposed to have the final walk through tomorrow afternoon but i am not confident that that will happen, The builder has had 2 weeks to finalize all the work and yet most days the house has sat empty with just a few small jobs being done, I really do not understand the mentality, With the economy the way it is they cant say that they are that busy, I have continued to get everything boxed and packed at my end and if the closing does not happen on Thursday i will have a tonne of phone calls to make and will not be a happy bunny,

I went to a friends wedding on Saturday and i have to say not only was it my first American wedding, it was one of the best i have been to, Very enjoyable-especially the free bar, The weather was great although the ceremony which was outdoors was against the light, The photography inside was in a dark room so all in all it was challenging-glad that i wasnt the official photographer, Talking of whom was a Canon user-50D to be precise, I will be interested to see his results, He had a multi flash set up in the main room which was a great idea and would help to keep his ISO down, I shot a lot of the indoor stuff at ISO 1600 with flash and the shutter speeds were still low, I doubt he would have wanted to have used such a high ISO as the 50D is not a nice camera as those speeds, All in all i was quite happy with the results considering the alcohol intake at the time, The official tog told me that he used to be a Nikon user although i did not ask why he changed, but the flash guns he used were Nikon's which were triggered by Pocket wizards, He told me that he just could not get on with the Canon guns and i have to say they are one thing that really shine after using Canon gear,

I had a quick play with the presets in Capture One to get an older look and feel to the image
All images using Nikon D3s with Nikon 24-70 and SB900

Sunday 23 October 2011

WWT Slimbridge Day trip Part 1

Short blog for tonight but the first of a couple of parts from my day trip there last weekend.  There are certain common birds that really don't feature very much in my portfolio which I have overlooked and so will put that right with this blog.  One of those is the cormorant that I have never bothered with while I have lots of image of the Shag.

This one was in the common seen  'wing drying attitude of one of the fence posts.

 Just to prove he can do it on one leg, another pose(r)

Preening with some down in flight

All taken with 7D and 500f4 IS L


Saturday 22 October 2011

Deer Rut Season Pt 1

The deer rut season is well underway, as viewers of BBC Autumnwatch will have seen last night..  I took a trip up to Bradgate Park this morning at first light, and joined the many photographers.  Bradgate has mixed herds of both Fallow and Red Deer.  Naturally it was the large Red Stags that most people were trying to capture images of, and I was no different.

The sounds and sights were marvellous, but of course, it wasn't the Highlands of Scotland, but beggars can't always be choosers, as the saying goes.  I will blog about that experience in a forthcoming blog.

However, I am now in the rare position, at least recently anyway, of having to catch the blog up with images that I have been taking.

Last Saturday, I went to WWT Slimbridge, and have a number of images to process from there.  When you see those, I am sure you will be surprised.

But for today, and with the title of this blog in mind, I have a couple of deer images for you.

Last Sunday evening, I took myself across to the local park which supports a large head of Fallow deer.  (I took Dave there a couple of years back) as the sun was going down and grabbed a few images of this lovely buck with his does.

Taken with 7D, + 500f4 IS L (mark1)

Back next time with some birds from Slimbridge


Friday 21 October 2011

Falls Lake

I had to go to the new house twice yesterday to meet with the builder etc, Its now less than a week and the clocks ticking, When i go there i have to pass over Falls Lake which is a huge lake that feeds a lot of the area with water, Its very low at the moment due to a very hot and dry summer and the resent rains have not been heavy or prolonged enough to help, It will take a lot of rain to make a 20 mile long lake rise over a foot, The trees are showing some colour although the rain has knocked some leaves off, As i passed over the bridge i noticed a bird close to the water heading my way, It turned out to be an osprey on the hunt, The lake supports a good head of Osprey and they are always a treat to see, I have photographed them here before but never really put my heart into it as they are so easy to photograph if you drive down to Florida, I think its pointless banging your head against the wall for a few half decent shots if you can get a bag full of excellent shots elsewhere, I like a challenge but am not stupid,, The nesting platforms here are quite high where as in South Carolina or Florida you can find them very low, In the UK you would get a huge buzz out of seeing an Osprey but here they are very common,
When i was at the house yesterday i put out some corn and dog food at various places around the garden and today i will stick a bird feeder up, The sooner birds and mammals start feeding there on a regular basis the better, I am at a wedding tomorrow and will be taking the camera, Although only as a guest thank god its good to shoot and to shoot in different circumstances.
Heres some Osprey from Falls Lake taken a couple of years ago


Thursday 20 October 2011

Guest Photographer - Mark Williams

Today it is a pleasure to move from technogeekery of gear to the subject matter that we love and care for on this blog and hand over to Mark Williams for a guest blog.  It has been a while since we have had any guest posts and we welcome them from photographers whose work or approach we like.

I haven't met Mark in person, but we have 'met' through twitter and I have followed his tweets this year with interest. It seemed from his activities that he was always on 'Harewatch', a subject I have never had the patience to get to grips with so with that in mind, I thought it would make an interesting blog, so over to Mark for his story.


'Hare watching'

Somebody asked me recently what it is that makes me want to go and watch and photograph hares and this got me thinking as to when my interest started with these enigmatic mammals.  I think it began when I first watched them from my parents' garden,  We used to see them in the field behind the house and there seemed to be an abundance of them, but the spectacle was short-lived as a new housing estate was built before I had even started my teens.

Living in Lincolnshire meant that I was in one of the last strongholds of an animal that was introduced in the country by the Romans.  The fields of our farms provided both shelter and food to these, our fastest mammal. 

Moving from Lincolnshire down to Cambridgeshire recently, I've experienced a steep learning curve.  As far as watching and finding hares is concerned, I was expecting a similar population to that I'd enjoyed just 50 miles away but was sadly disappointed to find the fields here are devoid of them - we can see the odd one or two, compared to up to a dozen previously.

Hares are creatures of habit and with a little patience you can soon see where they are located.  The most obvious signs of their presence are their droppings which are different from their cousin, the rabbit.  Hares are manily seen at dawn and dusk which, for photography is when we have the best light of the day, so it's an ideal time.

(An excerpt from an autumnal morning session watching hares)

There is nothing to beat being out before dawn to get the hide in place ready to photograph these animals in their natural habitat, listening as the tawny owl makes its last forays in search of food and then, as the sky turns grey in the pre dawn light, the birds begin the new day.  A distant screech from a buzzard comes closer at it circles over the field.  I can now make out the shapes in the field as the light gradually increases.  A pheasant calls with its strangled cry and a blue tit flies by.  The shapes in the field are now clearly hares and there must be half a dozen of them within a hundred feet of the hide.

The sun clears the horizon but its golden globe is immediately swallowed by the low cloud.  The hares are now running and jumping in the field, almost dancing to greet the dawn.  One inquisitive hare hops towards the hide and eyes it suspiciciously.  I hold off, resisting the urge to press the shutter button but it has spooked him and he turns, taking off at full speed across the field.  I stay in the hide hoping that the hare will come back but he's now over the far side of the field running with a couple of others.

A noise to the right of the hide has me craning around to catch a glimpse of the perpetrator but nothing can be seen as the woods are still quite dark at this stage.  The sound of a raptor nearby has me looking to the left of the hide, there's certainly a lot happening at the moment.  A buzzard has decided to use a post some thirty feet away to land on and he sits there, preening.  Again a noise from my right and the sharp report of a twig snapping and three Roe deer appear.  Looking around constantly, their ears moving to pick up the slightest noise, they raise their heads and sniff the air.  A hide not only masks your form but luckily your smell as well, these skittish animals would be away very quickly if they had my scent. They move out of the field but you can see that they are ready to move quickly if danger is spotted so I settle back enjoying the spectacle, as they are now out of reach of my lens and past experience has shown that even the mechanical noise from the shutter can have these animals fleeing.  It's not always about the image but getting out from behind my office desk  and enjoying nature - and especially the hare.

As Autumn moves into Winter and the days shorten, the hares will spend longer foraging for food as it becomes scarcer, so look to the fields and you may be lucky to spot one.  The shortening days also mean that my hare watching will mostly be confined to the weekends during Autumn and Winter, but when I'm out with them, I will be tweeting so look out for the hashtag #harewatch

Here are a few images from this year.

More work can be seen here, G900photography is Mark Williams and Alison Campling.


Thank you Mark - that was a great blog, and I loved the way you related your experience in story telling mode.  It is not a style that we have seen much of on this blog, but it has certainly provided a great feeling for the experience you feel when hare watching.  

Mark can be followed on twitter as @gollum900, and I would recommend that you do if you are a tweeter.

If you would like to feature as a guest blogger and you have an interesting story or experience that you would like to share with us, contact us through the comments as the first point of contact, which we wont publish but will allow contact to be made.  We would love to hear from you and if we like your story, then you could be on here too.


Wednesday 19 October 2011

A quickie

Two quick things as an extra blog today.

Following on from our Canon 1DX blogs, seems like the UK starting price is going to be £5299 at the moment, although it wont be available until next March.  So at least it is the right side of 6K, but still very high nevertheless.  If you want to wait for the silly entry price to drop, as it ineveitably will, then you are looking at about a years time.  It will be interesting to see where the price gets to.  In any case, I will not be moving away from the 7D/5mk2 body combo for the time being as that comfortably meets my needs against what I am prepared to spend.

Meanwhile the Nikonistas are eagerly awaiting their D4 announcement.

The other thing to mention is that we have a great guest blog post tomorrow on Hares, so make sure you check in after 5AM UK time tomorrow


The X Factor??

Sorry about the doom and gloom in my last blog, Things have moved forward and now all is right with the world, The builder is very good and has sorted or agreed to sort the problems out, It turned out to be the irrigation system that has a leak or 2 and needs fixing, We move in a week Thursday and i have to say i cannot wait, There were fresh deer footprints in the garden and a very furry pooh in the back yard which i can only imagine would be coyote-now that would be something,
So Canon rumours came through and the 1DX was announced , I have spent a lot of the day reading specs and forums and i must admit to be somewhat bemused, I think Canon have spent the last few months reading Dpreviews thread on what Nikon owners want in the upcoming D4, There is good and bad as far as i can see, I think somethings may change before the camera is released next spring-first strange thing is that Canon are announcing gear way ahead-Then theres that horrible price will hopefully drop if preorders are low (Do not be silly and pre order), There is an all new AF system so that would need to be tested in the real world before i would hand over any lolly-once bitten etc, The one thing that i cant see is that by combining the 1D and 1DS you will satisfy everybody, The wildlifers are not happy at loosing the crop factor and the landscapers will not be happy with loosing pixels, 1D owners will not be happy at paying basically 1DS prices either, I think maybe Canon marketers lead the way again(highest frame rate,highest ISO and most focus points) by wanting more speed and stupidly high ISO-204K come on, Saying that the 1D4 has 104k ISO and i have to say over ISO 800 grain is noticeable and with careful use of NR you can get good results up to say 3200 max,In the press statement Canon stated this to be the best EOS for high ISO-Not the best of any camera just the best EOS which i thought strange, If its aimed at landscapers then high ISO is not in there vocabulary, I am guessing that the new 5D3 will take care of the landscapers but that still does not make the 1D4 a wildlife photographers dream camera, Maybe a wedding photographers and maybe press/sports but the price is just so high, I said before that if the 1DX is FF then Canon need a good cropped sensor camera to make a wildlifers kit complete and i dont think that they yet have that not even with the 7D, I think Nikon will go the same way and offer the D4 as a combined D3s and D3x model but at least they have a the D7000 which is good at 800 and 1600 and the D400 will be out soon which you can only hope will be as good, I wonder now looking at the pricing structure if there will be a new model out between the 1DX and the 7D that will bridge the gap and i am not talking about the 5D3,Anyway its a long time until anybody gets their grubby little mitts on a 1DX so we will see, I like the idea of having an ethernet connection which means that you could have your camera connected to your laptop 100m away, I can see the benefit in that but then Canon have taken a huge step backwards and stopped AF over F5.6-yes thats right, Stick a 2x on a F4 lens and its manual focus-same when putting a 1.4x on a 800 F5.6, Thats another reason why its a no no for a wildlife photographer, As i said at the start i am perplexed, If i were a Canon 1D4 photographer i think i would either grab another 1D4 or a 1DS3/5D2.

I popped down to the state fair grounds to see if i could get some ferris wheel images without having to pay so i had to set up on the side of the road and be ready to move if one of the hundreds of state troopers came over, Luckily for me the moment i set up the heavens opened so it was a quick session with little success, I think i will have to pay the $10 to pay and $8 entrance and get close with a wide angle to get a decent image


Tuesday 18 October 2011

New Canon DSLR launched

Canon Rumor

As I mentioned recently, the rumours were doing the rounds of a new Canon body. Well here it is for all you specnofreeks. And an impressive look it has too.

I shall watch for all the usual nonsense to find its way on to the forums, predictably.

At 6800 USD, we can expect a similar GBP price ratio of 1:1, so it will be a very expensive proposition by any stretch of the imagination our wallet.


Monday 17 October 2011

My Head Hurts

Well we thought that things were going smoothly, The mortgage is agreed and sorted,The phone,internet,power,gas and insurances have all been quoted and agreed and the movers etc have all been booked, We found at late last week that there was a drainage problem and the builder assured us that it was to do with the irrigation system and it had been leaking for months, The water was turned off and we have a landscape company dig the garden up and put in some extra drainage pipes, It started to dry over the weekend, We went there yesterday with a friend to have a look around and there was a couple of guys looking at the drainage ditch or easement that runs along the side of the land, It seems that they were with the department of transport as the roads which are new are about to be taken over by the county, They pointed out that there was a problem with the drainage easement and that they would have to redo it, I asked who would be liable to pay and they said it would either be the owner or the home association, So the red light pops up and there are some warning signs-why is nothing here bloody easy, I now have a meeting with the builder this afternoon and we have to come to an agreement one way or the other-we may walk away if we are not happy with what is said and be back to square -1, One thing that you notice here is that seems to be a lack of job satisfaction , Take for example the landscapers, They dig channels in the garden and relay the turf without tamping it down and then leave mud all over the path and drive, Its just typical of what you seem to get here,
Anyway back to the blog, As you can tell the cameras have gone back into hibernation although we did go and waste money at the state fair yesterday to try and get away from it all, All i can say is that if you like being ripped off and eat deep fried cheesecake,mars bars,pizza and bubblegum-yes all deep fried then this is the place for you, There was a Ferris wheel that i hoped to go and get a shot of after dark but ti was soo busy i couldn't get near, I will go back and shoot from the road later this week, Here is one shot i took with my wifes compact that sums it all up

Sunday 16 October 2011

WWT London - Day Trip Final Part

Well I have probably dragged this report out long enough, so here is my final part with a few images taken from the last hide of the day.  Earlier parts can be read here, here and here if you haven't seen any of them yet.

Tufted Duck

The light was patchy while a Little Grebe was displaying, and these next few images show the difference a little bit of sunshine makes, and why sometimes it really isn't worth photographing, but spend the time watching.

Sometimes it is quite nice to watch common birds in unusual circumstances.  While I have watched crows bathing in my pond many times, I can't remember seeing them quite a long way out on a lake bathing.

So that's it for my WWT London trip.  On a day when the weather forecast promised so much in terms of light, but delivered so little, it was a case of making the best of what was available.

It was my first time to this site, and it is set out quite well for birders, less well for photographers, but that is a problem at many reserves and will be the subject for a future blog.

Nonetheless, it is worth a visit, and is a real gem located so close to the centre of London, yet easily accessed from the west side of the M25


Saturday 15 October 2011

Attracting certain birds

Getting birds and animals into your garden is not difficult by baiting but certain birds can be very difficult to attract like waxwings that come down into the Carolinas for the winter, They are berry eaters full stop and only certain berries will fit the bill so today i am off to the garden center to get cost for juniper bushes of which there are already about 10 small ones on the property and some holly bushes which i know they love as i photographed some last year eating the berrys from them, In Europe we have a tree called a mountain ash and these are great for attracting winter birds, So far i have not managed to find any here but i will continue to look, If all goes well next winter will see waxwing,robin and bluebirds spending the winter around my property, Forward thinking is needed in alot of wildlife photography and with these bushes and trees it will enhance the look of the property so a win win situation


Friday 14 October 2011

This weeks sightings

Hopefully, I should be out with cameras this weekend, which will make a pleasant change, so watch this space for the outcomes.

However, it is a very interesting time for bird movements in the UK.  With the traditional Scilly season, lots of interesting rarities have been turning up the, as they have at the top of the country, judging by the tweets I pick up from those parts of the world. More locally the winter wildfowl is starting to pour into Slimbridge.

Locally over our garden last weekend we saw the last of the Swallows, House martins and the first of the Redwings on the same day. The garden birds are starting to return and it is great to see the flocks of Long tailed tits again.

As an aside, I had to take to a trip to Hampshire on business and had some great raptor sightings. First bird of the day was a Peregrine, followed by totals of 6 Kestrels, 1 Sparrowhawk, 11 Buzzards and a total of 47 Red Kite. Impressive, particularly the one that swooped onto the hard shoulder just a short distance in front of me.

Enjoy your weekend, I am just going to sit down with a glass of red wine and watch Autumnwatch.


Update: Forgot to mention my first local Siskin of the Autumn along with a dozen or so Goldcrests when we went walking on Sunday

Thursday 13 October 2011

My Take

Martin mentioned that there are rumours of a New Canon body coming out soon, So according to the rumour mill Nikon are becoming Canon and Canon are doing a Nikon, By that i mean that the Nikon rumours are for a new D800 with 36mp and Canon turning the 1D into a full frame body lowish MP body (wonder where they got that idea). Now they are only rumours and so far this year ALL have been wrong, If you read the Nikon rumours its only really the name that they are sure of and most other details like the MP count are guesses but they are enough to start people squabbling on the forums and lots of 'well if they do that i am off to Canon' good luck with that one, Nikon tend to renew their pro range every 4 years with maybe an S model in the middle which would be a face lift rather than anything else so i would not be too surprised if the D800 broke the Nikon mold and had a high pixel count, Marketing wise it would stop taking sales away from the D3 which i am certain that the D700 did, But the D700 has become a classic and much loved for its size,speed and focusing system all for a great price so would Nikon want to stop that, Its been a huge seller, Would a 36mp camera sell as well?-i doubt it
Canon on the other hand have like to have a 1.3 crop in the 1D series and i have heard a lot of people say that they want to keep that rather than go full frame, Well having a D3s i can honestly say that FF cameras are a revelation when it comes to light gathering and the D3s has opened up lots of new possibilities, Now i don't know if a Canon FF 16-18mp body would be as good-it should be, If you are a nature photographer then yes get the new 1D FF body but you will also want a cropped body as well-i do and cant see that changing, The other thing that i think strange about the Canon rumour is that they are quoting 16-18mp when the 1D4 is already 16mp, I would have thought that going FF and having around 24mp they could have a similar ISO capability to the existing 1D, Now if the 1D5 does come out what ever happened to the 1DS4?, I am guessing that that series may be dropped as the ever popular 5D2 bastardized the 1DS sales and i am sure that we will see a high MP 5D3 out sooner rather than later-36mp anybody?
What we know for sure is that they are still only rumours so there is a possibility that nothing will be announced, The prices will be high and they will be rarer than a Canon 200-400 for a long time, If they do come out the forums will be a wash with people saying they have
A. Too many pixels
B. Too few pixels
C. Focusing problems
D, Leaving Nikon for Canon,Pentax,Sony and Vise Versa

Either way it gives people something to talk about and after all the problems in Japan and Thailand this year i hope that Nikon and Canon do manage to bring us some new Xmas presents and that are huge sellers

p.s The house is now full steam ahead, All the paperwork has been ok'd and its now a rush to the finish line-i.e 27th so only 2 weeks

Wednesday 12 October 2011

New Canon Dslr on the way?

Insurance again

From my quickie last weekend, one of the comments raised was about insurance and what happens when your bit of kit is replaced in the manufacturers line up with something significantly more expensive. In this case, I was rambling on about the Canon 500 lens and how the version that I have is no longer available, and the replacement for it is massively more expensive. Well I have yet to follow up with my insurance company, but it was a timely reminder that for the better camera insurances that you insure for a new replacement sum. Check out Dave's thoughts from a while back and mine here.

So it is worth constantly tracking prices as firstly you don't want to be paying much, and the only way that is going to happen is if you have relatively cheap lenses and lots of brand new bodies.

If like me you have a number of lenses that cost you a significant amount of money (I say that as a relative thing for me - significant is whatever your financial pain threshold is) that you got sometime ago, it is likely that the replacement cost is significantly greater. I got a hell of a shock about two years back after the round of massive price hikes in early 2009 filtered their way through.

It seems like we are back in the same place, what with plunging exchange rates, 20% VAT now and manufacturers whacking up their prices.

So check your gear replacement prices out, and here is as good as anywhere, and make sure that you have the right level of cover for your precious gear.

Neil - thanks for your comment on Saturdays blog - the points you raised, are of course, quite valid, but I still believe that even on a like for like basis, and considering the other variables that you allude to that Canon have taken a conscious decision to whack up their prices and grab margin

OK grump over



Tuesday 11 October 2011

Thai flooding

The huge amount of flooding across Thailand has now reach and is affecting much of the camera industry in that country, Nikon, Canon and Sony all being affected, Heres some news on the Nikon situation which does not look or sound good-expect further delays on camera gear,

Playing around with filters

Now you may want to sit down for this-I have had the cameras out, Sunday afternoon i took the camera gear along with my wife and dog for a trip to the Haw river in Pittsboro, There is a very nice weir there, The sun was high and the light was pretty harsh but what the hell, I set my tripod low and had the Nikon D3s and 24-70F2.8 fitted which is one of my favorite set ups, I took a shot without any filters with the ISO at its base i.e 200 which will give maximum dynamic range-detail in dark shadows and white clouds, I had started with an aperture of F8 which gives pretty good depth of field and got a shutter speed of 1/320 which is quite fast but as i said the light was bright
I put the Singh Ray gold and blue filter on and took images at the goldest and bluest but you can turn it anywhere in between

I dont think that they really work in this instance and think that very grey days will be best, I now put on a 2 stop ND on its own
Nothing much different to the original-just a slight slowing down of the water so i add the 3 stop ND as well to give 5 stops
OK so now we are getting somewhere, the water is getting smooth so i add the poloriser to add 2 more stops and take some glare off of the water, I also set the aperture to F16 giving a 2.5 second shutter speed
Very nice, Now remove the 2 and 3 stop NDs and replace them with the 10 stop Lee filter, This with the poloriser gives 12 stops and a shutter speed of 76 seconds-yep you read that right so i had to set the camera to Bulb which is the last shutter speed setting when you have the camera in manual, In Bulb you hold the shutter button down and it will stay open until you release it-best use a remote cord for this
The Lee 10 stop big stopper does give a very blue colour cast, I have removed that but i think it still has a slight green cast to it but for the blog it gives you the idea, The very long shutter speed combined with the poloriser has given a very flat even water and the water flowing over the weir is very milky-nice

After setting up a Mexican family along with baby Rottweiler decided to fish and play in the water right next to us which pissed me off somewhat, The best bit was when the dog shit next to where the were sitting and instead of picking it up they allowed their son to tread in it and then the dog rolled in it, The wife then picked up her fishing rod and whacked the water and then managed to pick whatever it was out with the rod and placing it carefully on a rack beat the hell out of it, I went over and saw a young Northern water snake (harmless) on the rock, It was belly up and looked dead, 10 minutes later i went back and it was still there, I turned it over using a stick and noticed a small movement with its tail and the tint body flattened, I think it was playing dead like a European Grass snake does, A few minutes later i went back and as my shadow passed over it moved with the speed of light, The water snake looks similar to the venamous water moccasin but as the moccasin is a viper it has a totally different eye, The water snake has a round pupil whereas the moccasin is a slit, We packed up and left but i would have really liked to have thrown the women in and beat her with the fishing rod