Sunday, 26 November 2017

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Autumn Missed

My attempts to get out this Autumn and make the most of its colours, have failed miserably for one reason or another.  The weekend was probably two weeks too late with most of the leaves fallen and those that have, already turning brown and mushy.  I had to settle for some riverside images and the odd one in the woods – nothing very exciting unfortunately.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

I Admit it, I'm an Anti Social Photographer!

I think, for those of us who are wildlife or landscape photographers, we each have our own reasons for being so.  For me it’s an interest in wildlife which I’ve had since I was a kid, together with art, something I was always good at, joining up with photography, a subject I took up as an art student at college.  Together, however they make up a third part.  Living and working in a city I find the noise, crowds and even the day to day stupidity and selflessness of people more and more oppressive.

So, going out early in the morning, preferably somewhere remote and quiet, I find relaxing and if you can watch a Fox hunting or a sunrise over the sea, it just makes the moment just that little more special.  Unfortunately it’s hard to avoid people when out and about.  The first below three images were taken in a hide.  Now I normally stay away from these places exactly because they tend to have a lot of people and worst off, photographers.  On this occasion, I was by myself at first but was followed soon after by two photographers who spent most of time talking with intermittent rattling off at full frames per second, at anything that went by. 

Then came in the worst kind of ‘wildlife photographer’.  He was the type who was decked out head to toe in camouflage though clearly never walks more than a hundred or so metres from his car.  He then proceeded to non stop talk about how much gear he had, how many camera’s he had brought over the years, but had to ask ‘how to make the picture on the back screen go bigger’. He later phoned a camera store, hands free so everyone could hear, asking about a Sigma tele lens and talking to the poor woman who answered as if she should have known him personally because he had visited the store before!

Whilst he was doing this and with the other two still talking, a Kingfisher, what they’d seem to be waiting for, landed in front of the hide (below image) for less than a couple of seconds and, possibly scared by the noise, was off.  If everyone had remained quiet they would have heard the call of it before it arrived and maybe managed a picture or so.  With the noise continuing and more people arriving, I left.

I try and avoid other so called, wildlife photographers.  When you go to a hide or even go to online forums and you listen to what they say, they mostly seem to be the same.  They are either gear heads, obsessed with their equipment, the mega pixels, the dynamic range (though often don’t understanding what any of that actually means) or they collect images of wildlife, like a type of modern day stamp collector – the rarer the animal, usually a bird, the better.  Then they will put it up on a forum or Flickr in the hope of fame or adulation. Usually they know or care little for the subject or it’s wellbeing as long as they get the image.  Thankfully, I see little of them out in the actual wilds as that would involve their requiring patience and some skills and knowledge of the subject and with often only a slim chance of success, I’m guessing this would be too much work for most of them.

Images like the below Wagtail was taken at a location I’ve learnt from experience I can find them, but they will normally be spooked by someone nearby, but if you just sit there quietly there’s a chance they will come to you as in this case, a pair of them did, but I was there for nearly an hour.

Landscape photography has it’s own set of problems.  Sunrise is my preferred time but this regularly means lots of dog walkers.  Many of places I go to have restrictions on dogs, such as the location of the two images shot below where, at the time, dogs were not to be using the location or meant to be on a lead.  These were completely ignored.  Not by one or two people but by everyone! So finding a quiet spot without dogs running round you, barking, sniffing your backpack and either the owner shouting at it at the top of their voice or just ignoring what their dog is doing, is nearly impossible.  It also just really spoils a tranquil moment.

And then there’s the dumb questions you get asked.  Your camera is set up on a tripod, it’s sunrise and your pointing the lens towards the sunrise and some bright spark askes what you’re taking a picture of!!  Or ‘are you that photographer who took that picture in the paper’!  And of course there is the ‘that’s a big lens, how close can you get with it’.

So, yes I am an anti social photographer.  I like to get away from people and avoid them when I’m out.  I like the peace and the quietness.  Being out in the woods, waiting patiently for a deer to come by and managing to photograph it without it knowing you were there and achieving an image that might have an technical and artistic merit is a bonus, but if I don’t get anything, that’s ok because I still enjoyed the walk, the exercise and just being out in nature.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Thing about Photography

A recent post on a camera forum got me thinking recently, as this person was unhappy with his camera (not something unusual on a camera forum) but they said their camera, a Canon 6D, was an ‘antique’ and ‘wasn’t up for the task and it ‘only’ had 20 megapixels.  He didn’t go into details as to what he took pictures of or why 20 MP wasn’t enough for him, but he was determined to by a new camera.  Every response was to agree with him and give him advice as to which new, expensive camera he should buy.

Since getting my first digital camera, a 350D, visiting forums the trend has remained the same – so many people not happy with what they currently own, always wanting the next best thing. It makes me wonder why they even bother with photography.  They seem to be constantly feel limited by the camera’s ability, the next great camera will improve their photography.

This summer has been as slow and frustrating time, with little in the way of images to show for it, but it has had little to do with the equipment – the only time was with my visit to the Farne Islands when the dull grey weather caused problems with focusing on the fast flying Puffins.  A shiny new expensive camera may have fixed some of that but at the end of the day the lack of images this summer is down to my ability, motivation, luck and opportunity.

In September I decided to spend some money, not on new equipment but on a week away to the Lake District, Windermere to be precise – that was my motivation and opportunity taken care of.  The Lake District is known for its scenery but also for it’s unpredictable weather and on this case, rain, and it did rain.  Only on one of the days I was there that it didn’t, but that was all I needed.  On the third day I got up bright and early and headed off to Rydal Water, a small lake just north of Ambleside, in the hope to catch the sunrise but instead there was a very heavy mist that morning which, with any luck, would remain until I got on site.  The luck part was complete as it did.

So now it was just down to my own ability. To be honest, I tend to be my own worst critic and was a little disappointed with the mornings results as the didn’t convey the scene that I saw, which was frustrating.  I sometimes forget though, a large part of the enjoyment is simply being out there, seeing the views, breathing the fresh air and getting some exercise.  The following images are a selection of what I did manage to capture, most taken that morning.
Canon 6D + Samyang at 14mm f22 1/15 ISO 100
Canon 80D + Canon 18-135 at 18mm f9 1/125 ISO 100
Canon 6D + Canon 17-40mm at 34 1/200 ISO 100
Canon 80D + Canon 18-135mm at 20mm f11 1/125 ISO100
Canon 80D + Canon 18-135mm at 135 f9 1/320 ISO 100
Canon 6D + Canon 17-40mm at 17mm f11 1.3 sec ISO 100

Rydal Water Panorama Stitched from 5 images - Canon 6D

View point of Rydal Water from one of the surrounding hills - iPhone 6s

Lake Windermere Panorama Stitched from 6 images - Canon 6D

I guess at the end of the day, I take the view that most photographers, (as in those who don’t take just casual photos) fall under two categories. Those for who the tech, i.e. pixels, resolution, etc., is more important and those where the image or the art form of photography is.  I fall into the later category.  Although I like the tech and it plays a part in photography at the end of the day, the limitations are nearly always mine and not the camera.