24 December 2009

More Birds from the Cold Snap

Taken over the last few days of snowfall...

Photographing birds in the snow is great fun, but actually shooting whilst snow is falling can be a real challenge. In order to protect my camera, I used a home-made sleeve on my lens, with a waterproof cover over the top. Even so, it can be tricky to keep everything dry. These shots were taken on a beanbag using a tree stump as support. The difficult part is getting sharp images: some were taken at ISO 200 but at times the light levels were so low that I had to push up to ISO 400, which I try to avoid. Still -sharpness should always be the foremost consideration. Shutter speeds were often around 1/250 although I have found it possible to get sharp images even down at 1/60 - but it reduces your hit rate a lot.. The beauty of many of these pictures was the blanket of snow acting as a giant reflector and bouncing light back to illuminate the underside of the birds. The other tip is - take a lot of pictures..! In just a couple of hours I shot over 150 images.. this is not unusual..!

Winter Jays

The last few days have been simply glorious, with one of the coldest December weeks we've had in years... must be all that global warming I presume..? Heavy snowfall is one of the things I live for, and when the forecast comes, I make sure that I'm ready. From thermals to hats and gloves, and making sure batteries are charged... there's plenty things to get in order, and then there's the question of: "what do I photograph?" In answer to that question, I decided to endulge myself in pure wildlife photography. So it was back to the park to capture some more birds, and hopefully get some classic jays amidst snowflakes. These shots were taken on the first day of snowfall over 3 or 4 hours. Yes, I was cold by the end of it - but the pictures more than make up for numb fingers and toes. Enjoy...!

Clockwork Kingfishers

Location is the key for so many wildlife shots, and these kingfisher images are certainly proof of that. My friend who works at my local RSPB reserve had told be about a pair of kingfishers that were regularly fishing from the beck - often along the same short stretch, providing incredibly close views. I was more than delighted when my first morning provided a number of kingfisher sightings at fairly close range, but not quite close enough to photograph. My second visit was similar, but you can't fail to be overjoyed at watching these birds - and the fact that they were so regular made it even more amazing. The kingfisher was never away for more than about 15 minutes, and every time it was back to one of the same perches... you could almost set your watch by them..!It was third time lucky for these pictures, when one beautiful frosty morning, this female kingfisher decided to perch on just about the only clear branch close enough to photograph. I saw her heading for the perch and was ready. The next few seconds were manic as I fired off exposures, bracketing and re-composing to make sure I didn't end up with the miss of the year!! She stood still... posed, turned around, posed again and then finally flew off. A stunning experience - whether with or without a camera.!