29 April 2012

Photographing River Birds in the Yorkshire Dales

All this rain has been driving me nuts! It seems llike forever since I had any decent opportunities for wildlife photography. Hence, I was over the moon to come home last evening with some lovely shots of the spring bird life at Malhamdale. My main target were the river birds - dipper and grey wagtail... plus anything else that came my way. With a bit of luck, and a little fieldcraft, I bagged my first decent image of a grey wag! These birds are without doubt one of the most colourful species in the U.K.  - the vivid yellows were just gobsmacking on both the male and the female. To capture one singing was a major bonus for me!
Despite it being a weekend, the visitors to this Yorkshire Dale didn't really affect my nature photography, and there was plenty of activity by the river. Wagtails were up and down, both grey and pied - the pied carrying out some facinating antics and showing really interesting behaviour. There were four birds at one point, flying round me, perching.. shouting, and generally entertaining me - all at close range. One bird in particular adopted a curious pose as he (or she?) sleeked the feathers down and called at another bird. My guess is that this was some kind of territorial dispute.

Despite putting in the time, I didn't get the dipper images I had hoped for, but at least I captured some good wildlife images with the torrents of water in the background. After realising 'my' dipper wasn't going to perch where I wanted it to, I decided to have a go at a flight shot, knowing that it was taking the same flight path each time as it came back to the nest. This is the resulting image below, clearly out of focus, but close. The frustrating thing is.. it has a fish in its beak!! What a shame.. Still, this isn't a million miles away; just a shame I only had once chance at it. Definitely possible though, so hopefully I can try again..!!
All of this bodes well for my Malham Birds Photography Workshop in May.  We will also be photographing the wild peregrines on the top of Malham Cove as they bring in food to the chicks. Due to extra demand, I have set an extra date: Sunday May 27th 

05 April 2012

Last light at Reeth

Last light at Reeth by Paul Miguel
Last light at Reeth, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.

This is undboubtedly my favourite landscape image I have taken this year. Light is so important, and never more so than with landscape photography. Low sun gives much softer light and less contrast allowing for the capture of good detail throughout the scene. This image is incredibly simple, using one of my favoured approaches: no polariser; just straight light, with a graduated filter to darken the sky. This image was one of a series taken at around 7pm around half a mile east of Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales.

Daffodils in the snow

langthwaite01 by Paul Miguel
langthwaite01, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.

The perfect image to highlight this bizzare weather. Winter and Spring together!

Red grouse flying above snow

Being buffeted my strong winds on Grinton Moor made it tough to hold the camera steady. This was the only image that was sharp enough.

02 April 2012

Clear Blue Skies and Stunning Birds of Prey

I don't think I have ever had a day of clear blue sky for a bird of prey workshop. Friday, the sun shone from first to last light as we photographed five birds on a farm near Masham, Yorkshire. The habitat on this farm is so varied for photographing captive birds of prey - we have everything: open fields, hedgerows, woodland - and some perfect farm buildings too.
The barns and buildings are just perfect for barn owl and little owl, as are the rusty gates and various farm machinery. Nearby larch woodland made the ideal setting for our long eared owl, and the rural backdrop worked beautifully for the stunning male goshawk.

The next bird of prey photography course will be on Sutton Bank near Thirsk, North Yorkshire. These photography workshops are ideal for gaining skills in wildlife photography.

I Love Wildlife Photography !!

It's been a crazy week! Three workshops in three days, and my own photography squeezed in too. Nice to catch up on a little sleep this morning!! Back on the farm I'm getting more opportunities with my spring hares and I was treated to a wonderful view of a roe buck chasing a female along the brow of a set aside field. There were in fact three: two females and a male. It was an exciting few minutes as they chased each other and frolicked around before returning to the wood.

After a 1:1 workshop I was able to spend a couple of hours up on the moors of Swaledale with some amazing grouse activity. My client during the day achived some stunning pictures - red grouse, lapwing, curlew, meadow pipit - and golden plover!! The grouse were particularly active with much posturing and rival males sizing one another up. My highlight was a very obliging female who pecked happily at the heather, just feet away from the car. I had so much time to adjust the exposure I couldn't believe it. Shot at around 1/200 second at ISO 250 I also decreased the aperture to around F8 for a little more depth of field. The backlighting was wonderfully soft and I used a little fill-in-flash to brighten up the shadows. This is probably my favourite type of lighting for wildlife photography.

 There wasn't just grouse up on these Yorkshire moors. Plenty of other birds too: lapwing, curlew, an obliging golden plover.. and even a short eared owl - all in the georgous low evening light.

 These are the type of images that can be taken on my wildlife photography courses in Yorkshire