29 November 2012

Jay at my Reflection Pool

Jay at Pond by Paul Miguel
Jay at Pond, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.
I've spent many, many hours on this site - trying to get everything perfect for photography. This morning was my first session in the hide and I was treated to two jays. It is a privilege to be so close to these wild birds. Only thing is they are literally hoovering up the peanuts so there's nothing left for the smaller birds!

24 November 2012

Close up of Mute Swan Dabbling

Mute Swan by Paul Miguel
Mute Swan, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.
I spend a couple of hours trying to get some intimate images of a family of mute swans dabbling at the edge of a lake. They were so relaxed that I was able to really get in close and concentrate on their behaviour. I love the bubbles in this one.

11 November 2012

Mute Swan Dabbling

Mute Swan by Paul Miguel
Mute Swan, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.
Photographed with a high shutter speed of around 1/1000 second. I got the aperture down a bit to increase depth of field, but with long lenses and fast shutter speeds you still need a bit of luck for the head to be in perfect focus. As is usually the case I was lying down for this one - with the frost melting underneath me..! Would like to work on this kind of image again if I have time.

06 November 2012

Tip of the Week: Photographing Waterfalls

Waterfalls can be very satisfying to photograph, and are great subject for landscape photography but they are not easy to do well. Very bright days almost always lead to average pictures. Much better to go with subtle light to achieve pleasing images. My technique of photographing waterfalls has always been to shoot on very overcast days - this works well as it reduces the contrast in the scene and avoids too much 'blow-out' where the whites of the water rapids occur.

These days I adopt a slightly different approach where possible, and that is to use a subtle variety of light. With the correct conditions you can shoot the surroundings of the waterfall in slightly brighter light, whilst the waterfall remains more in shadow. The effect only needs to be slight, but it can make a real difference. Variety of light on a scene will almost always get you better landscape photos: in the case of waterfalls it can work perfectly, as the lighter (sometimes almost pure white) waterfall remains more in shadow and will be better exposed. Think of shooting a landscape with an area of snow in the shade - you end up with variation in lighting but the snow still shows up well because it reflects more light even though its in shadow.

The two images below were all taken using this principle. In this case, at the cul-de-sac of Cotter Force in the Yorkshire Dales. The weak sun was gradually coming round over my right shoulder, so the autumn colours on the left were beginning to catch the light whilst the waterfall remained in the shadows.

 When getting up close to the water I think it less important for a variety of light, and I would generally prefer to use purely overcast conditions (or shade) to reduce the contrast and get a more even exposure.
 Waterfalls are often included on my landscape photography courses in the Yorkshire Dales. Working out in the field is the best way to learn in these situations and see how the light really affects the whole scene.

05 November 2012

Black Headed Gull Yawning

Black Headed Gull by Paul Miguel
Black Headed Gull, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.

A common subject - but doing something interesting. I shot towards the weak sun and used diffused fill-in-flash at about -1 EV. This brightened up the shadows and created perfect lighting. Photographed with a 300mm and 1.4 x extender; camera on a rock with a beanbag. Wellies too..!