27 September 2013

Autumn in Close Up

The other day I indulged in some very relaxing photography. With no particular goals in mind, I set out to my local nature reserve to see what I could find; I simply wanted to photograph what I wanted without any pressures or specific markets in mind. 

What first leaped out at me was the light, very overcast but not too grim. This proved perfect for seeking out the first signs of changing colour on the hedgerows and trees. I set about shooting some wider shots before turning my attention to more close up images. I soon became hooked. As a nature photographer, I find that the best images are often taken when you go with the flow, seeking out what's there and allowing yourself to be guided by the subject and the conditions at the time. This was certainly the case here, as I realised how perfect the conditions were for creating close up images with a long lens.

It was a long time since I had done this kind of photography properly. Literally years.! I started with some hawthorn leaves that presented themselves well against the shaded background of dark reflections in the canal. Technique is really important for this type of photography. I was using a 300mm lens to concentrate on specific compositions, using the shallow depth of field to blur the background. The wind was low with just a gentle breeze, but even so it was paramount to do everything possible to maintain stability. My tripod is great for this - a big sturdy gitzo, capable of extending to around seven feet. Closing the aperture down to around f9 for enough depth of field in the subject meant that shutter speeds were around 1/50 second - fairly slow with a big lens - even on a tripod. I used mirror lock up, and for even more stability, wedged a spare battery between the tripod head and the bottom of the lens. It was then a case of careful focusing and waiting for the minimal movement in the breeze.
The light was just magical. In the wider world it looked flat and boring, but up close... it was sheer perfection. The whole time I was shooting towards the sun and the hazy soft light couldn't have been better for bringing out the colours and textures. I've lost count of the number of people who have walked past me during similar photo-shoots. "What are you photographing..?" they ask. It seems obvious to me - something glorious and uplifting, an amazing combination of colour and light - all for free..! Most just don't get it - carrying on past and looking slightly perplexed at how I could possibly be excited by the scene..!?
If you would like to learn the techniques for this kind of photography then join me for a One to One Photography Workshop photographing Nature and Wildlife

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23 September 2013

Farmland twilight

Farmland twilight by Paul Miguel
Farmland twilight, a photo by Paul Miguel on Flickr.

A colourful and evocative shot of farmland on the outskirts of Leeds. This was photographed after sunset using the subtle hues of pinks and purples. The after-glow really seemed to pick out the green colour in the newly sown young crop.

The exposure was about 4 seconds for this one on a sturdy tripod, with a ND grad attached.

20 September 2013

Autumn Fruits...

It's been ages since I've been out with the camera. In fact, with arranging workshops and building a new web site, I haven't taken a picture for nearly two weeks..!  So I took the opportunity this morning to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather and see what I could shoot.

I decided to concentrate on some of the autumn fruits, and the hedgerows were just stunning - full of berries showing some really deep colour.

Judging by the redness of the hawthorn we may be in for yet another cold winter.!!

I usually prefer to shoot these types of images in softer light, but the blue sky was ideal for contrasting colour and providing a constant backdrop.

It was work this morning, but I really enjoyed it too. I think it did my soul some good...

17 September 2013

Farmland Photography Workshops Updated

barnowl05I have now updated the pages on my website for Farmland Wildlife & Landscape Workshops and Wild Owl Photograph Sessions

Both workshops take place at the same farm in West Yorkshire on private land. Get in touch if you are interested in photographing some of the superb farmland wildlife.

Farmland Photography Workshops Updated

14 September 2013

A Glorious Grouse...

redgrouseinheatherThis image was taken by one of my clients, Julie Butterworth, on a Red Grouse Photography Workshop in North Yorkshire. It was so good that I just had to post it. It really is a stunner..! Good light makes a real difference, but the main thing is being in the right place at the right time and making the most of an opportunity. Well done Julie.. well worth the early morning start.!

A Glorious Grouse...

10 September 2013

Focus On... Red Grouse Photography

redgrouse05Wildlife Photography is far from easy in the U.K., but Red Grouse can be a relatively easy subject to photograph. At a well know location in Yorkshire, these hardy birds can be photographed from the car, often at incredibly close range. With such reliable subjects I use the venue for my upland birds photography courses.

redgrouse02I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve photographed these birds, but a visit this August proved to be the best yet. I arrived early – around 6.00am. I wanted to make use of the early morning light that makes such a difference to the resulting images. It was only a couple of bends up the steep moorland track and straight away there was a stunning male right by the roadside in glorious heather. I slowed down, but alas, he was off… a good opportunity missed. Never mind – you have to put in the work to get good wildlife images and I wasn’t disheartened. I soon found a group of grouse sitting in the heather and captured some rather creative images by tilting the camera down and including the out of focus foreground heather. Perfect.!!redgrouse01

The rest of the morning offered few really good chances – apart from one. A couple of males were posturing on opposite sides of the road and I was lucky enough to get close enough to one of them. I could see him running towards the road and luckily he stopped for a couple of seconds.redgrouse03redgrouse04

The position was just wonderful (not like mine as I was contorted round shooting almost backwards out of the window..!) – the heather was perfect and the background was the distant shaded hillside, giving a beautiful bluish tone. Three shots and it was over. I was quite pleased with myself for holding it all together and capturing it in time. One of the best grouse images I’ve taken to date.

If you want to photograph these wonderful birds on the upland moors, book a Red Grouse Photography Workshop through www.naturephotographycourses.co.ukredgrouse06

Focus On... Red Grouse Photography

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