Thursday 26 November 2009

Garden Birds

Now that the leaves have just about gone from the trees and we are in the depths of Autumn it's time to start feeding the birds in the garden again.  I have a feeder which sits empty in the tree most of the year so I brought it in and gave it a thorough clean before filling it and taking it back outside.  This week I've also bought a big tub of "Fruity Energy Balls" to hang about the place as well.  There are two trees in my front garden where I can take shots of the birds from the bay window inside my lounge.  Most of the photos are taken through the double glazing which plays havoc with the contrast and means that I have to spend time post processing to get the contrast back.  Also, apart from the first image, the weather has been pretty overcast so I've had to use a high ISO setting to get the shutter speed low enough for reasonably sharp images.  The smaller birds especially tend to move around pretty fast so I have a high percentage of rejected shots because of motion blur of the subject.

The first shot was taken over a week ago when there was still a few leaves on the trees and the weather was quite sunny for a change.  I had only filled the bird feeder about 5 minutes before this Great Tit was straight in to get its fill.  For some reason they seem to throw most of the seed on the floor and then just pick out the bits they want.  This bird had sorted itself out one of the dark coloured long seeds and was just about to fly off with it.

This next shot was a little brown bird (LBB) which was sat in the hawthorn tree away from the feeder and it's taken me a while to figure out what it is.  Using the RSPB bird identifier I narrowed down to one of a few female birds or possibly a Twite.  Although on this shot it's difficult to see but the beak was too long for it to be a Twite and anyway they are quite rare so unlikely to be in my garden.  Finally I think I've found a positive match and I'm almost sure that it's a juvenile Robin.

My next visitor was a Jay.  It was quite a big bird in comparison to the Great Tit and the juvenile Robin.  I think the Jay are too big to use the bird feeder because the perch it too small.  However, it seemed quite interested in the fruity ball in the yellow net but it didn't seem that sure what to do with it.

The Blackbird also came to sit in the Hawthorn tree where the young Robin had been.  I think they are also too big for the bird feeder and usually they drop down to pick up the seeds that the Tits throw onto the ground.

The next visitor was a tiny Blue Tit which was gingerly making its way down the branch to the re fruity ball.  When it reached the ball it just pecked away at the top of the ball as it stood on the branch.

The Great Tit came back (probably wasn't the same one) and went to the red fruity ball where it swung around underneath for a while before it climbed up for this shot.  Unfortunately the shots where it was swiging aroud underneath came out too blurred to post.

The Jay came back and this time he seemed to know what the fruity balls were all about.  Maybe it was a different Jay or maybe he'd been watching the Tits pecking away at the balls for food.

My final visitor was an adult Robin, maybe it was a parent of the juvenile one from the first shot.  Knowing that Robins are quite fearless I opened the window so I could get some shots without the double glazing in the way and it makes a big difference to the quality of the images.  After the Robin had gone I tried to get some of the other birds again with the window open but they all flew off before I got a shot.  Oh well, maybe next time, but here's three shots of the Robin, the first neer the yellow ball and the other two in different parts of the tree.


Hopefully over the next few weeks the sun will come out during the weekend so I might be able to get some better shots and maybe some different birds.

Monday 16 November 2009

After the Rain

Following on from the previous post it did stop raining and there started to be a warm orange glow where the sun was coming up from behind the clouds on the horizon. The clouds above me were still quite heavy and black but were starting to move away.  I drove to a spot where I had taken some sunrise shots a couple of weeks ago where there is a nice copse of trees on the horizon which make a nice subject for the image.  I've cropped the image wide to include the trees and the area where the sun is rising but get rid of the negative space above and below. The clouds were a dark purple which makes a good contrast with the glowing orange and there was just a touch of pink which seems to mimic the shape of the trees.

From the same spot I took this second image where I've zoomed into the area where the sun is behind the low clouds.  I've cropped this image even wider than the previous image to leave just the horizon and the lightest area of the sky.

In the next image I have driven further along the road so that Ingbirchworth reservoir is in the foreground to provide a reflection of the sun as it rises.  The top edge of the sun is now above the thicker cloud but still behind the thinner band of cloud above.  It's interesting to see how the different patches of clouds in the foreground are being lit by the sun.  Some are quite dark whereas others are much lighter and have warm orange linings.

I moved further along again to a place where there are a couple of trees nearer to the road which I am using as the foreground interest.  By now the sun was was well above the horizon but still behind the haze in the distance.  The sky was getting much lighter now and the darker clouds had moved further away.

I then decided that it might be good to use the windmills as the foreground interest so the last couple of images are a portrait and a landscape versions of the scene.  In the portrait version I have the wet road reflecting the sun and providing a leading line out to the horizon to the point where the sun is rising.

This last shot was taken a little later and the sun was quite bright, too bright really, so I positioned the small tree in front of the sun to cut down the direct light.  I had also widened the zoom lens to include a greater area of sky and the patch of blue that was starting to grow.  As with the previous image I am using the road as a leading line out to the horizon but this time it's a bit more dynamic with it being more on the diagonal of the frame.  As I'm writing this blog, when I look at this image I feel there is too much dead space on the left and bottom so I have tried cropping those areas out.  Looking at the cropped and uncropped images side by side I think I definitely prefer the cropped version.  I ought really to upload the new version but maybe you can just imagine how it looks.  Try looking at the full size image and cut out the left and bottom edges with bits of paper.  What do you think?

Friday 13 November 2009

Rainy Morning

It's taken nearly a week to get these photos posted, I really don't know where time goes.  Anyhow, last Saturday morning I was determined to try to make some sunrise photos so I got up before dawn and looked out at the weather.  It had been raining quite recently and there looked to be some dark rain clouds in the sky but there looked to be a clear piece of sky where the sun was due to come up.  I got all my stuff together and headed for the door where I found it was raining quite hard all of a sudden.  I decided it would pass and headed toward the sunrise.

As I drove along I could see the sun was rising in the distance but the rain seemed to be following me.  Then I had an idea, I have been thinking for a while that it might be good to put the camera on the car dashboard while driving in the dark and take some shots of the lights as I drove along.  So I stopped the car and got my camera set up on the dashboard.  I set the lens to manual focus and tried to get it close to focusing on infinity as I thought that would give me the best chance to get some nice images.  I set the aperture speed to ten seconds because I felt this would be long enough to get some good movement then I set the aperture to f11 to give a reasonable depth of field.  This first photo is one I took before I set off of a couple of cars going past me and I thought that the exposure was about right for the amount of light around.

I took the next few images as I drove up and down the road using my remote trigger so that I could concentrate on driving.  I tried to time them for when I was going under street light or when other vehicles were coming towards me.  I took maybe 20 shots and selected the following ones as suitable for illustrating the idea.  I quite like the results but I need to find something to lift the camera lens above the window wipers to get rid of them out of the image on my next attempt. 


I was on a country road here without much traffic about but I'd like to try taking some on a busy motorway on my way to or from work perhaps.  A bit later the rain stopped and I managed to take some more sunrise shots and I will post them tomorrow sometime I think.

The Poppy Wave at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

A few days after the Poppy wave was unveiled at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in September I managed to get out and take a few photographs in...