Tag Archives: nature photography

Photo special: robins

The robins have been very busy in our garden of late – I think they must have chicks nearby, but I’m not sure where they’re nesting. So last weekend I spent some time trying to get a good photo of one.

Here are my best attempts – not all perfect focus, and a little noisy in places, but I think some of them capture something of the character of these birds – bold and inquisitive.

RobinQuizzical Robin Very ruffled robin Robin and blossom Sideways robin Robin with worms Robin looking at food Ruffled robin Robin with worms Robin with worm Grumpy-looking robin

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June Photography Challenge: insects and a confession

I have a confession to make: I didn’t take any photos for my June photography challenge. I don’t know where the month went! Anyway, as the theme was insects, I thought this was a good reason to trawl through my archives, and see what I could do with the shots I already had. So, I may have failed to take new photos, but at least I’ve done something with some ones I’ve ignored up til now.

(dead) hornet
(dead) hornet
Ugandan butterfly
Ugandan butterfly
Bumblebee in artichoke flower
Bumblebee in artichoke flower

green insect insect on buttercup blue butterfly blue butterfly

Indian butterfly
Indian butterfly

dragonfly

Banded demoiselle damselfly
Banded demoiselle damselfly
hawker dragonfly
My tormentor – a hawker dragonfly of some kind?

January photography challenge

It’s not really news that January is probably the worst time of year to start a new resolution. In fact, I could shorten that sentence to “January is probably the worst time of year.” So it’s not a huge surprise that I didn’t do as much photography as I’d hoped in response to my first photo challenge: wildlife in winter.

On the plus side, I did treat myself to a new long lens with image stabilisation. On the down side, I managed to miss all the snow, so didn’t get to catch the frozen scenes I was hoping for.

I tried out the long lens with a tripod for some garden bird shots, and was reasonably pleased with the results.

This chaffinch is too fast for me!
This chaffinch is too fast for me!
Chaffinch
Chaffinch
Blue tit
Blue tit
Great tit
Great tit

I was even more impressed by the results handheld when I spotted porpoises(?) several hundred metres from the coast path – the image stabilisation makes a real difference. (I’m not 100% sure it’s a harbour porpoise – feel free to correct me if you think I’m wrong!)

A harbour porpoise(?) and gull off the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall
A harbour porpoise(?) and gull off the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall

The final shot came as a bit of a surprise when I downloaded the photos, as I’d forgotten taking it. Little Egrets are such elegant birds, and it looks like this one has hit the jackpot.

Little egret with big fish
Little egret with big fish

My highlights from Wildlife Photographer of the Year

I spend about 12 hours a week travelling to and from London, so it takes a lot to drag me up to town on a day off. But last week Dr C. and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. The exhibition always justifies the trip. If you get a chance to go, do.

As ever, there was a stunning collection of images. I won’t try and describe it all (why bother, when I’m sure I’ve already persuaded you to see it for yourself?!). But I thought I would share a few things that stood out to me.

Firstly, the quality of images was stunning. I thought the overall winners were beautiful, fascinating pictures. The main winner, an infra-red picture of lions basking on a rock overlooking a panoramic landscape, was the sort of photo you could spend a long time looking at, and always be noticing something new.

The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year categories are  humbling, and the winning image of a scorpion, taken with 2 exposures, has encouraged me to try to experiment technically.

The winning photojournalist portfolio examined the interaction between lions and humans. It really stayed with me, as it thoughtfully portrayed a range of issues, including canned lion hunting, and a survivor of a lion attack who can no longer wash himself, having lost both his arms. It showed the prestige that lion hunting can bring in some communities, and the former lion hunters who have turned to protecting the big cats. I liked this portfolio as it went beyond the obvious, and made me think. It didn’t offer easy solutions, but improved understanding of what’s at stake.

The other thing that stood out was the dedication of the photographers to getting the perfect image, often involving considerable discomfort, and persistence beyond anything I could dream of. I enjoy looking at the technical details of how the photos were taken – the equipment, aperture and shutter speed. I have a few new ideas for techniques to try.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the exhibition. I’m sure few people have come away from the exhibition without feeling amazed by the beauty of nature, saddened by the impact humans are having on it, and inspired to protect it.