Ophrys Photography images used as inspiration for woodprints.
I am often approached by artists to use my images as source
material for paintings and drawings. One very novel artform using
them currently is for woodprints of birds. You can purchase these
amazing framed prints yourself from Woodprint
Studio for the very reasonable sum of £36.99. They make
great presents so why not take a look ?
Here is a kingfisher image and the woodprint it
inspired for example -
Canon enable 1Dx and 5DIII to autofocus
One of my beefs against the 1Dx and 5DIII (in
my article on the 5DIII early impressions) was that they cannot
autofocus when the lenses are used with extenders which take the
widest aperture to f8. All previous 1 series cameras have had
the ability to autofocus at f8 (centre point only). You will come
across this issue if you add a 1.4x extender to an f5.6 lens such
as the 400mm f5.6 as you loose a stop of light taking the lens
to f8. Also a 2x converter used on an f4 lens will also retain
The good news if you own a 1Dx is that you can now download a
firmware upgrade that sorts the issue
here. This firmware also fixes the issue where it was difficult
to see the black autofocus points in dark situations : Displays
the viewfinder information (such as the AF frames, grid, etc.)
in red during autofocusing and AI Servo AF. Note: When shooting
in dark environments during AI Servo AF, the AF points can be
easily confirmed. During AI Servo AF, the viewfinder will be lit
intermittently, not continuously.
Today Canon announced that they would also release firmware
to enable the 5DmkIII to autofocus to f8. This is a first for
a 5 series camera.We will have to wait until April 2013 for it
unfortunately but beggars can't be choosers I suppose. To read
My wife and I left for Kodiak in Alaska on the 18th
August for just over two weeks - it was a long slog via Seattle
and Anchorage (where we did an overnight stop). The 250 mile journey
from Anchorage to Kodiak was with ERA airlines in a small propeller
plane - after a brief altercation about the size and weight of
my camera bag we were away.
We hired a car with Budget Rentals at Kodiak airport
and stayed at a really great B&B called the Cranky Crow for
a week. There are only 100 miles of road on Kodiak and the remainder
of the island is wilderness and home to over 3000 bears - the
main reason for our trip.
It has been a lifetime's ambition of mine to watch bears fishing
for salmon in the rivers where they go to spawn each year.We did
not fancy going to Brooks falls in Katmai as this has become rather
commercial and you have to stay in one camp and be escorted to
viewing platforms where you take (the same) shots of the bears
fishing in the falls along with everyone else. Instead we were
booked onto a boat with a small group and were to travel to various
unspoilt bays along the southern Katmai coast between Hallo Bay
and Geographic Harbour. But I am getting ahead of myself. Before
we set off for Katmai we had a week on our own on Kodiak.
Kodiak is a very beautiful island. Scenery is conifers, water
- lots of islands and sheltered bays, rivers, views of mountains
- you get the picture, gorgeous North American/Canadian or Norwegian
Fjords kind of stuff. Temperature was just on the cool side of
nice, so a light coat was required all the time. In our week we
had two days of solid sunshine and the rest of the time was a
bit like April in the UK - Sunshine, cloud, some rain, all in
Kodiak - view towards the airport from Pillar Mountain
Kodiak harbour is a great place to see Bald Eagles - they were
nesting in the distant trees and would often fly down and land
on a ship mast or on a lamppost. We also saw them on the unmade
road to Anton Larson bay in more natural surroundings in the pine
Bald Eagle at Anton Larson Bay
Approachable Bald Eagle on a lamp post in Kodiak harbour
We had some very pleasant walks along the trails
at Fort Abercrombie and watched Horned Puffins, various Mures
(Guillemots) and juvenile Harlequin Ducks from the shore. The
forests must be very wet as they drip with moss - from every branch
as well as the forest floor. A small image does them no justice
I'm afraid - the original photo is quite stunning.
Fort Abercrombie moss trail
A lake at Fort Abercrombie
Mid way through our first week, although we had
witnessed the salmon run at Women's Bay (where we had heard reports
of bears) we had still not seen a bear since our arrival. This
is not unusual as the bears are very secretive and the majority
live in the wilderness away from Kodiak town. Time for our first
floatplane ride ! Organising this proved to be quite a task as
the salmon ladder at one of the main viewing places at Faser Lake
had been closed and there were no more bears there. At another
location, you could not get out of the plane onto dry land without
a special licence ! All the bear-viewing planes were now going
to Katmai - but we didn't want to go there as a) we wanted to
see the Kodiak bear and b) we were going to Katmai the next week
anyway. Finally we struck gold and were treated to being one of
the very first visitors to the newly opened Kodiak
Brown Bear Centre based at Camp Island, Karluk Lake.
We were taken by our Island Airways pilot in a tiny
four-seater floatplane to this remote part of the Karluk watershed.
We flew for an hour over breathtaking mountain and lake scenery
before touching down onto the water at Thumb River. From the plane
we saw a bear and cub beneath us - game on.
Our tiny floatplane
The bears on Kodiak are brown bears. They are the same species
as the European brown bear (Ursos arctos) and the same as the
bears on Katmai that live around the coastal areas and also grizzly
bears that live inland such as in Denali. All these bears have
adapted to diets with differing amounts of protein and have evolved
geographically to tend towards giantism on Kodiak (where they
have been isolated for 12000 years), to be grizzled in appearance
in some locations (grizzlies), to be small in Europe due to the
lack of protein-rich salmon etc. Brown bears can vary in colour
from pale golden through brown to black and black bears can be
brown - confusing ? The one big give-away for a brown bear is
the fact that it has a large hump on its shoulders that the black
Kodiak bear - note the hump behind the head
Arty backlit shot of a kodiak bear shaking water out like a dog.
The trails amongst the water drops are slobber !
Our jovial pilot, Keller, was also our bear guide
and he certainly got us up close and personal to the bears on
our very first encounter.We sat very still and they came within
a few feet of us as they carried on fishing for salmon.As you
sit there with an enormous totally wild predator striding towards
you through the water, every fibre of your being is saying arghh
! run! but this is the very last thing you should do. I'm not
going to go into bear safety here, but we obeyed the bear etiquette
of staying still and let them come to us if they wanted to. We
had the experience of a lifetime as they walked past so close,
in fact too close for my lens to focus. This was the time to put
the camera down and just soak up what your eyes can barely comprehend
is right in front of you.
Kodiak bear cub chasing a Sockeye Salmon
We had lots more wildlife experiences on Kodiak such as photographing
Steller's Sea Lions in the harbour, Black Oystercatchers, Fox
Sparrows, Yellow and Wilson's Warblers on Anton Larson Bay road,
and we even found a couple species of orchid (both new to me).
We did not see any whales from Kodiak although these are very
possible if your luck is in.
But I must push on and tell you about our second week where we
met up with the rest of our group flying over to Katmai.
Flight to Katmai
After another night on Kodiak in the Kodiak Best Western we were
flown over to Katmai by Andrew Airways in renovated De Havilland
floatplanes. The flight was very rough as it had become very windy
and we were very lucky to get there on that day as the remainder
of our group were unfortunately stranded on Kodiak for another
day as it was too windy to fly. We were flown out to two boats
moored in Kukak Bay - the Kittiwake and the Puk-uk.
After lunch and an introductory talk on the Kittiwake, from our
guides Steve and Dave, and we were transferred by our ever-jovial
boatman Mike in a small metal skiff to our boat the Puk-uk which
would be home for the rest of the week.
Puk-uk moored in Geographic Harbour
Each day we moved to a different bay and went ashore in the skiff,
back to the boat for lunch and back to shore in the afternoon.Each
location was different, some had mountainous backdrops, there
was a beach, a river and a waterfall.We saw bears at each location,
all trying to catch salmon with varying degrees of success.
I will put a gallery of images together, but here are a few Katmai
bears to be going on with.
Bears in stunning Kuliak Bay
Mother bear being defensive - her cubs were just out of shot
Let's get this straight, bears are dangerous animals and I wouldn't
dream of recommending doing what the following images portray
unless accompanied by a very experienced bear guide. Ours had
drilled us thoroughly in bear etiquette. In the salmon run, bears
are very preoccupied in stuffing themselves with fish. Sit still
and the bears will often come to you, or to be more accurate,
they will carry on doing what they were doing as if you were not
there. This can be both exciting, and a bit scary, but for the
wildlife fanatic, there are few experiences anywhere in the world
that can match it. I have photographed lions and tigers in the
wild - but from the safety of a Landrover - not right out in the
open like this.
Do you want to come salmon fishing with me ?
Our boat's chef, Curt, has a close encounter. When the bear passed
in front of him on that strip of sand it was about four or five
Head shot taken with 24-105mm at the short end of the zoom !
Never get too close to cubs - but what can you do when they come
right up to you ? Taken at at a focal length of 70mm.
Oh come on - don't get me into trouble with your mum !
In summary, this was an awesome trip that I will add to my list
of best evers. I really loved Alaska and this has whetted my appetite
for Canada and other wilderness parts of America to see more stunning
wilderness scenery, orcas, moose and black bears !
Closest I got to a sea otter -taken with 500mm lens plus 2x converter
(1000mm) I'd like to have a better photo shoot with these cuties.
|| Ophrys Photography is now
Hey - look who's gone all trendy ! John Devries
is now on Facebook and he will be posting some images that you
will not necessarily have seen on the website unless you dig deep
within the galleries.
In addition to this, you will now find "Like buttons"
on the Image of the Month page
so you can now get involved and Like/Commenton an image. I have
now worked out how to add a Send button too, so you will soon
be able to send a link to an image or page to your friends. You
may also start to see these buttons appearing on other pages such
as Tutorials so I can better guage what people think about them.
You will find the first at the bottom of the recent CS6
update tutorial page - cool or what ?
Tips and tutorials - new tutorial
on carrying out RAW conversions in Photoshop CS6 using ACR 7.
(Also relevant to users of Lightroom 4)
I have been using Adobe Camera RAW 7.1 since
acquiring my new Canon 5DmkIII. It offers some good improvements
over previous versions of ACR. However, there are new sliders
that have to be used a little differently to before. The last
update I did was for CS3 and there have been many changes between
then and the current version so this is loing overdue.
In addtion to the actual RAW conversions I also
cover using some of the new ACR tools such as the Targeted adjustment
tool, Adjustment brush and graduated filter. All with my usual
To view the tutorial click here: Carrying
out raw conversions with ACR 7 for Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom
Emperors and other butterflies
About ten years ago I took some friends to a wood in Surrey
to see Silver-washed fritillaries, white admirals, wood whites
and if we were lucky - purple emperor. After entering the wood
and walking a short distance along the track, we came across a
fabulous male purple emperor feeding on something unsavoury looking
on the path (animal dung). We were shooting video at the time
and the butterfly let us film it for ages and even allowed me
to pick it up on my finger.
I have been trying annually ever since to get a repeat of this
occasion so I could take stills. Unfortunately, the emperors are
rare and elusive, preferring to spend their time in the tree tops
where thy defend there territories avidly. This year's attempt
has been the closest that I have come to a repeat. After a few
hours in the same wood I came across someone who had a male sitting
on his finger while the insect probed the ground for moisture
and salts that it needs to mate later in the day. It was a little
tatty but still flashed its wings a few time which gave a glimpse
of the stunning purple-blue metallic sheen that makes this butterfly
so popular. No upper wing photos this year though - next year
We tried to prise the butterfly from his finger but it
flew off and up into a tree where it perched a little high for
my 100mm macro lens.
It didn't stay there long either and flew off down the
track, this time coming to rest on a tree trunk.
|The fritillaries and white admirals
that are usually so numerous in this wood were being remarkably
scarce and uncooperative on this day, partly due to the bizarre
cold and wet weather this year , but also because we were
a little late in the month I suspect. However, the wood whites
were on the wing. These are small weak-flying butterflies
that never land with their wings open.The challenge is trying
to make them look something in a photo as they are essentially
plain white with a few subtle grey markings. This is the type
of shot that many people end up with if they are lucky..
But I wanted something better than that. I noticed that when
the butterfly was backlit, the sun shining through the wings
revealed the spots on the upper surface of the forewings.Here
is my second attempt that I think you will agree is far more
satisfying and demonstrates how a simple change in position
can make a huge difference to an image.
Please click on the image to see a larger 1100 pixel version
Press F11 to see full screen (and F11 to exit again)
Canon 40mm f2.8 STM pancake lens
A couple of my friends
have just bought the new 40mm f2.8 pancake lens and to be honest
at first I wondered why. That is, until I tried one on my new
5D mark III.
To cut to the chase, this lens is quite shockingly sharp at the
centre and is very good right into the corners if stopped down
a bit. It is so flat (as the proverbial pancake, hence the name)
and light in weight - it is about as big as a 25mm extension tube
and it is such good value - I paid £160 from Digital Rev.
If you go to the lens comparisons on the Digital
Picture and put this little beauty
up against pretty well anything else that you can think of, it
comes out astonishingly well. It is really the bargain of the
century and every camera bag or coat pocket shoud have one !
Here is a quick test pic of my cat Monty, taken with the pancake
lens on the Canon 5DmkIII camera. Click on the images below for
larger 1100 pixel versions:
Monty - click image for larger version
100% Crop of same image - Click
image for larger version
The lens also has a beautiful background blur (bokeh) and the
STM motor is very quiet albeit a bit slow and the build quality
looks great. Is there anything that I woud
put as a minus against it ? Well, it does vignette (darken in
the corners) a bit on a full frame camera but this is easily fixed
in post process. This lens is as close as you can get to the proverbial
no-brainer and as such I highly recommend it. There is another,
more detailed review of the lens here.
And another one here.
Canon EOS 5DmkIII firmware update
You can download the latest firmware
here. Amongst other things it updates support for he new 40mm
f2.8 pancake lens with step motor.
Canon EOS 5DmkIII first impressions
Canon EOS 5DmkIII
I have recently upgraded my 5D mark to to the 5D mark 3. I frequently
find that when new cameras are released, the manufacturers marketing
departments have done a good job of talking up the new product's
abilities and this is often bouyed up by purchasers who are still
on a wave of excitement at getting a new toy and want to mentally
justify their new purchase. Claims for noise performance particularly
I find are often exagerated, and customer feedback is often based
on gut feeling rather than any challenging scientific comparisons.
I recently read the blog of a well-known American bird photographer
who admitted that he never did comparative testing and relied
on using the equipment in the field. Although real world use is
of course the ultimate decider, claims should be challenged scientifically
if they are to have true merit.
I have carried out some basic side-by-side tests of the new 5Dkm
III against the previous model at all Isos and have formulated
my own opinions and have reported back on this and the other changes
to the new camera in an article : Canon
EOS 5DmkIII first impressions . Hopefully you will find it
useful if you are thinking of upgrading.
Photographing plants with long lenses.
The usual way of photographing small plants (such as my favourites
- wild orchids) is by using a macro lens of 50mm to 180mm focal
length. The 100mm f2.8L IS macro is my usual choice as it gives
excellent image quality, is quite light to carry and has an image
stabiliser which enables handholding when not going in too close.
Unfortunately, some orchids such as the military orchid below,
often grow in a tangle of vegetation which shows up in the background
as ugly diagonal criss-cross lines.
Military orchid with ugly background
There are things that you can do to minimise this problem such
as getting the camera really low so it is seeing a more distant
piece of background or even sky, rather than the vegetation immediately
beneath the plant. Also a wide aperture may be selected to blur
the background more, but frequently there will then be parts of
the plant that will appear out of focus that you would rather
were in focus. You can also do a bit of subtle "gardening"
to remove some background distractions, but the welfare of the
plant must not be put in jeopardy by exposing it too much.
The most powerful means of blurring the background to a beautiful
smooth pastel effect is by using a lens of long focal length.
I often use a 300mm f2.8 for this purpose as it can give a very
nice background. A 300mm f4 will also work very well.The working
distance of course, will be much greater, so at this distance,
it is not difficult to get all of the plant in focus at wide apertures
and still maintain a good background blur.
The only problem is that long lenses can not focus very close,
but a work around for this is to add an extension tube (a tube
with no glass elements) between the lens and the camera body.
I frequently add one or two 25mm extension tubes. The magnification
then increases and you can work closer, but you will still be
much further away from the subject than you would be with a 100mm
macro. Camera shake and subject motion blur (wind) becomes critical
at high magnification , so it is imperative to work off of a sturdy
tripod and to use a cable release. I now use liveview exclusively
and focus manually on my subject with liveview zoomed to 10x.
With the Canon 5DmkII, silent mode 1 (set in the camera custom
functions) enables very smooth shutter releases without the camera
mirror bouncing up and down causing vibration. In 1 series cameras
it is necessary to use mirror lock up as well. I now use MLU or
Liveview silent mode 1 for all work at shutterspeeds less than
1/250th sec. Modern cameras appear to create a lot of internal
vibration which must be controlled if you want sharp images.
Bee orchid with long lens technique
You can also add tele converters (extenders) to many L series
lenses to increase their focal length, but even non L lenses can
be forced to accept an extender if a short extension tube is placed
between the converter and the camera body.
Another favourite combination of mine is the 180mm f3.5L macro
lens combined with a 1.4x converter as this gives 252mm of focal
length in a reasonably light package that will focus extremely
close for high magnifications. I find that adding a 2x converter
also works very well but robs a further stop of light so maintaining
high shutterspeeds can become an issue. There are more images
taken with the long lens technique in this month's image
of the month.
Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II saga continued
One of my favourite zoom lenses is the Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS
II. It is astonishingly sharp even when used wide open at f2.8.
When f2.8 is combined with the 4 stop image stabiliser it provides
a brilliant low-light tool than can usually be handheld without
resorting to a tripod.
Unfortunately as reported previously, the image stabiliser (IS)
gave up on my lens and I returned it to CPS (Canon Professional
Services) via Jacobs Digital in London. The lens seemed to be
taking forever to come back, so I chased Jacobs, who informed
me that they had sadly gone into liquidation. This is a great
pity as Jacobs have been established for 70 years and I have always
found them to be very helpful. Thanks to Graeme who has fortunately
just landed a job at Calumet, I was provided with everything I
needed to deal with CPS direct. Eventually I got my lens back
with the IS fixed and a very pleasant surprise - The parts had
been provided free of charge under "goodwill", presumably
as the lens was only just outside warranty. I was just charged
labour which still amounted to £207.
Next step was to carry out the lens micro adjustments using
my usual "tethered technique". However, the lens looked
unusually soft and lacking contrast despite my best efforts to
get it adjusted. Thinking I was going nuts, I set up my 180mm
macro by way of comparison and it looked much better. On further
investigation I discovered that the 70-200 was very soft until
stopped down to f8 after which it became fine ! So I printed off
my findings and back to CPS it went again. UPS wanted to charge
me £50 to collect the 3Kg box valued at £1890 (shocked
to find that the current price of the lens had increased from
£1300 I paid to this amount). I sent it by Royal mail fully
insured Special Delivery in the end for £24. Interestingly
UPS charged Canon just £8 to return the lens to me !
Five days later I had the lens back once more (Free of charge
as it was now guaranteed for 6mths for the repair) and this time
it looked stellar when set to 200mm at any aperture and regardless
of whether I had a 1.4x or 2x extender fitted. Hoorah.
Finally, I thought I had better check the lens at another focal
length, so I tried 100mm. The results on the tethered laptop looked
a bit dissapointing soI substituted the 70-200 set to 100mm for
a 24-105mm f4 set to 100mm and tried again. It looked much the
same, so I concluded that I was just expecting too much of the
lens at this distance and it is probably fine. I still suspect
that the lens has been optimised for use at 200mm and I am planning
to do a further side-by-side comparison with a friend's lens some
time in the near future. It just goes to show that you should
always check your lenses, even if they have just been returned
from the manufacturer !
The last week in May is a great time to go orchid hunting in the
Southeast. I visited three sites this week and photographed burnt
tip, fly, lady, birds nest and monkey. As the weather has been
wet followed by sun, the plants have done very well this year.
My first site in Sussex was for the rare Burnt tip orchid (Orchis
ustulata). Site access has changed since my last visit and it
took me several hours of slogging around steep slopes to locate
the plants that I hadn't seen since about 1994. I was eventually
rewarded with the wonderful sight of several hundred burnt tips
in full bloom.
A nice group of three plants together in the same plane so minimal
depth of field was required.
Close up of the flowering spike
The next day I visited a site in Kent for what used to be the
best location for lady orchids(Orchis purpurea) in the country.
These are only to be found in Kent and at one location in Oxfordshire.
Unfortunately the Kent site has become ravaged by deer in recent
times and I have failed to find a single flowering spike for the
past few years. I was pleased to see that 12 plants were managing
to flower this year and one was a white form (var alba).
A search of the site turned up some more orchids - Twayblades
(a green and rather boring looking species) were literally everywhere
and there were a couple of fly orchids (Ophrys insectifera) and
a dozen really tall birds nest orchids (Neottia nidus avis).
Birds nest orchid
Birds nest orchids grow in deep shade and are saprophytes on the
roots of trees, mainly beech. The plant above was just being hit
by a shaft of filtered sunlight so made a nice shot without having
to resort to using flash.
My last site was a well-known Kent Trust nature reserve in the
heart of the Kent countryside. In the 1950's the site was sown
with seed of the monkey orchid (Orchis simia). The seed came from
one of only two remaining sites for this species, the other one
being in Oxfordshire. The Oxford plants are very different to
the Kent ones being smaller, paler and having far fewer florets.
The other Kent site is kept very secret but is not doing well
due to rabbit activity.
The monkey orchids at the seeded site are doing fantastically
well and their numbers have increased dramatically over the years.
This year they are the best I have ever seen them and I counted
75 plants in one patch alone and many were around 9"-10"
tall which is very impressive for this species.
The next day I returned to the site to try to take some different
images of the monkeys using a long telephoto lens and an extension
tube rather than a macro lens. Here is a sneaky peak at what will
be explained in next months "Image of the month."
Just now and again you get a subject handed to you on a
plate. I have a couple of big fir trees at the end of my garden
which sometimes attracts Britain's smallest bird - the goldcrest.
When a couple of males started singing to attract females I ran
indoors to get my camera and thought I'd try to get some shots.
I had a recording of the goldcrest song on my mobile phone and
I played it to hopefully attract a bird's attention. This worked
almost too well - one male came to investigate and got within
a couple of feet of me. I started off using my 500mm lens on a
tripod but abandoned that for my 70-200f2.8L IS II plus 1.4x converter
which focuses much closer and is far less cumbersome. You can
see my results in the goldcrest
Common fault on Canon 1 series ? and 70-200mkf2.8 L IS II IS failure.
I usually find that my Canon gear is pretty robust but
I'm not having a lot of luck with reliability of equipment this
month. Chances are, if something is going to go wrong it will
happen at the most inconvenient time - usually I find, when I
am abroad. This time it was in Texel in Holland while I was photographing
avocets at close range.
As I went to change lenses on my 1DmkIV I found that I could not
get the lens to click into place and lock onto the camera. The
reason for this was because the little spring-loaded pin that
comes out from the lens mounting ring on the front of the camera
was staying inside the ring. I had this same problem on my previous
1DmkIII and I had to send it back to Canon to be fixed. So is
this a common fault or have I been unlucky ?
This time I thought I would hook out the locking pin with a needle
and use some emery paper to rub it down a bit to make it a looser
fit. This seemed to work but I made the mistake of flicking the
main black lens removal button a few times to test it and - whoops,
disaster - the button flew off, a spring flew out somewhere and
something dropped down inside the camera. Thanks to Graham at
Jacobs Professional in New Oxford Street, London, the camera was
soon back with Canon Professional Services for a £206 repair.
Thanks goodness I had a spare 5DmkII body with me (as I always
do) otherwise my trip could have become a disaster.
Before the camera was back with me, I used my 70-200 f2.8L IS
II lens on the 5DII to photograph some obliging goldcrests in
my garden. While using it I became aware of the fact that I could
not hear the image-stabiliser spinning up as I pressed the shutter.
After some further testing it was apparent that the IS had failed.
Another trip to Jacobs !
I was really upset about this failure as the 70-200mk f2.8 L
II is my favourite zoom lens, and is only just over a year old
so barely out of warranty. It is also very sharp and takes an
extender superbly well and the 4 stop IS is usually a star feature
as it enables hand-holding under most conditions. When the IS
on my my previous 100-400 lens failed it cost me £350 for
the repair so I am expecting something like that again unless
the fault is just electrical. I should have rejected this lens
when I first purchased it as the stabiliser make a small squeal
as it started from new. I have read that others have also experienced
this noise so I wonder if early failure of IS is a common problem
on this lens.
Texel island in the Netherlands
Windmill on Texel (pronounced Tessel.)
At the end of April I was kindly invited by a friend - John Gooday,
to accompany him to Texel island in the Netherlands to photograph
birds. I was very pleased to accept as Texel has been on my wish
list of destinations for some time as it has a reputation for
being great for photographing avocets at close quarters.
We travelled across to France by Eurotunnel and then by car to
Texel via the Den Helder Ferry 100km north of Amsterdam. The ferry
runs once an hour (twice-hourly in busy periods) and the crossing
takes about 20 minutes. The ferry is great for getting close shots
of lesser-black backed gulls in flight if you take some bread
with you to throw for them.
If you are planning a trip to Texel I would recommend reading
Sebastian Erras's article on Texel here: Nature
Photography in the Netherlands pt 1 - Texel.
The island is pretty small and from our hotel in the middle of
the island we could get almost anywhere in less than 30minutes.
We allowed ourselves a day travelling at each end and this gave
us 3 whole days photography which was about right. The weather
was not that kind (I will almost add - as usual) but gave us a
couple of breaks with decent light.
John in camo photographing avocets at Wagejot. You can just see
one on the shingle bank.
Our favourite place was probably Wagejot. You could park the car,
get out and sit down and photograph the birds on the shingle or
in the water as they splashed around and skimmed for food with
their upturned beaks.
Every now and again we witnessed matings. The female would wait
with her head down and her tail in the air which was the prompt
for the male to start preening feverishly and ultimately hop up
onto her back.
We also spotted that one female had laid a clutch of three eggs
We were able to photograph hares from the car (although they were
very spooky) and we saw several nice bulbfields which were great
for arty shots...
There were plenty of other photographable birds such as willow
warbler, spoonbill, black-tailed godwit, brent geese, turnstones,
ringed plover, oystercatcher and marsh and hen harriers. We also
had reports of 15 bluethroats in the south of the island the evening
before we arrived !
Female hen harrier
Pheasant in a flap
Texel is a nice island. We enjoyed many good photo-opportunities
and the food at the hotel was really good. I would happily return
to get some pictures of the avocets with their chicks.
Badger cull High Court challenge granted
It is always nice to have images used by such high prestige customers
as the BBC. This one of badgers was doubly rewarding because it
was used in an article on a subject that is very close to my heart
- conservation of badgers.
Thanks to action taken by the Badgers Trust the cull will be
challenged in the High Court. Let's hope it is successful in defeating
the senseless slaughter of one of our favourite British mammals.
I don't know if the BBC article link will remain active,
but if it does you can read the rest of the article here... Badger
Here is the original image...