Looking back through my favourite images of 2018 it struck me that those that meant the most are perhaps less about the final image and more in fact about the story.
Viewing entries tagged
Shooting wildlife with the Fujifilm 100-400 on the Northern Ireland Coast.
News on the launch of my photography YouTube channel.
For the past 6 months I've been volunteering at Welney Wetlands. Of course the main focus, especially as winter approaches, is on the Whooper Swans. I've however really enjoyed photographing the various ducks which also make Welney their home.
As a photographer it is good to focus on common species once in a while. In fact why now take a common species and focus on it as a long term project. You may be surprised by the results.
Keeping up with the Joneses
It would seem each and every day when I look through my Twitter or Facebook feed someone who I am following is dabbling in a new technique in wildlife photography. The two latest trends seem to be Drones and Camera Traps, with the latter even having its own BBC owned competition. I'm sure it won't be long before we get a similar specific competition for Drones.
Some of the footage coming down the pipe is beautiful and as folks get more experienced with the technology I can just imagine the types of images which we will see - most likely only limited by the photographer's own imagination. Camera trap and drone footage is opening up a whole new world of Wildlife Photography, especially for those species which have been difficult to capture in the past.
Similarly, the seemingly unending race to capture iconic subjects continues apace, with photography workshops and paid-for hides popping up on an almost daily basis to help one capture pretty much any species out there. Quite often, as I'm peering through my viewfinder at a Tree Sparrow or Roe Deer, I question my own sanity as to why I too am not out there filling my portfolio with Wild Boar, Black Grouse or Harrier images. I've met photographers who spend their free time (and cash) planning their next workshop or hide visit, even before they have finished the one they are on. Don't get me wrong, this is not meant to be a criticism on either the photographer or hide/workshop organiser, rather introspecive look at my own photography goals and path.
All of this can leave an individual, such as myself, questioning the value of their own images and if they should also start to dabble in new technology or indeed focus on iconic species only. This is especially true for me right now as I take the dramatic step of going full time professional. The feeling that everything has been done before. Then I realise an important point to factor in. Many great images may have already been captured by others - but NOT BY ME !
Making my own path.
It's important for me to ask myself why I've decided to take pictures in the first place. Was it to get 1st prize in a competition, have thousands of followers on social media or to become rich through photography? While I don't doubt the fact that it can be nice, especially by one's peers, to have your work recognised and appreciated, it certainly is not the reason why I make pictures.
I myself have been guilty over the past 18 months in hitting the publish button all too quickly on an image and then going back to check the number of Facebook ikes, Twitter Retweets or blog post reads. This really has had zero positive effect on me as a photographer and I felt at times I was simply trying to gain popularity votes. That particular avenue can leave one feeling very frustrated and may actually lead to one loosing sight as to why they are in the photography game in the first place. For me, as I look to develop my own voice, happiness has to be the number one overriding criteria.
My Photography Mantra
So as I step out into the next stage of my life I plan to follow a 3 step plan for my photography;
- Take the images I want to take, irrespective of what others in the field are doing.
- Take my time making those images - no short cuts. And only publish when I feel they reflect the work that I am proud of, not simply to keep my name out there in the photography circles.
- Ensure that through my photography I am continually giving something back, be that education, awareness of an endangered species or even through my own time volunteering on specific projects.
I hope you too can find your own voice and have the conviction to follow it. It will, I believe, lead to a more fulfilled time behind the lens.
Have a great weekend.
I'm going to miss my trip to Skokholm this year, having been there for the past two seasons. I hear from their blog (you should check it out) that the Puffins have started to return and begin the cycle all over again. Checking in on the blog a few times a week has become somewhat of a coffee time ritual for me.
Puffins will remain one of my favourite seabirds (although the Northern Gannet still wins out for me) and I look forward to getting myself back to Skokholm in 2016.
By the way the staff on Skokholm are some of the most knowledgable folks I've ever met and will always be thankful for being part of the evening bird logs. Although next time I'll make sure to check out if it's a Purple Heron or not :)
While visiting the Woodland hide at an organised Northshots weekend in Scotland I decided to have a bit of fun with the Canon 1DX high ISO capabilities. Now, I was already very familiar with the 1DX's ability on high ISO as I regularly shoot at ISO4000 at football matches. Still it's always fun to push the limits and I have to admit that I was very impressed with an ISO 20,000 shot (yes that is twenty thousand ISO) ...
Yes, there is noise Mr Pixel Peeker, but in situations when you want to shoot a record shot and the light is very bad, then this will be very useful indeed.
And of course with a program such as Lightroom you can clean this up a bit to make it more presentable. Arguably even more than a standard record shot.
Below a 100% zoom/crop of the unedited 20k ISO image.
I'm not too sure this Hare was best pleased with the Photoshoot I had organised .. perhaps it was the HARE and makeup .... oh sorry that's terrible :)
- Camera: Canon 1DX
- Lens: 400mm f/2.8 (with 2x Extender attached)
- Settings: f/5.6, 640ISO, 1/2000 second
For the past week I've been spending quite a bit of time at Burwell Fen. Despite, what I would consider not to be a particularly cold Winter thus far, the conditions have brought a number of Short Eared Owls into the area. These for me are iconic of cold Winter days, with their piercing yellow eyes. I first saw one up on the Island of Mull and am so pleased to see them return in reasonable numbers to my local patch.
Certainly going to take quite a bit of field craft to get close over the coming weeks - but hey that's one of the things I absolutely love about Wildlife Photography and I fear something that a lot of people, who want instant results, try and short cut.
Also I've been out with a new Camera - a Canon 7D MK II. I actually swapped this for my used 1D MK IV which was only getting used behind the goal at matches. (Main bodies are 1DXs). The crop sensor on the 7D MK II (1.6) gives me a 640mm focal length when paired with my 400mm, without loosing at f stops .... Certainly a cheaper way to get 600mm reached without dropping over £8k on a lens. And then when I really want to push things pairing this combination with my 2xTC will give me over 1200mm reach, albeit at f/5.6.
Over the coming months I hope to put the 7D MK II through it's paces in various environments and will post my feelings here later.