Sunday, 24 June 2012

Ventnor Downs

It was a horrible, grey, wet and windy 'summer' morning with the result I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed until my aunt suggested we go out, have lunch and take the dogs for a walk. Luckily, by the time we left the house, the rain had stopped and by the time we left the pub, the sun was peeping out from behind the clouds.

We ended up on Ventnor Downs but, unsurprisingly, given the windy conditions, not a lot was about.

The small birds, Meadow Pipits, were a bit too far away for decent shots, but do make quite nice 'bird in habitat' pics.

A 14-mile shot! A container ship in the Solent.

Roll on autumn - may as well, as the 'summer' is garbage so far and, from what I have heard and read, not going to improve a lot between now and September. Migration will be under way by then so I am planning a trip to Blakeney Point. I say 'planning', I am actually really only thinking about planning it at this stage. I have never seen a Bluethroat or a Red-flanked Bluetail and I would have a fairly good chance of seeing one, or both, of these on the north Norfolk coast if the weather conditions (a nice easterly airflow) are right.

Ok, here's a subject that is very close to a lot of (wildlife) photographers' hearts - lens envy. 'Camera' envy doesn't come into it quite so much as it is the piece of glass on the front of the box of tricks, rather than the box of tricks itself, that determines image quality. Well, that and the person behind the camera, obviously.
I see a lot of photographs on the net and feel as envious as hell, as these photos are often beyond merely 'excellent' and often blow my own meagre efforts out of the water. The photos are often taken with 500mm or 600mm f/4 lenses, those nice big white ones (if you're talking about Canon) which cost as much as a decent second-hand car and which we mere mortals can't afford, not without a very understanding bank (not in these straitened times!) or a highly well-paid job - usually both. The thing is, though, you don't need lenses that cost the same as a car, as the vastly cheaper 400mm f/5.6 will do the same job. It, too, is an L-series lens and the only difference, apart from the shorter focal length and lack of IS, is the f-ratio of 5.6 as opposed to the more preferable f/4. The really great shots are achieved by the use of hides, tripods, lying in wait for hours on end and also finding out about the creature, its habits and where it is most likely to be seen at a given time of day. In short, bags of patience and "fieldcraft".
Jono Lethbridge has written about this very subject more eloquently than me, and you can see it on his blog (see blog links to the right, under 'Wanstead Birder'). If you can't be bothered to trawl through the links - and life's too short to mess about - here's a direct link: Photography Envy

Good luck to England against Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter final tonight!

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