Blackie and the Buzzard

Along the lane, through the gate into the field; the brakes went on.

Over to my right a juvenile Common Buzzard sits looking into the grass.

I get off the scooter, being careful not to scare it. I pop the camera over the wall.

I could tell that it was a young buzzard by the amount of white on it’s chest.

It was too far away for a sizzling crisp image. Resting on the wall gave me some stability but I was still finding it hard to get the light right.

Young Buzzard

It took to flight, going low over the grass and landing in a tree. It was even further away but I managed to get some OK images.

Peering into the grass, it waited for movement. No luck today for the Buzzard, flying off into the distance.

Another great experience.

Let Me tell you some Owl facts

I am not very big – only 250 mm from my head to my feet. My wings are big compared to my body – they measure 850 mm.

I have one talon that is a comb to keep my facial disc groomed.

I have one ear that is higher than the other.

I am equipped with three eyelids.

I have good vision, with a field of view of 110 degrees from centre to outer, 70 degrees being Binocular from the centre and 20 degrees either side being Monocular vision.

My eyes are big and special but I can’t roll them – only look straight ahead.

My feet have four toes, so when I fly three face forward and one faces back.

When I sit on a branch or when holding my prey, my outer toe in each foot swivels to face the rear.

When I make a strike on my prey, I open my feet as wide as they can go to give me more chance of capturing it.

My beak is curved downwards so I can keep my field of view clear.

When it is hot, I open my beak like a dog does to cool down.

I can hunt in complete darkness, and I fly silently due to my special feathers that muffle the sound of air rushing over the surface of my wings.

My hunting technique is called Quartering.

When I hear a sound from the grass in my left ear, I turn my head and the sound is picked up in the right – this then guides me to my prey.

I keep the prey directly in front of me where I last heard the sound, and just before I strike I pull my head back and thrust my feet forward with talons wide. Two facing forward and two facing back.

My prey will die quickly as the force I hit it with usually stuns it, and with a quick snap on my beak finishes it off.

I hope you like my facts and follow Ron’s stories, as I am his favourite bird and he works hard every year to educate people and let them know how hard my life is.

With my habitat disappearing, the weather stops me hunting if there is wind or it rains. My owlets need 5000 voles to get them to fledging, that’s if it is a good year for voles. Water troughs are a killer, roads and traffic take many of my species.

I will fly silently again so that Ron can capture his amazing images of me.

Thanks Ron.

From The White Angel.

Squirrel and The Hawthorne Tree

Sony A7r4 200-600 + 1.4 extender

Up early with the Sony 200-600+1.4 extender, off out on my scooter to look for something for my blog.

Coming back I spotted a grey squirrel in a Hawthorne tree eating the berries – a sight I hadn’t seen before.

Sony A7r4 200-600 1.4 ext

Last night I set the camera up, using Auto ISO up to 3200, f.9 and just altered my shutter to apply brightness.

Light being good, I turned my shutter speed up to 1/1000 to account for movement from the squirrel.

The image quality with the extender on is fantastic. After cropping in 80 to 90%, it maintained a vast amount of detail with minimum noise.

Original image below.

Edited in Luminar 4.

Evie-Rose for a Rose – Sony 85mm 1.8

Evie was leaving soon, so we went to the woods to shoot some more portrait images as the weather had brightened up for an hour.

What a beautiful model to work with.

A simple rose from the rose tree Laura bought her Mum for mother’s day and a simple but effective pose in the woods from Evie.

Anyone wanting a modelling session done for a small fee can contact me. Male or female I can sort something out with the lovely setting we have in and around our site.

Waterfowl Camera Action

Lock down daily exercise (before I hurt my leg) consisted of getting on my pushbike and riding two miles to a lake that has a wide variety of birds:

  • Swans
  • Greylag Geese
  • Canada Geese
  • Mallard
  • Tufted Duck
  • Coot
  • Moorhen
  • Great crested Greebe
  • Grey Heron

This lake is amazing for capturing action images of the birds.

The timing is critical as when the mating season starts most of the action happens in the early morning.

An example is this Grey Heron – a strange behaviour that I had not witnessed before. It flew into a tree and then plunged head first into the lake.

It was clear when it surfaced that it had a fish – what a time to be there with it flying from left to right. A

gain the A7r4 didn’t let me down – 95% in focus, and a joy to use when the action starts.

The Geese

With swans nesting in the area it is a bad place for geese to nest and hang about in, but they do. So when a swan Pen appears, you know there will be some kind of confrontation.

Sinking low into the water the Pen picks out a goose, and within seconds is pushing the water forward making good seed for the attack.

The poor geese scatter everywhere with water going all over.

It is brilliant to see what you got when you import the images into the laptop.

Some geese take a chance, make a short flight and land on the water but others take to the air creating a racket.

The Coot

Another bird I love to film is the Coot – a bird that is always fighting and chasing around in the breeding season.

As I was leaving I noticed all three heading for the same place with a posture that meant battle.

I waited and it happened.

The fight lasted for about a minute, water, feet and heads going everywhere.

Over about a week, the images the A7r4 and Sony 200-600 captured are fantastic – clear natural images with beautiful colours and I am still not used to the detail you get.

One incredible camera and lens.

Insects in Action

After capturing birds in flight, I had to try capturing a bumble bee, or wasp in flight too.

I have seen so many insects in flight on the internet and was curious as to how they were captured.

Whilst in a my cast my mobility was very limited, so I went on my electric scooter to a small wild garden close to where I live.

I had to get close, so it had to be the Macro lens and I used my settings for birds in flight.

Using this method I just waited for the 🐝 s to fly in and used the high speed burst mode with a zone focus area and multi metering.

Checking my LCD I quickly realised I had to up my shutter to 1/4000 to capture the whole body of the insect. The results were better.

Amazing flight shots on my first real attempt.

Yes there were many out of focus but I was hoping just for one.

Having a pick of at least 20 is just so rewarding, but the skill still needs to accompany the camera equipment.

The Farne Islands

Stepping onto the island with Ruth, the Puffin flew past at eye level with a collection of twigs in its beak.

Oh my – it was so close!

The camera was going to overheat as the birds were in every direction I looked.

Different species crowded the cliff edge and hundreds made their way out to sea and back to land, building their nest sites.

I won’t go into to much detail but will just post the amazing birds that I had waited so long to see.

The Shag

The Puffin

The Tern

Mixed Selection

Think Outside The Box

Winter came.

The migration had started.

The hedgehog and squirrel fat reserves were good; cuddled up in their leafy, warm, snug homes.

Time for a new challenge with the camera, and the Sony 85mm 1.8.

With such a lovely, big family to photograph winter is the time to capture some family portraits that we can share and the family can look back on and say Dad / Granddad Ron took that image.

Faye, Dan and Elsa, Dan, Danielle and Thea will join the collection when I get on my feet again.

I went out on my own just to get a feel of the new lens.

I was messing about and came across a man with a clarinet.

I took a few shots but he didn’t speak. I know nothing about him, and never saw him again.

The Clarinet Man

Finding some graffiti under a bridge, and using a tripod and timer, I captured my first street self portrait image.

Blackie. Sony 85mm f1.8

Having a beautiful wife gave me my next challenge – to capture us together and her modelling for me.

It was hit and miss at first – finding the right light source was hard to master.

In the end I purchased a studio set up which gave me better results.

Ron and Ruth

Having lovely light, one day we went for a photo session in Stanley Park on a very cold day. The sun was out very low which gave great shadows.

I tried to get a image of us walking away hand in hand.

Walking over bridge. 85mm f1.8

It was lovely photographing Ruth, and 10 months later they look even better.

The quality of lens is so important. Looking at these post process, it was a joy to see crisp, clear images with beautiful Bokeh, an effect a certain lens gives you.

The got a different kind of satisfaction from this form of photography – it was very interesting and before long I wanted to do portrait.

I had a great loft space, so we set about making it comfortable; new carpet and nice selection of backdrops gave it a lovely feel.

I collected anything that a person could use in the image to make it more interesting. Hats, sunglasses, roses, bubbles, confetti.

Off I set capturing family members.

The results were so good I was asked for prints that are now taking pride and place in frames on walls.

After the success in the studio I moved to street photography, my imagination running wild.

Matt and his Evie-Rose were my models for the photography shoot; Blackpool for Evie and Poulton for Matt.

Using the graffiti next to the local supermarket there was lots of scope and we had a fantastic time, finishing off with lunch in McDonalds.

Matthew was next in line.

I had to come up with an original plan that would set the scene.

Knowing the Matt played the guitar, I lay in bed thinking of Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel.

The train station would be a great place to start.

Another great time with my family helping me doing something I love so much.

Ruth went to see Faye in Cambridge, and when I dropped her off at Preston Rail station I took the opportunity to ask people if I could take photos of them acting naturally.