ARCHIVE 502 – SWAN, PREENING (MONO)

 

 


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Mute Swan at Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, not far south of Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

The bird is preening, busily rearranging its feathers in a flurry of activity that is sending concentric ripples out across the surrounding water.

Click onto to the image to see a larger version in a separate window – highly recommended.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; -0.3EV; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Low Key 2 preset.

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ARCHIVE 498 – THE VIEW WEST AT SUNRISE

 

 


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Looking west along the North Drain from the Jack’s Drove bridge on Tealham Moor, at sunrise; 22 Nov 2013.

I’d raced to Tealham Moor to catch the sunrise, and just before the scene was blasted by the light of the rapidly rising sun (see this image), there was this beautiful soft light, with clouds that were faintly tinged pink, off to the west. 

A group of three Mute Swans are on the water at lower left, and I’m pleased because this whole scene is just as I remember it. 

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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ARCHIVE 497 – MALLARD

 

 


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Mallard in Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 6 Apr 2015.

A Minimalist image – just some ripples and a silhouetted duck.

The up-curled tail feathers show this to be a male (drake) Mallard, a very common and often tame waterbird here in the UK.

This is a colour image, albeit one with little colour in it.  And I’ve used CEP4‘s Cross Balance filter to give the effect of Tungsten (i.e. artificial light) film that has been used in daylight, which has resulted in the image’s cool, faintly bluish tints.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4, using the Cross Balance filter.

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ARCHIVE 496 – MAGPIE, BARBED WIRE FENCE AND TREE (MONO)

 

 


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Magpie flying over farmland beside East Water Lane, on the Mendip Hills, Somerset; 7 Aug 2014.

I had in mind a Minimalist composition consisting only of the tree and the barbed wire and its fence posts, when a noisy group of Magpies appeared and by luck I caught this one.  The pale areas of its plumage merge with the backdrop, eating into its outline.  But it is flying towards the left, with the black cone of its head, neck and breast on the left, and its long, thin, black tail stretching out behind.  Its wings are frozen by the high shutter speed, held up above its body.

One way of looking at this: of the three elements in the composition, the tree and the fence are static, with the third element flying into their space / surroundings.  Then again, the fence may be marching out towards the right, with its posts roped together for safety, and gradually disappearing down into a dip in the ground, or vice versa.  Everything is what it seems, until we start thinking about it.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Antique Portrait preset.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 17 – DAWN, LAKE NAKURU

 

 


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Dawn mists rise above Lake Nakuru, central Kenya; January 1978.  The large, white birds with huge bills in the foreground are White Pelicans.  In the lake behind them are the trunks of trees that, flooded by the lake, have been killed by the high concentration of sodium bicarbonate in its waters.  Cormorants (the same species as in the UK) perch on these dead trunks, and a nest of sticks is also visible.

This lake is over a mile above sea level and so, particularly after a clear night, the whole place can be pretty chilly by first light – standing around taking pictures, waiting for the sunrise, we were well wrapped up!  At altitudes a little above this – and right on the equator – frosts can occur.  Vivitar 400mm telephoto on Olympus SLR, mounted on a tripod.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 16 – WARBLER AMONGST ACACIA THORNS

 

 

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Small warbler – perhaps a Cisticola – amongst fearsome Acacia thorns, any one of which could so easily transfix it; probably in Nairobi National Park, in the late 1970s.

The Cisticolas are a group of small warblers that that all look very similar to each other; they are the archetypal “small brown birds”.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with a Vivitar 400mm telephoto; Agfa CT18 colour slide film rated at 64 ISO; Lightroom.  This would have been taken from the window of my car, from one of the tracks in the National Park.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE 495 – CHICKEN 5

 

 


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Once again, up close and personal – in close with a long telephoto.  I love getting in close like this to living things, both in terms of being there with them, and also of seeing the resulting very shallow depths of focus.

The expression is one of consternation and horror – well, its not unknown for me to have that effect.   I like the curve of the body from the head out to the tail.  Compositionally, viewing the image from left to right as we Westerners do, the sweep of the creature’s back leads my eye into the photo and up and on to the in-focus face.

Other pictures of these birds, and context, are herehere and here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 4 May 2018.

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ARCHIVE 490 – DOWN AN ENGLISH COUNTRY LANE, EARLY ON A MORNING IN SPRING (MONO)

 

 


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Male Blackbird on telephone wires, along Swanshard Lane, southwest of Wells, on the Somerset Levels; 21 Mar 2012.

I was out on the Somerset Levels again early this morning, toting my ungainly Nikkor telezoom once more.  My first stop, to try and get awake after the not too long drive via large infusions of hot coffee and marmalade sandwiches, was along Swanshard Lane, which is a little, winding back road north of Polsham.  This lane just allows two cars to drive past each other in places, but in other places it really is a better idea if one vehicle stops and gets up close and personal with the hedge, while the other vehicle moves carefully past.

And, of course, this is spring and the birdlife is really going for it.  Wonderfully active rookeries were dotted around, and a veritable crescendo of calls included Buzzards, Wrens, Green Woodpeckers, Pheasants and Blue Tits.  And the first Chiffchaffs, little, unobtrusive warblers, are back from sub-Saharan Africa – having flown across the world, they are very probably nesting in the same tree or bush they used last summer.

And as I turned a corner, there was a male Blackbird – all black with a bright yellow bill – sitting on wires and singing his head off.  As he caught sight of me he stopped singing >>> but he didn’t move – he was on his territory and he didn’t feel like being shifted!  So, very carefully, in slow motion, I brought up the 400mm, took a spot meter reading from the sky to produce a silhouette, and started carefully firing frames.

I might have been able to get him larger in the frame, either at or post-capture, but just left of him there was this big, shaggy tree trunk, a very exciting silhouette, and I knew at once that I wanted that in the picture too.  So here it is: down an English country lane, early on a morning in spring.

Click onto the “early morning” tag (below) to see more images from the early hours of the day.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 800 ISO; converted into mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 7 – EAGLE OWL AND HYRAX (MONO)

 

 


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Cape Eagle Owl (formerly known as Mackinder’s Eagle Owl), in Teleki Valley, on Mt Kenya; August 1978.  I found this owl amongst rocks in Teleki Valley, as we were preparing to spend the night there on a visit to Mt Kenya.  The light was poor and I was using slow, 64 ISO film, so my choice of lens was restricted to that with the widest aperture, the 50mm f1.4 Zuiko.  The problem then of course was I would have to get quite close to the bird, to make it look like anything except a small dot in the resulting photo.

But I’d heard that various creatures found up in these montane fastnesses are often quite tame, so I resolved to try slowly crawling towards the owl, flat out on the ground, and taking a series of photos as I moved ever closer in, until the bird flew.  But as I crawled nearer and nearer, and seemed to be getting an image of quite reasonable size in the viewfinder, I decided not to scare it off, but instead to edge backwards along the way I’d come.  Only I had no idea what awaited me as I crawled slowly backwards … : see following photo.

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As I was lying flat out, starting to slowly retreat from the owl, something warm and wet was suddenly thrust into my right ear, causing me to cry out in alarm, and then go face down into the rocks, convinced that the owl would by this time be far, far away.  However on raising my head I saw the owl unruffled, while walking towards it was a Rock Hyrax, a small furry mammal that is a close relative of elephants.

The hyrax had walked unobtrusively up beside me while I was keeping my gaze on the owl, and then, wondering what this warm, prone form could be, had stuck its nose into my ear to have a closer look and a sniff!  My cry alarmed the hyrax and it blundered further forward, moving right at the owl, until it suddenly recognised the Angel of Death standing mute and sombre before it.  Panicked, the hyrax blundered straight back the way it had come, straight into my waiting lens – and here is my very blurred shot of the hyrax (blurred due to the very shallow depth of focus of the F1.4 lens) blundering straight back into me with the majestic owl, aloof and unruffled, in the background.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 50mm Zuiko lens at f1.4; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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ARCHIVE KENYA 3 – SPOTTED STONE CURLEW

 

 


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Spotted Stone Curlew, freezing motionless to avoid detection as I very gently draw my VW Beetle to a halt close beside it in Nairobi National Park, Kenya; October 1980.

Stone Curlews, also known as Thicknees, have large eyes because they are mostly active at night.  They spend the day motionless in cover, like the one pictured here.

Another species, the Stone Curlew, breeds in precariously small numbers in the UK.  Nairobi National Park is right on the outskirts of the city, and ideal for quick visits.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: OM-1 with 75-150 Zuiko lens at 150mm; Agfa CT18 colour slide film, rated at 64 ISO.

THE ARCHIVE KENYA SERIES

I’m re-posting photographs that I took in Kenya over 30 years ago.  You can find more context here .  Click onto the “Archive Kenya” tag (below) to see more of these film images from Kenya.

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