ARCHIVE 614 – FLIGHT (MONO)

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Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol; 27 Sept 2013.

This picture is about shape and design.  The bird’s head and torso, and the root of its left wing, are squashed down into the lower left of the frame – and just about to leave the frame.  We just catch sight of the dark bill, eye and mark behind the eye, which serve to give the creature some structure and identity.

But the real subject of the shot is the streamlined wing that cuts a diagonal across the frame, to end in those dark, pointed flight feathers (primary flight feathers, as birders know them), the longest of which look like the long, black, manicured fingernails of a woman – the end of the wing reminds me of a set of sharp fingers reaching up against the sky.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Holga preset.

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ARCHIVE 594 – STILL LIFE, IN FLIGHT

 

 


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Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 27 Sept 2013.

A still life?  Really?  Well, one way of looking at this is that, since the camera shutter was only open for 1/1600th of a second, it has effectively frozen this instant in the life and doings of this living being – and so it is “Life”, yes, but it is also “Still” – or, more correctly I suppose, “Stilled”!    And living things e.g. plants can of course be included in still life assemblages – if their movements are too slow to register in the resulting image.

But the real reason for my calling this a still life is that when I looked at the whole of this image and saw this powerfully down-sweeping wing, I was struck by its beauty, and so cropped the image to make it the main feature – with the bird’s head just peeping into the picture to add a little context.  So that, ok, it is a bird in flight, a moving object, but to me it has now become more of a design, or a set piece if you like. 

The fundamental difference between this image and a conventional still life is that it is not supported on anything that we can see, like a table top for example.  All support here is provided by the whirling and invisible air.

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

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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BIRDS 130 – BLACK-HEADED GULL 3

 

 


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Adult Black-headed Gull in winter plumage.  The dark brown hood of the breeding plumage (see here ) has been replaced by diffuse dark markings on the head and, notably, a dark spot behind the eye.

An agile, small gull, quite common around here at the moment as they scavenge, uttering their shrill screams, over the city and out around the suburbs.

There is another photo of this species here .

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 7 Dec 2020.

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ARCHIVE 457 – IN THE HARBOUR AT ABERAERON (MONO)

 

 


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Black-headed Gull and mooring buoys in the harbour at Aberaeron, Ceredigion, west Wales; 24 Sept 2014.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 3 preset.

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BIRDS 129 – BLACK-HEADED GULL 2

 

 


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Breeding plumage Black-headed Gull over Chew Valley Lake, not far south of Bristol.  This is a relatively small gull, easily identified in this plumage by the white blaze on the forewing, the chocolate brown (not black!) hood, the white eye ring and the red bill.

There is another picture of a Black-headed Gull here .

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Provia/Standard profile; Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 4 July 2016.
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BIRDS 127 – BLACK-HEADED GULL

 

 


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Adult Black-headed Gull beside the river in central Bristol, hoping for handouts from passersby.  Its just moulting into breeding plumage, with its dark brown hood (not in fact black at all!) appearing.  This is the smallest of our common gulls – decidedly smaller than the equally common Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls – and often with a more elegant, more tern-like flight.  Its found by water here in the city centre but, a bold and agile scavenger, its quite capable of diving screaming into our back garden when we throw stale bread out onto the back lawn.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window: recommended, if you’re into birds (like all civilised people should be 🙂 … )

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 300mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, starting at the Camera ASTIA/Soft profile; central Bristol; 2 Feb 2018.
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BIRDS 120 – COOT AND BLACK-HEADED GULL

 

 


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One for you birders – hello Lynn!!! – adult Black-headed Gull in winter plumage, flying over a Coot, on the freshwater of a local reservoir.

Fieldmarks for the gull: red legs; red, black-tipped bill; the black mark behind the eye; the white blaze on the leading edge of the wing.

And the Coot: actually the Eurasian Coot; prominent white shield on the forehead, and bill white too – and never any red nodules (that’s what the fieldguide calls them!) above the white forehead shield.

Other recent bird pictures are here: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to open a (rather grainy!) even larger version.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Portrait v2 profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.
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STILL LIFE 43 – STILL LIFE, IN FLIGHT 2 (MONO)

 

 

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Black-headed Gull, Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 4 July 2016.

The year is changing.  Black-headed Gulls do not breed around Bristol and so, in spring, this normally common and noisy scavenger mostly disappears to its breeding grounds elsewhere in the UK.  But around now, in what we Brits loosely term “summer”, breeding plumage birds (with dark BROWN heads NB) start to reappear.  I’m glad to hear their shrill screams again and see their graceful, almost tern-like flight – and I know that their reappearance means that the year is moving on, if only a little.

I took the X-T1 down to Chew Lake to shoot birds in flight, but with little success.  This may of course have been due to my inexperience with this camera, but the electronic viewfinder just couldn’t seem to cope with the close in, high speed, frenzied action, whereas the Nikons’ optical viewfinders are far more up to it.  I don’t think that the X-T1 has been designed with this sort of photography in mind, but that’s fine because its so good at so many other things.  The X-T2, when it arrives, may be better at this kind of thing.

This is a still life image, a moving object made still by a camera shutter firing at 1/1600th of a second.   In the real world, this bird is flying.  But in the world of the imagination, this creature could … with its wings straining skywards above its fully spread tail … it could be dancing, or perhaps even jumping for joy.  It is just a question of how we want to see things.  The first of these flying still lifes can be found here.

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

X-T1 with 55-200 Fujinon at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Film Noir 1 preset.
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BIRDS 80 – BLACK-HEADED GULLS FOR LYNN WOHLERS

 

 

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Lynn Wohlers (at bluebrightly) and I are WordPress bloggers who appreciate each other’s photography – and who are both ex-birders / birdwatchers.  And as Lynn tells me that she’s probably going to miss a Black-headed Gull in her local area – a rare bird in The States but a very common one in the UK – here are for her three at Chew Valley Lake, near Bristol, last Friday (5 Feb 2016).

We’d gone out for a little drive around on a wet and windy day and ended up in the car park of a café beside this large lake, where there were many of these small gulls weathering out the storm atop wooden fences.  The birds seemed unconcerned by our presence and so, before we went in for cakes and pots of hot tea, I took some pictures.  Rain was pouring across the car’s windscreen and I was shooting between the flailing windscreen wipers – catching the wiped screen just after each wiper had passed.

These are Black-headed Gulls in winter plumage.  The two on the right are adults, with grey and white plumage (+ some black around the wingtips) and the distinctive dark spot behind the eye (to birders, on the ear coverts); the legs and the base of the bill are reddish.  The bird on the left has some dark brown in its plumage – it began life last summer and is now changing from its immature plumage more towards the attire of a subadult.

So, Lynn, maybe not as good as seeing the real thing – tho you and I no longer relish standing around in freezing conditions so much hoping for glimpses of feathered friends – but, nevertheless, ENJOY!!!

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO.
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STILL LIFE 29 – STILL LIFE, IN FLIGHT

 

 

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Black-headed Gull, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 27 Sept 2013.

A still life?  Really?  Well, one way of looking at this is that, since the camera shutter was only open for 1/1600th of a second, it has effectively frozen this instant in the life and doings of this living being – and so it is “Life”, yes, but it is also “Still” – or, more correctly I suppose, “Stilled”!    And living things e.g. plants can of course be included in still life assemblages – if their movements are too slow to register in the resulting image.

But the real reason for my calling this a still life is that when I looked at the whole of this image and saw this powerfully down-sweeping wing, I was struck by its beauty, and so cropped the image to make it the main feature – with the bird’s head just peeping into the picture to add a little context.  So that, ok, it is a bird in flight, a moving object, but to me it has now become more of a design, or a set piece if you like. 

The fundamental difference between this image and a conventional still life is that it is not supported on anything that we can see, like a table top for example.  All support here is provided by the whirling and invisible air.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 400 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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