BIRDS 111 – LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window. and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Lesser Black-backed Gull – giving me quite a fixed stare!  The medium to pale grey upperwings are typical of this bird, and the dark markings on the white head appear in winter.

This is one of the common, larger gulls in the UK, being found around coasts and lakes, and also as a scavenger in towns.  I grew up alongside gulls in a seaside town and have always liked them and viewed them as a normal part of the landscape, but many think otherwise, both because of the mess that these birds can make around human habitation, and for their sometimes aggressive behaviour.  Walking around south Bristol, taking photographs for this blog’s Outer Suburbs series, I sometimes have these gulls come down to have a look at me, but as I’m never carrying/eating any food there’s no problem – although I do always invite them to come down and try their luck – if they’d like a spot of bother, that is …

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C mode to give 450mm; 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.
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BIRDS 110 – MUTE SWAN

 

 


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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.

An adult Mute Swan rests beside the waters of Chew Valley Lake, Somerset – while keeping a watchful eye on me!  It was a stormy day, dark clouds, rain and bright sunshine following each other in quick succession, and I was drawn by the way the light washed over this bird, creating shadows and highlighting textures.  Adult swans have white plumage, but this one’s head and neck are tinged pale brown due to the bird up-ending in the lake’s muddy waters when feeding, and the underparts are also slightly darkened.

This is the swan commonly found in many parts of the UK, sometimes becoming semi-tame – as here – around inland waters and also harbours.  Two other species of swan are wilder and less common winter visitors.

Birds are big with me >>>  I was a highly committed birder 1967-2002 and, while a photographer of many things now, I have never lost my love for our feathered friends.  In this instance though, that love is tinged with respect: these swans can weigh up to 11.5 kgs (25 lbs) and have wingspans up to 2.2m (over 7 feet), and they can on occasion be distinctly aggressive.

One of the many fairy tales (aka imagined realities) that help provide the foundation of Our Great Nation is that all swans belong to the monarch.  Well, maybe there is actually some piece of legal paperwork somewhere stating just that, but having fairies at the bottom of my garden seems an eminently more realistic and desirable alternative.  However, for those believing differently, I do have an exciting range of bridges for sale/lease.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 800 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, starting at the Camera Neutral v2 profile; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 18 Oct 2019.
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ARCHIVE 375 – MIST LIFTING, HERONS GREEN

 

 

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A pair of Tufted Ducks in Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, as the mist lifts.

The male (drake) Tufted Duck is on the left; his little tuft or crest can just be seen sticking out from the back of his head if you click onto this image to enlarge it.

I rarely use software presets with images if the presets take everything out of my control and just produce “a look”.  But I like the look of this “look”, if I can put it like that 🙂 , and so here it is.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO; +0.7 stops overexposure at capture; Color Efex Pro 4‘s Bleach Bypass preset; Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

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ARCHIVE 371 – FISHERMEN (MONO)

 

 


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Fishermen far off across Chew Valley Lake on a misty morning.

The local water company stocks Chew Valley Lake with trout, and makes good profits from anglers.  There is also a sailing club, and some barely adequate birdwatching hides – returning from Kenya’s wide open spaces, I was astonished to be restricted to these little huts with their narrow viewing slits – something of a culture change!  I retain the feeling that birding ought to be out in the fresh and open air.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – if you like grain!!!

Technique: D800 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 800 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s High Contrast Smooth preset; Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 17 Oct 2013.

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BIRDS 108 – LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL

 

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This image is best viewed enlarged: click onto it to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again.

Adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 17 Apr 2018.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 2,000 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral film simulation.
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ARCHIVE 361 – SWAN, PREENING (MONO)

 

 


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This image is best seen at larger scale – click onto to it to see a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

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.

There is another photo of this bird, in very different pose and style, here .

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 344 – MIST LIFTING, HERONS GREEN

 

 


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Early morning mist lifting at Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, south of Bristol; 6 Apr 2015.

Driving through the Chew Valley, heading for the Mendip Hills, I came out onto an open stretch of road beside Chew Valley Lake and was suddenly enveloped in thick mist.  But over to my left the sun was starting to rise, the mist was lifting and changing colours in the most visually seductive ways – and I swerved into a layby, jumped out and started taking pictures.

I was there for about an hour, and this is the first of a short series of images from that misty morning.  I love images with little detail, and the telezoom that I’m married to was just right for picking out scenes in that warm softness.

Chew Valley Lake is a large reservoir, the 5th largest artificial area of water in the UK.  It was opened in 1956, to supply Bristol with drinking water.  It has many memories for me because it was here, in 1967, that two school friends first opened my eyes to birds and birdwatching, and so set me on a path and interest that continued through to 2002.  I no longer go birdwatching, but I retain a deep love and feeling for birds, and see them as an essential facet of all land-, water- and skyscapes.

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

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 78mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.

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CHEW LAKE 24 – JUST BEFORE SUNRISE

 

 


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A view eastwards across Chew Valley Lake, just before sunrise.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.
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STILL LIFE 199 – DUCK, SWIMMING

 

 


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Female Mallard, a common duck species, swimming.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; image rotated; Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.
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CHEW LAKE 23 – SIX DUCKS

 

 


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Six ducks, Tufted Ducks if I remember correctly, swimming towards me from shadows, just before sunrise.

Technique: both the X-T1 and X-T2 have large and very usable Electronic Viewfinders (EVF).  Here I set the X-T2 to spot metering, and moved the metering spot around the frame until the EVF showed me an effect I liked, when I locked the exposure via the AE-L button.  Then, with the exposure locked, I framed the image as I wanted it and fired.  This is certainly not total reality as it appeared at the time, but rather my interpretation of it – and a technique where EVFs really come into their own.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 3200 ISO; spot metering; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Herons Green Bay, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 16 Feb 2018.
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