GARDEN 71 – ROE DEER

 

 


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We are lucky to have a long back garden, which I have let go largely wild, and which backs out onto even wilder woodland.  This makes for a wide selection of wildlife, often in plain view from our kitchen window – and it was this wonderful natural space that kept me sane when I returned to Bristol from leading wildlife safaris in Kenya, 30 years ago.

We are lucky in seeing deer in our garden, and mostly these are Muntjacs, which are an exotic species, originally native to the Far East, and I’ve posted on these several times – the most recent post is here .

However we have also (far more rarely) seen the larger Roe Deer, which is native to the British Isles, and which is not unusual – if only locally – in Bristol’s leafier outer suburbs.
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And so to 28 May, when a cry of “Large deer in the garden!” brought us to the kitchen window, and the sight of this Roe stag, fully grown antlers and all, beside the garden path.  Cameras and binoculars are always to hand, so I grabbed the Z 6 – forgetting I’d left it in APS-C format – and started photographing.  Opening the kitchen window would almost certainly have scared him off, so the shots were taken looking quite steeply downwards through double glazing – but that’s life! >>> and the basic premise that imperfect shots are always better than no shots at all!

And, taking off the rose-coloured glasses for a moment and looking at the Natural World full-on, there are other living organisms pictured here too – for the two dark spots on the deer’s neck are ticks – ectoparasites – which live on the animal’s bodily fluids.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 232mm; 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral v2 picture control; our back garden, in south Bristol; 28 May 2019.
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TALKING IMAGES 48 – USING THE NIKON Z 6 IN ANGER

 

 

Muntjac stag – its about Fox-sized.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; uncropped; Lightroom; our back garden, Bristol; 3 Apr 2019.

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I posted here about buying the Z 6, one of Nikon’s new full frame mirrorless cameras, giving my initial thoughts.  Since then, I’ve been reading (and using a red biro to scrawl all over) the 247 page instruction manual that (thankfully!) comes with the camera, and configuring the camera to my way of working.  Then I’ve been sitting in my beloved armchair, interminably taking pictures and altering settings, in an attempt to have the layout of the camera’s controls become second nature to me – so that I won’t have to think before altering anything.  And I planned a visit to the Somerset Levels to have a first go with it outdoors, in the real world.  But fate intervened.

I’ve posted before about the Muntjac Deer which frequent our quiet and secluded back garden.  They have been introduced to the UK from China and, quite simply, we delight in their presence.  They are small, decidedly skittish, and we have been especially delighted to see one or two of their fawns.

We’d not seen them for awhile, and so their reappearance caused some excitement – and there was the Z 6 charged and ready, mounted via the FTZ adapter with one of my favourite lenses – the 70-300 AF-S Nikkor.  And so to using this new camera in anger for the first time.  As I said, these animals are very skittish, being spooked by the slightest noise or movement, so that opening the kitchen window was out of the question.  So the pictures had to be taken through the double-glazed window and, because our kitchen window is up above the garden, the camera was looking down at an angle through the double-glazing, rather than horizontally straight through it.  The deer were about 30ft-40ft away.

All images can be enlarged by clicking onto to them to open another version in a separate window, and clicking onto that image to further enlarge it – recommended.
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Same animal.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 405mm; cropped; Lightroom.

THINGS TO TALK ABOUT

In terms of handling and ergonomics, the Z 6 works just wonderfully.  It has a large, deep handgrip and a well positioned thumb rest, and just feels completely at home in my hands.  Many of the buttons and dials fall under my fingers or thumb, and many are in the same positions as those on my D800.  It just feels good to use and, with the 70-300, feels very well balanced.

As with my other big Nikons, I’m using an OP/TECH USA neck strap intended for heavy DSLRs.  This is a little overkill for the distinctly leaner Z 6, but I’m still using fairly large Nikon F-mount lenses (esp the 70-300) and I’m not getting any younger: these wide OP/TECH straps really do spread the weight across the shoulders very well, and they’re quite reasonably priced.

I used Aperture Priority mode (as I nearly always do), and 1600 ISO.  The pictures were split between full frame format, where the longest reach of my lens is 300mm, and DX (= APS-C) format, where the reach is lengthened to 450mm; entirely handheld.  Full frame images have 24.5MP; DX format has 10.3MP.  All images used stabilisation.

Some think that Nikon’s images can be a little cold in tone, and so I’m using the new Natural Light Auto white balance, which looks natural.

I’ve taken all focusing functions away from the shutter release, and the large and ideally (and traditionally) sited AF-ON button (back button focusing) works wonderfully.  In this test, through double-glazing, the autofocus was very quick and sharp.
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Same animal.  Z 6; 1600 ISO; 70-300 Nikkor lens used in full-frame format to give 300mm; cropped; Lightroom.

Immediately below the AF-ON button is the joystick and this works well too, again well sited below my right thumb, and enabling me to move the focusing point rapidly around the frame.  I’ve opted for it jumping to every other focus point, for speed of use.  Pushing it locks the exposure.

And immediately below the joystick is the customisable i button, which gives quick and easy access to a very useful range of camera settings.

The exposure compensation button is not so well placed, and so I’ve customised the main command dial, which I can easily reach with my right thumb, to adjust exposure compensation without using the button.

Since I don’t take videos, the movie-record button has been cannibalised to quickly switch the camera between full-frame and APS-C format with the aid of the main command dial.

The camera’s excellent Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) is set to Prioritize Viewfinder mode: looking through the viewfinder turns it on, taking my eye away turns it off; the monitor screen remains off until I review my images (when finger swiping can be used on the touchscreen) or look at the menus.  I’m not using all of the touchscreen facilities, but its reassuring to know that the touchscreen is turned off while the viewfinder is being used.

Firing off 25 or so pictures, with much autofocus use, brought the battery down from full to 84%: a spare battery may be needed for a day out, although Nikon says that 310 shots can be taken on a full charge.

Then a Sony QDA-SB1 XQD card reader gets the images from the camera’s Sony 64GB QS-G64E card onto my PC, where the images are read into Lightroom Classic CCLightroom doesn’t seem entirely at home with the Z 6 yet: there are issues with sharpening parameters, which are addressed here .

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ARCHIVE 373 – OUR HAZEL, IN AUTUMN

 

 


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Autumn leaves form a carpet around the Hazel in our back garden; 30 Oct 2009.

Used away from the horizontal, the fisheye lens has given the whole photo the appearance of showing an elevated ridge in the ground.  Back beyond the Hazel’s trunks, the patches of green lawn appear to be sloping down to either side.  And the nearest leaves seem to be bulging up towards the camera, and to be swirling in a circular fashion – which is an effect I like.

Technique: D700 with Sigma 15mm full frame fisheye; 800 ISO.

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STANTON DREW 50 – VILLAGE LIFE 15

 

 


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A gardener’s sense of humour, beside the little lane that leads up to the church.

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); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film preset; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 6 July 2018.
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STANTON DREW 49 – PARADISE 2

 

 


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Not sure this is Paradise but, if it is, I wasn’t allowed in.  Even, in desperation, venturing to mention my untarnished soul failed to gain me entry, the general feeling being that, if my soul really is in such pristine condition, I must have had it Photoshopped.

The first picture of Paradise, of a rather more accepting and welcoming scene, can be found here .

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 83mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Stanton Drew, near Bristol; 6 July 2018.
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ARCHIVE 364 – INSIDE THE FLOWER OF A DOG ROSE

 

 


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Inside the flower of a Dog Rose.

I ought to know what the tall structures are but, as I firmly bade farewell to studying anything botanical in 1968, I’m unsure.  Stamens maybe?   ….. I’m more sure of one who will know the answer …. wonder who that can be??? …….. ?

Getting away from reality – oh, that’s better!!! …. –  the blurred dark element almost reaching the lower right corner, and a similar dark object diametrically across the flower’s centre, look like slim, beating wings.  And the blurred, slightly greenish “thing”(!) in the lower left corner might be a beak – so is this some exotic bird in flight, with bizarre and erect plumes on its back?

And if you don’t believe that such feathers exist, search Google’s images for flight shots of breeding plumage male Standard-winged Nightjars – and I have a feeling there are other examples in the Far East and South America too.  Ah, signs of a misspent youth …

The rose’s petals are pale, and serve as a diffuse backdrop.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens; 6400 ISO; our back garden, Bristol; 24 June 2013.

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ARCHIVE 360 – COWSLIPS

 

 


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In amongst the Cowslips near the bottom of our garden; 24 Apr 2013.

These beautiful little flowers have been growing in our garden for many years now.  We certainly didn’t plant them, so the initial seeds were presumably brought in by birds.

I love these simple flowers very much and, every year, encourage them to spread by delaying mowing the areas they inhabit until they have fully gone over and gone to seed.  This is one of the extremely few thought out gardening plans I have  – and it works!  Every year they spread further – wonderful!

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 200 ISO.

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GARDEN 70 – MUNTJAC

 

 


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Muntjac stag relaxing at the bottom of our garden.  We have a long back garden.  This green space is largely “natural”, that is, untended,  save for occasional forays with a voracious petrol lawn mower lovingly known as The Destructor; and other forays with other vicious blades when the various trees and shrubs threaten Total World Domination.  But, other than that, the garden is left much to itself and, as it backs out onto a suburban wilderness, the bottom of our garden is largely a quiet, secluded, sheltered place.  Badgers and Foxes call in, and we often see tiny (roughly Fox-sized) deer called Muntjac, that have been introduced to the UK from China.

Muntjacs are mainly active at night, but during the day they are also to be seen in secluded places – and we are happy that they consider the bottom of our garden such a safe spot during the hours of dangerous daylight.  On Sunday, a pair were resting in the tangles at the garden’s end.  The doe was largely invisible, but the stag more in view.

Sitting beside me, I had the D800 camera attached to the love of my life, the 70-300 Nikkor zoom, and the more I looked at this distant deer looking back at me, the more I thought “photo!“.  The small animal was for sure a long way off and semi-obscured too, but because the D800 has so many pixels, its possible to use its sensor reduced to APS-C format, which still provides enough pixels for a reasonable image – whilst multiplying the focal length of full-frame lenses by x1.5.  So the long end of my zoom, 300mm, became a very useful 450mm – times 9 magnification – and, handheld, I was in business!

I opened the lens aperture to its widest and ramped the ISO up to 6,400 to try to avoid camera shake and, bracing myself against a wall, started taking pictures through the closed kitchen window. The camera’s autofocus became confused by the vegetation’s tangles – and so to manual focusing.  But although recognisable, these images were softened by the light’s passage through the window’s double glazing.  These deer are notoriously timid and flighty and opening the window seemed unwise but, very carefully, slowly and quietly I did it – and the stag remained still.

And here he is, with his small, swept back antlers.  He has little tusks on his upper jaw too, but even if the bottom of his face were not obscured, these can be hard to see.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it yet again – recommended.

Technique: D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format to give 450mm; 6400 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Vivid film simulation; Bristol; 7 Jan 2018.

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STANTON DREW 45 – VILLAGE LIFE 12

 

 


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Cooking apples (cookers!) being given away in a front garden beside the road along to the prehistoric site.

Again the honesty thing – takers can leave donations in the jam jar if they wish, and the money will then go to charity.  Looking at these apples makes me think of large, deep apple pies of the sort my mother used to make, cooked with lots of sugar to sweeten the apples and served with vast outpourings of hot – and not too thin! – custard!!!

An introduction to this Village Life series can be found here: 1 Further images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11   .    Each will open in a new window.

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

Technique: X-T1 and wide angle (upper image) and X-T2 with the telezoom; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film preset; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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GARDEN 69 – ANGRY MORNING

 

 


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I was making a cup of tea in the kitchen, which faces due east, and being struck by the ferocity of the winter sunrise over to the southeast.  A wild morning, an angry morning, the sort of morning that has an undeniable wild beauty, but which takes some strength of resolve to get outdoors and get to grips with.

And in front of me an oak tree that I have watched grow up from a naturally sown acorn – perhaps buried and forgotten by a squirrel – over the past twenty or so years.  And although it does not know it yet, an unfortunate oak, a healthy and burgeoning tree that because of its close proximity to the house will have to be cut down in the near future.

But back again to that fierce, early light, which was transfixing as it radiantly backlit the few of the oak’s leaves that had managed to hang on during the recent gales.  The camera was to hand, and so to spot metering … and the wonderful luminosity of those last few leaves.

And although it is a rather underexposed caricature of the original, below is an idea, just an idea, of the angry sky that was producing this beautifully fierce, hard and cold light …
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Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further – recommended.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); spot metering; Lightroom; Bristol; 8 Dec 2017.
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