ARCHIVE 301 – HERRING GULL, WITH SEAWEED (MONO)

 

 


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Herring Gull and seaweed on the beach at St Ives, Cornwall; 24 Apr 2012.

As with Moorings at St Ives, here, this was taken looking down onto the beach from West Pier.  The gull was resting on the sands below the pier and, as I looked over, he tilted his head sideways, to look upwards and give me a long and very wary stare.  Because his head is tilted onto its side, the beach and its seaweed appear to be on a vertical surface behind him.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; converted to mono and further manipulated with Silver Efex Pro 2.

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BIRDS 92 – HERRING GULL

 

 


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Adult Herring Gull, Porthleven, Cornwall; 18 Oct 2016.

A big, meaty bird, a bird to be taken seriously – and particularly so if its trying to steal your lunch!  The dark streaking shows it to be in winter plumage.

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

Technique: X-T1 with 55-200 Fujifilm lens at 305mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom.
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BIRDS 89 – YOUNG HERRING GULL

 

 

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Young Herring Gull on West Pier, St Ives, Cornwall; 20 Oct 2016.

This the bird already pictured here.

There are other recent gull shots here and here.

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO.
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BIRDS 88 – GULL YAWNING

 

 

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Gull yawning; St Ives, Cornwall; 20 Oct 2016.

This is most probably a Herring Gull.  The brown speckling on its plumage shows it to be a young bird, probably now just about to enter its first winter – it hatched from its egg this summer.

It was perched on the wall of the West Pier at St Ives, “loafing” as birdwatchers say.  Which means that it had had some food, that it wasn’t desperately hungry, so that it was just hanging around – while still no doubt keeping an eye out for any chance meal that might present itself.

I leant against the wall and, very gradually, inched my way towards it, keeping silent, compact and low.  It shuffled a little, it wasn’t quite sure about me (sensible bird!), but then it relaxed, and I started gradually capturing images.  I could have wished that the D800’s shutter was quieter but, on the plus side, its reliable autofocus did its usual excellent job, and I was able to concentrate on the images, rather than on whether they were sharp or not.

There are earlier images from this recent gull series here and here.

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO.
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BIRDS 87 – HERRING GULL 2 (MONO)

 

 

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Herring Gull, an adult in winter plumage, beside the harbour in St Ives, Cornwall; 20 Oct 2016 – the bird already shown in colour here.

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Fine Art High Key preset.
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BIRDS 85 – HERRING GULL, ST IVES – AND MAYHEM!

 

 

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Herring Gull, an adult in winter plumage, beside the harbour in St Ives, Cornwall; 20 Oct 2016.

I’ve been using my new Fujifilm X-T1 camera a lot of late, but there’s no doubt that where speed and accuracy of autofocus are concerned, it simply cannot compete with the systems on Nikon’s full-frame cameras.  Fujifilm’s new X-T2 may address these shortcomings – but whether I want to lay out £1800+ to get an X-T2 plus the power grip that will of course make this diminutive camera bulkier, is another matter.

And so, having been down to St Ives a few weeks back and been frustrated by the X-T1’s slow autofocus, I took both the X-T1 and Nikon’s D800 when we did a second trip to the southwest tip of Cornwall last week – because, if we were going to St Ives again, I wanted 100% autofocus efficiency in order to tackle the fast-moving gulls and Turnstones that are always a feature of the place.

A visit to St Ives duly materialised, we were in the harbour near the West Pier, and there was an adult Herring Gull sitting on the roof of a car.  The bird looked quiet and composed, not fazed at all by the many people hurrying close by.  It looked good for a close-in picture, but the first thing to do was examine what was visible behind it because, although close-in use of a long telephoto throws the background out of focus, any contrasty elements in that background may still have the potential to significantly spoil the shot.  I edged myself into a position where the background seemed unobtrusive.

I put the D800 into DX (APS-C) format, which magnifies the 300mm end of my telezoom to 450mm (= x9 magnification), brought the camera up to my eye, and advanced very, very cautiously and intermittently towards the bird.  I shuffled forwards, very quietly sliding my feet across the smooth pavement.  I didn’t go on until the bird flew, but was surprised at how close I got – and it continued sitting on top the car, looking relaxed throughout, even when the D800’s rather loud shutter started up.

AND THEN FOLLOWED SOMETHING COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED:  We bought hot snacks from a kiosk and walked on up the harbourside eating them, my wife leading the way.  A gull that had perched on the keel of an upturned boat started screaming madly at me, like some frenzied demon from the netherworld.  Well, I grew up beside the sea where gulls were always around and they don’t faze me at all, so I promptly screamed manically back at it >>> whereupon it fell off its perch, took flight and immediately attacked my wife, knocking her sausage roll from her hand onto the ground before going down on the roll in a savage feeding frenzy.  Whereupon a second gull launched a similarly frenzied attack on the first gull and the roll, and the people around us scattered left and right to avoid the mayhem!  As I tried, somewhat lamely, to explain to my wife later, it could have happened to anyone …

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

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX format to give a 450mm telephoto; 400 ISO.
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ARCHIVE 248 – FOUR DESIGN ELEMENTS (MONO)

 

 

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Young Herring Gull, St Ives, Cornwall; 10 Oct 2013.

This is an immature bird, as shown by its very speckled plumage.  It was hatched last summer.

Its a simple shot of a bird overhead, but it has four conscious design elements.  First, use of black and white removes any distractions due to colour, rendering the image “basic and without frills”.  Then second, this simplicity has been enhanced by rendering the sky completely featureless and white – its the bird and nothing but the bird.

But while it may be the bird and nothing but the bird,  its not the whole bird.  Because as it shot overhead, I failed to perfectly track it and my shot cuts right through its left wing tip.  But, just by pure chance, the amputated end of the wing fits right into the frame’s lower left corner.  So, thirdly, there is a strong design element – the image’s strongest graphic element –  emanating from that lower left corner, and cutting diagonally right up across the frame.  There are two possibilities here – either this diagonal is headed from lower left to upper right, or vice versa.  Feeling my eyes entering this image – as they do most images (see earlier posts on this blog) – from the left towards the right, I’m happier with the left to right movement.

And there is also the argument that this diagonal is not moving at all.

And the fourth element is its torso, which cuts at a right angle, right through that diagonal.  This torso reminds me of a dart, with a sharp point at the front and feathered flights at the rear.  This being so, this second diagonal is moving from upper left towards lower right.

A further simplification of this image could be achieved by making it a silhouette, but I’m retaining its intricate plumage patterns.

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 300mm; 400 ISO; Silver Efex Pro 2’s Film Noir 3 preset.

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BIRDS 79 – PEERING IN FROM TOP LEFT

 

 

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Herring Gull; St Ives, Cornwall; 27 Sept 2012.

As in my previous post, this is an image produced with an eye to composition, to design maybe, rather than picturing this creature in terms of its natural history – when it might be shown in full and/or in its natural habitat.

The bird is shown in detail, dirty beak, “warts and all”.  But the backdrop is Minimal in the extreme, containing only that very faint, dark smudge, which is deliberately retained.

Otherwise, there is just a very thin dark frame to the image – containing it as an entity, closing it off – and the bird peering in from top left.

Looking at this, I could see a severed and suspended head but, liking a story with a happy ending, I’m assuming that “the remainder of the beast” is out to the left.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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ARCHIVE 202 – AUTUMN GULL, A FAVOURITE PICTURE (MONO)

 

 

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This image is best viewed at full size – click onto it to see a larger version in a separate window.

Herring Gull: winter plumaged adult at St Ives, Cornwall; 27 Sept 2012.

This individual is sitting on a wall, but I want to show nothing but the bird and its overcast backdrop and so have cropped the wall out.  Mono simplifies the picture, and gives the impression of  a tough and rugged individual used to enduring the dull, overcast, wintery conditions.

These birds have pure white heads in summer, but this one has the streaked head and neck that appears later in the year.

I like the detail in the feathering at lower left, especially the single feather sticking up from the rest.

D700 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2, starting from the Antique Plate 1 preset.

UPDATE: one of my very favourite images, an image that I am both pleased with and proud of.  I am of course a huge fan of natural things – unlike many other things in this world, they never, ever bore me.  And here, in my eyes at least, is the portrait of a very beautiful living creature which, as I say above, ” gives the impression of  a tough and rugged individual used to enduring the dull, overcast, wintery conditions.”.
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BIRDS 78 – A CREATURE OF GREAT BEAUTY

 

 

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Adult Herring Gull, resting in glorious sunshine, beside the harbour at West Bay, Dorset; 21 Apr 2015.

Immaculate!  An inveterate and highly aggressive and successful scavenger, thief and killer. 

And, at the same time, a creature of vast natural beauty.

So what skews our judgement of him – if we are fit to judge – what he does or what he is?  After all, if beauty is function, even the Spotted Hyaena is beautiful.

But of course – as regular readers of this blog will know – when it comes to gulls I’m biased!

D800 with 70-300 Nikkor at 300mm; 200 ISO; Color Efex Pro 4.
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