BIRDS 102 – WOOD PIGEON

 

 


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Adult Wood Pigeon amongst the autumn leaves and raggedly cut grass on our back “lawn”, photographed through the double glazing of the kitchen window – opening the window even a tiny bit would send these birds rocketing frantically away!  Here I tapped very, very gently on the inside of the window to attract their attention and, after a brief glance towards me, they carried on foraging.

A small flock of these pigeons have taken to visiting our back grass, and its a real pleasure seeing them there.

This is in fact an agricultural pest, a bird that anyone can shoot.  And this is a species that I’ve actually eaten but, well, that was nothing to write home about – and anyway I’d far rather be looking at them!

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: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; Bristol; 23 Nov 2017.
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STILL LIFE 171 – THE END OF THINGS

 

 


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The year ages, winter looms, and Life dies back, beds down, readying itself for the months of cold and darkness ahead.

Dead sunflower, heavily frosted, in the back garden of the farm next to the church in Stanton Drew.

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); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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BIRDS 101 – CHICKEN 3

 

 


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Another bird from the little flock that live on the traffic island garden in the village of Stanton Drew, in the Chew Valley south of Bristol.

As ever, my love of getting in close to living creatures.

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

Click onto this 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); 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.

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BIRDS 100 – AN IMAGE CLOSE TO MY HEART (MONO)

 

 


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So, my 100th post on birds, creatures that have in so many ways had a profound influence on my life.  I have many images that might have filled this 100th slot, but here is one, a very simple one, that has a very special place in my heart.  It shows a male Blackbird, a species of thrush, sitting on wires down a little country lane.

I have of course been a lover of birds for a long, long time.  But, beyond that, I am in love with natural things, with Nature itself, and to me this image powerfully evokes Nature’s elemental drama and grandeur.  Why?  Well, when I look at this I see this little creature, sure of himself, perched on his territory and singing powerfully to assert that fact.  And not overawed in the least by the stark and wild vastness of Nature all around, but actually eminently at home in it, a part of it all, and in his way just as wild as all the rest.

The original text for this image is given below:

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, 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 nested in last summer.

And as I turned a corner, there was this 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 image to see a larger version in a separate window.

Technique: D700 with 80-400 Nikkor lens at 400mm; 800 ISO; converted to mono with Silver Efex Pro 2.
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BIRDS 99 – CHICKEN 2

 

 


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I’ve mentioned this little flock of chickens in the village of Stanton Drew before.  They live on what is almost a traffic island, that is raised up to around human eye height above the surrounding roads – so that it is fairly easy to view them eye to eye, down at their level. 

And I’ve always liked to get in close with my wildlife pictures, getting a flavour of the creatures’ characters, maybe filling the frame with them, rather than taking a standard portrait.

I posted the first of these images, along with the Stanton Drew series, but my good colleague Lynn (another ex-birder) at bluebrightly, suggested they might fit better amongst my bird pictures – and here they are!  I was a birder for many years, 1967-2002 or thereabouts, and in those days it was my primary interest, although I was taking pictures too.  Now I retain a strong love for birds, I see them as a very integral part of all land/cityscapes and, as with butterflies, I’m sure they boost my quality of life.  But photography is my prime mover now and, despite the fact that I’ve made very nearly 100 bird posts here, most of my posts are not about birds.

Click onto the image to open another version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it – tho don’t blame me for getting nightmares if you do!  A farmyard Jurassic Park?!

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 1600 ISO; Lightroom, using the Classic Chrome film simulation; Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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BIRDS 98 – JACKDAW (MONO)

 

 


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How I love crows! >>> this was a very lucky, very quick shot – the bird was perched on the church’s rooftop cross, I raised the camera – and, instantly,  it flew!

Another recent picture of Jackdaws, on a building nearby, is here.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended >>> in this enlarged version you can just make out the bird’s pale (in fact, white) eye, which is one of its identification features.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv);  3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Contrast and Structure preset;  Stanton Drew; 6 Nov 2017.
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PEOPLE 297 – PEOPLE FROM MY PAST 2 (MONO)

 

 


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Yesterday, I introduced these People from my Past images, along with a picture from my time as a geologist in the mountains of Oman.  This is another picture from Oman.

Here is our campsite, two tents, the vehicle, and rock – rock everywhere – with the bare mountains all around.  I’m slouching in the shade of the vehicle on a camping stool, quite possibly after a long day’s work – and the photographer is my colleague Don.

It was extremely interesting exploring the interior of a country which was only just opening up to the outside world.  The interior was wild, I remember many apparently ancient sites lying open on the surface, but the going was tough.  The days were hot, I wore two pairs of socks inside stout boots to keep the heat away from my feet, and the vehicle’s bodywork was burning to the touch.  There were no tarmac roads, and indeed very few roads of any size at all; we often found ourselves driving across country, or up into the many deep wadis that radiated out from the mountains’ flanks.

The Land Rover was rugged, tough, very basic and an absolutely wonderful vehicle for these conditions.   There is a jerry can visible in the roof rack: we carried most of our water and spare petrol up there above our heads – which in the case of the petrol was distinctly unnerving, but luckily we never turned the vehicle over.   The water was solely for cooking and drinking, washing being a luxury that had to wait until we got back to our base at Sohar, on the coast.

The terrain was mentally as well as physically taxing, since nearly the whole landscape was in shades or brown or maroon, so much so that the rare patches of greenery, near water, were often quite shocking, even strident, to the eye.  Flying home, the endless greens of England were a definite shock too.

Before going to Arabia, we had been trained to give and receive intravenous injections of serum that would counteract snake bites and scorpion stings.  I can’t recall seeing any snakes, but scorpions were common under stones, especially near water.  During our training, the sight of the large, intravenous needle, and then having to stick it either into myself or someone else, to extract a little blood from the vein before injecting the serum, always made me pass out.  I would feel my head getting tighter, and then wake up lying on the floor, looking up at a ring of laughing faces looking down at me.

And so the scenario was all too predictable – Don would be stung or bitten, and collapsed, flat out on the desert floor.  I would rush up with the large needle, push it in – and then there would be two of us flat out on the desert floor …  We were very careful, and this scenario never unfolded – the worst sting I had was from a hornet.

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

Technique: Don took this, and looking at it I would guess he used his OM-1 with a 135mm Zuiko telephoto.

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ARCHIVE 330 – BOYS AT A WEDDING (MONO)

 

 


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Young boys – curious, uncertain –  at a wedding near Thika, Kenya, in the late 1970s.

I think I was the only non-African at this ceremony, and so an object of great curiosity to all the youngsters there.

There is another image from this wedding here.

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

Technique: OM-2 with 75-150 Zuiko lens; Kodak Ektachrome 200 colour slide (I think!); Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Landscape preset.

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BIRDS 96 – SWAN, PREENING

 

 


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Mute Swan reaching back behind its wing to get at an itch or readjust its feathers.  This shot was taken moments before that shown in the black and white Still Life 102 post.

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

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 305mm (equiv); 200 ISO; Lightroom; Herriots Bridge, Chew Valley Lake, Somerset; 3 Apr 2017.
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ARCHIVE 326 – IN A FIELD IN SOUTH BRISTOL (MONO)

 

 


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In a field in south Bristol; 28 Aug 2010.

This was one of a group of these beautiful animals that lived in a nearby field.  Our neighbours used to love feeding them – carrots were a firm favourite.  One day I went along with them, and took a few shots.

Once again, I like to get close in to large animals, filling the frame with them.  This isn’t the whole of the horse’s head, but I like the way the rough, tough and very textured harness frames the upper part of the face – this could be a picture of Nature bridled or firmly restrained.

Technique: D700 with 70-300 Nikkor lens at 75mm; 3200 ISO; converted to mono in Silver Efex Pro 2.

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