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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SOMERSET LEVELS 352 – ANIMAL 3

 

 


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

Beside the road at Redlake Farm, on Queen’s Sedge Moor – see this link for an earlier image in this series, and much context; there is another image from this series here 2 .

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 292mm; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Redlake Farm, Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 350 – ANIMAL 2

 

 


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

Beside the road at Redlake Farm, on Queen’s Sedge Moor – see this link for an earlier image in this series, and much context.

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 360mm; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Redlake Farm, Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 2019.

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SOMERSET LEVELS 349 – ANIMAL

 

 

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Click onto the image above to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to further enlarge it – strongly recommendedThe lower image can be enlarged in this way too.

OK, let’s start at the bottom line: I love cats.  A cat named George, aged two, was present when I was born.  My mother told me that he used to get up on his hind legs and peer in at me in my pram – probably wondering if he was allowed to eat me I expect!  And I grew up alongside him and, as an only child, he was effectively my brother.  Quite simply, he was always there, he was always around, and he died when I was 13.  I have never owned a cat but, equally, I have never forgotten George and, indeed, over 50 years later he is still frequently – and warmly – in my thoughts.  And whenever I encounter cats these days, I look on them with much affection.

And my feline odyssey goes a little further than that because, taking clients on safari in Kenya, I came into close contact with our moggies’ much larger cousins – Lion, Leopard and Cheetah.  Lions I could take or leave really, but I spent ages almost drowning in the deep, expressionless, amber eyes of Leopard and Cheetah.  And then there were smaller cats too – Serval and (most wonderfully) Caracal.

So what on earth has all this got to do with the Somerset Levels?  Well, recently, I was exploring on the southeastern edges of Queen’s Sedge Moor, when I hauled up at Redlake Farm – and promptly had two very pleasant experiences.  I’ll talk about the first of those experiences another time but, as I walked along the farm’s frontage there was a closed gate with six cats basking beneath it on the morning sun’s warm rays.  There is a picture – not a very good picture – of them below, but it gives you an idea of the scene.
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And, standing very still, I looked at these cats, they looked back at me, and – very softly – I started talking to them.  I certainly didn’t want to frighten them by getting too close and, anyway, looking at them, it was immediately apparent that these were not tame house cats, but rather working cats in a way, who earn their keep on the farm as fierce ratters and mousers.  Stroking one of these, even if I could get near enough, might not be a wholly joyous experience.

And so the camera went into APS-C mode, lengthening the reach of my telephoto and, from a distance, I photographed them.  And as I looked through the camera into those impassive and predatory faces, I was reminded of those much larger cats in Kenya long ago, and the title of this post came surely to mind.

Technique: upper image – Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 450mm; 1000 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control.  Lower image: X-T2 with 10-24 Fujinon lens at 36mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Provia/Standard film simulation; 400 ISO.  Redlake Farm, Queen’s Sedge Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 24 May 2019.

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TWO TOURISTS ON BRISTOL’S STREETS

 

 

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When it comes to photography (and some other things too), I’m a loner.  I gather up a camera or two and go and look at things – anything and everything – tout seul.  I have been out in the company of other photographers, but such rare events have usually become more social in nature, with the resulting photography mostly betraying that.

However yesterday was different.  Like me, Paula Graham runs a blog here on WordPress, which I fully commend to you – you can find it here .  Formerly based in Totnes, Devon, she has recently moved much closer to Bristol >>> and so yesterday we hit Bristol’s streets with a vengeance – and with our big Nikons too  >>> and somebody thought we looked just like tourists!

Paula is far more of a people person than I am and, within no time at all, she was engaging all sorts of total strangers in conversation, and taking their pictures too.  It was all most enjoyable and, in terms of photography, certainly a meeting of like minds.

And I’ve always wanted to have my picture taken grasping a camera – FATman on the job as it were – and so Paula graciously obliged >>> for which thank you, Paula!

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PEOPLE 371 – GOING TO WORK 92

 

 

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Going to work but also, for the moment, going nowhere: traffic cones rule OK!!!  

The Z 6 takes a first – very brief – look at Bristol’s morning rush hour.

You can see a summary of the Going to Work series here

Earlier images from this series can be found here: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 2324, 25, 26, 27, 28,  29, 30,  31,  32, 33  34  35  36 37  38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45  46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 Each will open in a separate window.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in DX (= APS-C) format to give 360mm; 3200 ISO; Lightroom, using the Camera Portrait V2 picture control; Temple Gate, central Bristol; 10 May 2019.
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SOMERSET LEVELS 335 – LOOKING UP, BESIDE PILLMOOR DROVE

 

 


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Walking along Pillmoor Drove, in total peace and solitude.  Taking my time in this lovely quiet spot, looking at anything and everything through the eyes of two cameras.

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 10-24 Fujinon lens at 15mm (equiv); Lightroom, using the Astia/Soft film simulation; Pillmoor Drove, on the Somerset Levels south of Wells; 26 Apr 2019.
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ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS EIGHT – PLUS SOME PICTURES FROM KENYA

 

 

Maasai woman

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Well, FATman Photos is eight years old, and once more I marvel at its longevity.  I read that photo blogging is addictive, and think this quite possibly true.  What is certainly true is that I find blogging a wonderful source of creativity and self-expression and a vast motivation for my photography – and that I enjoy the contact with “all of you out there” very much.  As always, thank you for looking at my blog, for adding Likes and making Comments – all of which are responded to.

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And news?  Well, two things to mention.  First, I’ve taken to carrying the diminutive Olympus TOUGH TG-5 camera with me on my long, relaxing and (hopefully!) waistline-reducing walks around south Bristol – and so to the Outer Suburbs project, which now has over a hundred posts – there is a recent summary of this project here .

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And second – and perhaps at the other end of the camera/photography spectrum – I’ve started using one of Nikon’s new full-frame, mirrorless cameras, the Z 6, which is a joy to use, and which certainly looks promising.  More details here .

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Long ago, I lived in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, for 12 years.  I started off lecturing at the University of Nairobi, and then went into tourism, leading bird and general wildlife safaris.  To say that I liked both Kenya and its people, and enjoyed the life there, is vast understatement.  I’ve been back in the UK for 30 years now, but those 12 years in Kenya have undoubtedly affected me, they have given me different ways of looking at and thinking about many things.  I don’t think I was “mainstream” to start with (well, ok, the word on the street might have been that I was getting towards being a complete wacko … 😉 ), but my time in Kenya added other things, and I’ve never really totally fitted in back here >>> and I’m grateful for that.  Its both pointless and intriguing to think how I might have turned out if, rather than going to Kenya, I’d stayed in the UK and “settled down” …

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So, here are 12 pictures from Kenya, all of which have been posted before – all are colour slides (transparencies – remember them?) that I scanned into digital sometime back; mostly Agfa CT18 slide film, that could be bought and processed in Nairobi; most of these pictures were taken with a simply wonderful and beautiful Olympus OM-1 camera, and others with the more automated OM-2, both with Olympus’s small, excellent Zuiko lenses – and both dearly loved, classic cameras which – old and mouldy now – I still possess.

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I hope you will like these pictures.  Thank you again for looking at FATman Photos.

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Adrian

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Tsavo West National Park
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Gecko with prey – several of these lived in my flat in Nairobi: I lived a simple life, with no phone or TV, and one of my enduring and very fond memories is of sitting quietly at home with a book in the evenings, and hearing these little lizards chattering back and fore to each other from the walls on either side of my living room.

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Lion asleep on a track in Maasai Mara

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Shaft of sunlight in Amboseli Game Reserve, with the dark slopes of Kilimanjaro as a backdrop

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Rocky semidesert in northern Kenya: the woman is leading the camels, each of which is loaded with baggage and tied to the animal in front

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The huge skies which I miss so very much, and which I find some memory of when out on the Tealham and Tadham Moors, on the Somerset Levels

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Luo farmers in Kenya’s far west

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Settlement in Kenya’s bleak – and vastly attractive – northern deserts; note the rough thornbush fences around each dwelling, to keep the stock animals safe at night; on the horizon is the great volcanic massif of Mt Marsabit, and every hill in this landscape is volcanic in origin; I’d picked up a liking for such empty vastnesses some years before, in Oman

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Storm over Lake Nakuru, in the rift valley; flamingos in the foreground, and more of them, and pelicans too, in flight further away

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Sunrise at Lake Nakuru: cormorants (some with their wings spread out to dry) and a great scrum of pelicans; and bare trees, killed by this soda lake’s alkaline waters

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ARCHIVE 406 – AFFECTION (MONO)

 

 


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Our friend and her cat; 1 Mar 2015.

We went to visit our friends, a truly lovely family, and, as usual, I slouched back indolently in an armchair with this damned great camera and lens perched on my paunch, enjoying the moment.

Their front room has a bay window with translucent panels that looks out onto the street and, as often happens, the light in that room was diffuse and gorgeous.

Things caught my eye but I was too slow with the camera.  Then their friendly cat got up on the arm of the sofa, and sat there, contentedly wagging her tail.  She enjoys human company, probably for the sounds, and she sits or lies with us for long periods.  An open fire was an especial draw for her on that chilly afternoon.

Suddenly our friend reached out to stroke the cat and murmur something to her, and my camera came up and caught this single frame.  What do I like about it?  Well, of course, the interaction, there’s eye contact there, and also some kind of, if not friendship, then calm familiarity – these two living beings know and trust each other, at the very least.

I like the way our friend is leaning across the sofa, introducing a dynamic that heads up towards upper left, at right angles to the cat’s gaze.  And then there are the sidelit curls and textures in her hair – and a striped sweater that is crying out for black and white photography!

The occasion was good too because, having had medical dressings on my face, it was the first time I’d used a camera in seven weeks or more, and it was very good to “get back behind a lens” again.

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

Technique: D700 with 105mm Nikkor lens, used wide open; 3200 ISO; Dfine 2; Silver Efex Pro 2, starting at the Full Dynamic Smooth preset.

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BIRDS 109 – MALE BLACKBIRD

 

 


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Gazing at agricultural rubbish on the western edges of Tealham Moor, and loving it, loving the real, bare, unembroidered, what-you-see-is-what-you-get nature and feel of the place – when a male Blackbird appeared on top of a hedge and looked at me.  Well, this is the breeding season and the fierce and fiery hormones of territoriality were coursing through his veins.  He was disinclined to move – I was on his territory, and that was that.

The new Z 6 was in my hand, with the lens I’m married to – the 70-300 zoom – attached, and it was the work of an instant to change the camera to APS-C format – so that my telephoto expanded from 300mm to a more far reaching 450mm – and, very carefully and slowly, I raised the camera to my eye.  The light was dreadful and I needed a high shutter speed to ensure sharpness at the x9 telephoto magnification, and so to wide open at 1/1600th and 3200 ISO – and to very gently squeezing the trigger.  This is a cropped version of one of the photos – 1521×1079 pixels.

Here he is.  The Z 6’s shutter is not loud, and very carefully I took a series of shots, he and I both like statues, eyeing each other.

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

Technique: Z 6 with 70-300 Nikkor lens used in APS-C format at 450mm; Lightroom, using the Camera Neutral V2 picture control; Tealham Moor, on the Somerset Levels; 12 Apr 2019.

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