The weather last weekend was not supposed to be great so I thought I would get up and out on Dartmoor in Devon before sunrise. Stay a couple of hours if the light was good and then return home to continue with the work that is needed at home or go to our land / nature reserve and carry on with the work there. For once the weather forecast was right, dam it, and the mornings were not that good light wise. Friday morning I was out for three hours returning home at 9am with not a single image taken. Saturday morning was similar, the light was not great, but at least I took some photos of a pair of Wheatears that were rummaging about around me. Again I returned home about the same time. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I looked out of the window and the weather was terrible with hail and sleet coming down so I stayed in. That was the mornings and as I did not have a whole day out with my camera I decided to treat myself on Sunday evening. During Sunday the weather kept on changing from hail and sleet one minute to sunny and blue sky the next. There was also a very strong cold wind throughout the day. I thought if I could wrap up well, protect the camera and lens, I would be alright. The place I chose to go is quite bleak but if the sun peaks through, as it’s going down, then it really lights up the area. The area has several gorse bushes, which are bright yellow at the moment, and a couple of small trees, just right for Stonechats and Yellowhammers, which is what I was after, as well as Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. I decided that I would not take a hide with me; I would dress up in camouflage clothing and walk the area which meant I could cover a wider area. It would also mean that I could move into better positions as the sun went down or if there was something blocking my view, the light was not right or the background was distracting. I left home in sunshine but as soon as I reached my location on Dartmoor, 3 miles away, got out of my car and took a few steps it changed to large hailstones and sleet. The cold wind cut straight through me, so much for warm clothing, so I looked for a gorse bush that would slightly shelter me. The only good thing at the time was that the wind was coming from the same direction as the sun, when it shone, so I was facing the right way for good light. I found a bush and settled there until the weather died down a bit. I looked around and I was the only person there, I wonder why! After a few minutes, it seemed longer, the sun came out again and the wind reduced. The birds started singing and there was a lot of activity going on as the birds were making the most of the sun before it disappeared for the night. I heard some stonechats clicking away. I wonder if that was why there were called stonechats because the sound they make sounds like two stones being hit together. I made my way slowly towards them. The male with its black head was sat on top of the bush and I had seen the female flying into the centre of the bush. As I got within shooting distance I noticed that the female stonechat was sat on a twig, just outside the bush, with what looked like, horse or pony hair in her beak. As the light on her was great I took some photos and checked the histogram. The camera settings were good but I did not like the background so I moved slowly to my left. I refocused and took some more photos. I carried on taking photos of this female stonechat until the male stonechat “dived bombed” her; she dropped the hair and flew off to my left. I checked the images and was a bit disappointed that the male stonechat was just out of shot but I was really chuffed that I had images of the female dropping the hair and turning around and flying off. I waited to see if the female returned, which she did, but again she flew straight into the bush. As she seemed settled there I decided to walk on. There were several other stonechats on other bushes but none were lit up by the light as the first pair. As the sun was on the horizon and it started to feel really cold I decided to call time. I had only been out a couple of hours but was keeping my fingers crossed that the images I had of the female stonechat were keepers, I only assess this when I have seen the image on my computer monitor. Quickly flicking through the images on my computer monitor confirmed they were keepers. So all in all my weekends photography was a success, some good images of a pair of wheatears and some great images, in my view, of a female stonechat.
I have some fantastic news about my land / nature reserve. Just recently we, my wife and I, have seen a few roe deer relaxing in the grass. My wife saw a fox go into an earth just on the edge of the wood. We found a new hole with two “latrines” which means badgers. We found a newt, either smooth or palmate, in a puddle near the river Tavy. But the most exciting new is what we found on a flat piece of sand on the river’s edge. Footprints, fish scales and fish bones. We checked the footprints with an information card I have and it proves the footprints were of an otter, ye hah. It might just be luck or the work we are doing is slowly paying off. The jays are still around but they are very nervous of the presence of humans and fly off as soon as they see us, I hope this will improve the more we are there.
I have just seen the specifications of the new Canon camera the Canon 1dx mkii and I want one. It can do everything I ever want; it will make me a better photographer and take better photographs. (The auto focus is said to be really good, it has dual DIGIC 6+ processors and it has 2 mega pixels more than my current camera plus a few other bits and bobs that I really need) Hold on, I'm the proud owner of a Canon 1dx mki and a Canon 1d mkIV and that's what I said about those cameras when they came out! When I bought the mki I was told it will be the only camera you will ever need. I can remember talking to people and reading several articles which stated that this is the best camera in the world including one by a famous wildlife photographer who stated that there was no noise when he took an image that was well above ISO 10,000. Now I'm not saying he was lying but I'd like to know what software he used to create that image because I know quite a few people who own a Canon 1dx, amateurs and professionals, and none of them, including myself, would go above ISO 3200 unless it was absolutely necessary to get the image. It's not the noise that bothers me, because that can be dealt with by noise reducing software, but it's the lack of fine detail that gets taken away when using high ISO’s. Yes the mkii looks a good camera and its being given rave reviews but my mki is a good camera as well. Will the mkii make me a better photographer, NO because if I'm a crap photographer to start with I'll still be a crap photographer with an expensive camera. Will it take better photographs, NO because I determine the settings of the camera and take the photograph not the camera. Therefore do I need the new Canon 1dx mkii, NO. But I still want one! Doh!
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