Air traffic on alert over high-flying vulture – News.

WARNINGS were issued to aircraft over Scotland yesterday after a bird of prey centre lost a vulture which is capable of soaring at heights of more than 30,000 feet.

PostScript – It seems a story like this can’t pass without somone trying to make more of it than is really necessary – “Giant vulture menaces Scottish skies”  shouts The Register.

It’s tame, it’s lost, but oh no, anything we don’t understand is a threat.

Mark on July 27th, 2010

I have noticed that whilst there have been far fewer bees around this time of year, last year and this, this year at least their place has increasingly been replaced by other nectar loving creatures.



I counted 6 Hoverflies around my Agapanthus and Purple Loose-strife the other day, and just 1 bee.

I took a number of pictures, which you have to do working in macro mode with fast moving creatures, but as with a number of activities, practice makes perfect, and I gradually approached my goal.

Hoverfly 2

Not easy to follow these, handholding a 50-200mm lens (need to work on those arms !),  so several rests in between shots, which allows for review, and change of position.

The Zuiko 50-200mm at full bore is eqv. to 400mm, and I used a Canon close-up lens (500D) on the front for the closer shots.

A couple of learning points for next time – slightly deeper depth of field, and possibly trying to attach a ringflash for less severe glare. I used the pop-up flash for fill-in, but I expect the lens blocked off a fair bit of that. Possibly a tripod as well, as even with in-body stabilisation there could easily be movement blur entering the equation.

But with some perseverence , I got the shot I was after. the insect in parallel with the lens and just enough depth of field to show the creature at it’s best.

From a bit of research I believe this is the Marmalade hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus, unless anyone can advise other wise.

Hoverfly 3

The next goal will be to capture some of these in flight, actually hovering, but that’s for another day.

Tags: , , , ,

Mark on May 12th, 2010

Over on my Image gallery I have now set up a basic Paypal service for buying prints.

I offer prints from most of the sections.

You can buy in several sizes, from 6×4 to A3+. These are hand printed using pigmented inks for long life colour.

If you want larger sizes, or international orders, please let me know and I can sort something out.

You have 2 options, print only, or matted.

Matted means mounted with a card “window” suitable for dropping into a locally sourced frame.

Little Owl matted

Watermarks as seen on images on the site will be removed.

Postage is included for the UK.

Shown here is an example of an A4 print, matted with a cream-coloured mount, with a ruler for scale. This matte size is 40×30 cm (c. 16″x12″), a common frame size.

Mark on April 9th, 2010

A heads up, just in case you weren’t aware,  that Adobe are about to release the latest version of Photoshop, version CS5. It has been trailed for a couple of weeks now, but the official launch is Monday 12th April.

Adobe CS5 launch logo

You can find out all about it here, where you can register for an on-line webcast.

But be aware that whilst this is called a “launch”, it’s really a tease – you won’t be able to buy it until later in the year, at least a month later at the earliest anyway. I think that there’s been a number of rumours – a few people have been helping out with the beta and have been itching to tell all, so this is Adobe’s way of going formal with the features that will be made available.

What’s in it for me?

Well there is something called “content aware scaling” (or “fill” depending on where you look), which is a fancy name for a smart cloning tool. From what I can see, instead of tedious brush strokes with clone stamp/healing brush, this will do the work for you. If it saves time, and looks good, then this is going to go down well with pro photographers, where time is money.

Now as a Nature photographer, you and I don’t do cloning do we?

Weeeelll, maybe a bit of “gardening”, you know, just a bit of weeding, to remove dead leaves on the ground, branches distracting from birds in the trees, filling in the edges of those panorama shots where you took a couple less shots than you should have… so it builds into something that could save a lot of time and effort.

I think I saw something that is going to help with HDR (“high dynamic range”) shots, to end those over-grey clouds.

And maybe it will be faster too, they always say that don’t they, but of course, again anything that saves time… But there might be a 64 bit version for the MAC, and possibly better tuning on the PC.

Something to look out for if you are on version CS or earlier, and thinking of upgrading to CS5 – I believe that upgrading will only be allowed back 3 versions, so you may want to consider your options on upgrading to CS 4 now, if you need these features of CS5.

No word on prices as yet, maybe that will be made known on Monday.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Gray Jay in isolation

Colorado Grey Jay

We quite often like to see and photograph nature subjects as close as we can get – we get see certain features in close up, maybe an expression, but certainly fur/feather detail and colouration, with any background (“bg”) details rendered out of focus. Such a photo as this, of a Grey (or Gray) Jay.

A better example would have the subject larger in the frame, with a really blurred background. But you can see the colours, and some feather detail.

A caveat, which is that these images were taken on a compact, so with a DSLR one should expect more isolation of the subject.

Now by accident, when looking for identification confirmation (I’m not a native of the US, and needed to know what this was), that I found out that one of this bird’s  nickname is “The Camp Robber”, for its scavenging from humans.

So you can see from the first image that it is close to habitation (despite being a “native of conifer forests”). If I expand

the crop we get more of a clue to this nature – what has the bird got it’s eye on?

Gray Jay and Bin

Gray Jay and Bin

Here in the second image we see a not very picturesque rubbish bin.

It seems the bird has a more than healthy interest in this feature!

The last image now shows why this bird deserves it’s nickname.

Not far from it’s forest home, but displaying the behaviour that earns it’s nickname. It’s slightly humourous, but would it win any prizes as a photo image?

The animal in its environment picture tells us a lot about behaviour, whether its pretty or ugly.

Grey Jay and Bin 2

“Robber” Grey Jay at the Bin

Tags: , , , , , ,