If last months blog was the post of optimism, then this months blog is the post of ‘cold hard reality,’ and, if Autumn is the season of transition, then I’d say it mirrors my life pretty well right now. But, first off, some honesty, and for good reason. You wouldn’t have known it from reading last months blog, but I was aware I was going to be made redundant, and indeed it was confirmed a couple of days before finishing up my post, so, right now, as things stand, I have a wife, two children, a mortgage and all the bills that come with life, but one vital thing missing – an income! I wanted to to be honest about this because I’ve no doubt that some were reading my blog and feeling quite different about the pandemic, seeing no hope or good in it at all. The reality is that the situation is hard, the stress of not having a job, but a steady stream of bills, is not easy. However, I still stand by what I put. I think this could still be a fantastic opportunity for me in the long run, and I do still see covid as a time to be grateful. I have enjoyed the time furlough has given me, and there is no doubt that I would not have had anywhere near the amount of photo opportunities I’ve had. Time of course, as well as lots of planning and patience, is king to wildlife photography. Sometimes I dumb down what I do, popping it down to luck, but the truth is, with nature, you earn your luck, or as NottMWild on instagram says, “You have to be there to take it.” This may not seem like some great inspirational message, but it is true! You do! Still, that’s enough of that, you all want to know what I’ve been up to and what I’ve seen, so let’s move on shall we?
In terms of where I’ve been, not much has changed. Visits to two of my favourites, Thursley Common being my absolute favourite right now, and Edenbrook, in Church Crookham, have been fairly frequent, (though nowhere near as much as I would like) whilst another visit to Farnham Heath brought some lovely deer shots. I was particularly pleased with these as they are skittish round people, and not anything like as easy to photograph as those found at Richmond, or Bushy Park.
So far, I have to say I’ve not been that impressed with Farnham Heath. I will give it more time, but I haven’t seen anywhere near as much wildlife as I thought I might. That being said, if you’re a frequenter there, then please do let me know what your sightings are in the comments below, because more often than not, it’s the time taken to build up knowledge that ensures the best sightings.
I visited a place called Moor Green Lake. Views over the water are not easy, so maybe not the best place for a photographer, where light direction and angles of view are critical to making a photo interesting, but, and this is interesting to me, there are a couple of disused quarry pits being worked on, to turn into wetlands, and to my amazement, it was down this end, with great big dumper trucks, diggers and all other manner of machinery, that I got my best sightings of wildlife. First off, a red kite, almost begging to be photographed, right above me. Of course, my lens couldn’t see it, a problem I often find, and most of that opportunity was wasted as my lens hunted backwards and forwards against infinity. I wouldn’t mind, but the red kite has a six foot wingspan, so it shouldn’t be difficult. Thankfully, I did manage to get some shots, but no sooner had I got some, than a new issue presented itself, and another that happens far too frequently for my liking. The red kite moved over to some trees and immediately focus was lost. Ridiculous really, especially when it had lock of it till that point. Straight after that, I caught sight of a buzzard, a bird I see far less than a red kite (how things have changed in fortune for the red kite) and I had a great opportunity to capture one, more side on, (when I’ve seen them they have always been in their typical circling above pose, only showing their underside) but yet again, my camera focused on the electrical cables overhead. I was furious with this, as there was definitely enough of a distance for the bird to be focused on. I don’t know if it’s the Nikon 200-500mm, or the Nikon D500, but I’m losing so many shots to the background it’s not even funny. One thing that did amaze me, which always takes some pre-planning to increase your incredibly low odds of getting one, was how sharp some dragonfly in flight shots came out. With issues of background focusing, plus the erratic nature of the hyperactive dragonfly as a whole, I decided that my best bet was to attempt some pre-focusing against a clear background. The last time I tried this I would spot the dragonfly, hit AF and expect it to grab on to a more or less pre-focused subject. The reality is that the subject was so small in the view finder/sensor, that the AF would go right through the dragonfly and on to the water. Once this happens you can’t AF for the dragonfly, so you have to restart the laborious process of pre-focusing, Etc. It’s a lot like fishing really, casting out and reeling back in, but I digress. Still, I thought I’d try again, and this time it paid off, with some lovely shots at almost every angle I could want!
Highlights for me this month were lizards at Thursley Common, the deer at Farnham Heath, dragonflies, and photographing what I thought were two kestrels. The photo is not good enough to share, but I was amazed to find it was not a couple of ketrels, but a sparrowhawk chasing a kestrel, taken at another local for me – Tices Meadow.
My absolute best moment by far though, had to be seeing four red kites, a buzzard and a kestrel, all flying together at Thursley Common. I would have been proud to of captured this event, but I charged my battery up the night before, took out the camera and forgot to put the replacement in! Have I learned anything? I hope so!
One thing I will say, which is a great credit to Nikon’s 200-500mm lens, is that when you can get a clear two meters of view, the detail it can capture, even on a resting dragonfly, is astonishing! This last month has brought some fabulous shots of dragonflies` and it has whetted my appetite for selling prints, so I will look at that very soon, as I need to stop procrastinating. Let’s face it, procrastination and job searching do not go well, but what better time to start things than in the future? Sorry, I mean NOW!!
Another thing I really need to get on with is doing some paid photography. I have a great passion for pets and I love candid, children playing photos and think any parent would love to have some treasured moments of their kids playing, but I fear I may be over complicating things in this area and inadvertently stopping myself from starting. I think I get so obsessed with the big picture and making everything great, that maybe I don’t always do the obvious and easy, which is to just start. It’s difficult though, because whilst I see the merit in just starting, I also can’t stand mediocrity and substandard work. So, naturally, the website I’m working on is slowing things down because it’s not ready. Well, at least not to my standards!
Well, it’s a bit all over the show this time, but it is what it is. Hopefully next month I’ll have a job to speak of, but, more important to this website, photos of four red kites, a buzzard and a kestrel, because of course, I wouldn’t forget my battery again. Would I?
See you next time 🙂