Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 - My Photography Highlights

As usual, here's a summary of my photography highlights from the year.  2015 was the first year I haven't traveled overseas for many years, and with all sorts of other things happening to keep me occupied, photography has taken a back-seat.  The selection below hopefully shows that the UK has so much to offer, even for the time-poor!


In April, a very obliging fox visited our garden, and seemed happy enough to strike a pose for the camera:


...a baby rabbit was seen on the top of our local hill...


...and a Fallow Deer was photographed nearby in Sussex

Fallow Deer

The Moon

Having missed out on the eclipse last year courtesy of cloud cover and with my new 500mm lens bought second-hand, I was keen to get a photo of the 'Super Blood Moon'.  It meant getting up at 02:30, but was worthwhile:

Super Blood Moon

As it happened, I went out the previous evening to see which settings would work best.  I managed to get a shot with a small aeroplane flying in front of the moon, which has come out quite nicely:

Moon and aeroplane

And whilst we're on the subject of night-time, here's a shot of Guildford Cathedral, with an obliging firework nearby:

Guildford Cathedral

XH558 Vulcan

2015 was the last year which the iconic Vulcan was allowed to fly, so I was keen to get a few shots of it.  I tried a couple of times whilst it was flying in the South (living near Dunsfold helped my chances!), and managed to get a shot to remember her by

XH558 Vulcan


Here are some of the highlights from birds I've been able to photograph this year.  A return visit to Gigrin Farm in Wales meant I could get a Red Kite photo I was happy with, plus towards the end of the year, two separate Barn Owl viewings were very special.  Elsewhere, an OK shot of a Great Grey Shrike was good, but still not in good light.  Finally, my local swans gave birth to NINE cygnets, so an early walk along the canal treated me to some special moments.  And then there was the Buzzard 'caught in the act'...

Red Kite
Barn Owl (very low light)

Great Grey Shrike

Swan with two cygnets


I'm now on Instagram, and use it to showcase some of my favourite wildlife images from trips over the years.  You can follow me here.


Finally, I earn a little income from a back-catalogue of stock images, which are for sale on various microstock websites.  Earnings are way-down again this year (£126.91), partly as I haven't uploaded any fresh images, but also a symptom of the changing industry dynamics.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve

Only an hour away from my home in Guildford, is the wonderful national nature reserve, Titchfield Haven, run by Hampshire County Council.  

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve
As their website states, "the Reserve covers 369 acres of the Meon Valley, encompassing a mosaic of natural habitats. River, fen, pools, reedbed and meadow are carefully managed, giving protection to a range of special wildlife".

Entry is only £4, and parking (on the edge of the Solent) is free.  There's an excellent cafe too.

I wasn't able to spend much time in any of the hides, but did try them all out.  Here's a few photos of what I was able to capture, either from a hide, between them, or outside the Visitor's Centre.

Common(?) Tern



Canada Goose



House Sparrow

Mute and Black Swans

Mute Swan


Black-headed Gull


Black-tailed Godwits?

Bar-tailed Godwit?

Avocet and Bar-tailed Godwit

Finally, only a short drive away, and with a very hidden entrance is Titchfield Abbey, which is a free English Heritage site.

Titchfield Abbey

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Canon News: EOS 5DS and 5DS R

Canon have come up with something groundbreaking here - a brand new 50.6MP CMOS sensor sat inside one of two bodies the 5DS and 5DS R.

Canon 5DS

Canon 5DS

The specifications include:

  • 50.6 MP CMOS full-frame sensor
  • Dual DIGIC 6 processors
  • 150K Pixel RGB+IR Metering Sensor
  • Up to 5.0 Frames Per Second
  • 61-point AF
  • Cropped Shooting (1.3x and 1.6x cropped shooting modes produce 30.5 and 19.6 megapixel files)
  • USB 3.0
  • Mirror Vibration Control System
  • Interval Timer Shooting
Prices for the body are around £2999 at time of writing.

More details are available here.

Canon 5DS R

The 5DS R is almost identical to the 5DS, but a "...low-pass cancellation filter enhances the clarity and sharpness of the high-resolution images with minimal risk of artifacts".

Canon 5DS R
It's priced at £3,199.

There are more details available here.

Canon News:11-24 f4 L lens announced

Canon have just released an extremely wide zoom lens, the 11-24 f4 L lens - in fact at time of launch, it's the world's widest rectilinear zoom lens.  I am lucky enough to own the 16-35 II L lens, and at 16mm, it can create some stunning landscape shots, so this 'wide boy' must be incredible.

Canon 11-24 f4 L lens 

It features three different lens coatings to deliver superb image quality, has minimal distortion, and near-silent AF, with full-time manual override.

Expected to cost £2,799.

More details here.

Canon News: EOS 750D and 760D

Canon have updated their popular low/mid-range 'rebel'/xxxD DSLR (which started with the 300D - my first digital camera!), and have introduced us to non-identical twins - the 750D (Rebel T6i) and 760D (Rebel T6s).  

Canon 750D

Canon 750D

The specifications include:
  • 3.0" (7.7cm) Vari Angle LCD touch screen
  • 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor 
  • 19 all cross-type AF points
  • DIGIC 6 processor delivers full resolution shooting at 5 fps
  • large ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100-12800 (extendable to ISO 25600)
  • Connectivity options include Wi-fi and NFC
  • Movies can be recorded in .mp4 format for easy online sharing
  • Full HD movies with Hybrid CMOS AF III to track movement and focus smoothly between subjects
  • Creative movie modes
£599 for body only.

More details available here.

Canon 760D

Canon 760D

The 760D shares most of the same specifications as the 750D, but adds a few extra features:

  • An eye sensor for use with the optical viewfinder
  • LCD information display on top-plate
  • Quick control dial on the rear
  • Servo AF in Live View (which I'd LOVE to have on my 5D Mark III for wildlife filming)

£649 for body only.

More details here.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Canon News: EOS 1D-X Firmware updated to v2.0.7

Canon have released an updated firmware release (to 2.0.7) for their flagship EOS 1D-X.

Canon EOS 1D-X

The changes incorporated are:

  1. Improves the AF controllability when shooting in Live View mode with a wide-angle lens (fixed focal length or zoom).
  2. Fixes a phenomenon in which, when shooting long exposures (several minutes), vertical lines appear on the right edge of captured images (still photos).
  3. Fixes a phenomenon in which the Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) may not perform as intended when in continuous shooting mode and where the shutter speed is longer than 1 second.
  4. Improves the reliability of the control mechanism for the Picture Style Auto setting.
  5. Fixes a phenomenon in which the electronic level indicator does not work correctly.
  6. Fixes a phenomenon in which, when using the "Save and read camera settings" function, the color space data that is selected in "Custom shooting mode (C1-C3)" is not saved. *1
  7. Corrects some incorrect indications on the "English" and "Russian" menu screens.
*1 As a result of this fix, cameras with Firmware Version 2.0.7 will not be able to read the "camera settings file" created with cameras running Firmware Version 2.0.3 (or earlier). If you require the "camera settings file", please create it after updating to firmware version 2.0.7.

One upgraded, you will be unable to revert to a previous version of the firmware.

The firmware is available to download for Mac or Windows here.

Canon News: EOS 5D Mark III Firmware v1.3.3

Canon have released an updated firmware release (to 1.3.3) for their popular full-frame DSLR, the EOS 5D Mark III.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

The changes incorporated are:
  1. Improves the AF controllability when shooting in Live View mode with a wide-angle lens (fixed focal length or zoom).
  2. Corrects some incorrect indications on the "English" and "Russian" menu screens.

One upgraded, you will be unable to revert to a previous version of the firmware.  This may of course have implications for those running any non-Canon 'hacks', such as Magic Lantern.

The firmware is available to download for Mac or Windows here.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

RSPB Big Garden Watch 2015

This weekend was the RSPB's Annual Big Garden Watch, the world's largest wildlife survey, which has been tracking changes in the UK's garden bird population for 36 years.  I treated myself to a giant cup of tea and settled down for an hour to see what I could record.

My garden is near some diverse habitats - a city centre, small woods, and a river, so I've been lucky enough historically to see a large variety of birds, often flying low overhead:

Peregrine Falcon with extra wings

... and sometimes enjoying the berries from our holly tree:

Redwing enjoying a holly berry

But with the Garden Watch, the 'rules' are to simply count the maximum concurrent number of each species seen in (not over) the garden in an allotted hour.

A few of the usual suspects were of course around - Great Tits, Dunnock, Blackbird and Robin.  I was also lucky enough to get my first ever photo of a tiny Wren, and a reappearance of a female blackcap, which I had first seen late last year.

Blackcap (female)

Blue Tit


And just beyond the garden, I saw 10 Magpie in a tree - but only one popped into the garden for the hour.

A tidings(?) of Magpies

In the allotted hour, I wasn't able to record any sightings of other frequent visitors to the garden, like Nuthatch, but maybe next year!

More details of the birdwatch are available on the RSPB's website.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Canon News: 6D firmware (v 1.1.6) released

Canon have launched new firmware (1.1.6) for their budget full-frame 6D.  It addresses the following aspects:
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the camera may not first use the center AF point to focus, when the AF point selection is set to automatic in AI Servo AF mode.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which focus cannot be finely adjusted with specific lenses when shooting remotely with EOS Utility software.
  • Corrects some Ukrainian language displayed on the menu for ISO Setting.

UK users can download the firmware from here.
US users can download the firmware from here.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 - My photography highlights

2014 has been another year where photography has had to take a bit of a back seat for me, for various reasons.  However, there have still been some incredible highlights, including going on a trip of a lifetime, which is where this blog starts.

[Photographs and videos are best enjoyed full screen]

In February, I was lucky enough to go on a expedition to the Himalayas to try to photograph the elusive snow leopard.  It involved camping at altitude with a night-time temperature of -30 degrees Celsius, so not a trip to be taken lightly.

Camping in the Hemis High Altitude National Park

There's more details on my original blog post, and here's a short video with the highlights, including, if you look very closely, a mother snow leopard, with her two sub-adult cubs.

Lake District

In April, I went to the Lake District, and had some luck with some nocturnal wildlife, as it were.



London Marathon



In July, Istanbul beckoned for a long weekend.  I could not recommend it more highly as a city break, with so much to see within a compact area, and an easy-to-use tram service.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Istanbul Old City, Sultanahmet


In October, a trip to Iceland was coupled with some extremely challenging weather conditions - 120mph winds meaning one day was a complete write-off.  I'd wanted (again!) to photograph the Northern Lights, but cloud cover/rain meant this was very difficult.  In one brief opportunity, we managed to get out into the darkness (and cold!) to get some shots, albeit they aren't great!

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Gullfoss, Iceland

Deer rut

The Red Deer rut is very popular with photographers, so I thought I'd check out some fallow deer instead.  This video shows some males preparing for the rut - well worth watching with sound!

Fallow Deer rutting

Birdlife in the UK

In January, the year started nicely with a sighting of a Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) in Surrey - an infrequent visitor to the UK.  They have incredible plumage in the right light.  Apparently.

Glossy Ibis

 The following week, I tried to get a photograph of birds landing on my feeders, but need to work a lot harder to get a decent shot:

An 'artistic' (i.e. technically poor!) shot of a Blue Tit

...and in February, I got a nice shot of a Nuthatch in the garden too:


More recently, Redwings have returned, so it was good to get a shot of one of them eating a berry whole:


Stock photography

Finally, my year of stock photography has yet again suffered from an almost complete lack of uploading new images.  Some of the old favourites still paid-out though, and continuing a trend of the last few years, Shutterstock is easily my most successful site:

My most popular images for sale at Shutterstock:

Finally, following my footage of flooding on Christmas Eve 2013 in Guildford which was shown on BBC London news, I was paid for the footage to be used in a Channel 4 documentary, "The Storm that Stole Christmas", which aired around April time.