Entries in the ‘Photography Tips’

Early Spring in Norfolk

Filed in Photography Tips, Workshops on Apr.24, 2011

Spring is my favourite time of year, an amazing array of colours, fresh life and wildlife, this season is truly amazing within the different season we have during the year.  Having just returned from my Early Spring in Norfolk photo tour which I run every spring and 3 days of one to ones added on, its been a busy week with a amazing weather.  Early Spring photo trip is a full 3 days exploring the beautiful countryside of Norfolk at the same time staying at one of the best Hotels serving stunning local food, the perfect base to come back to from a day in the field. I had a great group of clients and a real pleasure showing you around Norfolk, at the same time giving you real help to improve your photography, fieldcraft and general understanding of the subjects we encountered and photographed.

Catching the season moving from winter into spring is a beautiful time, the wildlife of the Norfolk coast comes alive.  It is a place that is blessed with a rich and varied wildlife heritage, famous for its wild north coast, the rivers, lakes and marshes of the Broads and the sandy heaths. There are also the fens, grasslands and ancient woods within the wider farmed countryside, all beautiful places where we encountered many photographic opportunities during this photo tour. My knowledge of the North Norfolk Coast helped the group in seeing some of the best places along this beautiful coastline ensuring that they all captured some lovely images.

These 2 x three day photo trips I run every year,one in Spring and the other one in Winter are designed to show you as much of the wildlife and their own habitats as i can during these two trips, whilst at the same time balancing that with the best opportunities to capture the wildlife here.  The weather throughout the week was as kind as it could possibly be, with morning light and evening light offering lovely photographs for the entire group. Every morning on the roof apex a lone male Blackbird would fill the air with what has to be for me the most beautiful call of the British countryside. Standing as proud as punch as we are packed for the days adventures below him.

On the first morning we visited the predicted Spring Tide which was forecast alone with the full moon. Upon arriving we are had some lovely mist and sun rise shots, where I pointed out different images, suggested different compositions etc, all in tern designed to make the group grow within their own photography.  At the same time showing them that the beauty of photography is what the person chooses to capture when they look through their own viewfinder, and never to be restricted to one or two shots, this is how I learned.  There were lots of Bar and Black tailed Godwits gathered and cleaning, and some sleeping with their deep summer plumage warming the slight chill in the air.  They are such a beautiful and striking bird at this time of year and a firm favourite with the group on the day.

We then headed to a great little gem of a site with Barn Owls, Hares and Marsh Harrier all living in close proximity to each other, a mixture of rough grazing, farmland and marshland.  This amazing little place really is a little sanctuary for wildlife.  There are a pair of Marsh harrier living and nesting there, some distance away and protected from the shoreline by a small pool of water.  We watched and saw some amazing behaviours between them both, flying in, dropping into their nest site.  For some it was the first time witnessing this beautiful bird.  Marsh Harriers are doing really well in the county of Norfolk with several nest sites littered along its coastline.

Each afternoon, taking us into the evening we’d settle at one of the groups favourite places and capture whatever would show.  Throughout the several days there the Barn Owl actively was really quiet, with little or no sightings at the several sites I know, plenty of white feathers, pellets and pooh markings though.  My conclusion was they maybe sitting on eggs.  During this time one bird sits on the eggs whilst the other sleeps so their combined actively is really small, only venturing out to feed so fingers crossed they are still around and not been disturbed at any of the sites.

At one of the sites while we waited for the Owls to show, there is a  good amount of Brown Hare, so we all voted as a group to try our luck at these while we waited for the main act to show.  When I go somewhere new I always have a look around , east and west for the respective light source, as light equals speed, speed equals sharp images.  I demonstrated to the group some tracking and fieldcraft skills that they can remember and maybe take home with themselves and apply in their own work, going through the behaviours I have learned on the said mentioned subjects.

Over the last few days we visited this site a few times and everyone came away with some great shots, where I demonstrated the different composition options and encouraged the group to push their own boundaries in regard to how they see an image. On one of the mornings the sun was coming up and the hares were chasing and playing almost underneath the suns rays, so some careful fieldcraft and slow approach got us into place for some nice and very different images I felt, capturing that beautiful and atmospheric morning we all encountered.

Lighting, mist,sun and subject all coming together on those rare moments when all photography key elements work together. I chose to compose small in the frame, a style I love and here I was able to show a little of the habitat and the rising sun which adds so much to an image.  The Hares were fun to watch, even chasing off a Pheasant that was among the field, during other visits we witnessed two Hares following each other, the male behind the female constantly sniffing the female waiting for her to come into heat so he can breed with her.  The poor fellow was really hanging onto this female with stiff competition from other males knocking around,such great behaviour to watch where you learn some much about the subject all benefiting your work.

This male Hare seemed to be top dog and had a few females in his harlream,the battle scars are clear to see with a half chewed ear reminding me of Bigwig from the film Watership Down.  The first film I saw at the pictures. I also had a lovely encounter with a Wheatear who seemed to check me out as I was lying on the ground.  Here I composed the bird in the morning light with the dew from the grass reflecting light making a lovely, soft appearance to this image.

Had some lovely feedback from clients and Andrew Hall wrote :

“I would like to say a massive thank you for the fantastic time I had on your spring waders workshop Your willingness to share your knowledge and techniques was extremely refreshing from the guarded nature of most other professional photographers. The technical tips you gave helped to improve my photography, however the highlight for me was the amount of fieldcraft knowledge that I was able to gain Our time spent crawling and lying around the field photographing the Hares was fantastic and incredibly rewarding when we walked away with the photographs we had in mind at the start Once again a huge thank you and I look forward to future workshops/trips that I hope to do with you soon! I will never hesitate in recommend you to anyone and everyone”

David Naylor who attended a day in Norfolk with me :

After recently purchasing a new camera and years of average bird snaps from my old camera I took the recommendation from a friend and booked a day out with Craig in Norfolk. I can honestly say that in the first hour with Craig, albeit at 5.30 am, in a damp field, I leaned more about how to take really excellent photos than I have in the last 10 years of reading books and magazines. Craig covered all the basics of the camera then moved on to composition, exposure and auto-focusing and gave me real confidence in both myself and the equipment. We spent the rest of the day consolidating the advice in a variety of lovely locations and I am truly grateful to Craig for his open and informative tuition. Nothing is kept back and Craig shows you exactly how he takes truly superb photos. I cannot recommend Craig highly enough if you want to learn how to take better photographs”.  

More testimonals can be viewed here

Thank you to all my guests on the Early Spring in Norfolk, great company, great food and great weather, many thanks also to the three clients who booked one to ones in Norfolk.  I wish you all well and very nice to meet and help you all in improving your photography, at the same time learning more about the countryside amd fieldcraft.  I have a few days off now until my next photo tour to Texel.  My Texel trip starts on Thursday evening, co-hosted by my friend and fellow wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel from Holland.  

This beautiful island of Texel is full of birdlife at this time of year and if lasts years trip is anything to go by then the whole group is in for a real treat, its home to one of the most stunning and beautiful waders, the Black Tailed Godwit which was photographed from last years trip. I will update my blog on my return before heading to India to photography the amazing Bengal Tiger with clients booked onto my Tigers of India trip.

Best Wishes and Happy Easter.

 




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Norfolk in Monochrome

Filed in Photography Tips, Places Of Interest, Workshops on Feb.22, 2011

I have spent the weekend in the sleepy, tucked away county of Norfolk, one of my favourite places within the UK.  A bounty of diverse birds and wildlife which enrich this area throughout the year, making this a mecca for wildlife loving people.  I had clients with me during these two days on One To Ones covering the Spring Tides, Barn Owls and the many other species of wildlife that live along the North Norfolk coast, dominated by the Wash a large area of salt marsh which has one of the greatest concentrations of bird life within the UK, internationally important for many breeding birds and over-wintering wildfowl.

During the two days the weather became testing at times where the the sun stayed hidden behind a wall of cloud for the best part of the two days, just giving us enough light to capture some of the wildlife through photography.  With an almost colourless appearance to most of the images from both days I have chosen to present them in a black and white manner or Monochrome as the term is better known, where you have to look further and deeper into an image to see what is captured within its frame.

Devoid of colour the human eye is forced to look right into the image, spending more time in the absence of colour which can often let you know which species is displayed.  I have always loved black and white images, glimpses of a bygone era where you wonder in the absence of today’s technology how on earth they managed to capture such wonderful images.

Photography is the art of taking or making photographs, it is the creation of images by exposing film or a computer chip to light inside a camera.  The word photography comes from Greek words meaning to write or draw with light.  So by presenting these images in a black and white format from a well visited place I visit, it gives a different account of the images I capture during my many visits there during the year.  Simple composition and strong elements are key to all photography, more so with black and white, where some images you take and review on the back of the camera will lend themselves very well to this monochrome format.

Black and White Photographs are among one of my favourite styles, both to look at and to create.  Shooting for black & white is challenging, you immediately eliminate one of your building blocks of design;  Colour.  That’s one less tool that you have to compose with.  Personally I am drawn to the beauty that is created by black and white and always have been.  It makes the viewer focus on the strong compositions, textures and shapes as opposed to symbols, colours.  Contrast in photographic composition is an effective means of directing the viewer’s attention to the centre of the interest.  The positioning of the subjects elements to create contrast gives them added emphasis and directs the viewer’s attention all brought about in the absence of colour.

A photograph of wildlife on an overcast day can result in a dull photograph, but taking that same scene in black and white will help the viewer to see the contrasts and graphics of that image. Focusing on the emotions of the subject.

I have always said that there is always an image to be had from the moment I picked up a camera , if the main subject does not turn up then never put the camera down.  This is the advice I always give to clients.  Adopting this attitude and ‘can do’ approach will broaden your own ideas along with your creative style resulting in many interesting and different images from your encounters with nature, while at the same time learning new and exciting techniques within your  own photography, which can cross over into many different formats of this discipline.

Animal behaviour is something I love to capture within my work.  However simple you can learn so much from wildlife in general and more so the subject you are photographing.  This is another ‘learn’ I like to show all my clients and it can make the difference to your photographs on a massive scale.  During one of the days at Norfolk we were at one of the sites I know, where the incoming tides flood the gullies and inlets which provide great feeding for many different birds.  The Turnstones were busy turning stones, foraging for food, doing all the leg work for often little reward in terms of food.

Black-headed Gulls watched them, perfectly still, not really attracting any attention, then in the next breath bully their way in after the Turnstones had found a food item.  These couple of images show one Gull alone, watching a Turnstone feed, break open the mussel shell, for him to come in and steal the prize.  I chose to focus on the Gull with the second image clearly showing him watching this poor Turnstone work on this food source he’d found, clearly showing the Gulls intentions.

How wonderful nature is in every form and these simple behaviours are right under our noses alot of the time.  Always stay tuned in to where ever you are and never put the camera down.  This is the very best advice I can give.  My clients over the weekend hopefully went away with this and much more from the One To Ones– Spring Tides, Waders, Barn Owls days I run almost three times a month now throughout the year.

I show clients keys sights, go through their cameras and settings, I also cover fieldcraft, wind direction and the use of natural light, enabling all clients to go home with more tools in their ‘own box’, in turn helping to improve in all aspects of wildlife photography, at the same time showing behaviours in wildlife and the subject  in question, looking for impending action and movement, using whats around you to hide and conceal your presence and much more during these action packed days.

If there is anything I have touched on here that interests you or you want any further information on workshops etc then please send me an email here .  Thank you to Karl and Ingrid on Saturday and Jonathan on the Sunday for your company and I wish you all well in your photography.


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Wildlife Photography-Fieldcraft

Filed in Photography Tips on Feb.02, 2011

One of the most important tasks for a wildlife photographer is getting to know the subject, spending time watching, listening and looking, learning  its behaviour, its habits and calls.  In turn all of this will reward you with a far better chance of capturing images that show the subjects natural behaviour.  Most, if not all animals show clues that can provide an advance warning of behaviour that will tell a story within your photographs, such as fighting, hunting, and mating.  It is also important to recognize the signs of stress within the animal so you know when to stop and leave the animal well alone.  The last thing you ever what to do is cause undue stress and disturbance through your actions.

By watching and learning about the subject you get to know their behaviour and any sudden changes so that you can be ready by just observing their behaviour and patterns, which can change in a second, from peaceful to action images in a instance. This observing approach can learn you so much about a subject which will be key to improving your wildlife photography and the images you capture.

There are two approaches when it comes to getting close to nature, the first is to conceal yourself so that the subject does not know that you are there, the second is stalking which takes more time and a lot more skill and patience to master.  Many species of mammals and birds will allow you to approach them closely if you are careful and take your time, no fast movements and using the correct techniques.  Read the land for yourself, see whats in front of you, in between you and the subject, use natural gulley’s and shapes to break up your approach.  Never make the mistake of walking directly towards your subject as the chances are the animal will have long gone.

Your approach needs to be slow and low, watching and listening, as other birds and animals will give your position away should you be seen.  Look for dry grass, leaves and gather a small amount in your hands and throw this into the air determining the wind direction.  Once you see which way the wind is blowing you can determine your approach better as most animals have a great sense of smell and its the first thing to give you away.  The wind always wants to be blowing into your face, this will blow your scent away and remember to forget the aftershave or perfume along with soaps that are high in perfume as these will be picked up from great distances away.

As many animals and birds are very shy and very wary of humans, as a wildlife photographer you need to take great care not to disturb your subject as your aim is to get close to photograph their natural relaxed behaviour, making for a much better image.  Getting into place before the sun comes up is also a great tip as you will have been there for a while before the sun comes up and the animal will not see you.  Using good fieldcraft skills that I have mentioned will allow you to be able to capture images showing what they are doing, as all animals and birds are most active at dawn and dusk.  This image of two fallow Deer was captured just as the sun broke the horizon and I was in place in the dark, set up and settled, which then allowed me to have a view and window into their behaviour and lives.

Is camouflaged clothing really necessary? Many people have asked me this question and for me its part of the fieldcraft package, so the answer is yes.  Your shape, white skin exposed, straight lines formed by your body all need to be broken up.  It works by letting you blend into the habitat you are working in, so if its snow you need to be white, on the beech the main colours need to be of a sandy colour and so forth.  My own experiences and skills that I learnt from my army days have been invaluable and have proven that they are transferable to wildlife photography.

The 3 S’s – Shape, Shine and Silhouette, these need to be broken up,  disguised as much as possible changing your physical appearance when you are working the ground as I do within my style of photography. If you are working from a car or hide you still need to have in mind that the subject will still see and smell you, so the need to break up these 3 S’s is paramount in the field.  Avoid materials that rustle and its always a must to wear a hat to break up your silhouette along with gloves that cover your hands so light isn’t reflexed back from your exposed bright skin.

Clothing, wind direction, covering the ground, shape, shine, stay low, can all help in capturing those moments in nature where you have to work harder with some animals than others.  Some species will accept human presence quicker, taking only hours, where as other more sensitive subjects will take weeks if not months.  Its the way I work while capturing wild animals as I like to show them in their natural habitats, composing them to show others how they go about their lives, so correct fieldcraft and camouflaged clothing are an integral part to the way I work.  Being at one with nature is amazing and with time and effort and applying good fieldcraft everyone is capable of capturing those beautiful moments I am blessed with seeing each time I enter the natural world.

Alot of the great wildlife photographs you see are as a result of many hours of dedicated and skilled photography, knowledge learned about the subject, fieldcraft applied, patience and perseverance, however, there are many great images that are also the result of a lucky encounter, where fast reactions of the photographer have succeeded in capturing a beautiful moment in time with that added ‘wow’ factor.  Regardless of the level of photographic skill you still need to be in exactly the right place at the right time, if you wish to capture a unique photograph from the wild.  You will increase your chances of this by spending as much time as you can in the field, watching, looking and listening to mother nature.

That decisive moment when it comes will be very fast and then over before you know it.  Where the subject is in the position or the action is at its best, might only be for a split second but by applying all the elements I have mentioned you will be in a prime position to capture that amazing image.  By remaining alert at all time you will reduce the chance of missing that killer shot as I call it, and increase your chances of seeing and detecting some aspect of behaviour that could alert you to an impending opportunity.

Thorough planning together with learning as much as you can about the subject you are watching will result in a great improvement within your wildlife photography. Adopt a mindset thatyou must work with whats in front of you, use the ground to your advantage but above all else relax and enjoy.  Don’t put any pressure on yourself and the rest will fall into place. Also never mislead people about what you have used to obtain an image, eg- fieldcraft, hide, captive or tame animal, bait/fed,  workshop and so forth.  A level of integrity and honesty should always be displayed with your work where your own rewards for putting the effort in will be well worth it in the end by developing sites and learning about the land and the animals it supports. 

All of the one to ones, workshops and photo trips that I run touch on all of the aspects of improving your wildlife photography, where fieldcraft is one of the major factors in producing lovely images of animals that live in the wild.  I wish you luck and remember always to respect wildlife the images are always second to their needs.

 If you would like any further help or advice on any of the topics I have raised then please feel free to send me an email here


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Spring Tide At Norfolk

Filed in Events, Photography Tips on Aug.12, 2010

There a few places in the UK where you can experience the sights and sounds of nature any better than the North Norfolk coast during the Spring Tides that start in earnest from this month onwards and for me herald the onset of the Autumn and Winter months,where the seasons change from the Spring/Summer into the Autumn and Winter.

Having just returned for a wonderful One To One day with Mike Breedon from South Yorkshire,where it was his wish to learn more about wildlife photography after contacting me through my website,the skills I use,expert fieldcraft,lens techniques,light,camera settings and so fourth, the venue Mike chose was one of the Spring Tide/Barn Owl days I run.

The weather was amazing throughout the day,with the morning light being one of the best I’ve seen in years of coming to this beautiful place Snettisham is,with its moon-like landscape,vast open spaces,where thousands of birds fly past you,feet away,its just an amazing place to be during these Spring Tides they are now beginning to happen on this beautiful stretch of the North Norfolk coastline.

During a Spring Tide most if not all of the estuary is consumed by the sea and submerged underwater.Out on the mud and sand flats you’ll see thousands of wading birds feeding at low tide,as the tides rises,the mud and sand flats disappear underwater and the birds are suddenly forced to move closer into shore by the incoming sea.They then take off,and fly in vast and awesome flocks towards you on the beech at Snettisham,a place that provides a safe refuge in which to rest until the falling tide allows them back onto the tidal flats.

Some of the birds from Geese,Redshanks,Oystercatchers and Grey Plovers are wonderful to watch in flight as the fly overhead escaping the oncoming tide,but for sheer size and show the smaller waders,such as Dunlin,Knots really steel the show for me.They perform for the gathering public that make the early start to witness one of natures most amazing spectacles.These smaller waders gather in great ,dense packs and lines,almost like bee swarms,rising,falling,twisting and turning all in perfect,rhythmic sweeps and stalls,before pouring into the roost site like falling hailstones.

Once they have landed they seem like they are not quite happy,un-decided its safe from birds of prey that circle the sky on the lookout for an easy breakfast.So up they come and do it all again,twisting and turning in the sky,until, once again they land almost in the same or close to where they were in the first place.When the birds are in the sky they are almost as one,one minute dark,the next silvery white,turning their backs to you,then their pale undersides in a show of coordination that’s second to none.I have never seen two birds make contact,making this site a truly magical event to witness in nature.

I have a few more dates free between now and December so should you wish to book or just found out a little more on these dates,my One To Ones,Workshops and how I run them then please send me an email here or call me on the number provided

Mike came away from the day with some great best practises I feel,where I was able to help him to understand the concept of capturing wild animals within their natural environments,in turn showing the general public where these birds,animals live,feed and breed and how they conduct their lives within the habitats around us.

Mike sent me his thoughts on the day-

Looking at my own images compared to other professional and amateur wildlife photographers I thought I needed a push to get to the next stage in order to improve in all areas of photography, field craft, and composition and general wildlife photography skills. I decided the best way would be to go to a total stranger who would hopefully recognise my faults and shortfalls and then not be afraid to show me where I was going wrong. I was fortunate to find Craig’s website which was easy to follow, looked clean, tidy and well organised and very professional as well as indicating that the type of One to One day he was offering matched all my requirements. I was not disappointed, I found Craig to match his website, easy to get on with, very informative, very professional and passionate about all aspects of wild life in its own environment, willing to offer advice and teach field craft skills in such a manner that made it all fit together to make the day good value for money. Professionalism was evident right the way through the long day even down to the standard of the packed lunch, a great day Craig and one which completely fit my requirements. Now all I have to do is try to put all that information and the practices into action. Now then, what did Craig say about composition.
Regards
,Mike Breedon, South Yorkshire

The importance of simple composition,giving the images room to ‘Breath’ and the most important tool in the box of being a wildlife photographer, which is fieldcraft,approaching subjects without causing them distress,using the cover available to break up your shape and silhouette where the wildlife will see you before you know it.

Using simply techniques to establish the wind direction,reading tracks,helping you to see whats around you and many more things I know and teach on these day(s) all major factors in getting close to wild animals.Which I have mastered in over 30 years of love and passion for wildlife alongside my expert fieldcraft skills from my military background,giving the client the very best in wildlife photography on all the events I run.

All my One To Ones,Photo-Tours,Workshops are run along the same lines,with my great passion for nature being one of the key elements in showing and teaching people how to have a contact with nature,which is all around them,by watching,listening,hearing nature,which in turns builds a picture of whats happening around you at that time.The camera skills I show are the same ones that I use and that have improved my own wildlife photography.

I do this in many ways,one of which is to show the client(s) how I use my own camera,illustrating the processes at first hand,giving an insite into which and what settings I use,showing techniques in camera,composing the image in different ways and showing the clients the ideas I have etc.I feel this is a very powerful learning tool for people that attend my workshops.

I hope that has helped you all to see how passionate I am about everything within nature, and what nature means to me,any questions then please don’t hesitate to contact me.A big thank you to all those of you that have emailed me wishing me luck in my first Birdfair next week.Those of you that are going please drop by Marquee 6 to say hello to my wife and I,where you will see a selection of some of my work in framed,mounted or canvas format for sale,alongside many other iteams.

Should you wish to ask for any advice on wildlife photography etc then  drop by and ask I’ll be more than happy to help you.Also please give as much money as you can in their Auction this year as this helps projects,Birdlife all around the world.I have a limited Edition Framed Tiger print I have given to help,and its lot number 83 so please bid as much as you can to help the great cause’s Birdfair help each year Many thanks.


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Choosing Raw or Jpeg

Filed in Photography Tips on Jul.13, 2010

This question is one of the most popular questions asked when people attend one of my One To Ones or Workshops.The debate over Jpeg versus the RAW file format has been an argument with photographers for some time, while consumers are pretty much confused by the concept. The difference, truly, lies in ‘after-shot’ work and how much time you want to dedicate to improving a picture.

The RAW file has often been considered a format for those working to produce advanced graphics layouts for newsprint and magazines as well as posters and similar products. RAW has a wide variety of tonal changes and abilities that can be brought out in a sophisticated image program like Adobe’s Photoshop however, as it requires a fair amount of technical editing know-how to be able to alter the image and create the right picture.I for one always try to capture the image I want in camera,cutting down the need for such processing afterwards.

Purple Heron

When you shoot in Jpeg the camera’s internal software (often called ‘Firmware’) will take the information off the sensor and quickly process it before saving it.Some colour is lost as is some of the resolution,and in some camera’s there is slightly more noise in a Jpeg than in it’s Raw version.The quality of a Jpeg taken with a DSLR will still be far better than the same shot taken with a top-of-the-line point and shoot camera that is as old as your DSLR.If you camera can take a burst (shoot continuously for a few seconds) you’ll actually be able to shoot more shots using Jpeg than Raw because the slowest part of the whole process is actually saving the file/image to your memory card,so the larger Raws take longer to save.

If you shoot in Raw,your computer rather than your camera will process the data and generate an image file from it.Shooting in Raw will give you much more control over how your image looks and even be able to correct several sins you may have committed when you took the photograph,such as exposure,contrast,saturation.You will certainly need to use some software on your computer to process the files and produce Jpegs or Tiff’s.I have found the best is to keep,where possible the Camera’s Raw software to the make of camera you use,example I use Nikon camera’s so I use Nikon Capture NX2 for my Raw files,then Adobe Photoshop to process my images,whether they be a Tiff,or Jpeg.

Artic Tern

Both Raw and high-quality Jpeg file formats will record very good quality images the choices you have to bear in mind when deciding to either shoot in Raw or Jpeg are simply and that is shooting in Jpeg and the camera decides on the adjustments to expose,white balance,contrast and colour saturation while if you shoot in Raw format then you make those adjustments for yourself in you post-processing.I shoot all my images in Raw format and I don’t shoot Raw and Jpeg as this takes to much space on my Compact Flash.

I use Nikon products as I use Nikon cameras,open my Raw file in Nikon Capture NX2 then save as a Tiff file,I then open up my Tiff file in Adobe Photoshop where I do most of my processing,example-curves,levels,brightness,contrast,saturation then save the Tiff and make smaller images from there,saving my images on my hard drive and backing each one up on my external hard drive.This is my work flow as I try to keep the processing time down to a minimal and time in front of the computer also down to a minimal

Today’s DSLR cameras do produce excellent Jpegs though so where time is important and being in the field makes saving images harder shooting in Jpeg can be a very good alternative.I hope this has helped you in some way to understand the two formats and should you have any questions or queries on this subject then please contact me here and I will be pleased to answer you questions


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Favourite Places

Filed in Photography Tips, Wildlife on Jun.20, 2010

Over the last few weeks I have found myself almost tied to my desk either compiling my four-coming trips to India and Kenya and so forth,editing images and making submissions,and processing images.So to find some peace and quiet away from these tasks I like the least I have found myself drawn to some of my favourite places within nature,places I have been so,so many times over the years.So on the odd days I’ve had spare I’ve replaced the pen for my camera and visited the coast,my Barn Owl and my Dipper sites to which I have committed myself to capturing these animals over a twelve month period,through the changing seasons.

Where I have resisted in parts the temptation to fill the frame with the subject on most occasions,instead capturing my style where I love to include some of the surrounding habitat.By doing this I feel the image can tell more of a story about the animal and it’s relationship with the environment.Where the subject itself may be very small in the frame,this helps to illustrate the scale of the landscape and something I have always been drawn towards in my work.But as shown below a large in the frame image works in giving a close up into their world.

Dipper

Dipper

Composition plays a key role in this type of image so its important to remember the Rule Of Thirds that I covered in a previous post on‘Composition’ remembering to place the subject away from the centre of the frame.

I have three Dippers sites I am visiting quite regular,time permitting at present,compiling images throughout the year, where all birds are all doing well in different ways within the Peak District,Derbyshire.These birds as you know if you are a regular visitor to my blog have amazed my from when i was a small lad,and they still amaze me to this day,with their character and constent  ‘Dipping’ behaviour ever present when you first see these birds in and around freshwater.Dippers nest early and in alot of cases can have a second brood of chicks throughout the season.One pair I have watched are feeding around three at present,when their parent lands the cries and screaming from the chicks in the nest is deafening,piercing through the noise from the fast flowing water close to their nest.

Dipper

Dipper

I run Dipper Of The Dales one day workshops,where I take you to the best site depending on the time of year within the Peak District.Giving you the chance to see and photography these Master’s Of The River

Also on the same stretch of river is a family of Grey Wagtails,where I have enjoyed watching their intense and frantic movement gathering food for the chicks,with the male pausing for a second in these lovely shaped tree branches below before he entered the nest,with a bit of a chance shot of the bird taking off using a slow shutter speed below this,beautiful to watch all this happening as its a great time to go out and watch wildlife now,with parents feeding young,juveniles having left the safety of their homes all happening around you as you immerse yourself in nature.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

I have also been able to have a few days at the coast photographing Seabird’s,with the Puffin being high on my wish list again.I just love the clown-like faces on these beautiful birds,which apart from the four months of the year they come ashore to breed they spend the other eight months,living and feeding at sea,now that’s a very hardy bird.

Puffin

Puffin

My image called Fighting Puffins made the final round of this year’s BBC Veolia Environmental Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010,where I was chuffed to bits as it was the first year I had entered this highly prestigious competition,with ten images in the semi-finals,and one in the final round,below is the image of two male Puffins fighting over a woman.

Fighting Puffins

Where if you click onto the link here it will take you to the site,put in craigjones00@hotmail.co.uk and the code 223682 and you will see the fore mentioned images.Good luck to all those that have won there respective categories and now go forward to the big prize..co.uk

With my most enjoyable time of late being in photographing Barn Owls in the lovely evening light we’ve been afforded lately.This is the male I have photographed from the beginning of the year who survived the prolonged cold spell,he’s doing really well and has young to feed at the moment.Here he is seen small in the frame with the surrounding habitat turning this beautiful red and orange-yellow colour as the sun had almost set,just beautiful.

Barn Owl

A big thank you to all the interest I have had in regard to my Limited Edition Tiger prints,that are now officially on  21 Century Tiger website,promoting these images,where 50% of the profits go to helping Wild Tigers as I really wanted to help these amazing animals that I was privileged to see earlier this year in India.

My Tigers Of India photo-tour is now live on my workshops page,which promises to be an amazing adventure over the 8 days,also my Amazing Africa photo-tour is now live also .Where I am running a Photo-Tour to Kenya to photograph the Masai Mara Migration this year and next year alongside Paul McDougall who runs PhotographyKenya another amazing trip for wildlife photographer’s and enthusiasts alike.What ever you’d like to photograph it is really, as said a great time to go outdoors to photograph wildlife right now,where nature will always be challenging but when it all comes together there can surely no better feeling and satisfaction as a photographer in getting your images,good luck.

CJWP


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Wildlife Photography- My Tips

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Photography Tips on Nov.30, 2009

 
Nature and wildlife photography is challenging but extremely rewarding,the creative side of things is a great challenge but also a lot of fun. If you like animals and learning about their characteristics and habitats then this photography is for you.Do your homework first!,taking the time to learn about the animal or subject is likely to pay off for you in creating opportunities for some great shots. Learning about an animal’s behaviour and routine will allow you to plan the best time for you to capture them. I tell people that learning about your subject is by far the most important discipline in wildlife photography far more important than the make of camera or equipment you use.With the weather in your favour you can capture nature in stunning light at dawn and dusk.
 
Avocet
 
  
Dusk
 
 
Don’t forget that patience really is a virtue when it comes to wildlife photography. Don’t expect to go outdoors and immediately find the creature of your choice,don’t expect it to stand still for you.,quite often the photographer has to wait in a un- comfortable spot for some time until there are signs of life. Animals cannot be forced to appear, or to stay for your pictures. All you can do is work with the situation when it is presented to you and be as fast and efficient as possible.When using a telephoto lens, use a higher shutter speed even if you are outdoors,a longer lens requires a decent shutter speed in order to get a sharp image and you may only have one opportunity. Also to help the sharpness of the image, choose a decent ISO, at least 400 since you will be dealing with a moving image.I teach people when and where possible to always use  Aperture priority– F4,F5.6,F8,F11 are the key ones to use.Focus on the eye of the subject every time,birds in flight focus on the centre of the body between the wings @F8
 
Buzzard
   

 Time of day

Although there are times where you may want to try night time wildlife photography,the chances are you will mostly be working in the day.Each situation is different but it is better to avoid the bright afternoon sun (unless it is a cloudy day) and the bright sun can affect how the camera interprets the image,animals may also hide away when it is too hot, looking for shade. As the sun goes down, you can also be treated to amazing light but you must remember to use a tripod because low light will result in camera shake without proper support. Different creatures may be accessible at different times of the day so bear this in mind

Composition

There are no hard and fast rules on composition although the general consensus is –get close.Check the background to make sure that it is interesting but not fighting for attention from the main subject,small distractions make a big difference to photographs and if you are trying to use the images for sale or a competition, you will definitely need to check there are no unwanted items in the picture. One of the most popular ‘rules’ in photography is the Rule Of Thirds,It is also popular amongst artists, It works like this:
Imaginary lines are drawn dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, You place important elements of your composition,”the subject” where these lines intersect, the diagram below shows you these 

Grid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Compositon of the subject should be placed on one of the four inter-sections as shown in the diagram      

Shown here perfectly with this Brown Hare running towards me and right on one of these inter-sections

Hare 

 Most of us will have Wildlife around where we live or have some kind of park where wildlife is rife. This doesn’t mean that they are any easier to shoot though! the key is being very patient and quiet, and remember to use a long lens.To begin with you may want to visit a zoo or bird sanctuary where the animals are tame or you can set up a bird table and put plenty of seeds on it and place the table close to where you want to shoot. If you sit there quietly waiting, sooner or later nature will appear. A 500mm lens is ideal if you want to crop out most of the background and frame the subject tightly. These lenses are very expensive so there is nothing from stopping you from using the lens you have and cropping the image down afterwards (although you will lose some quality).Morning or afternoon light is ideal for wildlife photography,It is bright but not harsh, morning light can have a beautiful,warmth to it that adds a dramatic effect,and animals can be stunning  in this light – if you are shooting in your garden then you will probably attract some standard animals and birds, In this case, remember to be very observant,don’t just shoot mindlessly, look at what the animal/bird is doing that is interesting,is it drinking or eating?

Water droplets are nice to capture, so make sure you put out clean,fresh water for them. Photographing the birds landing and take off in your garden is brillant, capturing the movement of the wings looks stunning when done right,and looks so dramatic and beautiful.If you are trying to capture a bird in flight, you want to use the continous servo auto-focus feature on your camera since it will be too fast for you to focus on manually, combined with this function, where the camera will take photographs one after the other, you are more likely to get a good shot. If you take the time to study the birds behaviour and patterns then you may be able to accurately predict the place where the bird will fly to, so you could pre-focus on that spot and wait for the bird to pass through the next time.

Red Deer

And where possible try to get as  level with the subjects eye(s) to give you a more level point of view and I feel making for a much better and balanced image as shown above

Summary

All in all, shooting wildlife and nature is both an extremely rewarding but a difficult task. The pictures you see in magazines and in adverts are not shot on a magic whim,they are most likely the result of many hours of investment,someone had to wait for the right weather conditions in the right spot possibly for days in order to capture the best shot. Patience is absolutely the key to getting good pictures of any type of creature.Don’t forget to select the best tools you can afford. If you are focusing on animals you may want to buy a telephoto lens first, If you are interested in plants and insect you may want a macro lens, It is always useful to have a standard lens, something that covers the 50mm mark, whether it is fixed focal or zoom, with a standard lens you can always choose a macro lens or less expensive alternatives such as an extension tube, which can work for macro or long distance work.

You will be spending alot of time outdoors and probably quite a lot of time low down, you should think about buying items like a roll mat, foldable chair, or some waterproof fabric you can place on the ground before you spend time with your knees in the grass, have little comforts too; wear comfortable clothing and footwear, carry some hot water with you for a cuppa,it warms you up from the inside and can lift your spirits if its really cold, and wear a hat if it is sunny and hot, keep warm if it is the winter the more comfortable you are, the longer you will be able to stay out and take more photographs,and the more photographs you take, the more chance there is that you will have a great shot and you will be getting better.Patience and luck is the key!  I hope these few tips have helped you in some way and please feel free to contact me should you have any other queries.

 


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After The Rain

Filed in Photography Tips on Nov.03, 2009

A photographic tip for when you are out and about in the field photographing wildlife and you get caught in a rainstorm is, firstly protect your camera equipment I use Wildlife Watching Supplies, first class camera,lens covers/hides.Then try to sit out the storm or take shelter because after the rain has passed it will present you with some beautiful light in which to capture your subject.In the four images that acompany this article you will see During the storm and After.

Bar-Tailed Godwits

 

During-These Bar-Tailed Godwits are seen here enduring the harsh condition of this rainstorm

Rainstorm

 

Afterwards -The rainstorm has passed and the Bar-Talied Godwits are having a clean up

After this amazing rainstorm had passed the light and air changed,the rainstorm acted almost like a purifier in ‘Cleansing’  the air and light and it becomes a magical time to get photographing your subject who will be preoccupied cleaning themselves,so with some good fieldcraft skills in approaching your subject you should be able to get a close and different image in pleasing light,

Rain effects visibility by changing the amount of light reflected  from the subject,back to the photographers eye and after rain that ‘Cleansing’ of the atmosphere create’s this clear,warm light perfect for photography.

Bar Tailed Godwit

 

As shown here with this juvenile Bar-Tailed Godwit feeding among the reed beds .With the same rainstorm having passed, the water became like glass creating an almost perfect reflection in the water and there was a sharpness to the atmosphere all as a result of  ‘After The Rain’

Singing In The Rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 If it does’nt stop raining you can always have a little fun and try to catch your subject in an amusing manner as I have done here with this Sedge Warbler in my version of  ‘Singing In The Rain’

 

 

 

 

In closing I would just like to say where possible and with your safety and that of others first and foremost, just try to sit out the storm,you will be rewarded for your efforts afterwards by the beautiful light on offer.I hope this Photographic Tip has helped you.Good Luck


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