Entries Tagged ‘Dipper’:

Calumet-The Beauty of Wildlife Workshop

Filed in Events, Workshops on Aug.12, 2011

In October I will be running a two day “Beauty of Wildlife” workshop in conjunction with Calumet Photographic, one of the leading photographic suppliers in the UK. It will be the first workshop of many planned with this leading camera supplier company.  The first day will be based at their Manchester branch, where we I will go through camera settings, compositions, setting up of each person’s camera and sharing/passing on my knowledge in order to improve individuals photography.

I will also show you some slideshows, touching on the various different skills needed for wildlife photography, use of light, what to look out for, fieldcraft and lots more. Tea and Coffee will be provided during the day and I’ll answer any questions in regard to wildlife photography that you may have in order to improve or move along your own existing skill level. I demonstrate to everyone that attends my one to ones and workshops what works and cut through all the ‘minefield’ of what’s best and what should I use, which mode etc that can drag people down.

I will replace all of that with a usable workflow that works on the ground, the same as I use, with no secrets, no hidden settings. Once clients have seen this I feel it gives them a more relaxed approach to their own work, knowing full well they weren’t really doing a lot wrong in the first place. I am self taught with over 30 years of knowledge of wildlife, which is the real key to wildlife photography.

The second day, unlike the first which will be classroom based will be in the beautiful Peak District. As a wildlife photographer the great outdoors is my office, a place in which I capture the beautiful images I am blessed in seeing. The beauty of photographing wildlife is that it is always changing and evolving, encountering the unexpected. In this environment the photographer must learn to work with these changing environmental conditions and behaviours, and the result cannot always be predicted.

My images represent an event that occurred in the wild, something that I witnessed and recorded with my camera. Learning to get close to wildlife without disturbing the life of the animal is the key to my work and this approach enables me to get close enough to capture the animal’s beauty and behaviour which both feature strongly in my style of photography, showing a wild animal within their natural habitat being the foundation to my work today.

Fieldcraft is the most important tool in a wildlife photographer’s box I believe, because if the animal is not use to human contact, isn’t tame or use to you putting food out, then they will be very difficult to get close to in the absence of hides.

Learning fieldcraft skills will improve your photography, as a subject going about its life, free from human contact always makes for the best photographs. I feel you cannot learn real and true fieldcraft from anything other than a wild animal, in the wild. I have never worked with captive or tame animals as their behaviour is too contrived for me and is as a result of contact with man.  I will show you simple and key elements to fieldcraft on the second day where you’ll greatly benefit from the wonderful wildness that is the moors of the Peak District and its wildlife.

Many clients who attend my workshops all go away with a better understanding of photographing wildlife, where it’s not about what you have but how to best use your equipment to obtain those lovely images you see with your eyes. Things change very quickly in the wild and I will give you ideas and a workflow that empowers you to capture and improve your own work. Seeing an image takes time, this skill can be learned by watching your subject and understanding its behaviour.

The Red Grouse by nature is a very elusive bird, always hiding away and making best use of the habitat in which to disappear, as shown in this wide angled image of a Red Grouse hiding, blending in very well.  They will see you long before you see them.

We will start early to capture the beautiful wildlife as the sun rises against the backdrop of the Peak District which will make for some amazing images. During our day in the Peak District we will be concentrating our efforts on Red Grouse among the autumn/winter landscapes and Mountain Hares, the only place outside of Scotland where there is a healthy population of these mammals.

We will also have the opportunity to see Short Eared Owls and many other birds which stay in this area all year, and don’t migrant like alot of other birds.  You will need to provide your own photographic equipment or alternatively you can hire equipment from Calumet Photographic, Manchester and we will meet in Buxton train station car park.  It will be a great day, where you will learn alot more about the ‘wild’ in wildlife photography, capturing images that will be around you, gaining subject awareness which again is key to capturing a wild animal’s character and behaviour.

So if you would like to book onto this wildlife workshop then please click on this link, which will take you to Calumets website. If you would like to hire any camera equipment for the day of which I will help and go through with you on the first day then again just ask at your time of booking. I look forward to seeing you in October and should you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact myself or Calumet Photographic Manchester.

Over the last seven days I have had four one to ones. Two in Norfolk photographing Barn Owls and Waders -thank you Ian and Daniel.  Then travelling onto the Peak District for two days of one to ones photographing Red Grouse, Dippers and Watervoles with repeat customer Andrew, many thanks for your company gents. The weather was testing at times but I hope you all got everything and more from your one to one days with myself and look forward to seeing you all in the future. Many thanks.

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Peak District Favourites

Filed in Workshops on Apr.10, 2011

Over the last week I have had a great time with clients on Watervoles and Dipper one to ones and workshops in an area I have visited and known for a great deal of time, the Peak District, in the county of Derbyshire.  Time severed knowledge and history of an area and the subject is key to successful wildlife photography, workshops and one to ones for me.  That emotional attachment I have with these subjects helps in learning people about their lives and behaviours, which greatly benefit the clients images and also having a better understanding of a subject lets you read key actions or behaviours in a subject that you could later use in tracking or locating them.


This area of the country has such a diverse array of wildlife and habitats and some of the best walking routes in the country, its a wildlife heaven and one I don’t live that far from and always enjoy each visit whether it be with clients or alone watching the same species of wildlife.  I’ve walked this area for many years, tracing the same paths for a long time.  Finding your own subjects, getting to know them and their characters and behaviours is something that is really important within wildlife photography, where each image you take will have a meaning and be real in turn developing key fieldcraft skills and subject knowledge.

Watervoles are the largest British vole and are often mistaken for a brown rat.  The watervole can easily be distinguished by their blunt, rounded nose and ears which are almost hidden in their fur.  Watervoles are legally protected in Britain and their numbers continue to plummet, the main causes for their decline include destruction of bank side vegetation, pollution, and the introduction of the American Mink, an aggressive predator. Watervoles are my favourite mammal with their enduring character and cuteness, making them a lovely subject to photograph.

The Dippers, Red Grouse and Watervoles workshops are very personal to me and I share that passion and love for these subjects during these trips with clients, where their popularity never stops amazing me.  And there can be no better feeling for a wildlife photographer when you show a client an area and the species shows up, that’s magic as they say in show business.

The Watervole population has taken a bit of a fall nationally and within some of the areas I visit in the Peak District numbers are down from previous years, experts all have their own reasons but I feel its a mixture of cold winters, water pollution and the dreaded Mink that’s the cause for the delcine in this most adorable subject.  We got into place as the sun was coming up and the place was really quiet at first, then the sounds of the birds singing in the morning is enough for me, such a wonderful and real spring time feel when you hear all the different bird calls first thing in the morning.

Then without warning a tiny ball of brown fur turns up, moves quickly then pauses, motionless on the riverbank sniffing the air for clues to whats around.  The Watervoles sense of smell and hearing is very good, their eye sight lets them down. While we watched one Watervole he went up the bank and started to sniff the air, remaining still at the same time to cut down on him giving away his position through movement, watching a wild animal can give you so much pleasure at the same time help you to understand and learn more about them which will help you in the future to local and photograph your chosen subject.

I filmed this Watervole to show how animals smell the air and smell your presence.  Here this little fellow was sniffing the air, their key behaviour, not to sure what he has smelt or heard but wonderful to witness and a great example why wind direction is so important in getting close to animals.  You can learn so much by simple encounters like this many people would just ignore or pass by as within mammals more so then birds smell and wind direction is so important to learn about otherwise the animal will have gone before you ever knew they were around.

On this amazing morning with the back drop of the beautiful dawn corus there was no wind so in turn the Watervole struggled to smell anything and local what it was he may have caught wind of.  He later dropped into the water another classic sign to listen out for when you walk the riverbank,their trademark “plop”.  The second short film below captured him having a good clean up and a scratch before heading up for his breakfast, really amazing and funny to watch, pure priceless humour.

Dipper’s forage for small prey in and around the fast-flowing streams and rivers of this area, walking down and beneath the water until partly or wholly submerged, this behaviour offers some brilliant opportunities to photograph and capture this unique moment and all over the years I have visited the several sites I know within the Peak District I never ever tyer of seeing these master’s of the river as I’ve always called them.  Bobbing or dipping constantly on rocks, which I’ve always viewed as the bird ‘Curtseying’ for you.  The Dippers I have been watching are feeding their first brood of chicks at the moment and they are doing well with a possible second brood on the cards as this is normally the case with Dippers as they are early nestor’s.

Its been a very busy week and thank you to my clients for your time and look forward to seeing you again.  Knowledge is key and the best advice I can give for improved photographs of wild animals is to watch, look and listen to wildlife when you are in the countryside and this will learn you so so much, then all you have to do is press the shutter button and capture that moment you witness.  Its an amazing time of year now to be among nature, with so much life and different behaviours to see that are only displayed at this time of year, with beautiful light and longer days its a magical season and one of my firm favourites within natures calender, good luck.

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Merry Christmas

Filed in Articles on Dec.24, 2009

Thank you all for your support during the last year,and I hope to have helped you in someway with regard to Wildlife Photography and seeing the beauty of the natural world.Just wanted to finish the year as I started with a photo of my all time favorite UK bird “The Dipper” fishing here on the river

Dipper Fishing

Makes a change from a Robin at this time of year I thought and this was taken yesturday and it was freezing. Next year I am hoping to photograph 12 months in the Life Of The Dipper, documenting the character and behavior of this fascinating bird during the different season’s,building a better picture and understanding of this bird through the medium of photography.


So what ever you are doing over the Christmas period I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.And lastly a big Thank You to Andrew and the team at RapidWeb for a brilliant website!

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“Dippers Of The Dale” Workshops

Filed in In the Press, Workshops on Oct.28, 2009

My ‘Dippers Of The Dales’ workshops have started and I had a brillant time showing Tom and Ken around my site as they love the Dipper, I met Ken through my  ‘Flickr’ site.Both Tom and Ken are very keen wildlife photographers who where keen on seeing the Dipper  having read my article in October issue ‘Birdwatching Magazine’.


The picture above shows us altogether with a mini-waterfall as the backdrop,it was taken by remote trigger (Ken,Tom,Me) in that order,and it was a real joy to show them around and teach them about the Dipper, a bird that has amazed me from a small boy. Knowing where to go and how to appoach the Dipper makes all the difference for me and as I have been coming to this site from a small boy it would be nice to think the Dippers know me quite well now!. We had the whole day there,before Tom and Ken departed for home and a  sample of Ken’s work from the day can be seen here ‘Ken’ and Tom’s work from the day  ‘Tom’.

Very nice to meet you both and so glad I was able to show you around and share my love of the Dipper with you both and since have become good freinds. My next workshop is planned for ‘Monday 16th November’ see my workshop pdf below for details or drop me a line on my contact page if you would like to go.

Details on my “Dippers of the Dale” Workshop
You will need Adobe PDF to view this attachment.  This can be downloaded for free at Adobe’s website.

Dipper portrait

A Dipper in the setting sun I took at the same site.

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