Entries Tagged ‘Peak District’:

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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A Beautiful Day

Filed in Advice On Wildlife, Places Of Interest, Wildlife on Jul.15, 2011

An early start to photography the Red Grouse this week turned into a lovely close encounter with a family of these iconic moorland birds.  I begin my ascent in the dark, where your visibility is lessened in the absence of any natural light, as the sun hadn’t risen above the horizon yet. Having lost your clear vision heightens your other senses, your ears become better at hearing, more in tune as I call it with the environment, your sense of smell increases, as every step you take is carefully placed. You pick out a prominent feature in the direction you are travelling and focus to the left or right of that subject and that’s how you see and navigate yourself in the dark.

Reaching the plateau the ascent levels out a little, it is a welcome sight and what greets you is miles, upon miles of rocky outcrops littering the moorland.  Its home to specialized animals that have evolved and adapted to living in this hostile environment.  They live through the most testing weather conditions that Mother Nature can through at them.  On this day though the sun was rising over the valley below, slowly warming and filling the place with light. With that nature awakens, birds begin to call, distance calls, close calls echo around the place and for me it is truly the best time of the day as everything begins to wake up around you.

It’s one of the best times to photograph wildlife as the light is softer, less harsh and adds so much to an image. The wildlife can be more trusting at this time of day and you must never betray that trust in order to get an image. If you use your fieldcraft skills, watch and listen and respect the subject, they will settle once that trust is gained. You then can carry on always mindful of your advance and approach and the welfare of the subject. If the subject shows signs of distress, is defending their territory at your presence then you’ve gone to far.

Once the sun had come up, the colours of the moorland popped out, turning a black and white landscape into a colourful one, blooming with colours all warmed by the sun.  I saw a few Grouse in the distance, their bubbling call so unique within the bird world. In the distance I saw a lone Mountain Hare, feeding in their brown summer coats. With the onset of winter these hares change to their white winter coats, which makes them almost invisible within this landscape. This is very important as there are many raptors that patrol these areas, so they have perfectly adapted to their habitat with the changing seasons and different weather, how wonderful nature is.

Between myself and the hare there was open ground, so I used the lay of the land to advance. The wind was in my favour, blowing away any slight noise as I placed my feet down on the ground, at the same time blowing my scent away.  Hares have an amazing sense of smell and hearing so the pursuit of such animals is fruitless if your fieldcraft is poor and you don’t use what’s around you to your own advantage here in the Peak District.

Once I was happy, I managed to see two, as the other was hugging the ground feeding, I let a few shots off and they stood up on their hind legs to see. I stopped everything, turned myself into a low-lying bush, and this image below was that first contact I had with these two hares. They had heard my camera noise but just couldn’t make out where it was from, I took a few more slow, single shots and they settled and carried on feeding. While this was going on I could hear the distinctive calls of Red Grouse in the distance so I said goodbye to the Mountain Hare and advanced towards the calls.

I always try to move slowly, all the time watching and listening as I always say that nature will let you know what’s around you, she can also be your first indication that something is wrong as alarm calls can ring out at any time, letting other animals know there is danger around, more so you’ve been spotted, if so stop, go to ground and wait. I did that here behind this set of rocks when this Red Grouse came from nowhere. I watched, perfectly still, hoping my slight movement hadn’t disturbed this Grouse as I was really close.

I captured the bird yawning, it made no sound what so ever, unlike their call.  Afterwards the grouse came from the protection of the rocks and picked away at the heather shoots. The light was amazing and lit up the colours of these beautiful birds really well, the background was the valley below, some 600m beneath me. With such close encounters involving a wild animal going about its life you feel your heart rate greatly increase, you go into auto mode, trusting the settings and routine you’ve practised many times before along with the element of luck on your side.

I stayed put among these large rocks and within no time a whole family of Red Grouse came out from cover. Mum, Dad, and several excitable youngsters.  Mum and Dad were constantly on guard, watching for any sign of predators, then they’d disappear back to the safety of the stones and rocks.

I had a privileged ten minutes watching this family, the youngsters all happy to be out from cover, their tireless energy on show, up and down on these rocks, flapping and exercising their wings building strength and confidence. It was really funny to watch at the same time very enduring to witness.  They all started to walk off, coming down from the high vantage points of the rocks, they slowly disappeared from view and that was the last I saw of that family.

A beautiful encounter among this stunning landscape, where you can see no one the whole time you are there, giving you a sense of true wilderness, something I love to be among, photographing the beautiful and stunning wildlife.  Sometimes that beauty is hard for me to put into words.  I hope this recent slideshow of a few beautiful moments I captured in the wild, put together and arranged alongside the tempo of this music will help.

 


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Some Days You Just Get Lucky

Filed in Places Of Interest, Workshops on Nov.17, 2010

Over the last few days I have been really busy with One to Ones/Workshops and on all of them the weather and the conditions just came together perfectly and the sunrise was breathtaking with the wildlife showing up also making for an all round great few days for my clients. I guess you could say that some days you just get lucky.  Setting off for the higher peaks within the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire in total darkness gives a whole different feel to the experience as losing part of one of your major senses heightens the others you have. 

Making judgments with a narrow field of vision really makes you come alive, carefully placing your feet and focusing using the light from the moon, aided with the head touch that illuminated our path, we watched the frosty morning chill begin to warm with the upcoming spectacular sunrise.  Reaching the summit at nearly 2000 feet as the sun breaks the horizon, bathing the whole place in a warm, orange glaze.  Making you feel as though you are standing on top of the world with the mist and clouds beneath you sheltering the population from this hidden world you must work at to see.

My client Matthew from Wales wanted to see the Red Grouse in its natural habitat and I have several different sites with different levels of approach. The route we chose meant the ascent was in the dark using the moons light to illuminate our path alongside our head torches, carefully making our way to the summit as the sun came up. In all the years I have been visiting the Peak District I have rarely witnessed such a beautiful morning, the crunch of the morning frost under foot, the air chilled from the over night frost and the Red Grouse were everywhere feeding on the tender shoots the sun was thawing out. Their constant ‘bubbling’ calls echoing down the valley with the morning mist adding great drama.

As we made our way through this amazing landscape of Heath/Moorland the colours of the place were stunning and apart from the odd walker we had the whole place to ourselves which left a silence you’d only know if you find somewhere remote within nature and watch the world go by. I went through fieldcraft techniques which for me is a key competency in wildlife photography.  If you are to get close to a wild animal you need to watch and look for clues, behaviour, listen for calls, which vary in different pitch to suite the subjects mood, progressively getting higher in pitch once they see something they perceive as a threat. Breaking a animals virtual horizon is the key-  shape, shine, silhouette, you can look like a bush but approach without respecting the forementioned and off they go.

Red Grouse are very comical and display many different behaviours you rarely see from a distance when passing them on the narrow walkways carved into the landscape from years of walkers pounding these routes through this breathtaking landscapes.

The heaths and moors of the Peak District are an eerie exposure of peat covered moorland sitting about 600m (2000 ft) above sea level. Large wind carved eroded rocks sit among vast plateaus and rock formations supporting a healthy population of these amazingly hardy Red Grouse.  These iconic moorland birds make their home on these moors and are reliant on their camouflaged plumage to blend in to this habitat, where the only time you know they are around is when you stumble upon them when you are walking as they explode from the ground, taking flight with a unforgettable distress call.

I take everything with me on these One To One/Workshop days, packed lunches, large flask, cold drinks, first aid, in fact everything bar the kitchen sink is placed on my back in preparation for any event mother nature should throw at us in these changeable environments..

One of my favourite images from the two days with Matthew was this lone male Red Grouse below, perched on this prominent rock, his call echoing down into the valley beneath him, a truly beautiful picture to see and one I was privileged to capture with a wide angle, as I had crawled forward for some time to get closer, then all of a sudden he popped up onto this rock and began singing. 

A real mixture of luck, fieldcraft and timing coming together in one of those rare moments you are afforded within wildlife photography from time to time. We had some other lovely encounters with these beautiful birds I am very fond of, so a big thank you Matthew and I’ll see you in a few weeks on my Winter Waders  workshop at Norfolk. I have many One To Ones running throughout the Winter months now on the lead up to next years Spring/Summer time just have a look on my website under Workshops then click on One To One and take a look or send me an email should you wish me to meet you at a place of your choosing.

I will be presenting 3 x45 minute Wildlife Photography workshops at this years North West Birding Watching Fair at WWT Martin Mere .  Whatever the weather this Festival is an enjoyable and informative day out.  I will be going through simple techniques that I use, showing you how to improve your own photography accompanied with a few slide shows and a brief practical session going through anything you wish.  So if you are free on the Sunday please pop by to say hello many thanks.


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Red Grouse

Filed in Workshops on Dec.09, 2009

Spent a lovely day yesterday on a One To One with Gary Copeland,Derbyshire in the Peak District looking for Red Grouse,after a slight walk to one of 3 places I visit regularly we got into place and waited for this very shy bird to show up.The heaths and moors of the peak district are an eerie exposure of peat covered moorland sitting about 600m (2000 ft) above sea level. Large wind carved eroded rocks sit among vast plateaus and rock formations supporting a healthy population of Red Grouse. These iconic moorland birds make their home on these moors and are reliant on their camouflaged plumage to blend in to this habitat.The image below shows where we were and gives you an ideal of this habitat.

Peak District

Female Red Grouse

The image above is of the hard to capture/see female who looked in stunning condition,perched on these large rocks that litter this beautiful landscape, the weather was good to us in the morning but in the afternoon the weather changed and at 570m ( Altitude-meter in my watch) above sea level you get a real sense of the environment  as you look to the sky and see the changing weather approaching.Neverless Gary and myself had a great day and I was pleased  for gary as he managed some lovely images and learned alot about the Grouse,approach,what to look for etc.

Red Grouse

I managed to capture a male Red Grouse up on a stone wall walking up and down, like something of the famous ‘Red Grouse Whisky’ advert where he is seen posing and performing,very funny to watch,seen below in this image

Red Grouse

The Red Grouse is one of those beautiful birds that live a quiet and shy life,a very jumpy bird I have found over time and the secret is just simply to get into place with as little disturbance to the bird as possible and wearing camouflage clothing,make sure the wind is blowing towards you as this will take your scent away and just wait for them to show up,they often fly around alot and take some time to settle.I run Red Grouse In The Peaks workshops, where throughout the year I have certain dates where I take up to four people to the best site at that time of year or like Gary I can do a One To One at one of these site’s also. It’s all designed to get the best images for the client as I can and a better understanding of your chosen subject using my proven fieldcraft techniques and other simply tips I teach and showing people the beauty of nature.

Male Red Grouse

And the male turned up just before we left and posed for us and I managed this portrait of this beautiful bird, a great day was had by all,thank you for your company Gary and a Merry Christmas.


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