Thursday, 28 March 2013

Snap happy !!!

Well, I warned you that I'd be posting some "Birds on the Lake" photo's soon, and here they are. Like everything else, if we want to be good at anything we have to practice. Nothing could be truer when it comes to using a DSLR properly. I have no desire to be a 'point and shoot' photographer so I switched off 'Auto' on day one of owning my new Nikon D5100. I already had a good understanding of exposures from using my bridge camera for the past several years, but a DSLR provides me with a wealth of new things to get to grips with and it can't be done just by looking at the manual. Hands on experience is the only way.

I have taken hundreds of photo's around my garden of all manner of irrelevant subjects just to give me something to point my camera at but one day last week I treated myself to a walk in the park. It was great fun - I was only there for an hour and during that time I took 266 photo's. Here is just a small selection.


  
  



As nice as it was to watch these birds and take photographs of them, I was even more delighted when a pair of Mute Swans moved in fairly close and one of them started 'displaying'. It looked so majestic, stately and regal.



The Swans were near enough for me to get some really close head-shots. I like this shot because of the water dripping from the beak but I can't profess to skilfully timing my moment. I was just lucky that this is a messy Swan that dribbles a lot. 


Later I found one of them enjoying a spot of preening in the shade of the tree-covered island and thought what a great watercolour painting the scene would make, especially with those reflections. White Swan and white reflections ... could this involve some interesting negative painting?


But not all of my shots were clear and sharp. I tried my hand at shooting (photographically) flying birds. I salute all those photographers who have posted on the net pin-sharp shots of birds in flight. This is something I've tried many times with the small birds in my garden, with little success, but I believe that if I keep trying I will one day get the hang of it. Either that or I'll buy a shotgun and find another way of shooting them. My efforts aren't complete rubbish as I managed to get a few shots where at least the bird was in the frame ... but hopefully I will eventually learn how to get them sharp.



And there was one hilarious moment when a handful of Gulls were about to share out a large slice of bread and a Black-Headed Gull swooped through and stole it from them. It was over in a flash and there wasn't time to worry too much about camera settings, but I did react quickly enough to at least record the event, as this sequence shows. The culprit was last seen disappearing into the distance with a gang of half-a-dozen furious ex-mates on his heels.


During my brief walk I took many photo's. Some carefully planned that turned out bad, and some hastily taken that turned out reasonable. I had some lucky shots, like the drips from the Swans beak and some unlucky ones, like the kissing Swans disturbed by a barking Alsation just as I was framing them, but every single click of the shutter brought pleasure, and that is what I went out to find. Do I have a favourite from that particular day? Yes .... this one.


I look at the work of competent photographers submitting their work to online photo sites and know that I have a very long way to go before I'm even close to being good but I have the same feelings when I look at my paintings and drawings. However, what I have learnt over time is that the pleasure of our hobby doesn't come from how good we are, it comes from the journey we are on. ;-)





26 comments:

  1. Beautiful shots John , you are definitely on the right track :-) Love the swan close ups with the water dripping , awesome ! Wish you a Happy Easter ! xx

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    1. Thank you very much Jane. Happy Easter. ;)

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  2. Beautiful photos, John. Even the lucky ones count :)
    I have to say though, I prefer the birds in flight to look like yours, sharp in places and yet blurred too - because it gives the feeling of flight, perfectly. Look forward to seeing more.

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    1. I take your point about a little bit of motion-blur Pat. Thank you very much.

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  3. These are very nice photographs, John, and some colourful painting subjects too!

    I agree with Pat, a little bit of blurring helps to suggest motion.

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    1. Yes, I think one or two of these will get painted eventually. Thanks Keith.

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  4. Good Morning ... and Happy Easter John! .... Loved your wonderful bird and waterfowl photographs! Regal Spring plumage and antics really heighten the pleasure of seeing them... doesn't it?

    Your words about journeying also struck a common and resonate chord with "Me"just as strongly as your beautiful photo images! Thank you for sharing both!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the photo's Bruce. I think most of us relate to the 'journey' one way or another. Happy Easter and warmest regards.

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  5. Beautiful photos. After the 1st few I was wondering if there is a one-way system in operation then spotted the moorhen swimming the opposite way.
    The swan pics are especially impressive John.

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    1. Thank you very much Sue. I hadn't noticed the one-way system though ... LOL.

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  6. My goodness, John! These are magnificent. I am the world's worst photographer but even so, I know talent when I see it ...wonderful!

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    1. John, I can't imagine you being the world's worst anything. Glad you liked the pictures, thank you.

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  7. I've been itching to get back to painting after nearly two years hiatus and stumbled upon your website when googling 'things to try in watercolour'. And that's how I found your blog! I really like these photos - photography is another hobby I have. Anyway, I'm glad I found your blog as other artists often inspire me! :)

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    1. Thank you Kerridwen, and welcome. I hope you soon get back into your watercolours. I wouldn't normally say this in a blog comment but if you are really looking for things to try you might like to know that my art forum has regular projects and challenges for just that reason.

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  8. Oh how I love these pictures. Nothing better for our soul than nature , and you've captured these beautifully. thank you , John
    BJ

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    1. I agree with you BJ. As a townie I've only really appreciated getting out into the countryside since I retired and I realise now how much I've missed. Thank you BJ.

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  9. I love these photos, but appreciate your message even more...I shall remember to savor the journey! Thank you John.

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    1. Oh yes Trudy, it's all about the journey. It's nice when we get good results but the real enjoyment is in the 'doing' ... anything else is a bonus. Glad you like the photos, thank you.

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  10. These are very beautiful pictures John. Are you going used them as a model for your drawing and painting?
    The last picture of the swan is really fabulous.

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    1. Thank you very much Renske. Yes, I think one or two of these will be drawn or painted in the course of time. ;)

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  11. One of my favourite pastimes is bird watching and now I can watch here too thanks to your lovely photos. The swan with the drop is fabulous but I like the gulls too. I can just imagine the noise of their squabbling antics. Great shot. Hope all is well with you John. xx

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    1. The gulls were a hoot to watch Laura ... some of them were real characters. Thank you for your lovely comment and I hope all is well with you too. ;)

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  12. Have had a look at your beautyful photos! Take care John!

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