Dradd's photography news 15th October 2017 - dradd's photography

It's been a while since the last newsletter, and that is due to me using as much of my spare time as possible to look for deer to photograph in the New Forest. This has yielded some mixed results. Read on below to find out more.

As with all the photographs on this page, click them to open up the larger version.



Looking for deer

This autumn, like every other autumn for the past couple of years, I have been heading to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary in the New Forest to photograph the deer. But this year there haven't been any there.

So after contacting other wildlife photographers in the area, I've been given some other locations to look for deer. One such area is just north of Burley in the New Forest, so a couple of weekends have been spent visiting and scouting this location.

To be fair, despite not seeing any actual deer, there have been plenty of hoof prints to be found (see shots below), but it was always the way that the deer that made them were not to be seen.

On the trail... hoof prints in the mud

That is until last Sunday.

Myself and the better half had walked some way into the woods  and stopped off to have a cuppa from the thermos we had taken with us. We set ourselves down on a fallen over tree trunk.

It was a great location given all we could hear was nature around us, and not another soul to be seen.

After finishing our tea, I stood up and put my jacket back on (I'd been using it to sit on), when we both heard a crashing noise coming through the woods to our left.

Keeping stock still, two startled fallow deer bucks crashed into view, not 20 paces from us. One kept on moving deeper into the woods but one stopped and turned to face me, as I hastily picked up the camera which had been resting on my camera bag while we were seated.

I brought the camera up to snap away at the deer, got it lined up and hit the shutter.

Given the now sudden silence in this wooded area, and being cautious not to startle the deer in front of me, the sound of the shutter going off sounded like a musket crack in my mind (the Canon 1DXII doesn't have the most subtle shutter sound in the world).

Holding down the shutter I only got one shot off, when I expected multiple shots to fire. It was then I noticed the exposure meter in the viewfinder showing me that this shot would be hopelessly over-exposed. And then reality hit me...

... the camera had been set up for nature shots under the trees in low light situations. Given I shoot fully manual, switching to more suitable settings to cater for a startled deer in front of me was not going to be a quick thing, but I had to do it. Lowering the camera, the deer turned and bolted off deeper into the woods.

I checked the shot I had taken, and yes, it was overexposed, and the camera had locked focus not on the deer but on the background. Totally my fault.

This just goes to emphasise, make sure you are prepared to photograph the subject you are looking for, because with wildlife you rarely get a second chance to correct incorrect settings.


Blurry-cam deer shots

  • A startled fallow deer stares at me, only for me to realise the camera settings were all wrong, and the focus point was behind the deer.

  • Playing 'see-you-see-me' with this near white buck, obscured by the trees.

But as with all things, perseverance pays off, and you're rewarded with some shots like this pair. Taken in the New Forest, just over the road from Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary on a wet but mild Friday the 13th.

  • Believe it or not, this was shot at ISO 25,600. Due to the poor light and desire to get the shot, I set the 1DX II to 'Auto ISO'.


The Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 IS USM lens

If there is one problem with my Canon 1DX Mk II body, and that is that my trusty Canon 18-135mm lens will not fit it, also said lens is a bit old now and in need of replacement.

Given my need for more near distance work, a lens with a shorter focal length was required. As the 1DX MkII shows up lens imperfection, I needed to get an 'L' series lens. Sadly Canon's 'L' series lenses are not cheap.

After much research, I settled on the EF 24-70mm f/4 lens, but the Mk I and not the more recent MkII version. The main reasons were that this would only be an occasional use lens, and the Mk II was twice the price.

So £700.00 later, I was the proud owner of a new lens. And I have to say, I'm quite impressed with it. It takes great mid range shots, and has the added bonus of a macro mode too, which in my autumnal ramblings around forests has enabled me to take some great shots of fungi. 

See the examples below.

The lens

Macro shots

Full frame nature shots


Buying stuff from my site

Shameless plug time: you know you can buy prints and things from this website? I thought it worthy of a mention.

It's not just prints; you can get mugs, coasters, framed prints or just plain old paper prints. 

Below are some screenshots showing what is available. Also, there's a sample shot of what the coasters look like.

In the UK the printing is done by Loxley Colour, and the quality is rather superb. I speak from personal experience having had some prints done myself. Also the customer service from SmugMug makes the whole buying process as pain free as possible. Give it a try.



I shoot RAW... because...

... it makes post processing photographs so easy. You get complete control over all aspects of the photograph. I'm amazed that some people still shoot in JPEG format.

Anyway, I won't rant on about this as there are a lot of videos and blogs out there bestowing the virtues of shooting RAW already, but have a look at the sample photographs below, taken with the Canon 1DX MkII, shot from the hip as it were, with completely the wrong camera settings for the scene. See the camera vs Lightroom versions below to see how much data is captured RAW.

I've included the Lightroom histogram in the shots too (top right of photo).

From camera on left to exposure adjustment in Lightroom on right


And finally...

I have a couple of short blogs that might be of interest:


1)  Is your wildlife photography about the photography or the wildlife?

2)  WPOTY Questions (or 'Ethics in wildlife photography')


That's all for this time. Thanks for reading.


Keith.

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