Dradd's photography news 30th November 2017 - dradd's photography

Not much to report, hence the delay in getting this newsletter out. All efforts are being spent on preparing for the winter wildlife photography course I'm heading to in Scotland soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of updates on some of my photography activities of late.


Under pressure?

Autumn hasn't yielded the photographic results I would have wished for. Was I putting myself under too much pressure to capture that special photograph, and in doing so scuppering my chances of getting even a halfway decent shot?

I think I was, and as such I wrote about my experiences in a blog article that can be found here.

Instead of manual focussing the camera when setting up the scene, I selected AF on the centre of the red seed tray. Sadly this resulted in blurry subject matter if the birds weren't in the centre of the shot, but superbly focussed backgrounds.

Autumnal day in the New Forest

Sometimes its nice just to go for a wander around familiar haunts, with no pressure to photograph anything in particular.

Couple this with catching up with a photography friend and the experience is even better. 

This is what happened a couple of weeks ago when a friend (Julie, who I had the pleasure of meeting on a photography course earlier this year) came down to visit myself and Helen, and we headed off to Bolderwood in the New Forest for the day.

Despite leaving home in the pouring rain, the weather in the forest was kinder, being only overcast and not wet. 

We had a good walk around Bolderwood, and walked quite far into the forest. Attempting to cross a stream gave a surprisingly rewarding photographic opportunity with fallen leaves in the water. My efforts can be seen below. Click photos for larger versions.

For once, given my less than perfect record of photographing deer in this location this autumn, it was nice just to wander around chatting and photographing things that took our fancy.


Remote trapping in the garden

I've had some mixed results with the camera trap rig in the back garden. Using the custom stand that I made, I managed to get just over 200 shots of a shaggy pigeon who was so obsessed by the free seed on offer, the sound of the camera firing over and over again didn't put it off.

Never underestimate a pigeons obsession with free bird seed over any other distraction!

Canon EOS600D with Camtraptions remote trigger acting as receiver.

Given the change in light getting into the garden, rather than rely on birds triggering the trap when it is set up near the existing bird feeders, I've experimented with setting everything up closer to the patio, mainly because there is more light here for longer during the day.

It just needs birds to be a bit braver and get closer to the house. 

Observing birds that investigate the relocation of one of the seed trays, I've noticed pigeons (!), wrens and the occasional sparrow take a look. I was confident of getting something from here.

To this end I made use of the Camtraptions PIR sensor connected to the Camtraptions remote triggers. This way I could have the camera further away from the subject as it was no longer tethered by a cable: the remote trigger fired by the PIR activation would fire the corresponding trigger mounted to the camera. 

Using a mini Gorilla pod to mount the PIR to an old garden roller (I have major plans for this in the future with regards trapping - watch this space!), and setting the camera up a small distance away, the scene was set.

After some poor results where the camera was triggered by the PIR being pointed too far down, triggering when birds were on the ground and not on the seed tray, I finally got a result when a robin ventured in for a look.

Something else I have discovered, when trying this set up out in uncertain weather, the little food bags you can get from Ikea work a treat when it comes to protecting the remote triggers from rain. 

Moving forward with this I'm considering swapping camera bodies from the trusty Canon EOS 600D which I use for remote garden photography, to my spare EOS 70D body. This will give silent shooting, higher ISO ranges and more focus points, which I feel would be of benefit especially in the low light of winter.


  • PIR sensor attached to old garden roller via Gorilla pod, posing at the seed tray. Remote trigger placed in food bag to protect it.

  • Camera located in position to capture any movement on the seed tray.

  • Ikea food bags are very useful for holding the remote triggers and protecting them from rain.


Local wildlife

It's been a while, but I returned to some local locations to see what the wildlife was doing there. One of these locations being Rooksbury Mill where I had some success photographing Great Crested Grebes back in the spring.

I'd only walked about 10 paces from the car park when I stumbled upon three little egrets at the edge of one of the lakes. This presented an ideal photo opportunity, so I set to work.

Riding high on this success, two days later I headed to one of the other lakes looking for kingfishers that had been reported there. Sadly I didn't find any, but was rewarded with a buzzard that landed in a tree and took flight a while later.


That's it for now. Thanks for reading, and as ever please feel free to comment using the 'Contact' link at the top of the page.

If we don't speak beforehand, have a great Christmas.

All the best.

Keith

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