It's been a while since the last newsletter, so I'm getting this one out with some minor updates from my photographic world.
Hedgehog camera update
Activity around the hedgehog house in the garden has been quiet of late, with sporadic visits during the weeks, although looking at the inside of the house, it doesn't look like our resident 'hog is staying over night.
We continue to top up/refresh the food in there however.
Sadly the other day (11/08) while leaving home I saw a 'hog that had been run over on the road, a couple of streets from our house. I'm hoping it wasn't the one that visits our garden. Looking at the photos on the bush camera, we had a visit at from it at 04:58 on the 11th, so fingers crossed it is still around and wasn't the one that was run over. We'll continue to monitor the camera.
As a side note, the bush camera does pick up some interesting activities in the garden: below is a shot of an adult bird feeding a juvenile.
I was asked by a friend to photograph their new dog the other week. Again it was something that I've not done before, so I was happy to give it a go.
It went incredibly well, and 400 + shots later, there were some really good shots that came out. We took shots of the dog running, sitting, jumping and being generally active, and I was fortunate enough that I got to shoot in a big garden meaning I could use the EF 100-400 IS USM II lens with the 1DX II.
It went very well and is something I will look to do again. This was all about getting candid shots of the dog in a natural environment. This leads to a more 'natural' look and is less staged.In short, I enjoyed it.
Below are a couple of shots from the shoot. A few more can be found here.
My next quest is to build up a 'dog photography' portfolio so I can make this part of my photography repertoire. I'm sure people would love candid photographs of their dogs...?
Remote camera trapping update
Building a capture rig
After proving that the Camtraptions PIR sensor works well with my setup, I became aware that I had no way of controlling the background in the shots, mainly because of the location of the bird feeders in the garden (too close to a hedge and mostly in the shade).
So I had the idea to create a rig that I could move around the garden and hence position it where I could control the lighting and the backgrounds.
I'm not great at DIY, but I had an idea for a design. So I headed out to the garden shed and pulled together bits of wood and screws and came up with 'Version 1' of the rig.
The idea is to have the PIR sensor at one end, and a seed tray at the other.
As you can see however, version 1 was a bit fragile, but the idea was there.
Version 1 was clearly not good enough, so I rebuilt it using some sturdier wood. And after a while 'Version 2' was created.
This was much stronger, and I managed to get a seed tray fitted to the end. All good.
With this in place, I set it up in the garden with the camera, and left it alone. As with all these things, putting anything new in the garden makes the birds wary, so I had no success as nothing would come down to visit the seed tray.
That evening I took the camera gear back indoors, but left the rig out there with the seed tray. Perhaps the birds will get braver and come down to take a look at it while I was at work the next day.
They did, and that's when the idea from 'Version 3' was created...
Coming home Monday night I saw the rig lying on the ground. Clearly a larger bird or birds had landed on the seed tray, and over balanced the rig so it had fallen over.
I had to re-design it and make it more robust. I'm sure you'll see from the photos below it looks a lot stronger, and is better weather proofed given the paint.
Some simple re-work later and an added leg support, I think this version will work out. As I type this it is out in the garden now all set up waiting for the first birds to try it out. Fingers crossed.
It must be a combination of things: lack of free time, the holidays meaning my regular photography locations are full of people, and a lot of birds and animals I have photographed lying low, but I have struggled to get out on any successful wildlife shoots. It's a bit like photography drought.
To be fair I have another gig coming up at one of the Great Run events coming up in Aberdeen at the end of August for work, and after that I can get back down to the New Forest to start photographing the deer in preparation for the rut starting later in Autumn. I'm really looking forward to that.
In the meantime, below are a couple of shots from this weekend. The one of the tractor was shot at 400mm and close cropped. I changed it to black and white just to make it more interesting.
As for the dragonfly, I was lucky that it just sat on a beam near a river for some time while I shot away and tried different angles. I was pleased with how these two came out and may well enter one of them in a competition this week.
That's it for now. Thanks for reading.
Until next time, take care.