Hello and welcome to my February newsletter.

The first thing you might notice is that I at long last have a logo. This was created for me by the wonderfully talented Eve Russel at Black Isle Graphics. Find her on Twitter here.

Given my love of stags, I wanted the logo to reflect that, and Eve's come up trumps with this design.

Along with the new logo has come a website re-design, which I'm quite pleased with. 

A photography course?

So why the need for a logo? Well, it was as I was putting together the presentation notes for my first photography course I thought that a logo would give it a more professional feel.

A photography course? Well, yes.

I've pulled together a very basic introduction to DSLR photography, and I'm hoping to run it with some willing volunteers in order to fine tune and tweak the content, before I start to run the course professionally.

I know a number of people are daunted by DSLRs when they first start out, and I hope to help remove some of the mystery and confusion for people by talking them through the basics and hopefully get them up and running in capturing the photos they want to capture. Also to get people out of 'Auto' mode on their cameras and get them taking advantage of the camera's other shooting modes, giving them more control over their photographs.

The course consists of a slide deck presentation but it is far from 'death by Powerpoint' in as much I only use the slides as a reference to the material which I talk through, based on my own experiences.

This course is labelled as Part 1, and in it I cover the following:

- What do the letters and numbers mean - Camera shooting modes

- Light and aperture - The Exposure Triangle

- File formats - JPEG vs. RAW

Given I don't want to drown people in information, I've gone with 3 topics for the first part of the course. The plan is to cover topics such as Exposure Compensation, Light meters and Histograms in Part 2 of the course. But this will come into being once I've got the format of Part 1 in a place where people are happy with it.

So, if you fancy being a guinea pig and helping me out in return for some free tuition, get in touch using the 'Contact me' link in the menu.

Red deer in the New Forest 

It has been a delight to get out and look for red deer in the New Forest, especially in these wintery days.

The reason I most like getting out to photograph wildlife at this time of year is that due to the colder temperatures, there aren't too many people about to scare prospective photographic subjects.

Its also great to feel the colder temperatures and experience nature close up in the winter season.

Myself and Helen (my partner) have spent many a happy day during each weekend wandering around new locations in the New Forest, taking our time to look for red deer, and we have had some success, in as much as we have spotted said deer.

The pinnacle of success for me came a few weeks ago when I got to spot and photograph a red deer stag, albeit from a distance amongst the trees.

Given how long I have been looking for red deer in the New Forest, this was a massive moment for me.

Of course I cannot claim this victory as purely my own as I did get some pointers from a fellow deer enthusiast as to where I might find them.

I've taken care not to spook the deer we find, and have kept my distance from them while shooting. This isn't about getting 'the shot', this is about scoping out new locations and understanding the deer's behaviour and movements. Again, its all about fieldcraft.

This is all preparation work for the Autumnal months when the rut is on.

Lone red stag

Red deer buck and stag

While out, we took the time to take in the scenery and rest up with a cup of tea and some chocolate nibbles. This is one of the great aspects of wildlife photography as even when not actually photographing anything, you can just bask in the wonder of your natural surroundings.

Over the next few weeks we'll continue to try other locations too for red deer and hopefully bring you another update next month.

  • Time to stop for a cuppa and take in the view. Collapsable cups are a real help as they're less bulky to carry.

  • Winter forest view, and not a person in sight. Bliss.

  • Of course at this time of year it can be pretty muddy going around the New Forest, but a decent set of walking boots helps!

  • Deer poo and footprints: things to look out for when tracking deer.

Garden birds

Over the winter months we have been visited by a large number of long tailed tits.

After we noticed these new visitors to the garden, I started putting out suet pellets to attract them, and these have proved very successful. We now get up to 8 long tailed tits in any one visit, and they seem to swarm the pellet feeder.

Long tailed tits on the newly located garden feeder, in the rain.

With a mind to photographing these incredibly enigmatic little birds, I've put up two more pellet feeders closer to the house in order to photograph them from the bedroom window and create some decent separation in the shots between them and the hedge at the bottom of our garden.

Also I'm looking to set up the PIR sensor and remote camera trap to get some closer shots (to date I've not managed to do so due to us being out a lot, and when we are at home it's been tipping down with rain or too dark). To this end I've added a false branch to one of the feeder stands in the hope of capturing a shot of one of these birds on said branch without the feeder in shot.

To date they've been a bit cautious about this new set up, with only the occasional bird venturing onto this single feeder from the larger feeding station where they mostly gather, and only very briefly.

With some more time at home coming up, if its dry I'll try the remote trap and see what I can get.

The garden bird feeders. Note solo feeders to the fore.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and take care.


Keith :)

P.S. Feel free to get in touch using the 'Contact me' link in the menu if you have any comments about this newsletter.

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