Dradd's photography newsletter 16th December 2018 - dradd's photography

Firstly, hello!

I hope you find this newsletter of interest. If here's anything photography specific you'd like me to cover in future issues, please let me know. I'm open to suggestions.

Please note that the images on this page can be clicked on to see larger versions.

This issue:

1. Bad weather means garden photography is back in

2. WPOTY 2019 entries

3. A successful day in the New Forest

Bad weather means garden photography is back

I've always loved this time of year. Autumn and winter are great seasons for wildlife photography, mainly because as the weather turns colder and less pleasant, people tend to stay in, meaning us wildlife photographers can get out to locations that are free from people disturbing the wildlife, and we can get some decent photographs.

But there are times when heading out is not an option as the weather is too inclement, so its at times like these that I turn to photographing the wildlife in our garden. As you may know, I have written a series of blogs on garden wildlife photography. They can be found here:

• Part one

Part two

Part three

This year I'm all geared up for the arrival (hopefully) of long tailed tits: I have positioned a feeder in line with our bedroom window so I can photograph these enigmatic little birds should they visit us this season, from the warmth and comfort of the main bedroom.

Last Saturday, given the inclement weather, I thought I'd try out this setup and capture some shots of the birds visiting our garden feeders. There was a number of pigeons on the feeder, so I grabbed a couple of shots that came out making the birds look quite elegant. 

This one pigeon in particular stood out:

Common wood pigeon photographed at 500mm.

This was also a good opportunity to try out the 500mm F/4.0 lens with the 1.4 teleconverter, taking the focal length of the lens to 700mm. In short, this would enable me to get even closer to the subject matter.

I've not tried out this combination before, as historically I've not had a great deal of success with the teleconverter used with previous lenses as the resulting photos haven't been in sharp focus, so I'd not tried to use it when out in the field. Trying it at home experimenting with compositions was the safest bet.

So I fired off a few shots at the pigeons and wild rats at the feeding station, and was pleasantly surprised with the results. They were pin sharp. See the examples below.

  • Common wood pigeon photographed at 700mm.

  • Wild brown rat photographed at 700mm.

  • The Canon 1.4 Mk III teleconverter nestled between the camera body and 500mm lens.

Anyway, all in all I was happy with the garden feeder/camera setup, so I'm ready for when/if the long tailed tits come back. Fingers crossed they get to Hampshire! I know they've been spotted around Dorset, and of course in the north of England. Just hope they get down here.

WPOTY 2019 entries

For the past couple of years I've entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, living in extreme hope that one of my shots just might make the grade. Of course this has never been the case as those that get chosen are in a league far above my own.

This year I have entered 8 photographs for the 2019 competition, feeling confident with the photos I have put forward. For those that don't know, WPOTY competition is a paid for competition, so there is a fee for entering.

And then you're in the hands of the judges to see if you get chosen for round two, or go no further. I'll know by the 11th of February 2019. Let's get those fingers crossed.

The photos I've entered can be seen below.

A successful day in the New Forest

I find lately now that the deer rut is over, a trip to the New Forest will not always guarantee any deer sightings, so I wind up taking the day as it comes. If I leave with any deer photos after a trip down there I consider the day a success.

A trip down there this last Wednesday was without exception. I headed to one of my usual haunts, arriving later than I wanted due to bad traffic on the way down there, only to find a number of cars already in the car park and a group of ramblers getting ready to head into the woods. Fearful they would spook any deer, I got my gear together quickly and headed on in ahead of them.

Within a couple of minutes I'd spotted a few fallow deer does, who moved on to join with a larger group of about 11 does. They were very picturesque, but I was after fallow bucks this time as someone had told me they were now hard to spot in the forest now the rut was over.

I took this as a personal challenge because if I'm told I won't be able to photograph something because of a given situation, I like to prove that train of thought wrong.

So I left the does and headed deeper into the woods in search of the bucks.

Sadly, after 4 miles of walking, I'd not seen a single deer, let alone any bucks. Again because I was later getting down to the forest there were more people about, so less chances of seeing deer.

I decided to head home, and as I got closer to the car I thought I'd have one more look around a location close by where I've spotted fallow bucks in the past.

Sadly there was nothing about, not even the does I'd spotted in earlier. So with heavy heart I started down the track to head back to the car.

Then something moving in amongst some dense trees to my left caught my eye. It looked like the rear of a grazing forest pony on first glance as I could only see the back of it. Then it lifted its head and exposed two massive antlers.


Not only was I privileged enough to see this large white fallow buck with a set of the largest antlers I'd seen in a long while, but in amongst the trees was another large buck, a couple of smaller bucks and a pair of prickets.

I dropped back into cover of trees on the other side of the track and started to photograph individuals in the group. I spent the next 30 to 45 minutes with this group, moving closer to them in amongst the cover of the trees near them, and surprisingly a group of forest ponies who were also grazing in the same location. Thankfully the ponies are used to people, so they didn't spook while I was close to them, meaning the deer were equally at ease with me being so close.

This did result in a slightly surreal experience of having a forest pony gnawing away at the tree I was seeking shelter by while photographing the big chap with large antlers. Strange trying to concentrate on taking a photo while all you can hear to your right is a horses teeth scraping away at bark on a tree you are taking shelter alongside.

But this I why I love my job! The bizarre things that can happen while out on a shoot. All good.

Satisfied that I'd spent enough time with this group of males, and managed to get the shots some people thought it difficult to get, I headed home, a happy man.

The full collection of shots can be found in this gallery here: Sometime in the New Forest - Winter - 12th December

This might come as a surprise to some of you, but my favourite photos involve the white pricket. He was so elegant, and had a majestic air to him. Hence one of the photos of him I have called him the 'Young Prince of the forest'. A stunning deer, and as usual it was a great honour to be able to photograph him, and the group he was with.

That's it for now. I won't get another newsletter out until after the festive period now, so until next time, have a wonderful Christmas, and take care.

Use the 'Contact Me' button to get in touch. 

With best wishes, Keith.

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