February drew to a close with my second monthly challenge – birds – and it certainly was a challenge. Although I spend a considerable amount of time on a farm/animal sanctuary where many birds can be seen perched, I have not often had my camera (with the right lens) ready to photograph them. So, challenge accepted and I decided to start with the easiest of birds to photograph – the none flying ones.
The first image I captured of a bird was of that of a chicken. So I could say then that I had met the challenge, however that was not too challenging, so off I went to find the geese. I like this shot due to the number of geese in the scene in addition to the winter landscape.
I then upgraded to ducks which often can be found at the pond in one of the fields.
Now, that I had captured the slower birds, it was time to find the nimble small ones. A number of common birds can bee found flying around the farm – robins, blue tits, dunnocks – but as I had taken the time to photograph them (apart from when I have by chance had my camera when photographing the donkeys and horses). However, I had not fully appreciate the time and patience required in order to get such birds in shot. I managed to capture this image of a dunnock, however, the images of robins and other smaller birds were not of sufficient quality to show.
This bird kept returning to the end of a gate so I waited patiently to capture this shot. When approaching other birds, they of course flew away. If I had a day to dedicate solely to capturing birds from one location, I would sit possibility within a camouflaged hide (if I had one!).
Later in the month, we decided to take a trip to Bellymack Hill Farm in Dumfries and Galloway where at 2pm they feed the Red Kites. I did not know what to expect but there was roughly 80 red kites circling, waiting for their lunch, which was definitely a sight to behold.
I decided to take my Canon 60D with Tamrom 70-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens as I thought the crop sensor paired with this lens would provide the greatest reach (rather than my Canon 5D mk II). Also, the 60D has a slightly higher frames per second which I thought would be beneficial. The Tamrom lens has great reach at 300mm (480mm effective field of view on the 60D), however the focus is slow and you can encounter a high amount of chromatic aberration. That being said, I did manage to take a number of shots where I was surprised by the image quality, although not necessarily the sharpest images.
I was fortunate enough to capture these which when cropped in Lightroom look quite impressive. Later, I shot the Red Kites swooping down to the feeding table which was difficult to shoot due to their speed and the distance away from where I was standing.
As a last image, I took this photograph of a murder of crows flying away one evening. I thought it would look quite interesting as an artistic abstract black and white rather than a traditional close up bird image.
So, looking back, I enjoyed shooting birds and intend to photograph them more often. The lens did feel slightly restrictive in terms of focus speed and issues with chromatic aberration, however, that being said, I was able to get a few good shots. If I thought I would be photographing birds regularly, I would consider investing in a better lens but as its not an area I will be spending a large proportion of my time shooting, I’ll wait till later to purchase such a lens e.g. Canon 400mm F5.6 or the Canon 300mm f4.
So on to March, when will be focusing on Cityscape photography which means I’ll have to think even more regarding where to shoot and what vantage points. Sadly, I cannot just walk round the farm…