Having always been into big cats, I’ve admired them from a distance.. online and years back going to a local safari park (sadly leaving my camera at home) ..
now I seldom go anywhere I can actually photograph them! But this week I too the good lady to the zoo because it was what she was wanting to do for her birthday!
So both of us packed up our camera gear ‘yes I remembered it this time!’ Marking sure the long lens was to hand ..can’t go wrong with a nice 150-600mm sigma contemporary lens .. And headed for the well known Colchester zoo!
Having done a little research, I knew there was a few big cats there .. sadly I know a few of them had passed away. Over the years so they wouldn’t be there ..
But I know that the Amur tiger would be there and the Amur leopard too. Some parts of the zoo was to be closed off for work so I wouldn’t see the other big cats and the weather may also hinder the seeing of a few and there was heavy rain forecast!
We soon got in and the zoo was packed out ! So many children as there was a school outing !
It took us a little while to find the big cats as some reason we went the wrong route a number of times ..
But when I see the Amur tiger I was amazed! What a beautiful beast! Check out these images let me know what you think of them!
The beautiful Amur Tiger
He didn’t stay around for too long and wanted some quiet time from all the noise of the children .. shouting and tapping on the inclosure! This is the o oh thing I dislike about zoo’s or any place the holds large animals like the big cats!
Is that the people who are going to see them not respecting the animals natural behaviour and realising that these animals have a extra high sense of hearing specific for hunting .. people screaming and shouting isn’t what they need!
The next big cat was the Amur leopard such a strong yet majestic cat! This one posed for the camera and was such a sight to see! The markings and the strong body make this animal something special!
Here are a few images on the Amur Leopard let me know if you agree she is something extra special ..
Sadly even though I had been there the best part of five hours walking around and around and come back to the other big cat enclosures I never managed to see the lions or a few of the others that at based at the Colchester zoo .. but this give me another reason to return to see if I can capture the amazing creatures ..
I really hope that you like the images if you do please leave a comment or a like this really helps me know what people like and helps my posts get seen .. and honestly above all else I get to interact with the amazing people taking the time to connect 🙂
I was sitting in the bay window, Drinking a very hot coffee and munching on custard creams ! While watching the better half outside filling up the bird feeder .. on her new bird table,
Now if you’re a photographer like me this sparked the mind into capture mode. See I’ve taken a few weeks away from people photography.. ! So I’m missing the thrill of the shutter .. I thought ‘Let’s try and capture a starling’
Now you’re probably like most people and asking why a starling! There’s so many other birds like robins and blue tits ..
Well I love looking at starlings, there’s something about their plumage this time of year thats just beautiful! Now when I post the images below I hope that you will see what I’m getting at! . Also to me everyone seems to neglect the starling family and always head right for the money shot with a robin .. it’s too normal for me 😉
So I headed to the camera bag unzipped it and took out the camera of choice the Nikon D7200.
Again I bet there’s a question 🙋♂️ why the D7200 and not your Sony gear! The answer is simple .. the Nikon D7200 is a 24 mp Crop sensor not a full frame 24pm like the Sony bodies I have .. see the way I see it is I’m pretty close to the bird table and with the crop multiplying the lens choice by 1.5 ish this will give me a nice close up shot. while still being in a warm house with my coffee ! (Can’t forget the Coffee! )
Now lens choice was questioned as I do have a bunch of lenses for the Nikon one being the sigma contemporary 150-600mm but being close to the table I thought better of it and decided let’s use the 55-300mm Nikon lens, remember this on the D7200 is equivalent to 83 – 450mm due to the crop!
Perfect ! All set..
.. so once the good lady come back into the house I perched myself by the window (pardon the pun ‘perched’ ) did I mention that’s where the coffee was 😉 I opened the window and waited !
And waited …..
I could see and hear the birds but they wasn’t coming to the feeder because I was to close .. I could see them on the roof opposite my upstairs window ! New plan leave the comfort of the bay window and head for the bedroom window ..
New plan of action.
See when I was in the bay window there was a close wall as a backdrop the setting I would have used would have been pretty simple .. ISO 100 f6.3 and at least 1/250 as these bird would be standing pretty still .. and maybe I could get some wing movements .
Now I’m up in the bedroom I have a different backdrop .. the birds are on the roof and tv aerial so I have sky to deal with .. I want detail in the blue sky.. so I need to find a good balance between bird detail and sky brightness. First test shot I started with was iso ..
ISO. Native 100 to get the best for low noise .. I wanted a lot of light coming in so the widest aperture of the lens F 5.6 was best I could do.
Now this time the birds are moving a lot so needed a faster shutter speed and there was clouds so didn’t want to blow them out wanted some detail. So shutter speed 1/1000 I snapped a few shots and no detail in the birds and dark sky
I forgot to mention this is 5:30 ish pm evening setting in .. but still some sun behind the clouds . Giving lovely soft but bright light ..
A few winds later the shutter speed was set to 1/640s looked out the window and realised every starling was gone!
All but one ! The one you will see pictures shortly! He / she was stunning ! Beautiful colours .. deep black tone and speckles on it’s under belly.. I couldnt ask for a better looking starling .. though it was perched on the tv aerial it did look great with cloud and blue back drop.. but the distance was about 5 metres away could be a little far for perfect detail knowing this lens .
I pointed my camera at the sky a quick test shot and sky perfect lots of detail and perfect white clouds
Now’s my chance bird still alone .. I pointed the camera at the starling zoomed the lens to best fill the frame … focused and started reeling off shot ! About twenty total .. now I’ve worked with models but this bird was such a poser ! 😉 head up head down tilt to the side even a one leg pose !
I got a little carried away and,
Forgetting I didn’t take into account the bird deep tones before reeling off the shots I quickly pressed the review button and to my surprise pretty much perfect ! Just a tad under exposed on the bird but lovely detail, lovely tones and nothing a little post production couldn’t fix !
So in post all these images had done to them was. Simple adjustments in lightroom .. my normal
Shadow lifted , highlights dropped, detail clarity vibrance +10 and a little tone curve adjustment ..
Now this is the finished product .. well five images .. I’ve also done a card with shot details on that if you’re on a phone you can screenshot so that you have it so that you can try the settings to capture a few starling shots of your own..
If you do please tag me in the images on Instagram be great to see what you managed to get and how you got on..
Also if you liked this post and want to see /read more of how I got the shot.. settings so on.. please follow the blog I would love to have you along on my journey.. and more will be coming in the future like presets and review /news
Okay here’s the pictures and under that the card download file for reference.. let me know what you think !