Saturday November 20/2021 6:00am can’t sleep! Been trying, but I just can’t seem to sleep. Clocks ticking, cats got a sugar rush on! Mind away with the fairies!Other half’s got the fidgets
I look at the better half and suggest the unexpected!!! No hey …. Stop thinking that.. nothing rude!! Shall we get sorted and head out with the cameras ?Not expecting the “sure let’s do it!” Reply .. wicked, that buzz kicks in!!
And Like a kid a Christmas, I spring from the bed before the ‘or should we just stay in bed kicks in’ a quick shower later … Coffee in hand camera bag on our backs, we head to the door.. yes obviously we got dressed too!
Now as the door opens that rush of cold air hits your face and you think am I really doing this .. but anyone who loves being a photographer will tell you .. we want to get back in bed ! No … not that at all!
We will do anything to get a great shot!
Now the destination we have planned to go is pretty local, about a thirty minute walk. a little more when it’s chilly and you haven’t had any sleep in 48 hours !
It’s a lovely part of a sea side town in Maldon Essex.. called ‘The Maldon Promenade’. It’s known for its boats, amazing sunrises, distant river views, shipwrecks and it’s many birds ! And a favourite place for me to frequent
A short stroll later, we enter the gates and cross the vast green fields to the sea wall.. sadly the tide is coming in, but it’s still a way out .. so first thoughts ‘I may not get the shots I would really like’.
As you can see tide still way out but will be in, in a few hours ! Fingers telling me “hey we’realready cold!’’
But the smell that’s in the air is refreshing .. no again I bet you’re predicting the next line to be, the smell of the sea.. no actually it’s the smell of bacon. This location has food huts ! And they open early ! Bri & Debs best in the park! For food and drinks !
But that will have to wait we need to get some work done, then it’s time for hot food!
Okay back to the photography!
Our first port of call was to walk toward the shipwreck (karma) thats finding its resting place just off the river blackwater but close to the edge of the back main field of the promenade, this ship can be seen looking down from the bird watching tower or you can take a very slippery walk along the sea wall, me being a daredevil I took the slippery route!
It’s not hard to find the entrance to this part of the sea wall, as there is a loop that you can do of the promenade and if you take the gravel track walk you’ll soon find there is a little trail that bares left that takes you along the main sea wall towards Maryland sea .. a very long walk.. One I started at the beginning of Autumn. ‘Started but didn’t finish’
If you walk just a few steps into this trail you will see a walk way that takes you perfectly yet slip sliding towards the shipwreck.. (yes I did it Saturday) btw if you’re thinking of walking and trying this route.. don’t do it while the tides coming in unless you have your wit’s about you.. as water comes in round the back of you.
About fifteen feet round this ridge is the shipwreck and yes it’s the perfect photogenic subject ..
sadly the sun come up just before we got to our shipwreck destination .. but we didn’t miss anything as the sky was so cloudy and overcast there was no beautiful sunrise to be had.. to give this shipwreck the perfect pop, one I’ve captured so many time before.. but still I managed to get this shot below ..
KARMA SHIPWRECK .. As the sky was just greyish blue i tried to take the image showing minimal sky ..
The light was just starting to get change as I took this so this pointed us in the direction of the birds .. and soft light, I could tell this was going to be fun! This could take a little walking and me being quiet.. not something I’m said to be good at..
We started back toward the back field and a small area known as Delph Ditch. It’s a grassy and wooded area With small bird, moorhens, coots and the odd duck or two.
This is about the 100th time we have been here so we knew there was going to be a couple of things that could take our fancy.. there is a beautiful tree that stands tall above a small wooden bridge. We have aptly named the water lilies. You know like the monet painting.. take a look at the image below and even though it’s Autumn the only difference to me is the colours ! With the Autumn oranges and warm tones.
Delph Ditch an interpretation of Monet’s – water lilies
Here is where we crossed from the left of the image through and under the tree and crossed over ‘The trolls style bridge’ to the right hand side ..
As you cross this bridge you can look behind the tree and see what’s in the little stream that runs off about 40 ft into the distance.. there wasn’t much apart from a small Robin and he soon made a fly for it. So we started our climb back ..
This is where we met a little friend!
We had only walked about fifteen feet from the bridge when my partner told me to stop! And stay still.. and look slowly down to the right on the fence.. I didn’t see it at first but there stood a a stunning fluffed up Robin.. it soon become apparent that she wasn’t alone. ( no I don’tmean because we was there 😄 )
There was a family of robins and they was super friendly .. bobbing from the fence a few feet over to the shrubs and then back to the fence.. each time it come to land on the fence it got closer and closer to us and the camera that was resting on the top of the fence post.
Now I’ve been close to a few birds in my time… yes the feathered kind.. but never been close to a Robin. The longer we stayed the closer she was getting. Every time she landed, I would try to snap some shots off .. then refocus when she landed on the shrubs . Back and forth.. until she was that close just an inch from the tip of my lens … I think she was showing off to us and so was mr Robin he wouldn’t get as close but still within a couple of feet.
I think you can tell with the images that I’ve managed to capture how close these beautiful bird got to the camera .. very happy with this set of images .. images below 👇
Images 1 Robin looking for her Batman… she was so close I wish I had took some food with me.. or come here after going to the food kiosk.. maybe it would have eaten out of my hand.
Image 2 as she was just a few inches from me on the top of the fence .. could see so much detail in her feathers !
Image 3 And the there he was Mr Robin I believe.. watching from just a few feet away.. such a beautiful sight to see and honestly loved getting these images .
Now time was getting away, we had been here for about 3 hours and Mr piggy was calling ! No not a pig I could take photos of. More the bacon roll I hit upon earlier.. so off we trotted to the kiosk and got a hot chocolate and a bacon roll to take away.. this is where things to yet another odd turn of events .
Just call be bird man!
To get to Bri n Debs kiosk from where we was capturing the Robin it’s about a five minute walk along the sea wall back towards the main lake .. again time may very depending on energy level .. mine at this time well over 48 hours with out sleep.. it took a little while longer ! But while taking this slow stroll, We come across a sign that tell you what birds to expect to see walking around the Promenade!
While my partner walked over and ordered our mid morning bacon roll I stood reading the sign!
And seeing if I could see many of the birds on the list, Now just so you know I’m literally standing twelve inches from the sign. And nearly get landed on by two starlings .. trying to land on said sign.. right infront of me. First thought ‘the birds here are blooming friendly ! ‘
Tap on shoulder and the good lady has returned from the kiosk with breakfast! I managed to take my first bite look up and to my surprise there was five starlings now! Looking at me with the ‘I’m hungry give that bun to me look’
Honestly it was like a mini scene from the film ‘The birds’
If I moved left they did if I moved right they did.
Ping! Brain fart.. let’s see if they want some of this roll and maybe I can get a few images along the way .. not so surprising.. took a pea size nibble off the roll and the birds starting tweeting! Loudly ! Not sure if this was a give me tweet or not didn’t take long to find out it was more of a phone call to their friends and family.. because bird started landing from everywhere.
About 30 in total ! At one point or another I put my hand out and the bird furthest left on the sign takes of and nips it right out my fingers ! And fly’s away, I look down take another small piece off look up and the space that had the last bird I fed was taken, put hand out again the first in line took off pinched with piece of roll and took off !
By Now the line was pretty full ! about 10 bird on the sign and there was an audience of starlings on the sea wall.. and people watching me feeding out of hand these stunning birds … now to cut a long story short ! I’m not great with an audience! ‘Human audience that is’
So I take out the camera and real off a number of shots trying to capture a number of them as they all had something different about them from speckled chests to colourful bellies.. fat one skinny one!
The feeding wasn’t over ! Ended up feeding the masses with half my roll ! And having a field day with these beautiful starlings.
landing on my hand, flitting back and forth changing places. I managed to take a good thirty images maybe even more and my partner took a lot too.. these guys, honestly such beautiful birds.. people truly misjudge them and the way the work as a team their wasn’t any fighting stealing it was like a natural feeding line .. one after the other.
Here are a few of this shots so you can see what I mean !! Take a moment to look at the details on their body and the stunning ‘petrol on water’ colours in the blacks !
Standing in line ! The middle one is ready to fly because I had food in my left hand 🙂
Feeding line this way Im so sure that this one was not cleaning its self more directing air traffic control!
I’ve been tangoed such vibrant orange tones and Cadbury purple tints to the wings
The boss man the colours on this one just outstanding .. peacocking in all it’s glory.. really beautiful!
Sadly this was all the time we had as we needed to get back home, but we spent a good five hours at this location.. and we will definitely be returning here.. so keep those eyes open for more birds boats and landscape..
Please if you managed to read this to this point thank you for taking the time out of your day I know times precious! Thank you for your support. And will we are talking about support please follow the blog .. so you can be first to see posts
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So until next time ! Remember you only have one life, one shot, so capture it!
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 !