Squirrel in the Garden


This is a short post as there is only one picture worth showing. This is a squirrel that lives in the trees around the houses where I live in the suburbs of Lincoln city. There may be more than one but I only see one at a time; he (she?) is very adventurous and loves the berries on trees around the back of the garden. I have seen him leaping from tree to tree and even trees at the opposite ends of the main road located behind the fence at the rear of the garden.

Like most Grey Squirrels there is a lot of red in his fur but even though they flourished better than the native red squirrels I still think they are cute. The only disagreements come form Zara, the larger of our two Shih-Tzu dog; she doesn’t like other animals in the garden whether they be birds, hedgehogs or squirrels!

The Parrot Zoo

Back in October my parents and I visited the aptly named Parrot Zoo which is located almost in the middle of nowhere between Boston, Skegness and Spilsby. Whilst the main attraction are the parrots the Zoo also hosts a large number of other animals from other small birds to Tigers.

If you have never been I heartily recommend a visit but I suggest that you take a packed lunch with you as the restaurant which serves hot food and is a nice clean environment does have a rather limited menu. If your idea of food is anything form a cooked breakfast to something severed with chips you will be well met, but anyone who is particular about what they can eat (such as myself) will be struggling to find something they can have.

At the time of the visit I was using an OlympuS OM-D E-M1 fitted with Olympus’s best zoom lens the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO. The would be one of the last times I would have the opportunity to use this combo which worked admirably throughout the day apart from a battery change mid-day (still the achilles heal of nearly all “mirrorless” cameras). In fact I managed to capture two of my best wildlife pictures ever so this proves that the photographer and not the camera takes the picture; I will save these for the last two pictures in the post.

The pictures
There are over 100 species of Parrot at the Parrot Zoo and I have named them too the best of my abilities. Please forgive me if I have incorrectly named them.

Blue Fronted Amazon #1:
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Blue Fronted Amazon #2:
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African Grey Parrot:
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Sun Conures:
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Eclectic Parrot (Male):
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There was an enclosure (double doored) where you could walk around an be amongst some of the species of birds at the enclosure and this one took a fancy to my father, at one time or another we all had a bird perched upon us, they so like hair it seems:
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Yellow-collared Lovebird:
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Regent Parrot:
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Cockatiel with a Conure:
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Young Peacock, there was a whole family of them situated throughout the zoo and they went where they pleased:
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Baby and mother meerkat:
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Startled Robin (one of my all time best pictures):
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Hartsholme Park in September

Back in September I went to Hartsholme Park to see what was going on (on the wildlife front). The young Common Coots had left their nest but there were a lot of young ones swimming around all parts of the lake. In addition to the Coots we also had a family of swans who enjoyed being fed bread (not the best food for them) from passers by. The grey Squirrels (who do not hibernate) were ever present and always present a good photo opportunity too.

We also had a large number of young Great Crested Grebe swimming around and diving form time to time for food.

Young Common Coot:

Young Common Coots in symmetry:

Mute Swan Family:

Grey Squirrel feeding:

Great Crested Grebe young:

Nice Portrait of Male Mallard Duck:

The birds don’t mind being around others when there’s food on the offering:

My favourite shot of the day, I have seen dogs look like this when the want the food you have:

Once the food enters the water it’s a free for all:

LCE Photo and Optics Show 2015


Two weeks on Wednesday is this year’s London Camera Exchange’s Photo and Optics show. I have been attending the show for the last few years now and it gets bigger and better every year, it’s a testament to the hard work that’s put into this by the LCE staff not only in Lincoln but further afield too.

This year looks to be no different, it looks like Olympus will have the biggest presence at the show which is good for me and Damian McGillicuddy is back again doing two events at the show; the events will also be better as the stage at the back of the hall is where they will be held. This was the only criticism I have from last year’s show, the event area wasn’t situated in the best place; I’m glad to see that my view were heard and acted upon – thanks Dave.

As well as Olympus we will have Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Lastolite and many many more, you can find more details about the show by clicking here. LCE will also have many show offers on for the day so bring your wallet and speak nicely to the bank manager.

I am really looking forward to the show and I hope to see you at the event:)

Wildlife on the Baron Photo Shoot

Whilst taking pictures of the Lincoln Barons back in June which you can read about here, I was trying my best to only take pictures of the Barons. However, when I got to Baron 22. Roger de Montbegon (Lincolnshire Waterways Baron) I noticed that there was a lot of birds around and I couldn’t resist in taking a few pictures of them. Here are the 4 best pictures:

Canada Goose:

White Feral Pigeon:

Greylag Goose (well it’s related to it anyway):

Mute Swan and Cygnet:

Lincoln Barons

I was reading Richard;s blog here and was reading his post about the Lincoln Barons that have now gone to their new homes after being on display all over Lincoln. This reminded me of my own “Charter Trail” cum “Baron Photo Shoot” that I did back in July this year. In a couple of hours I went all around Lincoln to take a photo or two of each of the 25 Barons.

I used the Charter Trail leaflet to locate the location of the barons:

And then starting with the first Baron I visited them in order as follows:

1. William de Forz (Mmm… Lincolnshire Baron)

2. William de Huntingfield (Lindum Soldier Baron)

3. Richard de Clare and Gilbert de Clare (Steampunk Baron)

4. Robert de Vere (The 1960’s Baron)

5. Henry de Bohun (The Baron of Riches)

6. Roger Bigod (Truck Driver Baron)

7. William D’Albini (Wild Flower Statue Baron)

8. William de Mowbray (Bomber Baron)

9. Richard de Percy (An Expansive Place Baron)

10. William de Lanvallei (The People’s Baron)

11. William Marshall II (Teacher Baron)

12. Geoffrey de Mandeville (Wings of an Angel)

13. John de Lacy (Freeman Baron)

14. William Hardel (Baron Mayor of Lincoln)

15. Hugh Bigod (The Graduate Baron), this was after he was moved outside of the shopping centre.
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16. John FitzRobert (Anything Goes Baron)

17. Geoffrey de Say (Station Master Baron)

18. Gilbert de Clare (Proud to be a Yellow Belly)

19. Robert de Ros (The Beekeeper Baron)

20. Richard de Montifichet (Young Baron)

21. Eustace de Vesci (Construction Baron)

22. Roger de Montbegon (Lincolnshire Waterways Baron)

23. Robert Fitzwalter (Red Arrows Baron)

24. William Malet (Sir Walter Style)

25. Saer de Quincy, Earl of Winshester (Baron of the Crystal Hues)

I have to say I was very impressed that there was such a diverse slection of paint jobs of the same 3d shape statue; all of the artists involved in the project should be commended. My favourites though were (in no particular order) 3.Steampunk Baron, 6.Truck Driver Baron, 9.An expansive Place Baron and 22.Lincolnshire Waterways Baron.

The message found on the Barons was good and I won’t spoil it for anyone who still does not know it.

Driven to Abstraction

Yesterday I attended a local (in Lincoln) LCE-Olympus organised event titled “Driven to Abstraction” which was an Urban Street Photography event, you can read more about this here. However I have copied the synopsis of the event from the Olympus ImageSpace website below:

Professional photographer Steve Gosling invites you to get creative with the urban environment and seek abstracts in architecture for an exciting event Olympus is hosting in association with the Lincoln branch of the London Camera Exchange (LCE) in Silver Street. The date for your diary is 20th June for the ‘Urban Abstracts’ workshop, but be quick if this sounds of interest, as only 10 places are available to the lucky applicants

As well as Steve I had the pleasure to meet up with Aiden from Olympus too and although I took my Nikon D810 with me I only used the Olympus supplied OM-D E-M5 Mark II camera. What follows are my favourite photographs that I took during the on event.

We met up at the Silver Street Store of London Camera Exchange, there were 6 participants as well as Steve and Aiden; my friend Richard was among them. As planned, we left the store together and went to a local coffee shop to go through some introductions and talk about what we all hoped to achieve for the day. The coffee shop was “The Angel” which is just a few doors down from where I work and this was my first experience there. Olympus kindly footed the bill for the drinks we all had – I had to settle for a black coffee as they don’t serve skimmed milk😦.

As we were sitting down we were joined by another photographer to take the total up to 7. Both Richard and I were the only non-Olympus shooters in the group, some of the group use Olympus exclusively whilst others use Olympus in tandem with another DSLR.

Steve asked us one by one what we hoped to achieve during the course and my response was to take something beyond the mundane snapshot type of photograph that I always end up taking during urban type street photography. After a short slide show from Steve of some of his work and ideas behind the shots we all could choose Olympus gear to shoot with from Aiden bag of goodies. Most just wanted to try out difference lenses or different bodies wheres both Richard and I needed a body and lens. Richard wanted to try out the OM-D E-M10 whilst I wanted a go with the OM-D E-M5 Mark-II. I also went with the M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens initially as this would give me the field of view of a 34mm lens (I have a 35mm f1.8 Nikkor lens on my wish list at the moment).

Here is Aiden with his bag of Olympus goodness allowing one of the participants to choose their gear for the day:

The plan was to walk to the top of Steep Hill and meet up in the grounds of the Cathedral and then walk around taking pictures. After talking to Steve (far right in picture below) I should look for “pictures” before I took the shot:

My Cathedral Pictures:
I was looking ahead, up and below an noticed these tire tracks, after a little contrast increase ion Lightroom I have picture I very much like:

There is a sculpture around one side of the cathedral and I got closer to get this shot which I call “3 fingers”:

The contrast between the shiny new brass knocker versus the rusty ironware on this door was very interesting:

Richard stands very straight and the parallel between him and the stone pillar was the point of this photo:

I was shooting the cathedral through a hole in a wooden and iron bench when this girl walked across the frame, a piece of serendipity. I had many photos of her as she walked across the frame and her juxtaposition at then far left to the aperture in the bench side works nicely:

Steve also suggested looking at reflections too, I noticed that the building to my right was clearley reflecting on the bonnet of this burgundy car. At first glance it looks like the white balance is off but you can see that this is not the case as the range at the top-right shows the colour of the brown road:

We were also asked to look at patterns like this metal warning plate:

Red and Blue doors:

On the way down Steep Hill:
For anyone who does not know Lincoln, the Cathedral and castle are located at the top of a hill. The main street down towards the town centre at the bottom of the hill is called Steep Hill- it as aptly named i.e. it is very steep – walking up the hill needs good legs and some stamina.

I personally wanted to show a lot of texture in my photos and this is a close up of some of the black woodwork on this Tudor style building:

These stairs could be located anywhere, where do they go and what’s behind the doors:

I was intersted in the various different patterns in relatively small piece of road:

Opposite this piece of road was very badly corroded brickwork:

Towards the bottom of the hill was this piece of tarmac road with other stone pieces embedded, I love the contrast:

After another chat with Steve and Aiden they suggested that I go for a different lens and I was given the 60mm f2.8 Macro lens to try, this stayed on the camera for the rest of the day.

Brayford Wharf:
After walking through town and going down the Glory Hole (yes that’s a real location name in Lincoln) we arrived on the North part of Brayford Wharf, I haven’t been here for a while an it seems different now that I no longer work here.

On the side of the Royal William IV pub was this face in the stone. I was initially interested in the texture of the stone work but after taking a few picture I saw this face:

I noticed this solitary buoy on the water of the Brayford Pool and like the composition:

My last two shots are of the fencing around the exposed part of the jetty mid-way down on the Brayford Pool. Firstly one of the fence posts:

And one of my favourite shots, a close up of the metal wire part:

After taking the last shots we had a Q and A session with Steven and then ventured back to the LCE shop where we gave Aiden back his Olympus gear.

Thought on the Driven to Abstraction Olympus event:
I had a great day even though I was on feet for almost the whole day, I’m pretty sure Richard had a great time too. Steve has taught me to open my eyes a lot more particularly in a place where I have lived for over 16 years now. I have to say that I came away with a few shots that I am really proud of, I did try a lot more and although I do have some mundane snapshots I also tried lots of different things; some worked as evidence by these photos and some that did not. Steve also suggested that some photos on their own may have lesser impact tan if there were part of a set of photos printed on the same page in a 4, 6 or 8 set grid for example. I really think I learned something during the day so it was well worth it. I certainly would like to go on another course with Steve as he is really great teacher and all round nice guy – thanks Steve!

I would also like to thank Aiden from Olympus, I have met Aiden a number of times now and he always remembers me – he’s another nice guy and I hope to see him again. The Olympus OM-D E-M5II operated in a very similarr manner to the OMM-D E-M1 that I used to own, but the real icing on the cake was the fully vari-angle LCD screen on the rear of the camera and I hope that the markII of the E-M1 has this too.

I enjoyed using the Olympus OM-D for the day, it felt like an old friend (maybe one I should not have left behind so soon). However, I don’t miss the terrible battery life which is the Achilles heals of all Mirrorless cameras (not just Olympus); one thing I noticed is that we all had to change batteries during the day. My Nikon batteries last a lot longer – many shoots per charge.