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.
2015-07-04-BOL-15 (2015-08-31)

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.

Nikon D810 Myths and Truths


I’ve owned my Nikon D810 DSLR camera for just over a month now and although there are many reasons I changed back to a DSLR from the rather good (in fact better than I imagined) Olympus OM-D E-M1, the main two were the fact that I wanted a bigger sensor and much more resolution – 36MP. I was rather lucky to find a nearly new 810 from my local London Camera Exchange store with an extremely low shutter count in mint condition, boxed and at a very reasonable price. I was originally looking at a new Nikon D750 which is an excellent DSLR (and is doing very well for Nikon) but I wanted the pro body and the 36MP sensor. I also picked up a boxed mint condition 50mm f1.8 G lens at the same time this was also at a reasonable price.

It is the high resolution of the Nikon D810 as well as it’s previous versions the D800 and D800E that is the source of much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). The D810 gives me the ability to crop a lot when the subject is not full frame in the picture as well as a better high ISO capability and wider Dynamic Range; these were lacking in the OM-D. The fact that I can push the RAW files from the D810 so much more still astounds me as the OM-D files couldn’t be pushed as much.

So the popular consensus for getting the best out of the D810 (as well as the D800 and D800E) are the following:

  1. You must use good (read expensive) glass to get the best out of the sensor
  2. You have to lock the camera down on a tripod
  3. You must use good technique
  4. You need to have lots of storage and a fast computer to play with the massive RAW files that the camera produces

I’ll talk about these one at a time.

1) You must use good (read expensive) lenses to get the best out of the sensor:
Nikon recommends that you use good lenses to get the best out of this sensor in fact they produce a list of recommended glass to use with the D800E as follows:

  • AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.8G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 58mm f/1.4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G
  • AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II
  • AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR
  • AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED
  • AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
  • PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED
  • PC-E Micro NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED
  • PC-E Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D

There are a few lenses on this list that are surprising, first the only 50mm lens is the f1.8G version and not the more expensive f1.4G. Also, all of the new f1.8G prime lenses that Nikon has been releasing over the last couple of years are on the list (28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm) I suspect that the 20mm f1.8G lens would make this list too. The other big surprise is the 24-85mm variable aperture VR zoom lens. These are all easily affordable lenses – although this may be relative as what I consider as affordable may be expensive to the next person, who ever said photography is a cheap hobby?

So even though all of the very expensive f1.4 primes, f2.8 and f4 zoom lenses as well as the extreme telephoto prime lenses all make the list there are a number of affordable primes and zooms that are good enough (from Nikon’s point of view) to be used with the D800E (and I suppose if updated the D810 too).

The only lens that I own that is not on the list is the Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR Zoom lens. This lens is one of the most underrated ones out there, there are a number of Pro photographers who recommend this lens as it is an optic gem (even Moose Peterson recommends this lens). I have to agree as I cannot find anything wrong with the results I get, yes it’s a bit slow at the 300mm end but if you have the light you get excellent results. From my point if view this “optically” matches the 150mm end of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 lens that I used to own.

So far I have the 50mm f1.8G, 85mm f1.8G and 70-300mm Nikon lenses and the next two Nikon lenses on my list are the 35mm f1.8G and the 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G VR – both are around £400 each which in the grand scheme of things are far from expensive. So the fact of the matter is you don’t need expensive glass to get the best out of the sensor.

That said, there are some cheap lenses that are real stinkers and should be avoided, putting a really cheap lens on the D810 would produce inferior results. I remember being present in one of the LCE stores here in Lincoln when a guy who had just got himself a Nikon D800 camera went in and asked for the cheapest lens that they sold; what a waste! I suspect that this guy no longer has the D800.

I know partly why this is the case and it has to do with Pixel Density. Nikon currently have 3 ranges of “cropped” or DX sensor bodies in the market – the 3xxx series, the 5xxx series and the 7xxx series. All of them now have 24MP sensors and whilst cheap crappy glass isn’t recommended, Nikon do not produce a list of recommended lenses either. If you were to create a full-frame (35mm) sensor with the same pixel density of these cameras you would have a sensor of around 50MP; strangely this is the resolution of Canon’s new 5DS/5DSR cameras. So the pixel density of the Nikon D810 is less than the Nikon consumer DX bodies!

2) You have to lock the camera down on a tripod

Yeah I know it's a Canon!

Yeah I know it’s a Canon!

My favourite kind of photography is wildlife, followed by events, family and then portraits. Whilst I own and use a tripod most of the time for wildlife I don’t always and don’t for the other types of photography. I have never felt that my shots aren’t sharp because I don’t always use a tripod. Yes, I occasionally get blurry shots but this is usually down to me not being steady and using too low a shutter speed.

However, this may be partly because I use a Nikon D810 and not a D800/D800E. One of the improvements of the D810 over the D800/D800E were the dampened mirror mechanism of the D810 so this will play a part.

3) You must use good technique
I won’t argue with this one – great technique is always needed with any camera to get the best out of it – as is learning as much about the camera as possible to make the best use of its feature set for your kind of photography.

4) You better have lots of storage and a fast computer to play with the massive RAW files that the D810 produces
The RAW files from the D810 are bigger than the OM-D; a typical RAW file for the OM-D E-M1 is around a 16MB, whilst the RAW file from the D810 is about 56MB. More storage is needed, whilst taking pictures and later when storing them; I did have to purchase larger 32GB compact-flash cards. This is something to bear in mind.

I currently use an iMac 27″ to edit my files using Lightroom CC and it is evident that the D810 files take just a fraction longer to load over the OM-D files, the effect is most pronounced when you are working at 100%. I usually get a non-sharp photo followed by a sharper one once the RAW file is fully loaded. I suspect that this is more to do with the fact that I only have 8GB RAM though. I will have to add another 16GB to take me to 24GB.

If you have a much older computer, you may have more need for an upgrade or a new computer.

So I was a bit worried about using a D810 but as I have shown here, it isn’t the daunting prospect that it is made out to be. I am also having a different experience with the camera than other users on various forums from Facebook to DPReview and I’m not sure why.

With all that is said you have to remember that all cameras are tools and it is the photographer not the camera that takes a great photo – a good photographer knows how to use light and composition.

Hartsholme Park – Early June

I try to visit Hartsholme Park at least once a fortnight during this time of year as there is a lot of activity, you can read about my previous visit here. Unfortunately, Richard was unable to join me due to family matters so I was alone like last time, although I prefer taking photographs with a friend it did allow me to go much earlier than normal. I arrived there at 07:45; which was fortunate as I had a lot to do on Sunday. I also had plenty of time to walk around the lake and get more photographs than normal.

Rather than provide a running commentry in chronological order of what I saw I have tried a different tact in this post. I have collated all of my favourite photographs by species and will provide an introductory piece to each one. Hopefully this will make them easier to write and hence get this post out much earlier than I would have – hopefully you’ll be reading this Monday morning. Please let me know if you prefer this style or would rather me revert back to the older way of writing.

Enjoy :)

Grey Herons:
During my last visit I thought that the Herons had vacated the central island of Hartsholme Lake but it was clear that there were still a few nests in use as evidenced by my first photo below. There were also a number of solitary Herons dotted around the island like in the second photo. One photo that isn’t here is the one that got away, whilst I was checking the time on my phone, one landed only a few feet from me and before I could put the phone away and take a shot it flew off!



Greylag Geese:
The Greylag geese were their usual vocal selves on Sunday and did a lot of flying, honking and not much else. I have seen Greylag Geese goslings on Hartsholme Lake in early May this year but not for some time , I wonder where they are?


Common Coot:
In my previous post I pointed out that there was a Common Coots nest which had the female on the nest and the male bringing twigs and other items to shore up the nest. Since then the eggs have hatched and think that there are now 4 or 5 chicks. They aren’t the prettiest things and look like minature plucked chickens at the moment but they will soon grow and become the back and white-beaked Common coot that is (as its namesake suggests) is very Common on water ways in the UK.

The female was still on the nest trying to keep all of the chicks together and the male was going off and fetching food for them, in a few days the adults will split the young in to two groups and each one look after one of the groups. These birds can fly after 55 days. I apologise for the large number of photos but it was a joty to watch the two birds and the young chicks in action.









Not far from the Coots nest, this magpie landed and was moving about quite a bit so I decided to take a few photos of him/her as I don’t have many magpie photographs at all. In totals I saw 5 or 6 of them so that’s Silver or Gold!


Great Crested Grebe:
There are still a large number of Great Crested Grebes on the lake and I am still trying to capture the illusive chick (or chicks) on a mother’s back – no such luck. However this one was relatively close and I do like the action shot of him/her as it plunged out of the water.




Mute Swan:
Like most waterways there are a pair of Mute Swans on the lake, these were luckier than the St.Marks swan in that they have 3 cygnets (which is still very low), I don’t think that this can be a good year for Mute Swans.

Canada Geese:
These are the first Canada Geese goslings I have seen this year.

Mallard Ducks:
And at last I have seen some young ducks although I wouldn’t call them ducklings any more

I had a good time at Hartsholme Park today but I must watch the ISO a lot more; some of the shots I took are unusable as they are very noisy thanks to the very high ISO setting. to help combat this in the future I have adjusted my auto ISO setting so that it doesn’t go quite as high.