Woburn Safari Park – October 2016

Back on the 6th October most of my family (Mum, Dad and Brother-in-law Simon) went to Woburn Safari Park, the original plan was for us 3 guys to go to Thorpe Park which rather helpfully (not) was shut for the day. However, going to Woburn was a more than great alternative and the bonus is that my Mum can come too, she is like me and likes to take lots of photographs of animals.

On entry to the park you start with a typical safari and drive around in your car, Simon was thankfully driving the four of us, so we all had a corner each. I was upfront with Mum and Dad in the back. The first parts of the park are quite open and you will see various deer, wildebeest and other fairly tame animals roaming around.


When you enter the later areas (though double gates) you see some of the wilder animals. The first ones were Black Bears, they got very close to the car, the 40-150mm lens that was on the X-T2 couldn’t focus that close so my pictures weren’t very good.😦

The next section we visited contained the lions:

They were all female in here and were enjoying a snack on some hoofed animal (looked Gazelle like):

Towards the end of the Lion area was a separate pen that housed a male lion who was quite happy sunning himself:

We went through some more double-gates and saw large quantities of Giraffes, at some points we couldn’t drive forward as they kept crossing the road:


After a short drive and more gates, we drove through the monkey area, their expressions are so human-like:

They also have a habit of sitting on your car, sometimes large numbers all together:

Or they just lay around watching the world go by:

Once we left the monkeys (they didn’t want to get off the car at first), we parked up at the second part of the park which is a walk-around area. There are large numbers of different animals from penguins to Lemurs:


Just around the corner from the Lemurs were some goat and donkeys:

After some food and coffee we visited the “Birds In Action” area to watch the show that was about to start. Whilst waiting, a crow was flying around and almost showing off:

Not long after this the main show started and a number of well-trained parakeets and parrots performed a number of tricks:

It was all great entertainment:




They can even put coins in the collection box for you:




As you can see I took a large number of shots of these amazing birds.

One of the final areas we visited (apart from the elephants) was an Australian animal area, they had a large number of Wallabies, including this almost tame one:

The also had some Emus too:

We visited the elephant’s area last but there was always some fencing in the way so I didn’t process any pictures I took. We all had a great day out and if you get the chance to visit I cannot recommend it enough!

Doddington Hall Portrait Shoot

At the end of last month (Tuesday 27th September, the Lincoln – Silver Street branch of London Camera Exchange (LCE) organised (in conjunction with Canon, Nikon and Olympus) a Portrait Shoot at Doddington Hall here in Lincoln. The sold out event was well attended by a wide range of photographers with all skills and the variety of camera brands in use exceed the sponsors of the event including Fuji and Sony users too.

Learn how take to take great portraits in the stunning setting of Doddington Hall. We’ve teamed up pro photographers from Canon, Nikon and Olympus for a day long masterclass in portrait and fashion photography, using professional models and the stately rooms of the Hall as the backdrop. Your tutors are all experts in their field and will take you through the best use of cameras, lenses, speed lights and studio lights to get stunning results.

As already mentioned, LCE had support from Nikon, Canon and Olympus and each one had a Photographer or (in the case of Olympus) a representative from the company. The literature provided by LCE give the credentials of each photographer as well as an intended itinerary as follows:

John Clements (Nikon)
As a working pro photographer spanning over three decades, John has an impressive photographic pedigree. His clients include those from the corporate world, many household names, well known people, and the Great British Public. In addition, he was formerly Nikon Corporation’s UK “Advisor of Photography” for a number of years, a respected and privileged position. And has worked in an ambassadorial role and consulting capacity with other leading imaging companies.

John is particularly respected for his lighting skills. Author of over a dozen books, he also wrote about photography and road tested equipment for numerous photo magazines in years past. His workshop and seminar presentations excite people. Delivered with a clear, concise, motivational, and an approachable style, that delegates simply warm too.

A highly respected presenter, combining vast technical knowledge, an eye for the creative image, with clear explanations.

Been there and still doing it with an enthusiasm and a passion, you would be hard pushed to find someone within these shores, with as much Nikon expertise and shooting experience using it. Something willingly shared at our event.

John will present three workshops:

  • Nikon Speedlight Photography, Inside Out.
  • Nikon ‘Shoot It in the Studio’.
  • Shoot People ’Nikon Style’ With Available Light.

Dave Newton (Canon)
David Newton is a professional photographer and videographer who avoids specialising in any one area. As the former technical editor of EOS Magazine and Canon Professional Network, his knowledge of the Canon system extensive. An active photo tutor, David often gives seminars for Canon at various camera shops and trade shows. He is also a SanDisk Extreme Team member, Manfrotto Ambassador and Koy Lab Ambassador

Dave will be running three workshops on Canon Speedlites

  • Canon flash and ETTL
  • Multiple flash indoors
  • Flash and daylight

Lewis Speight and Dave Smith (Olympus)
Lewis Speight is one of Olympus’ newest recruits, bringing his ambition and excitement, and has over 2 years experience with other retailers being one of the best photography trainers in his team. This was after years of building his portfolio as a wedding photographer, and sports videographer. You’ll now find Lewis behind his EM5ii with a 7-14mm PRO, experimenting with light trails, off camera flash, and night time landscapes. David Smith has worked with Olympus UK for over 3 years, specialising in Product Technology, Training, Workshop and Event leading on all of the OM-D and PEN products. David has worked with various key photographers over the years including Damian McGillicuddy, Robert Pugh, Neil Buchan Grant and Jay McGlaughlin in areas such as Portraiture, Fashion, Wedding and Macro photography. His preferred area of photography is Macro, Street and Portraiture and specialises in teaching one to one Olympus tutorials as well as running various workshops all over Central England, the Midlands and East Anglia. David’s kit bag usually has 2 cameras in it, the OM-D EM-5 MKII and the PEN F, accompanied by the 12-40mm PRO lens, the 17mm f1.8 lens and the 25mm f1.8 lens, always ready to capture the moment, whenever it happens.

Content for the day will be:

  • Using both ambient and strobe light for portraiture.
  • Using tethering with the EM-5 MK2.
  • Exploring the differences between the Olympus lens range.

Although the day was centred on these three brands everyone was made welcome to the event and could make use of the invaluable photographic advice that was on offer. Although the event was not free the very low price of admission to the event was only £30 – this was a very good price and great value for money.

The Day
If it’s not obvious, the 3 events were running simultaneously and so three models were also arranged to be present, they also moved around between each event from time to time so that the photographers could have the opportunity to take pictures of each one. All three (Brook, Katie and Chloe) were all very beautiful, friendly professional and very obliging of the photographers who attended the event; many of us are not very used to directing models and although I have improved from my first experience back with Damian McGillicuddy back when I sot with Olympus; I still have a long way to go.

I started the day at the Olympus event as I thought that they were the closes to the Fuji camera (X-T2) that I was using. Although I got some nice shots of Brook I felt that the event was better suited to the Olympus users as this was where Lewis and Dave’s experience was better suited to. They were also were relegated to a small room at the hall when the Canon and the Nikon groups has larger rooms, this made getting he shot with a nice perspective difficult, I was grateful that a friends lent me his Fujinon 56mm f1.2 XF lend for the day (I now own my own 56mm f1.2 XF lens – it’s that good). As we were constantly worried about the weather we also did some shooting outside too.

In fact the itineraries of each group went out of the window to the most part so that we could all shoot outside on the day – fortunately the weather held and it didn’t rain all day although it looked like it could.

Here are my favourite pictures of Brook:




After the first session a nice lunch was provided by Doddington Hall in the coach-house where we were based and I had a chat with a few of the other photographers. One of them who I spoke to at the beginning of the day (who owns a Nikon camera) went to shoot with John Clements (Nikon) and was very impressed with John’s knowledge. I also spoke to a number of other photographers at the event and found the two other Fuji users, both of them also went John and he was giving out lots of good advice. So I decided for my next session to join my fellow Fuji users and go to John’s classes.

John was based upstairs and after a short talk we went outside with Katie and John had us all thinking about location, backgrounds, posing the model and trying to get us all thinking like photographers. We also tried various film simulations, playing with the white balance, setting the brightness of the rear LCD and fine-tuning the white balance (something I have never done before). He would also throw out tricks of the trade any other photographic gems. As we stepped through each setting John would check the rear LCD screens from time to time to ensure that you were on track and he was a great tutor offering lots of encouragement. I have to say I really enjoyed the second event more; it was also helped by having the other Fuji users around (also nice people too). As I still learning how to use the new X-T2 (at that point it was only a week old) having another X-T2 user and an X-Pro2 user helped when I wasn’t sure how or where to access some of the menu based features. We tried a number of areas in the rear gardens of Doddington Hall and I got a number of great shots too.

I have to add that although John is a Nikon shooter he was offering advice that was not necessarily Nikon specific; he was well aware of what other cameras are out there and many of their capabilities too.

My favourite pictures of Katie:






After a brief coffee break we went to or final session (again with John) and we did some shooting with Profoto studio lights (instead of speed lights). We mixed them with some ambient light (while it lasted) and the model for this session was Chloe. Whilst informative this session ran at a much slower pace as the studio lights were designed to work with Nikon cameras and we had to jury-rig a solution to make them work with the non-Nikon cameras. However John came up with a solution that worked (using a non-Nikon speed light to trigger them). Once this was working we all tried a few shots. As the day was winding down, John had Chloe move to one of the ornate staircases in the hall and we tried obtaining some nice shots from here – this was without any flash. Chloe was back-lit and again my shots didn’t come out – sorry Chloe😦

My favourite pictures of Chloe:


I have to say a really enjoyed the day at Doddington Hall and I must thank everyone involved in setting this up as follows:

  • Dave and Vincent from LCE
  • John Clements representing Nikon
  • Dave Newton representing Canon
  • Lewis Speight and Dave Smith from Olympus
  • Brook
  • Katie
  • Chloe
  • Doddington Hall owners for allowing us to shoot there

Hopefully I’ve not missed anyone.

You can find details of the day at LCE Lincoln Silver Street’s Facebook page here, there was also a competition for the best picture taken on the day and details of this are here too (hint – I didn’t win).

Notes about using the Fujifilm X-T2:
As I already mentioned, I was using the Fujifilm X-T2 camera on the day. It performed admirably and although there were a few moments where is paused here and there (coming out of sleep mode I think) I did not miss any shots. I learned a few things about the camera thanks to John and the Fuji users and I am still wading my way through the manual and watching YouTube videos to get me up to speed. I only used two lenses on the day, first was the borrowed Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 R lens for the inside shots and the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f2.8 R LM OIS WR Lens for the outside shots (these are equivalent to the 85mm and 70-200 lenses used in portraiture). These lenses focus fast and lock on instantly with the X-T2.

When I got home and looked at my photos I was amazed that apart from the shots where I mistimed or mis-focused they were all wickedly sharp. I wasn’t sure at first as there seems to be a 2-stage refresh happening in Lightroom. You would select the image and it would load the selected photo as a 1:1 and then a few seconds later the true sharpness of the image would load – WOW! The eyes of all three models were all in focus and you could see individual eye-lashes too. In some ways the image was too sharp as every pore in the skin could be see – I had to use a liberal amount of negative clarity to overcome this.

Wildlife in Back Garden (May 2016)

This is a very late post about the wildlife that we have seen in the back garden back in May of this year.

House Sparrows:
We had a large number of young birds and their parents visit the garden in May (and this has continued into August this year). The most prominent were House Sparrows, here are a couple of shots (didn’t have time to get a telephoto lens):

Wood Pigeons:
We also had a nest in the tress just behind the garden that had a Wood Pigeon sat upon it for a long time. We weren’t sure that anything wood hatch but after a few weeks when the Pigeon left the nest we could see one or two small grey balls of fluff; for a few days we didn’t know if there were one or two chicks. However, after seeing two distinct heads it was evident that there were two. Unfortunately the nest was behind some twigs and well into the tree so it wasn’t easy to see into it.

Here are some pictures from the young Wood Pigeons in the nest and then some pictures from a few weeks after this showing how quickly they grew up. Althogh they hanged around for many weeks after leaving the next they have now moved on.

Disney Animal Kingdom – April 2016


This is the third and final blog post about my trip to Orlando, you can read about Busch Gardens here and SeaWorld here. During our stay in Orlando we visited three of the Disney parks too: Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Whilst they all had great attractions there was one unifying factor, they were very busy all of the time. The Hollywood studios were a bit disappointing this year, there were a few rides closed and the fast pass selections were poor as well. However Epcot and Animal Kingdom, the subject of this post were very good.

One other common thing with other parks like Epcot and Animal Kingdom is their sheer size, it takes a lot of time to see everything; Epcot really needs 2 days to do it justice.

Onto the pictures:
There were a lot of birds around like this Metallic Starling, that red eye follows you were ever you go:

Green Winged Dove:

There were a lot of apes and chimpanzees around too, like the one at the top of this post. They also like to play with each other, there are two of them here:

One of the most impressive (and dangerous) animals are the Hippopotamuses (yes that it the correct term for the plural of Hippopotamus). you get to see them swimming around and under water but this picture shows what you can see above water which isn’t much:

Finally one of most endangered species around tofay a rhino:

SeaWorld – April 2016


This is the second of my blog posts about my trip to Orlando, you can read the previous one about Busch Gardens here.

This post shows some of my favorite pictures from both visits to SeaWorld; I used my DSLR camera on and off throughout the day on our first visit during the first week of our holiday and for the entire morning of the second trip (second week) whilst Louise, Simon and Jack visited Aquatica.

Pictures from the first visit (6th April)
After trying out the Manta ride (similar to what “Air” was in Alton Towers before it was changed into Galactica) a few times we ventured around the park to see an Animal show and tell.

The first was what looked like an Owl but isn’t called a Tawny Frogmouth, an unusual looked bird:

The second animal was more obvious, a Common Green Iguana, he (she?) liked being the centre of attention:

During the day we visited the Shark Encounter attraction, the highlight of which is walking through a translucent tunnel being surrounded by sharks. At one point there is a large set of Jaws form a great white shark, a perfect photo opportunity, Jack of course could not resist. Unfortunately I picked far too low a shutter speed so I have played with this a bit in Lightroom (not one of my best shots):

Like we have black headed gulls in the UK, Florida has a lot of Snowy Egrets around, here is one of them:

Here is one of my favourite shots of the holiday (already seen on Facebook), it’s Jack looking in awe at the Manta Rays – his favourite animal I think.

And here he is a few minutes later trying to feed them with small (dead) fishes you can buy, after this we called him “fish-boy” due to the smell he picked up thanks to his tee-shirt getting soaked from that pool:

Pictures from the second visit (12th April)
On the second day I was on my own for the morning so I managed to get around the park to photograph the animals at my own pace. In addition to going on the Sky Tower I took a lot of photographs and here are my favourites:

At some point of the day I noticed that there were many House Sparrows flying around, they all seemed to be nest building, here is one of them that paused flying allowing me to take this photo:

A better (closer) photo of a Snowy Egret:

In addition to the Snowy Egrets, there were also a number of Wood Storks too:

And like the common sighting (even in the UK) of the sparrow above, there were also grey squirrels running about the area (can’t resist a squirrel picture):

Like Busch Gardens,there are large numbers of birds in the park like this Hooded Merganser:

My final picture of the (half) day was of this terrapin:

Just after mid-day we all met up back at SeaWorld entrance and after a spot of lunch we did some more rides, saw a show or too, did the Sky Tower together and had a great day!

Busch Gardens – April 2016


Back in April this year I was fortunate enough to go with my Sister, Brother-in-law and Nephew for 2 weeks to Florida. During our stay we visited most of the usual places in Orlando (Disney and Universal as well as SeaWorld), we also went to Busch Gardens twice.

This post shows some of my favorite pictures from our first visit to Busch Gardens, on the second visit I didn’t take the DSLR with me as we wanted to concentrate on the rides; the Cheetah Hunt being our favourite one in the park and possibly the best ride anywhere. That said, Sheikra, also in Busch Gardens is a close second; its like the Oblivion x2 mixed with the Nemesis (both in Alton Towers) all in one. Kudos to both my nephew and sister for both conquering their fears and doing this ride.

My nephew pretending to his arm trapped in a tree trunk, good acting Jack:

Typically it was hot both days of our visit, thankfully it wasn’t humid at all. Nevertheless, the animals are quite laid back and like all cats, this Lion was no exception:

Every Zoo or animal sanctuary has Meerkats it seems and Busch Gardens is no exception. They are cute and the red-sand they were playing is reflected nicely on their coats:


There were a lot of birds at Busch Gardens and whilst most were in captivity of some kind, there were the usual sighting of black-headed gulls everyewhere:

This Parakeet was one of the many varieties of captive bird:

As well as Lions and Cheetahs, there were also a large colony of Bengal Tigers there too:

Towards the front of the park, there is a large pool full of Alligators and Terrapins and they seem to cohabit quite peacefully, I was surprised by this. Both species did like to sunbathe in the warm heat though:

My final image is one of the many common lizards that are almost everywhere you go in Florida, less common in the UK. This photo was taken whilst waiting fit the Cheetahs to come closer to me in their run, it was just sunbathing on the rock next to me:

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!