Waterfowl Shoot

Back on the 8th of August I and 3 other avid Olympus Photographers (sorry but I’m terrible with names) met up with Wildlife Photographer Tesni Ward for a Waterfowl Photography Workshop. This is the second dedicated Tesni workshop that I have been on, I like the informal (though professional) way that Tesni runs the courses and I always learn something new. And although this my second workshop with Tesni I have also met up with Tesni at Marwell Zoo (Olympus EM-1 Mark II promotion) and at the Photography show at Birmingham’s NEC.

The shoot was next to a large river that has a wide variety of birds there, many of them not normally associated with the UK which has made their identification difficult. The river runs through the small village of Rochester which is just a few miles south of Alton Towers. Knowing this I arranged to meet my sister, brother-in-law and nephew at Alton Towers for a an overnight stay so that I could pop into the Alton Towers park the following day (Merlin passes are a great invention).

On the day the weather was miserable and showered nearly all day; however, Tesni pointed out that this is great weather for the type of photography we had planned for the day. I was sceptical at first but I did come away from the workshop with some fantastic images.

We walked a relatively short distance to the edge of the river and we were advised to try and shoot as low as possible as this proved to be the best angle. It wasn’t easy as I had to use the rear screen. I normally shoot with back-button focusing for continuous AF but trying to this and take pictures with the screen proved to require some one who could be more ambidextrous and more of a finger contortionist than I. I never truly mastered this way of focusing as I much prefer to use the viewfinder whether this be an EVF or Optical based one. But the images we managed to take this way are clearly superior to the average photograph of water based fowl.

Below are a selection of my favourite photos with a couple of BIF (birds in flight) shots at the end. I have tried to more for motion shots as this is more interesting than the usual static ones I take. You can also see the rain in many of the photos too. Nearly all of the pictures are taken with the awesome M.Zuiko 300mm f4 PRO IS lens on the OM-D E-M1 MarkII, I did swap over the the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens for some of the shots when it wasn’t raining.

There is a collection of birds towards the end of this post where I’m sure what species they are. I hope that over time I (or some kind reader) will let me know and I’ll update this post accordingly.

Daffy:
This is a resident duck at the site who as you can see has a damaged bill, Tesni would like to take him home. Clearly her favourite bird.

White Cheeked Pintail Duck:

Great Crested Grebe:

Young Common Coot:
All this young Coot was either calling for its parent or doing some weird yoga thing with one its legs.

White Faced Whistling Ducks:

Black Swan:

Bar Headed Goose:

Mallard Ducklings:

Nene Goose:

Barnacle Geese:

Smew (female):

Black Headed Gull (Winter Plumage):

Golden Eye (female):

Unknown Birds:

Birds in Flight
Black Headed Gull:

Greylag Geese:

Weather Sealing:
When you are told that your camera and/or lens has weather sealing you never know how good this is. The EM-1 MkII and the two PRO lenses I used were at points dripping wet but I never noticed any issues during or after the shoot. It took a little time to truly dry out some of the gear the next day. Since that time I have continued to use the E-M1 with no problems and no evidence of how wet the gear got. This is in stark contrast to stories I heave heard of other professional weather sealed gear made by other manufacturers that has failed in lesser extreme weather. Bravo Olympus!

Testimonial:
Finally, I would like to thank Tesni for another wonderful workshop that enabled me to travel a bit further in my never ending journey of Nature Photography education. The days are always well planned and researched and Tesni is always willing to provide any help whether this be a technical issue with your gear or more in the craft of photography such as composition or exposure. Tesni’s way of teaching gels with the way I like to learn and she makes the days fun and is reassuring when you are not sure about something. I am already planing which Tesni workshop to attend next. Thank you! 🙂

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