Category Archives: Photography

Bempton Cliffs with Tesni Ward (May)

Earlier this month I visited the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. This was the location for one of Tesni Ward’s Coastal Birds workshops.
Tesni runs a number of these workshops and I chose the one on May 13th as this was a Saturday and allowed me use of the family car.

The RSPB reserve is one of the better ones around the coast in that they have a nice building that serves coffee and snacks, sells gifts and provides the necessary facilities all for a small charge; fortunately for me the fee I paid for the workshop included access to the reserve.
I arrived at the reserve just before the agreed time and met up with Tesni who remembered me from previous meet ups (Marwell Zoo back in February and The Photography show in March); I have a lot of respect for those who remember people they meet and Tesni must meet a lot of different people all the time.

Joining Tesni and I on the day were two other Olympus Photographers both called John; I contemplated changing my name to John for the day but two were confusing enough. Both Johns were nice guys too, I always enjoy meeting up with other photographers and I am making new friends all the time – social media really helps keep in contact.

Although Tesni primarily shoots with Olympus gear, she had to lug around her Canon 5D and 500mm lens on this day as one of the John’s had borrowed her Olympus 300mm f4 PRO IS lens. The Johns agreed to swap the lens between them so they could both experience what it is like to use this awesome lens. I of course have my own 300mm lens that I picked up for a great price at the Photography show earlier this year, although it wasn’t cheap I don’t begrudge the cost of this lens as it sees a lot of use on my OM-D E-M1 Mark-II. I was initially worried that the 300mm would be too much focal length for the day as this lens has a Field of View equivalent to 600mm on a “full-frame” 35mm sensor. So I brought with (and carried or rather lugged around) my 40-140mm, TC1.4x and other lenses just in case I needed them – I didn’t and by the end of the day my aching shoulders pointed out that a shoulder bag is not the best item to carry around for a day if it hold a lot of stuff and carrying more gear ”just in case” toy need it is not a good idea – seems obvious I know but I will learn one day.

Just prior to heading into the reserve we went through the types of bird we will see at the reserve as well as the typical shots we should be able to get. I also picked up one of the Reserve’s “What you might see at Bempton Cliffs” fact-sheet/map to help. The list of birds on the sheet was quite extensive:

  • Puffins
  • Kittiwakes
  • Herring Gulls
  • Gannets
  • Guillemots
  • Razorbills
  • Fulmars
  • Shags

Tesni took us around the reserve and what follows are what I consider my best shots of the day, these are not necessarily in chronological order but instead are separated by species.

The Gannets:
Most of my photo’s from the day are of the Gannets, they were out performing for us throughout the day.

Gannets in flight

Puffin:
We saw a total of 2 puffins on the day, most of them nest more north of Bempton:

Kittiwakes:
Along with the Gannets, Razor Bills and Guillemots there were large number of Kittiwakes too.

This is a photobombed version of the previous shot:

Razorbill:

Guillemot:

Bridled Guillemot: There were not many of these around but some of the Guillemots had a white spectacle like mark around and behind their eyes as below:

Other Animals:
Although we visited Bempton Cliffs to take pictures of various coastal birds, we also saw some other animals too, these included, Pheasants, Sparrows and many Jackdaws.

We also saw a few porpoises in the water below, these are heavily cropped but you can still see that the shape of the fin and the white under belly:

This was my first experience of one of Tesni’s own workshops, she is professional, knows her stuff and has a great sense of humour. I was there to learn, take great pictures and have a great day out which I (and the other workshop attendees) had even though it was a long day. How Tesni does this day in day out just amazes me – I don’t think I could. Tesni has comprehensive knowledge of how to get the best out of the Olympus OM-D system for nature and wildlife photography, what works and doesn’t work, as well as demystifying the myriad of focusing modes and options at our disposal. Her subject matter knowledge was extensive, and interesting and useful facts about the birds we were photographing were provided to help get the better shots. As we were taking photographs Tesni also reminded us to think about the more camera agnostic aspects of photography such as exposure and composition. Finally, it was obvious that Tesni knew the area well and we were directed to the best locations at Bempton Cliffs to get the photos that we wanted. Thank you Tesni for a great day out and I look forward to my next workshop with you.

River Witham in May

As I have said in some of my other Blog posts we are quite lucky in Lincoln to have many parks, pools, rivers and lakes and these are inhabited by a whole host of different wildlife species although birds are the most common and visible. As part of my “keep-fit” regime (limited though it is) I occasionally walk into town form home. This is between 4km and 5km depending on the route I take often culminating in the Starbucks on the High Street; as I walk quickly I’m quite warm at the end and I enjoy a Mocha Frappuccino Light which isn’t too high in syns (see the Slimming World website for details on what a “syn” is).

Although I walk rapidly I do look around on my journeys and so note anything of interest, I have even modified my route on occasion if there is something to see. My route into town takes me down Brant Road onto Newark Road (aka A1434) which then joins the A15. The two roads turn into a short dual carriageway called St. Catherine’s which after a round-about splits off into the High-Street and South Park Avenue. I follow the High-Street route into town.

At the bottom of the high street (just after the afore mentioned roundabout) is a pedestrian route to the right called Altham Terrace which runs adjacent to an off-shoot of the River Witham called Sincil Dike. On the opposite bank that is inaccessible to people is a large swan nest that had a female Mute Swan as the occupant (as well as no doubt one or more eggs).
I had wanted to take pictures of the swan and hopefully see how many eggs she had for some time and just over a week ago I made time to takes some photo’s. As I had walked from home to this Altham Terrace, I first had a quick drink of some coke I brought with me. The wasn’t much action so after the drink I took out my camera (OM-D E-M1 Mark-II + 300mm f4 IS PRO lens) and took a few shots. I waited for a bit and apart from some preening by her and the male “cob” there wasn’t much to see.

After taking a few shots of the two swans I carried on down Altham Terrace and saw my first set of ducklings this year, in total I saw five families of ducks and ducklings. In my enthusiasm, I had my shutter speed set too low (1/250 sec) so my first shots of the ducklings are all blurred as they were moving too fast.
As you progress down Altham Terrace / Sincil Dike after a small weir there is a river crossroads of Sincil Dike and the River Witham. Altham Terrace joins a road of the same name after crossing a pedestrian foot bridge. If you follow the River Witham to the right (North) it ultimately goes into town and eventually flows into the Brayford Pool in the centre of town. If you go left (South) the river flows towards the junction of Brant Road and Newark Road. You can either walk down the bank of the river or alternatively back from the bank is a tarmacked path (perfect for bikes). This has led to a completely new route which from the end of Brant Road and town.

Now onto the photographs…
My first three photographs are around the Mallard ducks; a small family, a female and 3 ducklings swam onto one of the banks that had some other Mallards there and there was an altercation between the mother and one of the males:

Whilst this was happening the ducklings took cover:

However, it all turned out well and the family carried on down the river foraging for food along the way:

Near where I was standing watching this (the junction of the two rivers) was a railing where a House Sparrow was collecting food and I caught a shot whilst it was perched on these railings:

When it jumped to the ground I took a couple more shots but that low shutter-speed caught me out and the bird was moving too quickly. However, a female Blackbird landed not far from the Sparrow and it wasn’t moving too fast so I managed a few nice shots like this one:

During all the commotion and the large number of birds in the water a Mute Swan that was swimming down (probably a Male) puffed himself up as follows, needless to say the other birds got out of its way:

Once I started to walk down the river towards home I saw other Mallard duck familes, Common Coots and Moorhens such as this one:
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What I didn’t expect to see though were any Grey Herons such as this one:

In fact, there were two Herons present, this one was on the other bank:

As this was on my side I walked slowly towards it and I managed to take a few head-shots as it looked over the tall grass. Not long after this the first Heron (on the opposite) bank took off and a few seconds later this one also flew away, this was my best effort and it would have been great if the other wing had been in frame too:

I think this a combination of my (lack of) skill and too much focal length and/or being too close.

As I said earlier this will most likely be my preferred way into town now as it is picturesque, offer photographic opportunities and is less polluted tank to the lack of cars.

Warwick Castle

Last week my father, sister, brother in law, nephew and his friend Jamie went to Warwick Castle. As we all (except my father and Jamie) have a Merlin pass it’s free to enter and we also get 20% off food and gifts. I have never been to Warwick Castle before so was not sure what to expect.

My father and I were to meet up at the car park just before 10:00 as he others would meet us there. The entrance wasn’t the easiest place to find as both the TomTom sat-nav and local signs both didn’t help at all. It took a lot of driving around until purely by chance we found what looked like an entrance, a quick call to my sister confirmed that this was the entrance and after what (for me) a frustrating journey we went into the castle. Although I’m used to it in the US, more and more places are now performing bag searches and Warwick Castle is no exception.

As we were going out of season we knew the Jousting would not be on but there was still plenty to see and do, just before you go into the main castle was a guy showing some long bow archery, he was very entertaining.

He also managed to not only pick on my nephrew for a “demonstartion” but also my father who from now on will be known as Sir Guy of Gisbourne.

After a short walk around the castle we visit the Birds of Prey enclosure where I got some nice shots (all taken with the 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens). Here are the birds:

White-Tailed Sea Eagle:

Grey Eagle Buzzard:

African Fish Eagle:

Bald Eagle:

Stellar’s Sea Eagle:

(Younger) Bald Eagle:

There was also an Egyptian Vulture and a Verreaux’s Eagle Owl but due to crowding at their enclosures from other people I couldn’t get a good shot, the song side lighting (evident on my other pictures) didn’t help either.

After looking at the birds we sat down to watch the Trebuchet in action and unfortunately that wasn’t working either as it was in the midst of being refurbished. However, the guy who was shooting the long bow earlier gave a talk about the device and other medieval machines of war which was quite interesting:

For me the highlights of the day were the two birds of prey flying demonstrations. And unlike other places I have been each one showcased different birds. Also, some of my shots are static I pushed the OM-D E-M1 markII to the limit trying to get the birds in flight. Although there is definitely room for improvement, my overall keeper rate has increased. This coupled with the hand-holding ability of the camera & lens combo makes getting the shot much more fun and doesn’t give you arm-ache like mother camera/lens combo’s I have used in the past.

Grey Eagle Buzzard:

Stellar’s Sea Eagle:

Bald Eagle:

Verreaux’s Eagle Owl:

I’m embarrassed to say but I’m not sure what this bird is:

There were many more birds that flew on the day, but these are my favourite (and best shots).

Along with the birds in flight we had many others around including this Pea Cock who was very vocal:

Towards the end of the day as we sat on the almost dry grass these two ducks came to visit us:

My final shot of the day is of my nephew Jack, he’s a much better subject if he’s not aware of you taking his picture:

I had a great day at Warwick castle and I can recommend it for a visit, it would be nice to see the Jousting and Trebuchet in action too – maybe another time.

Boultham Park – Last weekend of March

As well as going to Hartsholme Park last weekend on Saturday 25th March, I also went to Boultham Park on the following day (Sunday). From where I live you pass Boultham Park on the way to Hartsholme Park.

Thanks to my Apple Watch ad trying to close all of the circles on the watch I have to walk a few km each day to achieve these closures. If you have one of these watches you’ll know what I mean. Because of this I usually walk to and from Boultham Park every Sunday or Saturday; if the weather is nice I will take my E-M1 and a lens or two, in this case the 300mm f4 PRO, 1.4x tele-converter and 40-150mm f2.8 PRO if anything closer was required. All of this fits nicely into my LowePro Urban Photo Sling 250.

Unusually, when I arrived there were a large number of Common Coots at a slight distance away from the central lake of the park and they were almost too close (from a focal length point of view), so the first few shots I got were close-ups such as this one:

Fortunately a few of them moved around a bit (they were all munching on the grass) so I managed a few more:

Also in the area were a male and female Tufted Duck, fortunately with the 300mm lens and a bit of cropping I captured some nice shots:

As I was crouched taking these photo’s the other water fowl in the vicinity started to move about:

Here is the star of Boultham Park having a morning nap, there’s quite a debate of the species of this duck though:

I ventured around the lake and at the other end I saw this pair of Mallard ducks feeding:

There were also a lot of birds in the water such as this coot:

I think that this is a male Wigeon and it was swimming with another duck that could be a female but I didn’t manage to get any photos of that bird to check:

What I like about Spring is that the birds are all pairing up and building nests, soon we’ll have the young chicks too:

There was a part of the lake that had a large number of Moorhens too:

My final picture of the day was one from a pair of Canada Geese:

I have to say that the combo of the E-M1 Mark II and the 300mm f4 PRO lens is a killer wildlife combo and the more I use the more fun I have and I occasionally capture a truly magnificent (for me anyway) image.

Hartsholme Park – Last weekend of March

I haven’t been to Hartsholme Park here in Lincoln for some time so I thought that I would pay it a visit; it would also allow me to test my new lens out. Unfortunately, by the time I got around to this on Saturday it was late afternoon so the Sun was in completely the wrong place. For this reason, some of the harsh lighting made getting some of the shots I wanted difficult. That said it was a good first try of the lens which is very sharp if the subject wasn’t moving too fast (my shutter speed was too low lots of the time) and I nailed the focus. There is certainly room for improvement from a technique point of view but the amazing reach of the lens especially when combined with the 1.4x teleconverter allowed me to get shots that were previously too far away.

The first two shots of the Canada Goose and the Crow were taken from the bottom of the lake (at the 6 o’clock position) where there is a large “viewing area” of most of the lake and the central island where the Heron’s nest ever year.

As I ventured clockwise around the lake there were many black-headed gulls intermixed with the usual ducks and geese that normally in habit the lake. What was surprising were the fact that some of the gulls had their winter plumage whilst others had their spring/summer plumage??

A little bit further around was a single black headed gull with its Summer plumage (i.e. the entirely head is covered in black feathers):

This Mallard duck was looking directly at me:

Even with the reach of the lens and teleconverter combo the Grey Herons that were flying around required some serious cropping, this isn’t a great shot:

If you get to the 9 o’clock position of the lake (past the bridge) you can see the west of the island and here are about 5 or 6 Heron couples making and maintaining nests:

This Grey Heron was bringing back a large twig for its nest:

If you look carefully at the bottom-left of this picture you can see a very young Grey Heron chick that has already been born:

The final three pictures required little to no cropping and show how sharp the lens can be:

The Photography show 2017

On Sunday I went to this year’s Photography show; this 4-day event runs from Saturday 18th to Tuesday 21st March at the Birmingham NEC. Like previous years, I visited the show with my friend Richard Brown; the only difference is that he drove this year as I no longer have a car. Richard has already written his report of the show and this can be read here.

Although there wasn’t a lot of new equipment to see this year (my local LCE stores do stock a lot of photographic gear between them) I was very interested in seeing a number of photographers, manufacturers and suppliers this year.

We left Lincoln at about 07:15 and as the traffic was quite light we arrived just after 09:00, we had a similar drive time back too. Unfortunately, the public are not allowed in until 10:00 so we had to order a quite expensive coffee at Starbucks to help with the wait. After the coffee, we joined the hoards as we ventured into the staging area. Whilst here I picked up my show guide and shortly afterwards a large 5 second countdown started on the a big screen we were allowed in when it reached zero.

What follows are the parts of the show that was of most interest to me.

Olympus:
The Olympus stand was at the top of my list and the first stand I ventured towards once we were allowed in. I picked up my complimentary show copy of the Olympus Magazine and then had a quick look around the stand. I noticed that all the reps were present; I know most of them by name now: Lewis, Dave, Jez, Claire and Aiden who I haven’t seen for a while since his promotion. I also checked out the dedicated talks that would be held at their stand. There were 4 scheduled for the day from Tesni Ward, Steve Gosling, Damian McGillyCuddy and finally Gavin Hoey. Although I missed Steve and Damian this year I did manage to attend Tesni’s and Gavin’s presentations.

Whilst at the stand I played with the other OM-D and PEN models and have to say that for a second cheaper body I would prefer the E-M1 (Mark 1) over of the other OMD or PEN models. The best choice would be a second OM-D E-M1 Mark II but these are the most expensive Olympus cameras now; maybe I’ll be lucky enough to win one from this month’s Olympus Competition as featured in the magazine – I can hope.

The other items of interest were the two new flash units, the FL-900 Speedlight and the STF-8 Macro Flash unit. I didn’t get much time with the STF-8, but this is a very well designed unit, simple to control and can be part of the Olympus optical RC system. The FL-900 whist being a weather sealed unit that has a metal foot and gaskets for the weather sealing. This very light (no pun intended) unit has a very small display, what I do find confusing though is why it costs £550! This is more expensive than Canon’s 600EX II-RT* and Nikon’s SB5000 (both flagship Speedlights) and these have both radio and optical RC modes over the Olympus optical only RC mode!

*The Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT is usually £539 but currently has an £80 cashback offer bringing this down to £459. The Nikon SB5000 is currently £499.

I see the STF-8 in my future but I don’t think I can justify the £550 for the FL-900 unit, not when I can get a Nissin i60A TTL radio controlled unit for only £239 and a radio trigger for £80. Two flashes and a trigger are only £8 more than the FL-900. However, whilst the FL-900 is weather sealed, the i60A units are not. All of the flashguns mentioned have similar guide numbers so that’s not a deciding factor.

Tesni Ward’s presentation featured an excellent collection of photographs mostly from her Mountain Hare project. The images were all amazing and the character for each of the different hares shone through and were sometimes very amusing. Tesni also showed some of her other work too (videos and photos), these were also amazing; the video of the snakes and story behind them was very intriguing. Initially I was slightly worried that the presentation would be similar to the one we saw at Marwell Zoo but was that was quickly dispelled within a few minutes. I cannot wait until May when I will be taking part on one of Tesni’s workshops.

I really enjoyed Gavin Hoey’s presentation, he showed what’s involved when you are given a short brief that (in this case) and how this can require 3 separate shoots involving the Fire Brigade. There were also a liberal sprinkling of tips, do’s and don’ts in there too. I must say that I recognised a lot of them and I am guilty of some of the don’ts mentioned. Gavin’s images were also excellent and it was nice to see how they look when printed which is not something you always have the experience of. I also want to finish by saying that Gavin is one of the nicest people I have ever met and an excellent teacher, thanks Gavin if you are reading this. 🙂

Nikon stand:
Richard and I briefly visited the Nikon stand where you could get a picture of you (and friends if wanted) holding up of one of Nikon’s “I AM …….” signs – I think that this marketing idea is a bit tired now but if you like Nikon I suppose it’s nice. I also picked up a Nikon D5 fitted with a 14-24mm lens, whoa! this is a heavy beast, heavier than I thought it would be. It’s at times like this that I am glad I moved to the Olympus OM-D range, I simply have no desire to carry around such a heavy camera/lens combo anymore. I also much prefer the sound of the Olympus shutter over the large “clacking” sound that the Nikon made. I think the OM-D E-M1 Mark II has the nicest sounding shutter around at the moment!

Canon Stand:
Although Canon probably had the largest presence at the show especially as they had their own video booth too, was a vendor I had no interest in seeing as they had nothing new to show. Both Richard and I walked past them many times; obviously, we were in a minority as there were loads of people in and around this area.

Panasonic:
As another one of the MFT (Micro Four Thirds) manufacturers I’m always interested in what Panasonic are up to and I had a chance to try out their full range of interchangeable lens cameras as well as the new FZ2000. Top of my list was the GH5 and Panasonic they had plenty to play with. Similar to the previous GH models, the GH5 looks like a mini-DSLR with its ample grip, central EVF and top mounted controls. The grip of the GH5 has changed slightly from the one of the GH3/GH4, although I have never used a GH4 I have owned a GH3 in the past.
The GH5 has a few features over the GH4 but as most of these are around video there wasn’t much to see. I also had a go with the Leica 42.5mm f1.2 lens on a GX8 and that is a seriously nice lens. I felt that the focusing on the GX8 seemed to be quite slow and has that focusing system that has to go past the point of focus and then back again.

Fujifilm:
The main attraction for both Richard and I at the Fujifilm stand (more so Richard) was medium-format GFX50S camera, although this is smaller than a “traditional” medium-format it is larger than 35mm “full-frame”.

I had a quick go with the GFX50S and was instantly surprised how light the camera was (even with a lens and battery). The focusing speed could do with a boost though – it reminded me of early X-T1 AF performance prior to the improvements that came with the firmware updates. Overall though I was impressed. I think a lot of users who were going to get a Nikon D5 or Canon 1DX/1DX II might go for one of these as the cost difference isn’t that great; £6,200 for the body and £2,200 for the standard zoom lens. However, I don’t personally see one of these in my future.

Sony
Like Canon, the Sony stand was by passed as they don’t have much new stuff that interests me. Don’t get me wrong, they (like Tamron and Sigma) have impressive new glass to show off but I don’t see a Sony 35mm full-frame mirrorless camera on my horizon. Sony also seem to be ignoring their APS sensor sized cameras as far as lenses go; I’m not sure why but they seem to have gone back to their old habits where new cameras come out very regularly but lens growth is almost non-existent. I suspect that new cameras are easier/cheaper to design and all of their lens technology and know-how is focused on the much larger and more expensive full-frame mirror-less cameras.

Sigma and Tamron:
I also did not visit the Sigma and Tamron booths and although they both have impressive new glass to show this is either for Sony, Nikon or Canon mounts. Although both Tamron and Sigma do agree that mirrorless cameras could offer them growth, if it isn’t for Sony there isn’t much to see. Sigma do have a few boring MFT lenses but Tamron have none.

NiSi Filters:
After a lot of searching I found the NiSi Filters booth and I was surprised at their presence at the show. Not only did we have (nearly) all their products on display they also had some “NiSi Ambassadors” present too. Each ambassador would do a talk and presentation at the stand from time to time explaining not only why they use NiSi filters but also how they got the shot when showing their very impressive images.

I was particularly interested in meeting up with Phil Norton who is not only one of NiSi ambassadors and also a distributer in the UK too. I have sent a few emails to Phil enquiring about the filters and their use with and OM-D camera and lenses and found him very helpful. Phil also uses the OM-D cameras and lenses so can offer very useful tips. Unfortunately, it seems that everyone wanted to talk to Phil too so I only managed to get 5 minutes of his time. We spoke about the system and he was going to show me the adapter for the Olympus 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens but couldn’t get to it at the time as his bag was next to another ambassador who presenting. Phil’s personal adapter was not being sold at the show so was the only one there. I suggested coming back to see his presentation later and then see the adapter then. Although I did get back to see Phil’s presentation and spectacular images he was talking to more people straight after his talk and I gave up trying to see Phil again.

X-Rite:

Although I already have an X-Rite i1 Display Pro calibration device I did go and see them as the rubber on the outside of mu device has gone very “tacky”. I did try (many months prior to the show) get in contact with them regarding this but got no reply. Their reaction to the tacky-ness issue at the show clearly shows that this is a known problem, they were apologetic in the fact that no-one replied to my email and then logged the issue again on their site on my behalf. I’ll have to wait and see if anything comes of this beyond the standard email confirmation message I received. They did say that I would probably end up with a replacement device – hope springs eternal.

Other Vendors:
I had a good look around and the accessory space is alive and well, a lot of vendors were there showing off and selling luxury camera bags and (very expensive) camera straps each numbering into the hundreds of pounds but they will match your Leica camera nicely.

My favourite bag was being shown at the Olympus stand and is (currently?) only available with the EM-1 Mark II camera as a show offer promotion. The bag made by Gillis has an indigenous design and looks the part too, I want one and I suspect that some users who got the bag at the show might sell them on eBay later. Failing that I think that they will be available at some point a few weeks or months from now. The bag has an RRP of £299 – but it’s worth every penny!

Retailers
In addition to all of the camera and accessory manufacturers at the show we also had London Camera Exchange (LCE), Calumet and Camera World too. Whilst some of the offers at the show were nothing special (i.e. £5 off a £75 battery) there were also some fantastic deals to be had too. I went with the purpose of picking up the Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm f4 IS PRO lens and a Peak Design wrist strap. I went straight to the LCE stand and surveyed the Olympus offers page on one of their glass cabinets, the lens was being sold with a £500 discount! Soon after I had an LCE bag with my 300mm lens in there – colour me happy! LCE had the best deal for this lens as Camera World were only offering a £200 discount. I could not see any Olympus gear at the Calumet Stand although I did get my Peak Design wrist strap from them.

Wrap Up
I had a great day at the show, good company, met up with some fantastic people/photographers, got hold of the lens I wanted and might get my tacky i1 Display Pro device sorted out too. The only thing I didn’t like was the food – over-priced and not very good either. I’ll certainly come next year and bring my own food, at least that way I’ll gets something I like and not be fleeced.

Portland Bill in March

In early March I ventured down to Winchester to take part in the free OLYMPUS Experience Day at Marwell Zoo, you can read more about that here. I used to live in Winchester before I moved up to Lincoln and when living there the company I used to work for paid for me to go to college on a day release course. This was an ONC level Electrical and Electronics Engineering course – a requirement for the work I was doing at the time. The ONC course was run by Eastleigh College and whilst there I made a good friend – Gary, although at first I wasn’t too keen on him. We have been friends ever since although I don’t see him as much as I would like but there are almost 200 miles between us.

Gary sitting down taking pictures:

As I was in the area I contacted Gary and we decided to do a photo-shoot at Portland Bill, a location that Gary has been to before but is a new one for me. It took almost 2 hours to get there but was well worth it and I was surprised how busy it was. There were also several photographers there trying to get some good shots as well as the smartphone snappers.

Whilst Gary’s previous visits were when the sea was calm it wasn’t the day we went; the tide was coming in and you got covered in sea spray if you ventured to close the shore line. Needless to say, when I got back to my hotel I gave my gear a very good clean.

Some examples of the sea’s conditions:

We then went to the the local cafe “The Lobster Pot” where we both had tea, Gary has a sandwich and I had the largest scone I have ever seen, if I knew it was so big I might have chosen something else:
Don’t get me wrong it was very nice but quite filling too.

After our warming up at the cafe we went back to take some more pictures. As this was Portland Bill I tried another shot of the Lighthouse:

As the day progressed we (after a cheeky pint at the local pub) went on to try to some long exposure photography, this requires a tripod (which I did have with me) and an ND filter which I don’t have (at the moment). Fortunately, Gary had a spare filter which he lent me and I attached this to my 12-40mm PRO lens on my OM-D E-M1 Mark-II. Gary used his other filter on his 12-100mm PRO lens on his OM-D E-M1 Mark-II. This was my first experience with this kind of photography and after many attempts I have two photos that I quite like:

After we finished taking these we had another cup of tea at “The Lobster Pot” along with a small meal. At about the same time the weather started to turn and and chance of good light was gone so we decided to call it a day.

I had a great time out with Gary – thank you for suggesting Portland Bill and for driving us both there.