Tag Archives: Tesni Ward

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.

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.