Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Half Term Outing with Arthur and Joshua - Shepreth Wildlife Park

If it's half term Tuesday, then it's time for an outing with Arthur (5) and Joshua (3.5).  This week we decided to go to Shepreth Wildlife Park where I was playing with my Olympus OMD and 75-300 zoom lens.

The first animals we found were the irresistible meerkats, and then immediately came upon the porcupines which were so close that the lens was just too long.

Arthur then took Joshua firmly in hand to go to find the tigers one of which was obligingly relaxing in preparation for her first meal for three days which would be served a couple of hours later.we were able to get onto the bridge which gives a good high level view over the enclosure.

On to the Red Panda, the wonderful Snowy Owl, the buzzard and a large rodent like beast which sat up to pose for me, but whose name escapes me (prompt me someone!)

A quick visit to the play area and then lunch.

After we had eaten it was lunch time for the big cats.  I was interested that they made the tigers' task of finding their food (if not catching it) challenging.  Even thought the printed paper sacks containing the raw meat didn't generally contribute to naturalistic photos, I thought that the first shot did look a little like an old gent eating his breakfast whilst reading the Daily Telegraph.  All of the feeding shots were taken through square mesh safety fence, so are essentially tight crops down to a single cell in the mesh.  A little retrofitted vignetting reduces the effect of the wire.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Station Road Garden for Mark Tester

These pictures were taken for Mark Tester to see the state of the garden at Station Road and to comment.

Mark, any identification would be good!

First, the silver birch which seems to be in good fettle

A look down the garden from beside the pond 

At ground level across from the shed door - ground elder I presume:

Around the boll of the right hand apple tree. Does the darker green foliage indicate another species?:

Between the shed and the eucalyptus, lots of cow parsley:

Close to the base of the eucalyptus:

Brambles in the fruit cage:

Beyond the fence.  Is this more ground elder or another weed?:

Stems of the above weed which I strimmed :


Saplings under the walnut coming into flower (elderflower?):

Around the children's playhouse:

 Flowers on the weeds beyond the fence:

Towards the field:

 From the field looking back:

Around the walnut:

Could this be the remains of something cultivated? Beyond the apple trees on the right:

Two of the three shrubs which were  cut right back in early March are showing a lot of healthy growth. The third (directly behind the pond ) is not yet sprouting

The vine is producing lots of shoots and I am training some of them onto the wires:

Sadly the greenhouse is not recovering!

The herb bed is showing lots of fennel and oregano(?)  We have planted parsley and dug up lots of mint which is plenteous elsewhere!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Learning to drive my Olympus OM-D - Horses, Birds and a Bishop

I have bought an Olympus OM-D E-M1 as a replacement for my ageing Lumix G1, which for the uninitiated is a much smaller camera than that which I habitually use and is also much much lighter which makes it a good choice as a travel camera, For the slightly initiated, this is a Micro Four Thirds camera which means that lenses and the dedicated flash gun which I have for  the Lumix are compatible; at the moment I have the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens an have also been trying out my Panasonic 45 - 200 mm lens from the Lumix.

On the first morning after I got this, I got up early and went to Warren Hill in Newmarket, only to find that they were using the gallops furthest from my vantage point! They were just too far away, even with to Panasonic lens which is equivalent to  full frame 90 - 400.  Walking across the training grounds early in the morning is severely frowned upon! However I got a few shots of them walking back, steaming after their exertions.

Next I tried out the wild flowers and the bird feeders in our garden; on the bird-feeders I used the Olympus app on my phone which allows me to fire the camera remotely whilst watching what the camera can see on the iPhone screen. I liked this way of working - good for lazy photographer, but bad for camera and phone battery life!

Then yesterday afternoon, the wonderful ex-Bishop of St Albans, John Taylor, was conducting a confirmation service in Little Wilbraham and I was along to take some record shots for the parish.  These were taken at ISO 4000 without flash which lead to some noise in the raw file, but nothing which was beyond the wit of Lightroom

Finally, it was time to prepare some pictures of the new camera's predecessor in order to advertise it on eBay.  I was pleased with some nice crisp shots under studio-like conditions.  Anyone for a Lumix?!!