Rannoch Moor

September 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

An unplanned trip always seems to work well when visiting an area within a few hours drive which was exactly what i did last weekend.I woke just before 3am and decided to travel up to Rannoch Moor, this was after checking the weather report where it was clear skies at sunrise and broken cloud after an hour or two.I packed my landscape bag and headed off in the darkness, never a good idea for me as i often get travel sick when in a car/driving during the night. As expected an hour into my journey and i had to stop the car to be sick, a few minutes later and back on the road but only for 15 minutes or so only to feel ill again, this happened 1 more time buy which time i couldn't be sick any more so know i would be fine for the rest of my journey..lol. I got to Rannoch Moor area and decided again to go to Lohan na-h Achalaise which is just off the main road through the moor. I parked the van and waited till the light was starting to show and as hoped the skies were clear however the lochan had a light ripple which was screwing up my intended reflection shots. I made the decision to give it 15 mins to see if i could get reflections and at that the water became still. The morning mist was rising from the water which gave i nice feel to the images. The sun was starting to rise which took away the soft morning tones but it lit up the blackmount tips in the background, just what i hoped for and to add to it i was the only person there.I tried various compositions that morning and was happy with what i came away with. As the sun started to light more of the scene i decided to give my dpi phantom 4 Pro drone its first outing, back to the van to set it up. Feeling a bit nervous of flying an expensive drone over the lochan on its first outing. I set up what i thought was correct however i couldn't get the drone to connect, just getting an error message which i wasn't 100% sure how to fix( I'm new to flying drones). I made the decision to pack it away again to be on the safe side. Back in the van an onto a location i wanted to scout out for a later winter trip and look at the walking route i would need to follow to get to my chosen high location-all looks straight forward and i will be back there when the snow is falling in the winter months.A quick return home and feeling unwell again so left the image editing till the next day. I have added a small gallery of images from the lochan and will transfer them to the main landscape section after a few weeks. Next trip is very different as I'm off to Valencia again for a city break and to photograph the City of Arts and Sciences, i visited this location in June and loved it however sections were shut off for open air concerts etc so hoping to get to them in mid October.Hope you enjoy the images as much as i enjoy taking them.

 

Equipment used in taking the images-Nikon D810 camera, Nikon 24-70 lens,Gitzo 5541LS tripod, Kirk BH-1 ballhead, Progrey filter holder, new B&W circular polariser, Progrey 2 or 3 stop ND soft grad filter


Sweden/Valencia and Hungary

September 08, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I find it so hard to believe that I haven't updated this blog section in so long. It seems that I haven't updated since my Germany trip to see the elusive Goshawk and so much has happened since then. During the last 2 years I have had several trips abroad which I have now uploaded images in various sections of this website.

Sweden - I travelled to Northern Sweden to try and photograph the wild Golden Eagle and what a trip it turned out to be.It was a dedicated Golden Eagle trip however it offered so much more, from a lone white tailed eagle which managed to get in a full blown fight with the resident golden eagle (my highlight of the trip to see such a thing) to the small birds fighting to survive in temps as low as -20 degrees. A welcome visitor was the little grey headed woodpecker who came along most days and stayed a while all the time allowing us great views and images to remember it by. The "Goldies" were seen on average every 2nd day and could hang around from a minute to more than an hour. One thing that did cause issues was the distance to where the birds liked to hang around was around 80m all of which we could have various atmospheric conditions to play with and shoot through with our cameras - a steep learning curve of which you can see the results in the "Raptor" section.

Valencia - this was a first for me, to travel abroad with only landscapes/cityscapes in mind. Added to the pressure was that i was trying out my newly purchased Nikon D810 camera for the very first time. A short flight with extra leg room set of the trip superbly and a quick checkin into the superb hotel which was only 150m from the "City of Arts and Sciences" which was my main aim to photograph. This is a very modern area which both locals and tourists flock to - look it up to find out more info. This area really requires no wind and decent weather as most often or not it's the reflection images that people want to see however if you look hard enough there is plenty of other things to photograph in the area. I managed to get most of the images i really wanted however a large open air concert had blocked off part of the area i wanted to go to hence i now have another visit organised for the middle of Oct 2017. Again images from the trip have been uploaded to my "Landscapes" section on this site.

Hungary - my most recent photography trip and what a trip it became. I had visited Hungary a few years ago and it was a fantastic trip which led me to want to return. This time we visited another part of Hungary which allowed us to see and photograph many new and different species. My friends Chas and Rich both are experienced in these long trips abroad with me however i think we all underestimated how hard it can be with only 3-4hrs sleep per night. Great weather and great wildlife everywhere on this trip which resulted in me taking around 3000 images and I'm sure my other 2 friends had as much if not more images to download. What i liked was the vast diversity of wildlife and species and as such so far Hungary (both trips) are amongst the best trips i have done to date. A few highlights from the trip were-

1. Seeing and photographing the Marsh Harrier at a decent distance for my lens/camera combo.

2.Having a female Kestrel land only 3m from me only for it to attack a mouse in a brick pile, this resulted in 1 dead mouse and 1 happy Kestrel and an even more happy photographer (me) who watched it all unfold at such a close distance. The Kestrel then decided to go on top of the bricks and eat the mouse - all around 3m from me.

3.Watching a small pond for ducks when approx 30 Common Cranes decided to join the party and cause havoc in the pond and with the resident ducks - what a sight on such a small pond.

4.Watching and photographing a Red Footed Falcon pair do a food pass (a mouse of sorts) right in front of me. The female then flew the mouse back to its young within its nest site.

5.Last but not least by any means was watching the antics of some shrikes (Lesser Grey Shrikes and Red Backed Shrikes) both of which species are fearless. These birds often live and nest along with raptors of various description and can be seen chasing them away if they get too close, these birds are often only around 1/10th of the size of the birds they chase. One of the best birds to date that i have watched.  Just a small selection of images have been uploaded to the "Raptor and Bird" sections for you to look at.

Next up is my 2nd trip to Valencia which I'm really looking forward to however just as important to me is a few trips i have planned to around the Glencoe area with my newly purchased drone (DJI Phantom 4 Pro) which thanks to Sharon who bought me this will give me something new to learn and practice with, so watch out for images from the drone and possibly a Video section being added to this website. Till the next instalment.


Goshawks in Germany

March 09, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Well its been a while since i spent some time writing a blog for my website but better late than never. Over the winter i have mostly been concentrating on red deer and winter landscapes both of which i have some images elsewhere on this site. The last few months have seen me finalising my plans for a trip to Germany to try and view and photograph Goshawks in the wild. Most of the planning and leading was from my friend Chas Moonie from www.wildfeathers.co.uk . Chas had been the previous year, making some good contacts to help him locate these elusive birds of prey.

The Goshawk has been at the top of my photography list for many many years so to get a chance of seeing these birds in the wild was a dream come true. We started off on an Easyjet flight which was pretty painless and got us to Germany in well under 2hrs. A quick hop onto a train then a short taxi journey we were at our hotel base for the week. The hotel was basic but clean and provided a good hearty breakfast which was perfect to help us whilst standing out in often freezing temperatures for 6 or 7hrs at a time.

Shortly after arriving at our hotel we were out and about in search of the Goshawks. We only had a few hours of daylight left so decided to concentrate our efforts on a site close to our hotel. Boy were we glad we did as we quickly spotted both male and female Goshawks in the area. We found that during our stay that of all the sites we visited the female Goshawk was very wary and could only be seen at distance. The male bird however offered some decent views. In these few hours we managed to get some of our best shots of the bird with decent blue skies and uninterrupted views void of twigs and branches.

The following day we decided to try another site a few miles away, we stood in an area where we saw the male bird in the morning but later we moved location as we weren't having any success getting close enough. We were so glad we did as the male was located just above our heads in a branch (this was with us scanning just about every other tree in the area without any luck). This site over the next few days proved to be very popular with photographers as we met a few during our time there however getting clear shots wasn't as easy as the birds seemed to be tucked right up in the higher branches. We took the decision to return to the first site for a few days. Again some good views but the weather wasn't playing ball with us, cold, grey skies were the order of the day - its amazing how the cold can grind you down after 6-7hrs.

The same theme followed with grey skies on Thursday so we decided to try for Red Squirrels in an area close by. Squirrels really found us and ended with Chas hand feeding peanuts to one however they weren't interested in his offerings and were soon on their way. We spent the next few hours in the company of the Goshawks in poor weather but even this couldn't dampen our spirits. On one occasion the male landed very close and we would say it was the closest it had been all week, just at that point a small opening in the clouds came and a slither of blue sky for around 2mins. Perfect timing as the male Goshawk was sitting out in the open on a branch with some blue sky in the background - we quickly forgot about the images we had taken the rest of the week as these were looking good on the camera. The grey skies returned and we had had enough. We were leaving the following morning and the weather again wasn't great so we decided to call it a day and pack our stuff up for the journey home.

A taxi ride to the train station and a train to the airport all went smoothly as the German transport system is very good. A long wait in the airport and an even longer wait at security saw me getting stopped and taken into a room to have my camera backpack and big lenses looked at (or were they just drooling over them), a quick swab for drugs on my lens and i was a free man again - i'm starting to get used to this by now as my backpack often gets checked over by over enthusiastic security at airports. 2hrs later we were home. An epic trip which ran smoothly (with the help from Chas).

I will be adding images to the "Raptor" section for those interested in seeing this stunning and elusive woodland hunter. Till the next time. Bye.

 


Sept/Oct

September 21, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Well here we are almost at the end of September and moving into October and this is my first blog on the new site. Its been a quiet few months since my recent trips (North Uist, Hungary and Poland) but I`m hoping to be getting out and about a bit more now the colder weather is almost upon us. October will see the annual Red Deer rut and for this I shall this time be heading up the Glen Etive area in search of those big stags. I have photographed these true highland stags in the past however never during the rutting season. I`m sure I will stumble upon them at some point in my travels.

October also is one of the best months for landscape photography and this is something I plan on doing a bit more of over the next few years. The colder weather brings with it the change in the look of the highlands with everything turning from green to the red/yellows of Autumn. I have been lacking a nice wide angle lens in my bag until now. In the past I have made do with my Nikon 24-70 and have really enjoyed using it, however sometimes I found it just wasn't wide enough hence I`m sitting here waiting the arrival of the fantastic and sharp Nikon 14-24 lens. This lens will offer so much in the way of landscape possibilities but it will also really make me think about composition of each shot I take. Another reason for buying the Nikon 14-24 is to use for some night sky/star photography. I have loved seeing others images of the Milkyway on the internet and now I get a chance to do it for myself.

So the next few weeks I`m hoping for some colder weather to help start the red deer rut but also some clear skies to allow me the chance to photograph some stars. I am planning a trip to the Glencoe/Glen Etive area in the early evening to photograph some sunset landscapes then find a nice place away from light pollution to photograph the stars. A few hours rest in the back of the van will be required before I start again in time for some sunrise landscapes and some early morning red deer rutting action...All this just needs mother nature to play ball and give me the correct weather to fulfill  all my photography requirements. But hey this is Scotland and if anything we are always ready to adapt to what mother natures brings us so no matter what the next few months are going to be fun.


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