Sunday, 12 June 2011

Beauty on the Wing

I am incredibly lucky to live relatively close to three Bird of Prey & Falconry centres. I adore Birds of Prey and think they are incredibly beautiful to look at and watch in flight. I visit these centres fairly often and of course, my camera is always with me. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of my most recent photographs from recent trips to The International Birds of Prey Centre ( in Gloucestershire and the Cotswold Birds of Prey Centre ( near Moreton-in-the-Marsh. Both are excellent centres, committed to the well being of these birds and their conservation.

On both trips I used my EF 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM lens. I find that it is a perfect lens for photographing birds that are perching or being handles as you don;t have to get too close and risk spooking them and it is also great with a x1.4 converter for capturing the birds in flight. I must admit a 400mm (or larger) would be preferable sometimes for catching the birds as they fly but if you watch and catch the moment I have found the focal length I work with to be fine, especially if you know where to position yourself so you can catch the birds as they come into land or catch their 'prey'. Check out the photo of the vulture in flight (above) to see my point.

Other than kit, I recommend patience which is a must when photographing all animals. Try and watch the subject for a while to see how it behaves. I like to try and capture aspects of their behaviour too and it is important to check your shutter speed if you want to try and freeze the motion, however, a little wing blur in flight can give the impression of movement. Take care though to ensure the bird's eyes and head are completely in focus unless you want to blur the whole image in an 'artistic' manner.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these images and that they might inspire you to go and visit a Birds of Prey centre near to you and take some of your own photos. Remember to always be respect of the birds though as some of the birds can be highly strung. If a bird seems upset, move away until it settles down.

To get the best shots, talk to the staff and ask where is best to stand for the flying displays, but make sure you do not get in the way of the birds flight. I love photographing these amazing birds and I'm planning my next trip back to the ICBP already.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Castle shoot

My preferred style for portraits is informal and natural and so I mostly like to shoot outdoors using natural light rather than stick to the confines of a studio setting. Of course, the downside to this is that I am not in control of the light and sometimes it can be very changeable! On this particular day the sun was quite strong, causing all sorts of shadows through the trees, but then clouds would cover it and the bright light would vanish in an instant.  The upside though, is that I can photograph clients in cool locations.

These two shoots were taken recently for a writer and the location of a ruined castle was perfect for them. My favourite is the first photograph as I love how the stone changes from the moss and lichen encrusted green and black to the red stone further up the tower. Finding the hole in the wall where the stones had been taken or fallen away was fantastic and just perfect for the shot. It actually made a great place to stand as there was the remains of an old spiral staircase which had obviously been built into the wall at a later date when the castle was further fortified.