Tag Archives: MBK Wildlife Photography

You should have seen the one that got away!

/featured/you-should-have-seen-the-one-that-got-away-mr-bennett-kent.html”>Nankeen or Rufous Night heron Nankeen or Rufous Night heron Near Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[/caption]

Happy Wild Bird Wednesday :0)

Click the link below to see photographs from many talented folk around the world and feast your eyes on our fine feathered friends!!

Wild Bird Wednesday

I am not sure how well this title translates globally, but this is a dig at the pub boasting of fisherman using their arms to show just how big the fish they ALMOST caught was!!!

Taken near Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, this is the Nankeen or Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax caledonicus) coming in to land.

I seem to have gained the confidence of this beautiful specimen and I spent the best part of an hour, just sitting in his company and it really was an honor.
It is one of those experiences which can make wildlife photography so much more than simply pressing the button :0)

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Fingals cave Long exposure Scotland
A pseudo LE of Fingals cave on Staffa

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I recently  visited the magical Isle of mull, off the West coat of Scotland in search of Otters and encountered a wide range of wildlife and landscapes during my trip. During the visit, I took a boat to the Isle of Staffa to see Fingal’s Cave, known to many through Mendelssohn in his Hebrides Overture.

I arranged for the boat to leave me on the island for a couple of hours and planned to use my ND10 filter to create a distinctive long exposure with the trails of the wave motion creating a misty blur among the static sharp rocks. This is a technique which polarises opinion – some love it and some hate it. Personally, I love the misty effect on moving water

The ND10 is a super dark filter which screws into the end of the lens. It allows only 1/1000 of the light through to the camera sensor and enables you to take very long exposures (upwards of 30seconds) in broad daylight. I set the tripod up, but………………..no filter :0(

As per the title, Necessity is the Mother of Invention, I decided to try taking a series of photos with the view to merging in Photoshop to give an approximation of a single long exposure effect. The result, merging 22 shots, seen at the top, is rather good for a “Compromise” :0)

Continue reading Necessity is the Mother of Invention

The Mother of all Geese

Wild Bird Wednesday Greylag Geese
Greylag Geese on the Isle of Mull Scotland

Happy Wild Bird Wednesday :0)

Click the link below to see photographs from many talented folk around the world and feast your eyes on our fine feathered friends!!

Wild Bird Wednesday

The Greylag Goose (Anser anser) is believed to be the ancestor of most modern day domestic Geese. It is the largest of the native UK and European native Geese and, to my eye, it is very similar in size to a Canada Goose (Branta canadensis).
This beautiful bird is officially classed as amber status in the UK, meaning moderate cause for concern for the population numbers.
In the South of England release of birds has been on going for a number of years to help re-establish their population with some success, but the population found in Scotland are from the original native stock and retain more of the natural behaviors of true wild birds.
This was taken on the Isle of Mull, the second largest of the “Inner Hebrides” off the West Coast of Scotland.
Another first for me on a really rather wonderful trip to magical Mull :0)

Shot with the my trusty Canon 100-400mm f/4.8-5.6 L lens wide open on the Canon 7D to get the shallow depth of field to give the soft focus bokeh of the 2 Geese in the background

Bistering Barnacles! Close encounter with a Humpback Whale

Hervey Bay Humpback Whale
Humpback whale close up of barnacles

A somewhat abstract photograph of the head of a Humpback Whale in close up.
Barnacles cling to the skin and the white scars are a result of previous Barnacles catching a foothold.
The whale surfaced and the drag of the water has temporarily stretched the rubbery bodies of some of the Barnacles out, 3 of which are on display in this shot.
This was taken in Hervey Bay in Queensland, Australia, off the coast of Kangaroo Island, where these magnificent sea Mammals meet to feed during their migration from the Antarctic to the tropics to calve. A truly wonderful experience to see these gentle giants up close

Tiny Ant on a Clematis leaf with the Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro lens

Extreme Macro Ant
Tiny Ant on a Clematis leaf

Well, it is a Saturday, and I am sure there are some Macro Monday groups I could find, but I got the sudden urge to balance my postings a bit with a macro photograph!

I also remember my intention to talk about equipment and technique from time to time on my blog, so here come the technical bits and do feel free to read no further and just enjoy the picture if such things do not excite you – I shall completely understand :0)

You can see it is a macro shot, of course, but please believe me, this is not a giant tropical Ant, and this is not an ordinary Macro lens!!

Allow me to introduce you to the remarkable Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Lens.

This incredible piece of glass really is unlike anything else available from the main camera makers.

Although the term is used loosely for close up work, true macro is 1:1 magnification and above. This means that the image falling on the sensor is the same size as the object.
Such specialist lenses are readily available, but this lens starts where they stop!

It starts at 1X magnification (it can only focus close, so you cannot get smaller magnification or use it for normal photography unlike the standard macro lenses). It then goes to 5X magnification at which point a grain of rice will not fit into the frame.

Before you rush out to buy one, a word of warning. This is a notoriously difficult lens to use:

Autofocus? Absolutely not!
Depth of field? About 0.05mm at f/2.8 and 0.3mm at f/16, both at full magnification
working distance? Less than 2 inches at 5X
Viewfinder visibility? Very dark!!

All of the above mean that lighting is very, very hard indeed!
The short working distance makes getting direct light onto the subject difficult, with shadows being a big problem
You will want plenty of light and a small aperture to get a half decent Depth of Field and the normal solution would be a slow shutter speed.
At this level of magnification any movement is magnified so much that an imperceptible breeze takes this option away.
Unless you have a controlled environment inside, with no breeze, the only realistic option is flash.

Again, normal camera-mounted flash will not work, as the lens will block the beam.
Specialist ring flashes mounted to the front of the lens can work very well and are certainly the most practical option, but cost a fair bit of money.
Many people have made some weird and wonderful rigs as a cheaper alternative, and for this shot I have put a metal foil-lined Pringles Crisps tube over the end of my Canon Speedlite (hotshoe-mounted) and put a diffuser on the other end, angled down over the Ant.
A bit Heath-Robinson, but it has worked surprisingly well!
Another method which has worked for me is to hand hold the Speedlite flash to one side of the lens, with a reflector the other, to balance the light and avoid shadows, and remotely trigger the flash.

I do aim to get hold of a specialist Flash in due course, as this really is the ideal solution in my mind

The nature of the lens means that the view in the viewfinder is very dark (remember, this lens does not autofocus), making manual focus very difficult, and I have found using Live View at full brightness a far easier option.

I absolutely adore this truly fabulous piece of glass, but if you are tempted, please do not get put off by the huge and steep learning curve and be prepared for a low strike rate and frustration in the early days.
Rest assured that when a shot works there are few more satisfying lenses out there :0)

The Sad Sentinel on the Isle of Mull, Scotland

Grey Heron by a Scottish Loch
Heron on a loch on Mull, Scotland

Happy Wild Bird Wednesday :0)

Click the link below to see photographs from many talented folk around the world and feast your eyes on our fine feathered friends!!

Wild Bird Wednesday

More from my trip to Magical Mull, one of the small Inner Hebrides Islands off the West Coast of Scotland.
At the start of this amazing holiday, I reached dry(ish!) land at Tobermory and found a B&B for the next few nights. Nice and early, so set off in search of the Otters I had travelled so far to see.
The weather was awful, so I decided to drive around the island making notes of where to visit if and when the rain stopped. A small Island, so after one circuit, I did stake myself out in the rain for a few hours to find these elusive creatures, but no luck.
I was joined by this Grey Heron. I am a huge fan of these guys and they always remind me of rather comical, grumpy old men all hunched up.
There is no denying that the surroundings were beautiful, with the Kelp covered Granite and the calm, Loch water, even in the misty rain, and I enjoyed his company very much
I have broken the rules by placing him centrally, but I have never been a great one for rules and for this shot I think it works and I am happy to break them :0)
I do adore the hugely therapeutic time, just me and wildlife, and on this occasion I felt particularly at one with the heron – cold, wet and bloody miserable!!!

Beautifully Camouflaged Otter On The Isle Of Mull, Scotland, UK

 

Beautifully camouflaged otter on Mull, Scotland
Mull Otter among the Seaweed

You may have seen my last posting, An encounter with the magnificent White Tailed Eagle on Mull, but here is the real reason I went to Mull, to fulfil a childhood dream of seeing a wild Otter!

This is a photograph of the European Otter, Lutra lutra. I drove from Kent, England to the Isle of Mull, Scotland with the aim of seeing these beautiful, but shy and elusive animals from the Lutrinae subfamily of the Mustelidae family which includes Weasels and Wolverines. On the last day of my 10 day trip, searching for an Otter for several hours a day, I came across this male, foraging among the Kelp Seaweed on the edge of a Loch, and what a wonderful experience it was. You can see how well camouflaged they are against the brown of the Seaweed and the granite rocks, which make them such a difficult animal to spot, certainly worth the long drive and the huge amount of patience on my part :0)