I’d met Robert at Gadget Show Live earlier this year, and apart from being a thoroughly nice chap he knows all there is to know about the camera I have as he uses the same camera day-on-day-out as a wedding and portrait photographer. I learnt a few neat tricks from Robert along the way about quick access to menus, using small focus points, and he even showed how he accessed all the key menus using just two fingers whilst also using the viewfinder. It might take me a while to figure that out!
The group doing the walk started out from London Camera Exchange and walked to the market on Corn Street to start our photography, then through the city centre water features to the Watershed area, and onto @Bristol and the ice rink. We were out for two hours, and although it was a tad chilly and grey, everyone in the group really enjoyed themselves and learnt some new ideas.
Robert mentioned that the Olympus stand at Gadget Show Live in 2015 will be bigger than this year and he’ll be running some live sessions showing how photographers work from setting up lighting, photographing a model, through to printing the finished product.
Mid-November and Bristol had a ice rink, complete with penguins.
Dancing on ice isn't for everyone.
Using a shallow depth of field (low F number, large aperture) to introduce some blur makes for an artistic shot.
A personal hate of mine, love locks. Why spoil the natural beauty of a bridge.
Black and white can sometimes make things more interesting, like the geometric shapes on this concrete car park.
A Bristolian swan posing.
I took this photo at Rob Pugh's suggestion. Lots of lines converging and black and white to introduce the art.
An angry monkey sticker.
Rain on a bench, with the Colston Tower in the background.
The family of three red pandas were mostly sleeping or hiding when I arrived at Cotswold Wildlife Park. But they soon started running around to warm up and find food. They looked very suspicious when a pigeon entered their area for a walk around. It was great to see them playing together and a great opportunity for some photos.
This might be play fighting, like kittens.
My favourite photo from this ten. I commissioned an artist to paint it as a Christmas present for my mum.
The day after visiting Westonbirt Arboretum (see blog post and photos here) I popped along to Cotswold Wildlife Park. The weather was much chillier than the previous day and it was interesting to see how the animals outside were coping with the weather. Some seemed to try hibernation and just slept, and others seemed to be active to keep warm.
The red pandas were particularly active. So much so that they’ll get their very own blog post as I had so many photos of them. Keep an eye out for that post coming soon!
For animals who were behind glass my Lens Skirt came into its own. It really helped to cut out the reflections from the glass and get clear shots. In the monkey enclosure the monkeys seemed intrigued by the Lens Skirt and came right up to the glass to take a look. Unfortunately they were too close for the lens I was using at the time.
For this visit I was using my backup camera body, an Olympus E-PL3, with my normal lenses. I’m very pleased with the photos I got from this body, and it goes to show much of the quality comes from the lens you use rather than the body. The two drawbacks for me were the lack of viewfinder (using just the camera screen was quite awkward at times) and the body was too small to get a good grip of.
The reason I had to use a backup body was that my Olympus OMD E-M1 and shiny new 25mm f1.8 lens were off for repair – the body was suffering from intermittent shutter lockups since fitting the new lens. This was really annoying as it happened on a weekend away and left me with very few photos. Luckily the E-M1 came with a Service Plus warranty and when I called about the issues I was having, Olympus picked up the camera and lens, zoomed it to Portugal for repair, and a few days later it was back in working order. Great service!
The old skin of a rhino, who gets to play with skips full of mud.
Costwold Wildlife Park has recently opened a wolf enclosure. This photo was taken from the relative safety of a walkway over the enclosure.
A hairy pig close up.
The scary eye of a crocodile.
An iguana having a look around.
Naked mole rats. One of my favourite animals, although not many people seem to like them.
Now that autumn has arrived in the UK, it’s a great time to spend some time outdoors seeing how nature responds to the change of season. An arboretum is a great place to see nature and, of course, take photos too!
So I recently went to Westonbirt Arboretum with fellow photo blogger Sheila Morris (you can see some of Sheila’s photo’s on her blog) to spend a few hours getting photos of the amazing colours and wildlife. Westonbirt is a very large place, and even with all the crowds we saw at the cafe, once out in the woods there was plenty of peace and quiet to focus on getting the best photos.
For most photos I used the Olympus 60mm macro lens, which allowed me to get in really close for detail in some of the photos below. It’s probably the first time I’ve used the 1:1 mode on this lens, which meant that I physically had to move towards the subject to get it in focus. But when you get it right, the results are outstanding.
An abstract photo of some logs - the texture of the bark is amazing.
Conkers in the autumnal sun.
Westonbirt is great for red acer trees, you just have to time your visit right.
A daisy close up, still soaking up the sun.
A conker that looks like an evil eye.
The silhouette of a fly on a leaf, you can see all the veins in the leaf.
Lines in the bark of a (possibly) wild cherry tree.
A close up (macro) of some raindrops on a fallen leaf.
This week the BBC has been showing a three part documentary about cats, called Cat Watch 2014 and presented by the lovely Liz Bonnin. I’ve only seen the first part as I’ve come out to Lanzarote for a short break, however it’s inspired me to do a blog post about the cats of Lanzarote. Anyone who knows me will know it didn’t take much arm-twisting once the inspiration sprang to mind, I’m a cat fan and self-confessed cat whisperer.
I’ve visited the Canary Islands a few times and have come to understand a bit more about the relationship between Canarians and the cat population. Just like back home some cats here are kept as pets. In Lanzarote there can be few cats more spoilt than those owned by Barbarella Buchner, aka The Mad Cat Lady. Not only does Barbarella dote on her cats, she runs a cat photography business, and owns the excellently named thekitti.es web domain. And if that didn’t qualify her for ‘mad’ status then her marriage to her cats surely does. Look here if you don’t believe me!
Sadly not all cats are as lucky as Barbarella’s. There’s a lot of feral and stray cats in Lanzarote which I guess is down to the environment here. The year-round nice warm dry days are ideal for cats. In Playa Blanca where I am right now, many of the strays live amongst the coastal rocks and use them for daytime shade. In the evening when the cats come to life many tourists are around to feed them. Some of the cats are so used to people that they’re quite happy to approach people dining on the sea front, and with a purr and flick of the tale they often get treats.
Some of the locals aren’t too keen on all the cats. I know cats aren’t to everyones taste, and so luckily a charity has been created to help out. 9 Lives Lanzarote runs a neutering programme in an attempt to keep the population under control. The 9 Lives team have also placed a few Cat Cafe’s (feeding stations) around the island, meaning that the cats get fed and watered, but away from the hotel complexes and the like.
If you like the photos in this blog post then please donate to 9 Lives Lanzarote via their donations page. If you’d prefer to dontate to a UK charity then look no further than Cats Protection.
One of the 9 Lives Lanzarote feeding stations, next to the harbour in Playa Blanca.
Some of the stray cats use their cuteness to get food from visitors dining on the seafront.
Being a black cat in the Lanzarote sun means you need to find shade where you can.
The Wax Bar in Playa Blanca loves animals - collection jars for 9 Lives Lanzarote and SARA animal charities.
My favourite photo from this ten, a cute kitty resting between the flowers at the Playa Dorada hotel.
A cat on the picon (volcanic ash).
Not all of the cats liked being disturbed to have their photo taken.
This cat may be a stray, but it looks very happy napping in the sun.