Wild West

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of photographers on a trip to Clare Island (for thos of you who don’t know where that is, I included a map below).

Clare Island

Clare Island

The place is a mixture of wild and civilised: very few people live there, and all basic human necessities can be satisfied (by that, I mean there is a pub on the island).

The trip was supposed to be mostly for landscape photography and to capture the essence of the island, and the island did deliver 🙂

It was nice to see how all the Italians in the groups simply had to take the most difficult path and climb the hill on the island: “It’s there: we have to!”… Crazy people… 8)

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In the bog

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In the bog 2

We were even blessed with clear skies and a beautiful sunrise on the beach:

The island is wonderful, everyone should at least visit it for a day. It can be a very zen-like experience:

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Saltee islands pt. II

Saltee islands again, after last year (see here).

And again, we were lucky with the weather: after a gloomy morning  we had a good day for picture taking.

Wind and water

Wind and water (from the cabin 🙂 )

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The landing

We were blessed with a sunny(ish) day, so we managed to dry up quiclky after the boat ride. I was a bit windy and I ended up soaked. At least for the first 10 minutes 🙂 .

After that we moved to the the first nesting placve we were going to visit:

Unfortunately we didn’t see as many puffins as last year 😦

After some time in the howling wind we moved to the gannets’ nesting place.

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The easy path to the nests

After the last rocky bit (which was a bit of a challenge for somebody) we got the the nests. You can smell it long before you see it…

And that was it for the day: unfortunately we couldn’t stay for very long and soon had to go back to the boats (which turned out to be an adventure itself).

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Time to leave

We’ll be back next year 🙂 !!

Photo trip to the Saltee islands

We left Dublin early on Saturday to get to the Saltee islands:

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Saltee islands

The weather wasn’t great: fog and clouds and we weren’t particularly optimistic for the day.

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Kilmore Quay, not a great morning as far as weather goes…

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Land ho!

The clouds covered the sky almost all morning, until we got onto the islands.

Once we arrive though, the sun decided to show up and we had a beautiful (mostly) sunny day.

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A beautiful sunny day

I admit I was afraid I couldn’t do much to get the birds and that they’d be too far away for my lenses… It turns out we could get within a few metres from them, we could almost touch them!

And there were so many…

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So many birds… at least the story was different from the movie…

Good day, a few good photos 🙂

Still, there is something I don’t understand:

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Why do puffins look so sad? 😦

Falconry workshop

It’s been a while since I had the chance to shoot birds, and this week a workshop on falconry provided the perfect occasion to do it again 🙂 .

It was also the perfect occasion to remind how much I miss my long lenses 😦 .

Still, good day, great group, wonderful birds… and a couple of decent pictures…

Now I need to get a proper lens for this kind of things… 😛

 

A day in a natural park

Today I was going through some old pictures…

Spoonbill

Spoonbill walking in the water

Heron

Gerey heron landing

It was a day I spent in a natural park back in Italy, shooting animals and birds (with a camera, of course…); after seeing them, I decided to write a post on shooting animals (again, with a camera… stop looking at me like that!). All the pictures in this post were shot at Oasi di Sant’Alessio, PV, Italy.

Many people think that bird photography is extremely expensive in terms of gear and time invested (and it can be). However, that’s not always the case…

Depending on what you want to shoot you might only need a camera (DUH!) and a long-ish lens (the longest focal length I used was a 200mm on a crop sensor camera, 320mm equivalent). While this two items are not exactly cheap, they won’t make you break the bank either…

So, my gear for the day was:

  • crop sensor camera;
  • 70-200 f/4 L;
  • 100mm f/2.8 macro.

And, to be completely honest, you might need even less than that.

 

So, anyway, the first thing you need to do is getting to know your gear, and I mean INTIMATELY know your gear. If you are at the point where you don’t even need to look at you camera to:

  1. change drive/focusing mode;
  2. change your main focus point (yes, turn off automatic focus on all points… I mean it!);

and you can eaily guesstimate aperture/ISO settings for your desired shutter speed (of course you’ll be shooting manual. What did you expect?!), then you might be at a good starting point…

If you’re not at that point, maybe you can be lucky enough to find a park/zoo/thingy that holds animal shows (like I did :)).

Birds of prey!

 

Great practice!

But the hardest part is to shoot birds in the wild (well, almost…). Before anything else (even photographic knowledge) you’ll need patience… Patience to stand still and wait for the reight moment, patience not to curse (too much) when that moment comes and you’re not ready, patience to realize that half the times you were actually ready, your focus is off (or you ISO is too high/low, your shutter speed too slow, your hand is shaking…). I have no idea how many shots I deleted… but that’s how it works…

Yet, there’s nothing like trying to shoot unaware animals in the wild (well, almost…)…

If you are ever around stilts, be extra careful: they’re very small and not that afraid of people. I almost stepped on one: that would have been very sad, not to mention difficult to explain to the park guards…

In the park there’s also a section dedicated to small animals and butterlies: MACRO TIME!

In the end, the trick is to master patience and know what you’re shooting. If you know the animals’ habits you’re already halfway there. The other half is knowing your gear as well as you know the animal ;).

If you have that, you don’t really need super expensive gear…