Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Autumn rays

Photos from the capital has been a desolate dessert of inactivity for far too long! So, just as the clear blue September skies were forecast to come to a close, I managed to catch the last afternoon of radiant sunshine before the rain drew in.

This post comes with three themes of photos. First up are a couple of examples of me playing with my circular polariser. Im still playing with this bit of kit, but i'm continually amazed by the quality it lends of any reflective surface. These first two photos show two angle of polarised light. The first, with the swan, I turned my filter to bring out the blues of the water, to crisp up with beautiful ripples across the lake surface. The second (below) was a different angle which seemed to excentuate the browns and greens of a passing teal and the foliage behind. I am still am amature with this filter so any advice/suggestions are very much welcome!

Ok, theme two. This is a continuation of me trying to develop my photographs as a whole. A little while ago (see a prior post), Lindsay commented that many of my photos lacked any sort of depth as I tended to capture subject against either sky or water. So in the next series of 3 photographs, I have tried to incorporate various backgrounds/reflective patterns to give a more wholesome photograph. Subjects are a little grebe, a teal, and a gathering of a teal a lapwing and a snipe, respectively.

And the final few. These are more for my own enjoyment. First up is a product of a long time sitting, waiting and nearly missing the moment when a snipe finally flew across to a new island. Largely due to luck, I managed to capture this shot as he drifted in to land.

The final couple are of some old favourites of mine. Gulls never disappoint in providing acrobatics that are a challenge to photograph, but give some great results. The first picture is saddly blurred, but i thought it was cool - I think this is as close as you get to a handbrake turn under wing power?!

Lastly, I really love this photo. It was early in the day when I was playing about with settings, but somehow I managed to really capture the colours of this gull. I love the orange of the beak against the blue of the wings.

Here's to hoping there will be some more clear weather soon!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Holiday from the Capital

As the summer begins to wain, I finally returned to the capital.... and promptly left again! Going straight from a busy year studying graduate-entry medicine to a full time summer job and straight back to year two was perhaps a bit ambitious, so I decided a mini-break was in order!

I am fortunate enough to have family recently moved to the Netherlands in a beautiful area between the Hague and Amsterdam. To compliment the scenery the sun also turned out for a one day performance between fronts of rain - thank goodness I decided to take my camera with all its frills/lenses attached!

So, to business. It may be a new location for my blog photos, but the usual subjects came out in force. They put on a good show for me to practise with some new toys too - I recently went on a filter splurge and have a shiny new circular polarising filter for my 70-300mm lens. Im very much learning as I go with this one, but it is already showing its worth in adding extra quality to shots over water.

These two shot of a coot in flight and a fishing grebe were taken from a boat on a beautiful lake. It was quite windy and the choppy water adds a lovely depth to the shots.

The gem of today, however, did not come in bird form. Early in the morning, I walked out of the house and caught a glint out of the corner of my eye. A dragonfly was hanging in the midst of a bamboo hedge in full sun. Que a surge of over-excitement and a dash for my camera. Snap-snap-snap-snap. I had a field day, the dragonfly was most obliging and hung motionless throughout. I even had time to dash inside to replace my 70-300mm lens with my father's Nikkor macro lens and snap a couple in incredible crispness with this fantastic bit of kit. All in all I was a very happy photographer :)

ps - Ive been trying to Identify this dragonfly but to no avail. If anyone has an idea please let me know!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Finally another post!

What a busy Summer this has turned out to be! Working full time to save up some pennies has meant that the majority of the good weather passed me by with very few clicks resounding from my D40 shutter :(

It was last weekend when I finally found an excuse for some photography when I managed to zip off to Rutland water en route to a friends wedding in Loughborough. For anyone unaware of this gem, it is a lovely part of the world to wander around. When I was young and lived in the area, my parents used to take me for walks and pottering around picking up fossils from the beaches.

This time I was there for birds though. In terms of variety, the selection was very similar to the LWC - Ringed plovers, Lapwings, a selection of waders. Some new faces for me as well though - notably the appearance of a few little egrets. The number of terns was the most striking feature - Many were flying over the lakes hunting for the many young scattered over the islands. Here are a few of my better shots from a very brief spell before heading off to see my friend get hitched!

And now for something completely different. Staying in Husbourne Crawley for the past few weeks, the night sky has been wonderfully free of light pollution. Standing with our necks tilted right back, some friends and I saw a whole host of shooting stars and satellites crossing the nights sky. Photographically, I couldn't resist the challenge of some nighttime photography. Though the prize of a decent meteor pic eluded me all the way until my battery died, I have popped the photo below up to recover some sense of pride - In the bottom left hand corner is a very small little trail of one of the meteors that teased me by darting just out of my frame.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A mid exam break - Bugs and Birds

Two exams down, 1 to go!

After a particularly brutal anatomy exam, I couldn't go straight back to to the books - With the sun shining through my window, the wetland centre was crying out to me to take a break and unwind a little.

In my eagerness to escape the pit of revision that is my room, I actually arrived at the center 20mins early - there are worse places in the world to have to hang around! Nestled in a shady spot, I did a bit of light dermatology revision to add an extra air of justification to my morning of photography.

With perfect, warm, breezy weather - I felt I was relaxing into a relaxed landscape - birds barely bothered flitting out of my way as I strolled the paths, dragonflies hovered hypnotically between swaying daisies. I almost (almost!) forgot about work!

Sadly, the grebes werent going to be as photogenic as during my last visit. They were paddling off in the middle of their lake - though i was pleased to see the young chick still with them. For the hides were quiet. Nothing particularly remarkable on the bird front - I thought i glimpsed a warbler, and there was rather excited flock of ducks (yes - ducks!) zipping about occasionally - but otherwise I was joined by the usual suspects; coots (angry), lapwings (busy fending off crows), ducks (running from the coots) and a plethora of chicks! Here are some highlights from an otherwise uneventful morning...


Angry, angry coots!

One nice feature of today was the butterflies and dragonflies. Big and small, their vibrant colours were a wonderful feature, flitting in and out of the daisies, here are a few of my better snaps

All images copyright William Bermingham 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Grebes Grebes Grebes Grebes!!

Exams are v v close and revision is v v boring. The only solution to the monotony was to zip to the Wetland as soon as the sun cleared all the pesky clouds away.

Wow was it a beautiful day. Far to beautiful to revise. Far to beautiful to sit in a hide. So, cross legged, I found a comfy piece of grass with a fine view of the Great Crested Grebes.

Talking to a few passer bys, apparently the tale of the grebe chicks is not so idilic as these pictures may suggest. Just 2 days ago there were 3. Herons? Kestrels? Gulls? Who knows. The good news is that the adults weren't going to let this last little chick out of their sight. Tucked up on mum's (or dads?!) back, his little zebra-stripped head would peep out comically from time to time.

So, when I arrived, just the one adult was in view - but not for long! From across the lake, the second appeared with a mighty catch. "Surely," thinks I, "that cant be for little stripy" - Oh but it was. Despite looking to be pretty much the same size as the chick, with a few deft flicks, the fish was upended and wriggled down into his tum.

After lunch, I got another little treat from the grebes. The adults spent a few minutes dancing with each other. Not quite to the extremes of the mating season, but tapping beaks flaring their displays. Smashing.

On a more photography based note - I was thinking today about a comment Linds made about my pictures to date. She pointed out that often I use very plain backgrounds of either water or sky (see my earlier gull photos or my little grebe portrait) and, whilst this may highlight a subject, the shots are very 2D. So, I hope I have improved a bit on this front today - I focused mainly on the triangular reed (seen below) to try and frame the grebes. Along with this, I was also conscious of the wind patterns across the water leading to different bands of colour - so I tried to use these for a bit more depth. Comments/Advice welcome!

(Ive also toyed a bit with this image. Its a bit over done with the reduce quality here on the blog, but I like the vivid colours.)

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Beetles, birds and one very unlucky eel.

Despite exams looming once again on the horizon - I couldn't resist making the most of some sunny weather and heading to the Wetland Centre. A beautiful calm, warm day with only slightly hazy light streaming across the lakes heralded for some good photography.

To kick things off - I cant resist putting this photos first, despite it being one of the last I took today! I find beetles fascinating - something I attribute to a previous life as a 19th century explorer/coleopterologist for lack of better explanation - so when this one buzzed passed me I scampered after him to find where he landed. Beautifully radiant in the sun, I later identified this emerald beastie as a rose chafer. Gorgeous.

For more info on this lovely beetle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetonia_aurata

Ok, so back to a more chronological approach. As is my ever developing routine, I started at the Wader Scrape hide. As i settled down, an old friend of mine (see a few posts previous!) started hopping about the luscious greenery right in front of my lens. Feasting on the plentiful bugs, this little wren looked wonderfully content as he flitted by!

Things then became rather calm. The cosy, warm weather seemed to be as soporific on the ducks as it was on me. A little while later, however, I caught a flash of colour out of the corner of my eye. Sadly I wasnt quite quick enough to catch him as he passed close to the hide, but to see a kingfisher is a real treat! This was the best image i caught - he was rather far off by this point so it is rather grainy.

Despite the excitement of the kingfishers, things quickly settled back down at the wader scrape and i decided it was time to move on. As midday approached, activity at the other hides (dulverton and WWF) seemed to pick up. I caught this shot of a starling coming in to land largely by chance, but i love the contrast between his oil-slicked black and the green of the foliage.

Back to bugs, and if there was one type that was really conspicuous today it was the dragonflies. They were everywhere! This is one of my better efforts at snapping some of these little on one of the smaller ponds by the path.

The best is yet to come! Just as I was about to leave and return to the monotony of revision, a eagle-eyeled bird watcher spotted something rather brilliant. A cormorant, who had been cruising around near the hide earlier, was causing a commotion in the middle of the main lake. Amazingly, he had caught a rather large eel and was thrashing around in a duel with the slithery serpent. After a prolonged struggle, the cormorant's sharp pointed beak won out, and without a second glance, the improbably large eel was flicked up and gradually gulped into the belly of the bird. Amusingly, throughout the Coots clearly found it all very interesting and gathered round the cormorant, seemingly as enthused as we all were in the hide!

The only unfortunate detail about all this was the distance. Too far for my 300mm lens, these snaps are heavily cropped - but i think they give an idea of the events!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

22.5.10 Sweet Summery Days :)

Having been repeatedly foiled by lectures and dull weather, this weekend finally provided some free time and gorgeous weather for me to scoot over to the wetland centre. With clear blue skys, a strong sun and light breezes, I was expecting a production day by the lakes. Having arrived at 930, I headed straight for my hide-of-choice at the wader scrape. As a pootled along, I snapped my first two finds of the day - a reed warbler (not uploaded - he was hiding fairly deep in the reeds) and this juvenile long tailed tit.

Having gotten off to a good start, my luck began to run out. Whilst pulling up a bench in the hide, a tern dramatically swooped overhead and dived into the lake directly infront of me. Was my camera ready? No. Did the tern hang around? No. Instead, I managed a snap a few frames of a black headed gull as it flew past.

Unusually, the wetland centre was really really quiet today. Time rolled by with very little activity in either the wader scrape or main lakes. The exceptions to this rule, were of course the sand martins who at least provided a wonderful spectacle even if they are too small and speedy to photograph! In a rare flurry of activity, I did manage to catch this goose as it took off from the lake, running across the waters surface to pick up speed.

To match the relaxed mood on the wetlands, a duck with her chicks sauntered by the water scrape hide. With such gorgeous spring weather about, I couldn't resist putting at least 1 duckling picture in my blog :D quaaaaack.

With time marching on, I was beginning to gather myself up to head home for some more hours of revision, when I got a little reward. The tern was back, and stayed just long enough this time for me to catch a snap as he hovered briefly about the water scanning for fish. These sleek migrants are truly a pleasure to watch bring back many happy memories for me - I used to watch them in Stevenage where they nest on the lake nr the town centre. The picture at the bottom is one I took there 2 years ago as one of a pair returned from a fishing trip :)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Another sunny day, another wetland centre trip!

A rare lunchtime finish from lectures gave me a rare opportunity to scamper down to the wetland centre on a weekday. With planes back in the air, it was by no means the peaceful scene that had greeted me a few days previsouly, but the sun was shining and the birds were... well, sleeping mostly! Settling into the wader scrape hide, a number of waders - sandpipers/ringed plovers/snipe/redshanks - kept me happy as they skirted round the islands, dipping into the calm water.

Another visitor to the wader scrape - Always keep an eye on the fence to the right of the hide, last time I snapped a wren, this time some starlings were hopping about the rails :)

After a little while, I skirted back to the WWF hide. En Route, I saw one of my favourites - A long tailed tit. These happy little chaps always remind me of my years in Cardiff where they used to congregate in the trees around the university all through the Summer. I caught this one with my camera on sport mode as he hopped about a tree.

Just to finish - this tufted duck was having a tussle with another. I caught his as he crashed in to land just in front of the wwf hide.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

What a way to break up revision :)

With the sun shinning and no wind at all, I couldn't resist breaking the monotony of revision with a trip to the Wetland Centre :) It's a strange thing this volcanic ash situation - and you don't appreciate it until you go somewhere like the wetland centre - but with all planes grounded, the world seems unusually tranquil. No vapour trails to slice up the clear blue sky either!

Even bright and early the birds we making the most of the sunny weather, and i made the most of their activity clicking away with my camera! Here are some highlights:

A Summer visitor to Britain - this was the first Wheatear I have ever snapped and indeed seen! Hopping around by the wader scrape, I was just quick enough to capture him as he flitted across the water and out of sight.

Next is one of my favourites. There is something about the diminutive figure of little grebes that never fails to make me happy - maybe its their powderpuff tail, or the way they swim with such determination across the vast lake, but they are a pleasure to watch whatever! To make things even better, I was privileged to watch a pair choose their spot (just to the bottom left of the WWF hide) and set about nest building.

From one small bird to another - I spied this wren hoping about on a fence nr the wader scrape hide. Lovely spots of brown and a little perky tail :)

And finally for now, I had a very lucky 20 minutes as a heron came in close and personal to the hide i was in and began hunting in the smooth waters of the lake. Normally a serious and extremely elegant bird, I couldnt help but chuckle as the heron would begin to bend his neck over at ridiculous angles as he closed in on the elusive fish.