Article: How to photograph Black Redstart


I have just finished an article on how I photographed a pair of Black Redstarts in a Hungarian garden in June.  Lots of information and details included for those who are interesting in setting something like this up from start to finish.

The pdf can be downloaded by following this link to my website:

How to photograph Black Redstart

Black Redstart

Flight photography – Canon 800mm f/5.6


I had a few days off last week and had the chance to try out the new Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with my Canon 1D Mk4.   I’ve used it already photographing around my local areas but thought I would have to put it through its paces by taking it to Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire for flying wildfowl and Gigrin Farm in Powys at the Red Kite feeding station.   At Gigrin, with over 300 Red Kites in the air at once, there were no end of subjects to photograph and Slimbridge was equally effective with  small  flocks of Pintail, Mallard and swans filling up the airspace.
I can honestly say it is a fantastic piece of kit that I would love to have the money so I can add it to my equipment list (any offers out there!!?).  With an aperture of f/5.6, I was surprised at how quick the autofocus was at finding subjects.  It is very responsive (probably because the subjects are so large in the frame!!) and locks the subject in focus consistently.  It is even quicker when the range distances are correctly set on the lens.  I often found when photographing subjects at different distances it took a while for the lens to track from minimum focusing distance and then to infinity, but once focused on the subject it didn’t want to let go.  With the lens itself being 4.5kg in weight, on several occasions I found myself handholding this lens without any problems.  A big plus for those situations where tripods can’t be set up quickly enough. 
With mixed weather at both Slimbridge and Gigrin, the presence of dark snow clouds mixed with sunny intervals allowed me to get some interesting photographs with atmospheric results.  I love photographing in these conditions as photographs have an extra depth and edge to them compared to the usual all blue or white overcast skies that are usually present.
Below are some of the results from my trips.  Hope you enjoy.

Bees and butterflies!


Checking the exif data for the Bee Orchids I photographed last year said I’d taken them  between 10th and 27th June.  Well I searched and searched and couldn’t find any. It was only when I checked the other night that I found a single really small orchid.  I’m not sure whether its been a bad year for this species or not, but I can definately say they are very late flowering around this area compared to last year.  Anyway, the next task was to photograph it. I tend to use my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens for most of the macro subjects I find, but after purchasing the Canon 1D mk4 I am finding the depth of field with this lens to be tricky.   Due to the sensor being a lot bigger than my old 40D, the subject appears smaller in the viewfinder, which means you have to move closer to the subject which in turn, makes the depth of field smaller.  Is everyone still following…?  Good! (cus I’m confused and I’m writing it!! lol!)  Anyhow, hmm..   because the depth of field is smaller due to being closer, to get more of the subject in focus, you have to increase the aperture.  This will have two effects on the image/settings.   1. It will cause the shutter speed to go down (unless you increase the ISO)   and 2.  It will bring the background more into focus and you will lose the nice clear background that you want in an image.   Not good…  so…  in my bag I also carry a Canon 17-40mm f/4.0 L  and a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS.  I also have an 25mm extension tube and a 1.4x converter.  It doesnt happen very often but I had a brain wave.  I mounted the 70-200mm on the tripod and attached the extension tube aswell.  An extension tube reduces the minimum focussing distance of a lens, (25% in this case with a 25mm) so you can get closer to a subject (and therefore have it bigger in the frame).   This would also get round the fact that I would be further away than with the 100mm macro (because of the magnification of the lens) which should therefore give a more diffuse background.  It worked a treat and the photo below is what I achieved of a plant that was no taller than 15cm. Settings for the top shot were Canon 1D mk4 with a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens at 170mm with a Canon 25mm extension tube.  ISO200, 100th sec @ f/8.0. The lower image is with the 100mm macro lens at ISO 400, 1/80sec @ f/8.0.  Compare the two backgrounds and settings. I know which one I prefer.

Knowing that there are plenty of butterflies to photograph in this area, I had a slow walk back to the car and found two Marbled Whites butterflies mating on top of one of the orchid spikes.   The female is the browner looking one on top. I couldn’t resist getting a few pics and heres one that I particularly liked.

 

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As always, all my pictures are available to purchase.  Please contact me for more details.
www.ianbutlerphotography.co.uk or email ian@ianbutlerphotography.co.uk