There’s a phrase in Hungary which is spelt ‘nem jó’, pronounced ‘nem yo’ and means ‘no good’. In this recent trip to Hungary I was it a lot when asked how the wryneck photography was going. I have never been so frustrated in all my photography years.
Wryneck in the UK are a regular passage migrant but you have to be very lucky to find one. With one or two breeding every few years in the UK, they are all but extinct as a UK breeder and are highly protected when they do so photography is out of the question.
To hear the news that a wryneck was nesting in the garden of where I was staying in Hungary you can imagine how excited I was. My imagination was running wild with all sorts of images I was going to achieve of this very elusive species. To cut a 7 day story short, the image I had in my head didn’t materialise. What I wanted to achieve was the image below but in much better light. This particular photograph was taken at 10.22, 5 hours after sunrise. The background light hitting a distant tree is extremely harsh even though the bird itself was shaded by a large vertical stump of the tree where the nest box was. The balance between bird and background was just too much. Had it had been overcast it may have worked better. I planned another 4 sessions in the morning and late afternoon but this male didn’t want to play fairly. I ended up getting on the plane with no images of this species in great light which should have been fairly easy given the circumstances. It has certainly been a learning curve and one that has left me inspired, although extremely frustrated at the time. Patience was certainly a virtue. Although I didn’t get the image I had planned it was fantastic to see such a beautiful bird every day and I’m glad that I achieved this image to show you all.
Canon 5D Mk3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens, 1/400s, f10, ISO1600, on remote setup (hence the ISO1600).
It’s always a great feeling when you see your images in print but even better when they are used as a front cover! The British Birds journal has used my Stonechat image for their May issue. This is such a great informative journal on all things avian and is a must read for any one with an interest. For more information on the contents of this issue click here: http://www.britishbirds.co.uk/article/british-birds-may-2015/
Please click on the image to view a larger version.
I’m in Hungary at the moment and as the weather is raining with 25mph winds I have stayed in to go through the images from the last few days of photography. On the first day I used the car as a hide and drove around the country lanes to see what i could find. Different birds react in varying ways when approached slowly by car but Corn Bunting are quite easy to get close to. This Corn Bunting was the first bird of the day and just minutes after the sun had appeared along the horizon. i like how the pink hues are still in the sky and the low sun is rim lighting the bird. Worthwhile getting up early for.
Canon 5D Mk3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with Canon 1.4x III converter. Car as hide.
1/160s, f/5.6 @ ISO800.
Please click on image to enlarge.
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
Using a prime lens will always have its advantages and disadvantages with photography. Sharpness, focus speed and lens quality is a great factor to have but with closer subjects focal length and minimum focussing distances comes in to play. This was the case with this juvenile Night Heron.
This individual came within the minimum 4.5m focussing distance of the 500mm f/4 lens I was using. Attaching a 25mm extension tube (giving me 25% closer focus), this brought the subject back in focus again. The Night Heron was still huge in the frame but I wasn’t able to zoom out or move further back. Keeping the focussing point over the eye and creating the best composition was all I could do in this situation. This is one of the images I achieved.
Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, Hungary, June, 2014.
Canon 5D3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with Canon 25mm extension tube.
Often referring to this bird as looking like a ‘pick-axe’, in my opinion the Hoopoe has got to have one of the best latin names in the bird world… Upupa epops!
After successfully raising the first brood this little gift was for the female for the start of the second brood.
Hoopoe, Upupa epops, Hungary, June, 2014
Canon 5D3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.
It’s great when everything comes together for an image. This Green Sandpiper had spent most of the time feeding against a muddy bank offering limited photo opportunities. I was lucky that the light was really nice when it walked into this clear area of water and started to preen itself.
Green Sandpiper, Tringa ochropus, Hungary, June, 2014.
Canon 5D3 with Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens.