Author: Lee

Farming Photos

Farming Photos

Over the years I’ve photographed many different types of businesses, from Food to Jewellery making and even Magicians. Since moving to Devon, my Commercial Portfolio has expanded to photographing more countryside businesses, like Holiday B&Bs and Wine Making. However, despite living in a village surrounded by Farms, I’d never really photographed them much.

The other day, after a trip out to test my new Camouflage Coverings, I returned home to see they were grassing the grass in the field opposite.

This was probably the first time I stood and watched this happening, as generally I avoid any sort of grass cutting as it really affects my hayfever. However, I persevered and tried not to breathe in when the cutting swung close.

I posted these shots on our local facebook group, they got some interest and I was told they’d be back the next day to collect the grass.

I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to complete the process, so kept an eye, or more, listened out for the sound of the tractors in the field and then headed over to take some more photos.

It’s an interesting process, and great to see the farming machinery working to see how they collect it all.

Using my big lens, allowed my to get some great close-up photos, whilst of course keeping a safe distance outside the field.

The final stage of the process is clearing the grass and taking it away. Again, a different set of machines, this time 2, to gather up and store the grass.

I was pleased to be able to sell a few prints from the batch of photos I took and it gave me some great additional commercial photos for my portfolio.

New Camo & Spring Bird Photography

New Camo & Spring Bird Photography

In lockdown earlier this year, I spent some time taking photos in the garden. I’d set up some netting and was shooting from underneath it to capture some great photos.

As spring has now arrived, I wanted to try and get a different angle on the birds and set up some ground feeding areas beneath my blossoming apple. Now, to get close I had to rethink my camouflage and decided to start creating my own gear for my lens, camera and eventually tripod.

So having made my first couple of pieces, I started putting it to the test.

Wearing a green fleece, I blended in too. The birds were quite happy to land a few metres in front of my on the lawn.

It wasn’t long before they also started landing in the tree.

I’m not saying my new covers are magic, but they seem to work well enough for the birds to be comfortable with the camera being disguised enough to come down and feed.

I need to finish making the camera cover, then I plan to create a tripod cover.

I think I need to make a ground cushion/kneeling cushion as its quite uncomfortable sitting on the ground for hours.

It will be very similar to the bean bag support I’ve made.

I am hoping to make these to sell them. When I’ve done this I’ll give an update and how you can buy them.

Now Offering Affinity Photo Tuition

Now Offering Affinity Photo Tuition

If you’ve ever wanted to improve your photos or learn how to do composites, but couldn’t afford the cost of Photoshop or didn’t want to do a monthly subscription, then Affinity Photo is for you.

Affinity Photo is a low cost single price photo editing software package that offers very comparable features to Photoshop and the plus side is, I now offer tutoring on it!

As with all my tutoring, it can be tailored to your needs, so you can get the most out of my tutoring sessions. Theses sessions can also be offered via Zoom or FaceTime so your location is also no longer a factor.

I of course still offer my usual Lightroom and Photoshop tutoring.

Use the link below for more information and details.

The Barn Owl!.. 4 minutes of Delight!

The Barn Owl!.. 4 minutes of Delight!

As mentioned in my previous post (We found a Murmuration!) my Son and I had been looking for a local Barn Owl, after getting a fleeting glimpse when we were first told about it.

We knew where it was and could observe it hunting from a distance so as not to disturb it, but after a couple of nights we just hadn’t seen it again. Then on our 3 attempt, 1 week after the first glimpse I saw it in the distance starting its hunt.

It flew along the field towards me…

…keeping a lookout on the ground

Getting close and now out of the direct sunlight direction, it changed its direction slightly, just banking a little…

…but still coming closer.

It passed my position and headed towards the back of the field that I was standing next to. Now the lighting had changed, this field had no sunlight and a backdrop of a dark trees.

Then I must have missed it dropping to the ground, as my last few shots, (that I only noticed when I got home) showed the Owl carrying a Mouse.

The lighting conditions and camera settings for these photos were a bit of a nightmare, but considering I got caught off guard a week early and shot this, I am definitely happy with my results.

I had multiple issues to contend with; it was dusk and I was fast losing light, but then I was shooting in the Suns direction at one point, so had backlighting and flare, then no sunlight and dark background. Plus, a fast moving object, that you have to track in low light conditions, all while hand holding a big lens.

So I am very happy with the results as this was a first proper attempt!

So if this is something your interested in photographing, the first thing is to find and area where it looks like they would hunt and just sit, wait and watch. Also speak to any locals as they would know if one hunts there.

As for camera settings, I was using ISO 2500, F5.6, and this gave me a shutter speed between 1/800 and 1/200.

Oh, I almost forgot, you mustn’t, blink as from it appearing, to disappearing took just 4 short minutes!

We found a Murmuration!

We found a Murmuration!

My challenge to myself in February, was to get better photographs of Birds in flight. I have to say, that what I have taken since the beginning of the year has been some of my best bird photos ever. This is partially due to time, but also but techniques and understanding of my latest camera.

One of my side challenges was to try and capture a murmuration with my Son. He’s just getting into photography, using my old kit and has enjoyed the garden birds, but like me, wanted to see a murmuration.

We partially achieved are our goal, and while it wasn’t a massive murmuration and it disappeared behind the trees, we did see it and the build up to it.

There is a bit of a background story here though. We had been out many times looking for one and never found one. People kept telling us about them and saying, did you see it, but we were always looking somewhere else. One evening, while looking for it, we were told of a Barn Owl. So the next night went looking to that, after about an hour, I saw Starlings in the distance, about 500m away.

So we abandoned our Barn Owl search and ran. I could just see them above the tree tops.

On reaching the field, we were given an amazing low level display with birds, landing and taking up, swooping back down and repeat, all the time being nicely back lit.

The display was pretty impressive.

After more swooping, diving, and flying around the field

They headed to another field and took off to really start the murmuration just out of our view.

The next night we were back on the search for the Barn Owl, but we had to wait another 2 nights and several hours of waiting before we were rewarded.

Bird Photography Progression

Bird Photography Progression

So, with the 2021 UK lockdown into it’s second month I thought I’d post an update update on my progression of my bird photography.

To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing the post. What with home schooling and tutoring if I can, I’ve much preferred, when weather allowed to be outside testing my bird photography skills than trying to write about it. However, I thought I’d give a progression report.

I’ve, been constantly updating my bird table and added new feeders. I started with table as shown in my previous post, and I must say, I have been pleased with what I got…

…the birds liked my perches and it returned good results. I really like this Blue Tit photo.

However, I wanted more (doesn’t every photographer?). I changed some perches and I introduced an interesting stump, with has given me some great photos. Although the background isn’t amazing on them – I’m still working on that – but I noticed quite regularly the images didn’t seem as sharp as I’d like.

So I made a change. Despite using an image stabilising lens, I felt this was where I was losing the quality. I have a big heavy zoom lens and felt I was not steady enough and so I started using a monopod (I didn’t have room for a tripod in my make shift hide) and I immediately noticed an improvement. I also started upping the ISO (I hate doing that, but need to with moving objects). One issue though, is I’m fighting the weather, the dull conditions, which doesn’t help anything!

Since I’ve made those 2 changes, my results have really increased and improved.

My Son found for us (he’s been giving this a go to) a really interesting stump, which has added some great interest to the images.

I have been lucky enough to get most of our visiting birds land on it at some point.

Now, trying to do this in January, I’ve have spent a few days looking out the window at the rain. So, I finally to the plunge and braved some rain photography! I normally avoid it, but have now embraced it and have been very pleased with the results!

It’s funny, Starling are regarded as noisy and annoying birds, but I have loved photographing them in January and they have now given me inspiration for my February challenge to myself and that is to photograph birds in flight.

I’ve started at the beginning of February with the birds landing on the perches, but now I want more flight photos.

So that is my February challenge.

Watch my progress in my Garden Bird Gallery page, and I’ll write another blog on my progress soon.

Lockdown Bird Photography

Lockdown Bird Photography

When the first UK lockdown was announced in March 2020, one of the first things I did with my kids was to build a custom bird table using an old broken one I had.

I found some old branches and created a stand that the birds could land on as well as feed from. It also gave it a natural look for taking photos.

Nine months on, when our 3rd lockdown was announced, I decided to modify the table and add some more interesting perches to it, with the intension of photograph the birds on it.

I admit, it is not an amazing creation, but you only really use bits of it in the photos.

Taken on the same day as the above photo, I had a Nuthatch land on the left hand perch.

Over the days, many more birds have come to land on this and it has created some nice photos.

I’ve found the small birds to be the most tricky to photograph on it, but plenty of bigger ones and landed there too.

The starlings have actually liked the perch on the right, that sticks up. Initially I had this as a cut rose stem,

but have since changed it to more of a mossy gnarled stick.

After the seemingly success of this, I went in search of some more perches and items and found an old tree stump.

If you fill parts of this with seed, that is hidden from the cameras view, the birds will happily spend some time on it routing out all the hidden goodies.

Sometimes they’ll even pose for you.

I’ve managed to get a great selection of bird photos so far using this simple setup. One thing a would add though, is Ive bought some camo netting from which I’m managing to hid under to take the photos. This has definitely helped.

More photos are now in my Garden Birds gallery.

Photoshop – Blurring Background

Photoshop – Blurring Background

I offer a range of tutoring options for individuals and these are always tailored to your needs.

In this example, I covered background blurring. This lovely photo of a Jackdaw, was sitting on a perch that was one a couple of feet from the hedge. It gave a nice green background, but I wasn’t happy with the DOF in the photo. Ideally, the perch should have been further from the hedge, but thesis not always possible.

Like many photographers, I prefer to do it in camera if possible, but these days, many many photos are edited, so it’s good to know how to do some of these things.

In Photoshop, I have cutout the subject from the background and used Content-Aware Fill to fill the space, then used field blur to add extra blur to the background.

I think the result is better than the original but has kept a natural look in the photo.

I now offer remote tutoring for anyone interested in learning Lightroom & Photoshop, this is easier than having to deal with Covid issues and also doesn’t limit the distance of the learner. If you are a Mac user, no extra software is needed either!

Please use the link below to find out more.

Old Photo Restoration

Old Photo Restoration

I’ve been doing a lot of photo editing recently. Changing and blurring background in Portraits as well as some creative edits. I’ll post some examples soon, however I wanted to talk about old photos.

Everyone has old photos, just sitting in a box. I have, I’m sure you have somewhere. When you look at these photos, they contain great past memories, but they just sit in the box, or out on display fading. A lot of these photos are also showing their age with scratches and marks.

I can help bring these photos back to their original state.

Here is an example of a photo that I have restored.

Contact me for more information on how you can get your photos restored.

Grape Pressing

Grape Pressing

Following on from my last post, I also hadn’t blogged about the grape pressing session that I was asked to document.

This really continued the #LifeofaGrape story line, after the harvest, the next step was the pressing process.

The smell of the grapes sitting in the vast containers was impressive,

The grapes had a stir or mix in these before being pouring into the vast drum,

The grapes were mixed up and compressed

With a grape liquid exiting the drum

This was just the next stage in the continued documenting of the year in the life of a vineyard.

If you click on the #LifeofaGrape link, you can view all the other stages and processes I documented through that year in the Vineyard.