Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Photography Workshop !

I have always had a keen interest in wildlife, in particular bird watching. Since my retirement I have taken up photography, combining both interests has been easy, the only problem at the moment is the amount of equipment I have to carry suspended from my neck !

Like most new photographers I suspect,  it can be quite frustrating trying to get a good image or at least one that you are happy with.

So with this in mind, my daughter Sophie  arranged  for me to attend a photography workshop as a gift, to improve my skills.

The photography workshop was associated with  "Countrywide Falconry" based in the Kent countryside near Sevenoaks,
 titled  "Birds of Prey in Action", sounded good

The course would cover such things as composing a good shot, correct aperture settings, use of ISO settings to change shutter speed, use of autofocus points, how to set  your camera for fast action  photography, focus modes and correct exposure for your shots.

I was now getting slightly worried  !

 How would I be able to do all that and try and get a fast moving bird of prey in the viewfinder, and not embarrass myself.

Not only that, after reading their notes they advised that I should have already attended their Skill level 1 course,

 Now even more worried !!

I expressed my concerns to my daughter, she unsympathetically, I felt, advised me that I did not need to attend that course, which she said was for complete beginners.
 So not totally convinced, I made my way to the Farm in Sevenoaks.

 The heavens opened up and rain poured down, not a good start.

With some trepidation, I made my way to a very impressive barn, full of horse and falconry parafernalia, complete with many Falcons, Hawks and Owls, all it seemed, looking at me very suspiciously.

Over a mug of tea, got to know my colleagues for the day, all very like minded people. The workshop leader got on with his theory presentation, camera settings were set, we made our way out to a paddock where the rain had stopped and the sun was out.

The falconer brought out his first bird, said he would start us off with a slow flying Barn owl and work up to the fast flying hawks and falcons, seemed reasonable.

Not as easy as it sounds, and after many rubbish shots of empty sky, tail feathers and blurry images, slowly got my eye in, the trick was to try and anticipate where you thought the bird was going, 
Continuous auto-focus helps, and press continuous shutter and hope for the best, doesn't sound very professional, I took quite a few images most of which were rubbish this was the best I could manage.

Next out was this beautiful Bengal Eagle owl, very impressive.

The Falconer did his best to fly the birds very close to the assembled photographers, still quite difficult  to get a fully focused shot.These were my best shots.

A different Eagle owl coming in low.

Some portrait shots of the Eagle owl , nice eyes.

Next out were two Harris hawks, things were getting  a bit faster, the hawks were coming in at all directions, 

After a buffet lunch in the barn, there was an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the birds. tried some more portrait shots, much easier, here's a Snowy owl.

Little owl.

Portrait of a Saker

Portraits of a Lanner

Portraits of a Ferruginous Hawk

Portrait of a Buzzard

All in all, a very enjoyable day, lots to think about. I don't think its going to be so easy with wild birds, which always seem so wary or distant.

Saw this Wild Buzzard high in a tree on the drive home, shame it was facing the wrong way.

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