LWNP Blog (Pre 2012)

LWNP Blog (Pre 2012)

I've blogged. Sarcastically, but what did you expect?!

21/09/11


Hello again blog fans! Yes, I've been away for a very long time and I'm slightly ashamed to say that not much photography-of-wildlife has happened in the past few months. As many of you may be aware I make the largest part of my income from photographing weddings which has kept me very, very busy this summer. Luckily for you good people, the wedding season is coming to a close which means that normal LWNP service will resume shortly. In the next two weeks I've got two shoots planned at different locations so you should expect to see some new images very soon.
In the news (LWNP news, that is) one of my Red Deer Stag images was used in a national newspaper earier this year for a print run of wait for it... 2,000,000! Think how many fish n' chips that lot would wrap!
In non-LWNP news, Nikon have launched two new interchangeable lens cameras/compact system cameras, depending on what you'd like to call them. Small, mirrorless cameras that can be used with a variety of different lenses... Sounds good, right? Well it remains to be seen, from my point of view at least. Yes a small camera with the ability to change lens is a good thing, I'm a huge fan of the Panasonic GF3 with it's relatively small sensor which is half the size of full frame and packs 12 million pixels. What have the mighty Nikon done to better this? Well they've made a camera with a larger sensor and more megapixels. Oh no, wait, that's wrong isn't it?! Because the Nikon "1" as they're to be known have the smallest sensors fitted to a CSC, by a fair way. And only 10 megapixels... What they've actually done, is take a normal compact camera and given it the ability to have it's lens changed. In a way, Nikon have reinvented the wheel but made it square, not round. Still, it might just be the best thing since sliced bread or the waffle iron - We'll have to wait and see!
If you want to see some totally biased info on the cameras, take a look at nikon's website by clicking your mouse here

Me again!

19/07/11


Here I am, after a surprisingly long time away with a quick note to say the following:
Yes, I am still alive. Very alive actually, having recently found out I was a Wildlife Photographer of The Year semi finalist for the second year running! Finalist next year? Watch this space! (Not too closely though, you'll be here for 340 days...)

On another note, I have been out and about taking some pics over the last few weeks which will be updated soon, as well as a few further additions to the site as a whole!

Long time no see, blog fans!

08/05/11


Yes yes, I am back! It's been a busy time for me of late and I haven't been out shooting as much as I'd have liked. However I have had some time to go back over some unedited images I shot this winter and found one I thought was worth sharing, it's a shot of the magnificent Worcester Cathedral after a foot of snow fell the night before. On the whole good news thing, I've got a day of shooting planned for Thursday so stunning pics to follow. Hopefully...

Latest images!

15/03/11


It seems like ages since I've been able to get out shooting, but I finally got the chance earlier this week, and here are the resulting shots!


Nikon D3, AFS-VR 500mm f/4, 1/2500th, f/5, ISO800, tripod and Wimberley II head


Nikon D3, AFS-VR 500mm f/4, 1/1000th, f/4.5, ISO 800, +0.7EV, hand held


Nikon D3, AFS-VR 500mm f/4, 1/320th, f/4.5, ISO 800, +1.0EV, hand held


Nikon D7000, AFS-VR 500mm f/4, 1/2500th, f/4, ISO 400, +0.3EV, hand held

My apologies…

24/02/11


As many of you will have undoubtedly noticed by now, the LWNP site has been a little quiet of late. The first few months of each year are always busy for me as I’m getting booked up with jobs for the year. This year has been a very busy year so far for my wedding photography business (Lee Webb Photography) and I just wanted to say that normal business on the LWNP site will resume shortly!

The Concorde moment of lens design?

07/02/11


When the designs for Concorde came out all the way back in 1969, it looked like it was from the future. It was like nothing the world had really seen before, and was capable of things only dreamed of up until that moment. And now here's Canons' Concorde moment - the announcement of their new 200-400 L IS USM Extender 1.4x. It's quite a mouthful but then again it looks like it's going to be quite a lens. It's very much like Nikon's 200-400 VR, but it's white. However, (and this is a sonic boom of a however) it has a built in 1.4x converter. I know a lot of people who use the Nikon 200-400 VR with the 1.4x converter almost permanently attached. Obviously Canon have taken note of this and literally built one into their lens. The amazing thing is - it's not always attached. It can be manouvred into place with no effort to make the lens a 280-560mm f/5.6 - Brilliant! Once again, if you want all the facts and info, make your way over to dpreview!

Canon 200-400 f/4 L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Images from yesterday

04/02/11


I spent yesterday at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucester helping out a friend with their wildlife photography skills and techniques. Here's a few of the shots!

Pic 1
Pic 2
Pic 3
Pic 4
Pic 5
Pic 6

New page added to the “Behind the Image” section!

30/01/11


I’ve just spent a couple of hours adding new content to the “Behind the Image” section of the LWNP website.
It’s a tale of two photographers, a 2 wheel drive car, 9 inches of snow, light peril, a shovel and an old man!


Mini "Behind the image" series on facebook!

08/01/11


As many of you are aware, I have a fanpage over on facebook which I update regularly with my latest images and the like. Over the next few months I’m going to upload an image every few days from the archives and give a small story about how the image was taken, where the image was taken and more importantly, why it was taken. If you’re on facebook but not yet a fan of LWNP, you can click 'like' below to be kept up to date with all the latest news and images!

Gordon Buchanan has balls. Really, really big balls.

03/01/11


Wow.

I’ve just spent the last hour watching (in absolute terror I might add) wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan following a pair of Black Bears through the wilderness of North America from up close and personal. Very, very up close and personal. So up close that he fed the mother Black Bear from his hand... Shortly before it bit him in the leg but that’s not the point! It’s yet another incredible natural history show from the BBC this week and definitely worth watching. It’s not quite up yet, but here’s where you will be able to find it shortly on BBC iPlayer:
BBC iPlayer : The Bear Family and Me (Gordon Buchanan)

First pic of the new year. Sort of.

02/01/11


I’m going through some photos that are yet to be edited and I came across the one below which I thought was worth sharing. It was taken on December 26th 2010 when the temperature was a crazy -14C in Worcester. I know it’s not the best image ever but for the people looking at this from the UK I hope it’s something slightly different - it’s the River Severn, completely frozen over! Something which has only happened a few times in living memory.

River Severn frozen over

Happy New Year!!

01/01/11


Happy new year everyone! Here’s to a great 2011!

Polar Bear: Spy On The Ice from the BBC

29/12/10


I have just this second finished watching the BBC’s excellent show Polar Bear: Spy On The Ice where the lives of Polar Bears were followed for a whole summer using nothing but remote control cameras. It offers a spectacular “up close and personal” view of my favourite mammals and it’s definitely worth 60 minutes of your time!!
Here’s a link to where you can find it on iPlayer
BBC iPlayer : Polar Bear: Spy On The Ice

Merry Christmas Everybody!!

25/12/10


Merry Christmas everyone, hope you have an amazing day and a happy new year also. Make sure to drink lots as long as you're not driving but more importantly remember to feed your garden birds - They need your help more than ever in these cold temperatures.

Pics from today!

24/12/10


I was in a desperate bid to not use my computer, emails or the internet until December 28th when Christmas is pretty much over. However, I had to answer some emails earlier today and so found myself on here again! Here are two pics from this morning when my best friend and fellow nature shooter - Peter "Moony" Moonlight and I went for a walk up our local Malvern Hills. It was very cold and the snow was deep, between us we didn't get many pics but we had a bloody good time!



Bbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrr here's a pic!

19/12/10


While many people, faced with the prospect of not being able to travel into work were still tucked up in a warm bed, I was sat outside trying to get a shot of my friendly neighbourhood Robin in the snow. It was -11C here last night and still -9C when I started shooting. Unfortunately, I spend 5 hours sat without moving, waiting for this Robin but to no avail. Having sat still for so long, I found myself unable to feel my toes despite wearing my winter boots! I stood up, turned around to walk back into the house and the Robin landed just in front of me! I fired off a few shots and here’s once I felt like sharing for it’s festive feel! For those interested, this was taken with a Nikon D7000 & Nikon 500mm f/4 VR at 320ISO.

Festive Robin

Robin 1

Two pics from today, including one from the Nikon D7000!

16/12/10


I had a great day out with a good friend of mine at my local WWT centre (Slimbridge) The light was really poor for the whole day apart from the last 2/3 minutes of daylight when we had the most amazing light I'd ever seen (as you can see from the bottom pic) Everything was bright orange with the light and it was spectacular! The first pic of this little Chaffinch is also the first pic that's gone live on my website from my new Nikon D7000. I won't go into too many details about how I find the camera yet, but I have been asked to compare the D3, D300 and D7000 so expect a report very soon!

First D7000 pic

Best light ever!

Two photos from this morning's "Kingfisher shoot..."

08/12/10


As you can see the Kingfisher didn't come close enough so here's something slightly different! I feel quite lucky to have seen Goosander this close up and so near my own home (less than a mile away) The only time I've seen them in the past is high up a mountain stream on Snowdon. A good friend tells me they're on the rivers like this because the mountain streams and lakes are frozen meaning the Goosander have to find open water on the rivers. Yesterday and today I have seen 39 Goosander, a Kingfisher and three Little Grebe. The second picture is of the East bank of the river Severn taken just North of where the river Teme joins the river Severn. The effects of the recent "big freeze" can clearly be seen in this early morning shot.

Frosty Goosander

Winter Wonderland

A day with the Bewick‘s

03/12/10


I spent all day yesterday day my local Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. It was bitterly cold as I’m sure most of you would have guessed, and almost all of the water in the pools/lakes was frozen. In the very few patches of open water the birds were really piled in meaning that I had to really pick and choose my shots carefully if I wanted a portrait of a single bird.
I was really hoping for two shots from the day - A Bewick’s swan either on a frozen lake or in deep snow to reflect it’s natural habitat or a Bewick’s swan in flight in the last golden light of the day. Luckily I was able to get decent images of both. I’m currently working through a huge backlog of images that goes back until last June in the mean time here are a few shots from yesterday.

Bewicks Swan on ice

Bewicks Swan in flight

Bewicks Swan in flight

Bewicks Swan in flight

Some images from today

30/11/10


I have been out most of today in the snow and biting cold teaching a birds in flight workshop on a one-to-one basis. The day went very well and we both got some excellent images. In a few days the Latest Images gallery will be updated with the best pics, but for now here’s a sneak peak

Harry The Harris Hawk

Barn Owl posing

Harris Hawk Inbound

Barn owl in flight

An amazing day spent shooting a Golden Eagle hunt

27/11/10


After a 2 and a half hour drive through drifting snow and hard packed ice I've just returned home after an amazing day shooting a Golden Eagle hunt. I was invited along by a close friend, and wasn't playing an active role in the hunt. The eagles would be hunting wild hare (with varying degrees of success - about 90% escaped unharmed.) As a nature photographer and lover of wildlife I can't actively support or promote hunting but my God it's an awesome spectacle. The speed and power of these magnificent birds really has to be seen to be truly appreciated and I would like to thank David Fox and the other eagle falconers whose hard work helped me get some amazing images. I had an incredible day and thank you all. Of course I have some pics on the way, and a nice one that's going to make it's way into the "Behind the Image" section. Hopefully they'll like these and invite me back!

Update: First two images are here!

Golden Eagle with prey

Golden Eagle with prey 2

Behind The Image section online now!

26/11/10


As promised the new section went live yesterday and has already received some positive feedback. It's called Behind the Image and if you have a few seconds, make sure you have a look!

New "Making the image" section coming soon.

22/11/10


Have you ever looked at a photo and thought "How has that been done?" or "I wonder what went in to getting that image?" I certainly have and I'm sure I'm not alone. To make things easier, I've decided to start a new section on my website whereby I dissect some of my images, showing you what's gone into it, what I feel has gone right or gone wrong, and the mishaps along the way. I can't promise it'll be a weekly thing but I'll let everyone know on the home page when I've updated the section. I'm starting with a seal photo that was taken this weekend. I hope you find this new section useful and most importantly, interesting!

New seal shots coming!

21/11/10


Late last night I got back from my now annual trip up North to photograph seals. I'm wading through the pics now, and selecting the best ones to edit and upload. Be sure to check out the "Latest Images" gallery to see what I've been getting up to! I'd also like to thank the "Tasty Treats" ladies for looking after me once more - they know who they are!!

Coming to a location near you!

15/11/10


This is another one of my “well… sort of” posts.
I’ve been approached by a couple of local camera clubs in the past weeks, enquiring whether I do presentations or lectures to camera clubs about wildlife photography. The answer: I do now! So If you’re a member of the Stourport Camera Club, I’ll see you on June 23rd!

D7000 hands on mini review!

05/11/10


I've been playing with the Nikon D7000 today.

Woooooooooooow !!!

It's really that good. Now the child within me has spoken, I'll grow up a little and actually tell you what I think about it. As I see it, this camera could easily replace the D300s so that's what I'll compare it to, as well as in some cases the D90.

Build quality:
First things first, this isn't like any other Nikon digital SLR I've ever used. Like most Nikons of today it's built like a tank. Just a very light weight tank. It feels amazing, it fits into my (small) hand very well and it gives a solid feel.
It feels almost as robust as the D300s which is saying a lot. I've never liked the D90 that much as it felt like a toy to me but the D7000 is much better. It's like a mini D300s.

Handling
Using this camera was a little different to what I expected, some of the buttons have packed their bags and relocated, and when compared with the now familiar layouts of the D300s and the like it feels a little odd. For a start (without reading the manual) it took me about 5 minutes to work out how to change the autofocus settings. On the D300s there’s a 3 position switch on the back of the body which allows you to change between single point, multiple point and 51 point auto AF point selection. This button has gone all together. It’s now stuck on the side of the auto focus/manual focus selector switch - sort of. The AF mode selection now requires you to hold in this button then use the two command dials to change the settings. After a few minutes it gets very easy to use and it’s actually quite intuitive.
The ISO selector button has also migrated. On the D300s it’s on the top left corner by the mode selector switch - it’s now become a dual function button on the back to the left of the LCD screen (although I’ve forgot the other function this button provides)

Auto focus
It’s fast. Very fast. And accurate even in very low light. I tested the camera extensively with the Nikon AFS 24-70mm f/2.8 and I was rather surprised how fast it focussed. For me however the most impressive aspect of the focus is the live view/movie mode AF. It too is very fast. Canon and Nikon cameras of the last few years have taken in some examples up to 6 seconds to focus, even with the best lenses. The D7000 only took on average 1 second to focus on a subject. It will also auto focus during movie recording at the same speed. The focussing can be heard however when you’re recording a movie but an external mic should get around this. Being inside a shop I didn’t have a chance to fully test the continuous auto focus and it’s tracking capability but I imaging it too is rapid.

Image quality
Here’s the tricky bit. I only saw the images on the camera’s glorious 3” LCD screen. The photos were sharp and vivid and very pleasing to look at, even when viewed at 200% or 300%. The low light performance seems to be a little better than that of the D300s with a little noise visible in the shadows at 800 to 1,000 ISO. I’m sorry I have no examples but you’ll have to take my word for how good the images look. Overall I was surprised at the low light performance of a camera with a sensor of this size which packs 16 mega pixels.

Movie quality
Being the first Nikon DSLR with a full 1920x1080 HD video I was expecting a lot from the video and I wasn’t disappointed. My main worry was the famed “Jello” or wobbling effect that was first seen on the D90 and has also been evident on the D300s - there was no evidence of this on the D7000 and the quality looks stunning. Even under harsh halogen lighting (which actually flickers naturally anyway) the camera performed very well. Surprisingly, in-camera movie playback volume was great too and movies can be both seen and heard in busy, noisy environments. I can see myself using the D7000 (as soon as I get one) an awful lot for it’s movie feature.

Conclusion
It’s the best camera I’ve used in a long time. The build quality is great and it doesn’t weigh too much to make it an inconvenience to have with you all the time. The image quality looks superb as does that of the movie mode, with the crisp, snappy 39 point auto focus an added bonus. As for where it sits in the Nikon line up, I would place it above the D300s for a number of reasons. The excellent image quality, the superb movie modes and it’s 16mp for a start. However, with a D300s you still get 6 more AF points and an extra frame per second in the burst mode. I do think that the D7000 will turn out to be maybe half a stop better at higher ISOs, thanks to it’s new Expeed II processor. I must say that with the D7000 being this great, I do wonder how good the Nikon D300s replacement will be when it eventually arrives.
What don’t I like about the D7000? Nothing. It’s name maybe? I think it’s a bit misleading because it makes it sound like it’s much lower in the range than the D300s but it’s really not. It’s more like a D350 or a D300 mkII. To compare it to a Canon camera it’s very similar to the 7D, and even with it’s high launch price it’s still £150 cheaper than a 7D.
The bottom line - I’m selling my D300 and getting one of these as soon as I can! I like how it keeps all the best bits of a Nikon pro camera while remaining very small and light weight. To make up your own mind, the D7000 should hit most shops by tomorrow! Hope it impresses you as much as it impresses me.

I'll have my hands on a Nikon D7000 by Thursday!

02/11/10


That's right, the D7000 hits the shops on Friday 5th November and I can't wait to get my hands on one. Partly because I like new shiny things, but mostly because I'm looking to purchase one for it's improved low light performance over the D300 and of course the 1080 video it also offers. I'll let you know what I think, so stay tuned! (not literally, I don't mind if you do other things between now and Friday night other than look at this same page for the next 72 hours.)

New Canon lenses delayed - Hope you've not put down a deposit yet?

01/11/10


Way back in August Canon announced that they were releasing new updated versions of their best telephoto lenses, including the 300mm f/2.8 IS mkII and the 400mm f/2.8 IS mkII.

The 400mm f/2.8 is one of my all time favourite Canon lenses - I even used to own one. Now for wildlife photographers, a lens with this focal length, with a very bright aperture is pretty much perfect (for mammals and large birds anyway.) Perfect, apart from it used to weigh more than the moon. You see, most wildlife is active early in the morning or late afternoon when the light is dim, so a long lens with an f/2.8 aperture is ideally suited to wildlife photography (although 90% of people that use it are professional sports photographers)

The best thing about the new 400mm f/2.8 is it's weight. It no longer weighs as much as the moon, it now only weighs as much as a small battleship. At just under 4kg you're not going to hand hold it all day long (even though I used to do my best - which led to a lot of back pain and pulled muscles, and probably the reason why I never grew past 5'3) but it's a huge improvement. The 400mm has been sent to fat camp and they've managed to shave almost 30% of it's weight off and now it's very much more reasonable. You can hold it for longer, carry it further, and now it's no longer heavier than the plane you're trying to get it onboard.

It's coming to shops next week. Or that was the plan. For reasons beyond my knowledge (mainly because I don't speak Japanese) they've delayed shipment until March 2011 which is bad news. But not as bad as the news that this lens costs £11,500. So it's that, or a new car.


New Website Online!

25/10/10


Hello and welcome to my new website! It's shiny, new and I'm not great with things like this so please give me a few days to iron out any kinks! In the mean time feel free to browse through the galleries.