November 17, 2014

Mayflower Park Fireworks

A few photos from the fireworks at Mayflower Park, Southampton, 8th November 2014.

All of these photos were taken with the camera handheld using a variety of techniques.

Some red fireworks illuminating the smoky night sky.
Red lightning.
A bit of white for a change.
Very floral.
Looks a bit like a palm tree.
Moving the camera during a long exposure made for a waterfall effect.
Rotating the camera during a long exposure can make an artistic shot.
Almost everyone was taking photos.
Puddles always present an opportunity for reflective shots.
The clarify is pretty good for a night time handheld shot.

November 16, 2014

A Photo Walk Around Bristol

Yesterday I went on a photo walk around Bristol organised by Olympus and London Camera Exchange.  The walk was led by professional photographer and Olympus ambassador Robert Pugh.

I'd met Robert at Gadget Show Live earlier this year, and apart from being a thoroughly nice chap he knows all there is to know about the camera I have as he uses the same camera day-on-day-out as a wedding and portrait photographer.  I learnt a few neat tricks from Robert along the way about quick access to menus, using small focus points, and he even showed how he accessed all the key menus using just two fingers whilst also using the viewfinder.  It might take me a while to figure that out!

The group doing the walk started out from London Camera Exchange and walked to the market on Corn Street to start our photography, then through the city centre water features to the Watershed area, and onto @Bristol and the ice rink.  We were out for two hours, and although it was a tad chilly and grey, everyone in the group really enjoyed themselves and learnt some new ideas.

Robert mentioned that the Olympus stand at Gadget Show Live in 2015 will be bigger than this year and he'll be running some live sessions showing how photographers work from setting up lighting, photographing a model, through to printing the finished product.

An angry monkey sticker on a post in the city centre, Robert Pugh in the background
giving some tips one of the group.
Using the settings suggested by Robert, this photo shows a chrome bench against the
contrasting brick wall and wooden floor.
Stub it!
Swans are always good photographic subjects.
Some of the architecture in Bristol is perfect of photographing.
On Pero's Bridge there where some locks in place, usually love tokens like this one fro Alise and Adeel.
These locks didn't seem to have an inscription.
The ice rink at @Bristol has penguins for children to settle themselves.
Although children are still at risk from their parents falling over!
Although there was rain on this bench, it stayed dry for us.

November 05, 2014

Red Pandas at Cotswold Wildlife Park

As promised in yesterdays blog post about A Chilly Day at Cotswold Wildlife Park, the red pandas were so active they get their very own blog post!

The family of three red pandas were mostly sleeping or hiding when I arrived at Cotswold Wildlife Park.  But they soon started running around to warm up and find food.  They looked very suspicious when a pigeon entered their area for a walk around.  It was great to see them playing together and a great opportunity for some photos.

The pandas enjoyed playing in the trees.
A panda ambles around the branches of the tree.
Almost a catalogue pose.
The colour of the panda looks great against the green backdrop.
It's great to see how a panda can use its tail to balance.
Another balancing shot.
A little help!
Finally the panda gets a good grip to climb up onto the branch.
A very smug look, just like a cat.
After eating, the panda licks his lips.

November 04, 2014

A Chilly Day at Cotswold Wildlife Park

The day after visiting Westonbirt Arboretum (see blog post and photos here) I popped along to Cotswold Wildlife Park.  The weather was much chillier than the previous day and it was interesting to see how the animals outside were coping with the weather.  Some seemed to try hibernation and just slept, and others seemed to be active to keep warm.

The red pandas were particularly active.  So much so that they'll get their very own blog post as I had so many photos of them.  Keep an eye out for that post coming soon!

For animals who were behind glass my Lens Skirt came into its own.  It really helped to cut out the reflections from the glass and get clear shots.  In the monkey enclosure the monkeys seemed intrigued by the Lens Skirt and came right up to the glass to take a look.  Unfortunately they were too close for the lens I was using at the time.

For this visit I was using my backup camera body, an Olympus E-PL3, with my normal lenses.  I'm very pleased with the photos I got from this body, and it goes to show much of the quality comes from the lens you use rather than the body.  The two drawbacks for me were the lack of viewfinder (using just the camera screen was quite awkward at times) and the body was too small to get a good grip of.  

The reason I had to use a backup body was that my Olympus OMD E-M1 and shiny new 25mm f1.8 lens were off for repair - the body was suffering from intermittent shutter lockups since fitting the new lens.  This was really annoying as it happened on a weekend away and left me with very few photos.  Luckily the E-M1 came with a Serivce Plus warranty and when I called about the issues I was having, Olympus picked up the camera and lens, zoomed it to Portugal for repair, and a few days later it was back in working order.  Great service!

An aligator eye, taken through glass with the Lens Skirt... I'm quite glad there was glass between me and it!
The wolves seemed to enjoy the autumnal chill.  They were paying much attention to the nearby animals...
A look of surprise, or just lucky timing when the lemur was eating...
This meerkat took the hibernation approach to the cold weather.
Naked mole rats.  Woundn't win any awards for looks or good teeth, but are cute in their own way.
Not sure what the Ugly Animal Society would think of these!
This prairie dog has got carrot stains on his fur.
I love the detail in this photo of the rhino skin.
This pig knows how to stay warm, by growing a coat.
A green theme thanks to this lizard.
Great feather details in the photo, and the blue and oranges stand out well.

November 03, 2014

Westonbirt Arboretum in the Autumn

Now that autumn has arrived in the UK, it's a great time to spend some time outdoors seeing how nature responds to the change of season.  An arboretum is a great place to see nature and, of course, take photos too!

So I recently went to Westonbirt Arboretum with fellow photo blogger Sheila Morris (you can see some of Sheila's photo's on her blog) to spend a few hours getting photos of the amazing colours and wildlife.  Westonbirt is a very large place, and even with all the crowds we saw at the cafe, once out in the woods there was plenty of peace and quiet to focus on getting the best photos.

For most photos I used the Olympus 60mm macro lens, which allowed me to get in really close for detail in some of the photos below.  It's probably the first time I've used the 1:1 mode on this lens, which meant that I physically had to move towards the subject to get it in focus.  But when you get it right, the results are outstanding.

A daisy captured with the 1:1 macro mode on the Olympus 60mm lens.
Water droplets on an autumnal brown fallen leaf. 
A close up of a fly on a leaf.  Just look at the hairy legs!
Acer trees go a lovely shade of red in autumn.
This conker is slowly coming out of its shell... looking like a suspicious eye in the process.
A silhouette of a fly on a leaf in the autumnal sunshine.
Bark on (what I think is) a silver birch.  Almost looks like a morse code or a music box recording.

Some of leaves have amazing colours.

Some of the trees had been cut down for timber, lined up they looked quite artistic.
The sun shines on fallen leaves and conkers.