September 2017 Monthly Report
Well September was a busy but wet month here in Wellington.
After a hectic August September, 2017 kicked off with a fine weekend set aside just for Steve and I to enjoy. I love running workshops and making new friends, but nothing beats going out with a mate like Steve. He knows exactly what he is doing with his rig and we work together like a team. I can relax and concentrate on the job at hand and immerse myself in my favourite activity. Our style is more like hunting, particularly bush stalking than one might first realise. We sneak through the bushes and swamps seeking our target species.
First up I manged to sneak up on this kōwhai flower.
Yellow is my favourite autumn colour and also my early spring colour too.
Our first intended target were Pheasants. So we headed off up the Kapiti/Mana coast north of Wellington looking for some action.
Things were a bit slow at first. We were thinking about heading further north when we spotted a mob of one Cock bird with 5 female pheasants in his entourage. They were out in the paddocks some ten meters from the edge of some pine trees. So we put the stalk on them sneaking through the trees. But right at the last hurdle it became impossible to get closer without making our presence known. We were faced with a last minute scurry. bumble, stumble, up over and through a thick carpet of knee high pine branches stacked up right on the edge of the forest – meters from the birds. We made the best of it but the birds were on to us. However I shot this before the last hen departed from the main runway.
Often the Cock Pheasant gets all the attention. Nevertheless I think a female Pheasant is a very pretty bird in her own right.
Time for a change of venue and do some swamp sneaking to find our star species. So it was further north for the pūweto or Spotless Crake.
Steve and I have spent so much time hunting this bird with good success at times that Steve Richards has been renamed Crake Richards. But alas today was not to be one of them days. However I got a wonderful shot of a kuruwhengi or New Zealand Shoveler Duck. It’s the bird Louise calls the Cock Pheasant of New Zealand Ducks because of its amazing colours.
A warou or welcome swallow sat nicely on a steel post in lovely light so clikerty click went the shutter.
The following week Louise and I had a training day out at Staglands Wildlife Reserve. While Nomad Kath and her sister Barbara accompanied us.
Louise was convinced if she just kissed this red-eared slider turtle it would turn into her charming prince.
She was disappointed lol.
Me old mate The Turkinator was lurking in the depths waiting for round 3.
After a busy morning discussing how we can improve our workshops at Staglands we retired for lunch in the sun beside the bird feeder. The staff fed the birds while we enjoyed our food along side the feeder.
I still had a fascination for peacock feathers so I tried to think creatively and came up with this.
We visited the local bandits.
Rocky was in fine form.
Louise aka captain cuddles can’t resist the rabbits. She pounced on this one!
A Red Pole put in an appearance and that rounded off a pretty busy day for us.
Next up Carolyn flew up from the South Island having booked the whole last weekend of the month. So it was a very busy end for my September.
The Saturday was spent teaching how to shoot forest birds without the use of flashes. Using a flash takes away the natural look of the bird in its environment. It eliminates contrast, flattening out the image and can deaden the over all dynamic of the image.
Learning to get the best out of your camera in poor light conditions such as in the forest takes a lot of practice and patience. I put Carolyn through her paces and gave her a lot to think about and will be putting those new tricks into practice when she gets home.
Zealandia has the most amazing opportunities to shoot native birds in the wild. Opportunities that you just don’t find in the main forested areas of New Zealand. That’s due to the very heavy trapping of predators and supplementary feeding throughout the year.
Shooting in the Dark
My rig and settings for the day …
- Canon 1 DX and a 300 prime with a 2x converter attached to it.
- That gives me a focal length of 600 mills which is a handful to handle in a forest.
- The converter stole 2 stops of light off me.
- For each one stop slower means halving the shutter speed.
- So at f2.8 I might be around 1,000th of a second.
- 2 stops slower at 5.6 means 250th of a second.
- Reality was I was around 80th- 40th of a second.
- I set the camera to 2,500 ISO and f5.6 for most of the day. Most middle of the road modern digital cameras can handle these modest settings.
My main target was the tīeke or North Island Saddleback. Eventually I managed to nail this one.
There is much to consider when one shoots birds in the forest. The background light can play a huge role. You need to be on your feet. Pay attention through the view finder and not let the background light compete with the bird.
I will go into greater detail on how to go about this discipline in a later article.
I’ve a huge overhaul going on with the website. I’m creating a totally new and comprehensive image gallery from the ground up. As a result people will find it easy to browse for the image they need. However this will take some months so I will leave the old image gallery up until I’m ready to launch the new one.
Our Pelagic trip out into the Cook Straight was booked out pretty quickly. If any person who booked a seat early with a deposit has to withdraw for any reason I have a short list of reserves.
This is the second trip Boney Whitefoot has organised. I limit the numbers to 13 people including myself. That means that there’s enough room on the boat to position yourself to get those wonderful shots of the Albatross and other open ocean birds.
Our next trip out will be in February. So if you don’t want to miss out I suggest you keep an eye on this blog and get in quick next time.
Time to wrap it up , sorry this report came a bit late but better late then never.
I hope you enjoy my photos and God bless all you peoples heaps.
A great big thank you goes out to Rosie for helping me with some gamma lessons, thanks Sister. ❤