Drive by Shootings

22nd January 2009
I haven't been out much lately due to work commitments, working both Saturday and Sunday nights leaves me very little time for photography. So I've been limited to the odd hour driving about or at my feeding station. It was whilst on one of my local tours in the car I came across this pool of water by the side of the road, at the time everywhere was frozen solid and this must have been the only flowing water for miles.
I noticed a few birds were drinking from the pool so I turned the car around and pulled up opposite, this spooked the Greenfinches and Thrushes that were there but I sat and waited for them to come back, which didn't take too long...

This Mistle Thrush stopped by for a quick drink

as did this Blue Tit.

A few Finches turned up along with some House Sparrows but the light was awful, flat and dull and that coupled together with dark backgrounds meant shutter speeds were too low to get any decent images.
I was thinking of upping the ISO settings, film speed in old terms but my camera isn't very good with the noise levels it produces at the higher settings which leaves me reluctant to use them.

Wishing there was more light I was just about to drive off when I spotted something move, taking a closer look I saw a Common Snipe amongst the leaves and grass. I say 'Common' but it's far from it in my area, the closest I've been to one is when I've spooked them into flight whilst walking about.
The camouflage on these birds is second to none and you'll never spot one unless its moving about or flying. I'd already been there for an hour and I'd only just noticed it, light or no light I wanted a picture so I pushed the ISO up to 400 which still only gave me a really slow shutter speed but I gave it a go.

While it was feeding I couldn't get a sharp image due to the fast movement of it's head but every now and again it would rest for a few seconds.

I hope I get another chance with one of these birds as the images I got aren't the best.

With the poor weather continuing I had a trip down to my feeders with the intention of finding out what ISO settings I could get away with using on my camera.

I'd found an old boot a month or so back that I wanted to use as a prop so I placed it on the floor and put a tray full of seed just out of frame.
I pushed the ISO settings upto 640 which gave me shutter speeds of 1/60 to 1/125 depending on what light the cloud thickness let through. I found as long as the backgrounds didn't contain too much shadow the noise levels weren't too bad, in this case the grass proved ok.

Although the images look ok and using these settings allows me to take pictures, there's no substitute for sunlight....
Which takes me to last Sunday, I managed to drag myself out of bed early-ish after working Saturday night and headed over to my local lake to sort out perches for the Kingfishers.

Armed with all the left over bread from a couple of weeks I had a go at getting some Gulls inflight images.The light was great for a change and the Gulls didn't disappoint putting in a great performance.

There was loads of Black Headed Gulls about.

I ended up filling four gigs worth of memory card with some of the best Seagull flight shots I've taken so far.

Amongst the Black Headed Gulls there were some Common Gulls too.

There were only four Common Gulls and one of them had only one leg.

Isolating them from the mob of BHGs though was hard work.

I had another trip over a few days later with my mate Mark. I grabbed a few more shots for my collection then let Mark have a go with my lens while I tried some wide angle stuff on the Swans.

Mark having a go on the 600.....

I played about using my 17/40mm wide angle lens on the swans but the light was fading fast so this is an on-going project.

I now have a huge folder full of Seagulls inflight which I'm very pleased with and thouroughly enjoyed taking.... :-)

Thanks for looking.