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Learn how to take successful images of moorland birds from your car
Tags:Photographing Moorland Birds,andy langley,animal photography,go wild tv,how to photograph birds,how to photograph moorland birds,mark hamblin,photography tutorials,wildlife photography
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Today we’ve come in and search for Red Grass, which is a sub-species of a Willow Grass; it’s found nowhere else in the world, it’s indigenous too to Great Britain, so a very special bird and its habitat is at the Moorland, that’s most roughly above 300 meters and it feeds exclusively on Heather and Bill berry and cotton grass seeds, the chicks are to feed on insects, but the Heather Moorland is pretty much abundant in this part of the Scottish highlands, so it’s a bird which you see very frequently in this sort of habitat and the great thing from a photographic perspective is that the Red Grass are sedentary birds, which means that they don’t move very far, really from the day they were born to the day they die they stay very localized within a given territory. So once you find a Red Grass on particular Moorland, then you know they’re going to be there year in and year out, which is obviously pretty better official in terms of getting pictures. One of the problems that we had this morning is that we’ve got very changeable weather, we’ve got rain, we’ve got sun and we’ve got very dull weather so it can make it difficult from a photographic point of view in terms of exposure and obviously from the lighting point of view as well and more specifically, so it’s always a challenge, the weather provides plenty of challenges, it also provides opportunities of course and the driving although, to some may not be ideal, it can provide a picture with difference and obviously that so is something that you came to look for. Now this particular moist is ideal because it’s a road which runs through the Heather and it got Red Grass torches on either side so perfect for trying to photograph the birds from the car. For this sort of photography on either beanbag, or I’m using a double beanbag here which fits really snuggly onto the window ledge of the car there and provides a lovely firm support for the camera. The basic technique today is up to you to use the car as a mobile height and that going to be is in the telephoto lens of 500mm, in this instance to shoot. I’m going to shoot in wide open f4 and that’s maximum aperture so that’s going to give me the fastest shutter speed that I can get and hopefully minimize any camera shake problems and also to give a lovely autofocus diffused background which is ideal to make the birds stun that very clearly, eliminates too many distractions. One of the potential pitfalls in terms of exposure with grass on the dark Heather Moorland is that the camera can be fooled into over exposing the picture slightly, so what I tend to do as a general rule is dial in minus 1/3 or minus 1/2 stop compensation and that will alleviate any problems of over exposure, and hopefully give me a nice accurately exposed image. Obviously you can check that during the course of the day anyway using histogram and just make sure that the peak is roughly in the center of the range, props is slightly is to the left because everything is generally dark, with this type of picture and more specifically that it haven’t blown out any highlights and on the right inside. A good tip for adding extra stability to the lens is to use your left hand and place it on the barrel and actually press down quite firmly pushing the lens into the beanbag and that’ll give a really nice solid support and minimize any camera shake problems. My approach generally to a lot of subjects is to try and get a little of the box down the shots in the back to start with before moving on to something little bit more creative, a little bit more interesting and we’re now staying on the case on the day that we did the Red Grass and it applies equally to Red Grass as it does to the butterflies, damselflies, birds, whatever; and for this first shot as we say a fairly straightforward picture, a bit upon a rock against a nice clean background side on still the classic view if you like. Pins is something a little bit more different, a little different here and we’ve got I a lot tighter, I’m using the 500mm lens but also with a converter 1.4 converter and so that’s taking it up to 700mm and I wanted to get really close and get a headshot of the grass poking at above the top to the Heather. And I have a lucky bonus on this particular shot and that the bird starts to call, of course, very often in the course of the day of photography, things happen, you see things and this opens up new ideas and a fresh approaches for photography, and very often then it’s a case of trying to engineer a situation where you can try and pull off the shot where is perched or in the distance or whatever. Again as it’s the case with many, many subjects, it’s a matter of working the subjects or driving the course for a few days or even seasons or years, try and build a nice portfolio of images, the props show of the animal or the bird in a different light, different aspects of its behavior of course. In this instance it was the flowering Heather which always came to try and record as part of the picture and so deliberately went over to the same Moor and during the back end of August when I knew that the Heather would be in full flower and in that time of the year that the birds themselves are props at in such good condition but the flowers also have a new dimension to the shots, plenty of color, and I said earlier this gives a different field to the image. Red Grass, one of that species where ideally need good lights, let’s bring out the optimum feather detail; on a dull day it does tend to be a brown bird on brown Heather and does re-do the bird just as a tool.