Photography in the Gloom (high ISO)

It’s been very quiet this week. We’ve enjoyed (?) plenty of rain and mist, grey skies and a semi-permanent twilight. Not great for taking photos.

The main challenge of poor (i.e. low) light is the compromise between getting a fast shutter speed (needed to freeze the action) and keeping digital noise down. Getting a decent shutter speed means moving to a high ISO rating, but anything above 1600 (or even ISO 800) causes a lot of digital noise. Some of this can be removed with software, but the quality of the image suffers. If you go for a low ISO, the shutter slows to a crawl and the image blurs. This first shot of a rat was taken at ISO 3200 with a shutter speed of barely 1/25s. Actually surprisingly ok (and hand-held) but not something I want to try every day.

rat at ISO 3200

Later in the day the rats were at play and the light had improved. This one is at a tolerable ISO 1600 and 1/500s shutter.

rat on rock

Rat on rock

Usable images, but a real struggle. That may all change very soon. I’m awaiting delivery of a Canon 7D Mark II, a long awaited and by all accounts much improved version of the 7D. High ISO performance should be a great deal better, focusing faster and more accurate (the auto-focus manual runs to 50+ pages alone, and supposedly auto-focus works in moonlight!). I should be getting mine in a week’s time (pre-ordered, so one of the first in the UK). I can’t wait to try it out, and for once I won’t be cursing the dimly lit mornings, and grey afternoons. Bring it on!

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.

Cormorant (plus a few of the usual)

It’s been some time since I’ve seen a cormorant at Falmer Pond, and I nearly missed today’s flying visitor. Literally flying, as it circled but then headed off to the south (i.e. to the coast). There was just enough time to get these photos.

Cormorant over Falmer

Cormorant over Falmer

The light was just about at its peak for richness when I took this photo a rat down by the water’s edge.

rat

Rat in the glow of the early morning light

The good reddish light is fleeting, and it had already softened by the time I took these next two shots at the opposite end of the pond.

rat

rat

Move on 5 hours and the colour has washed away, but it was bright and the rats were still curious.

rat

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

The Badger and Fox (photo special)

As promised here are some more photos from last night. It’s been a while since I’ve spent much time outside watching for the nightly visitors to the garden, but it was mild yesterday and there was only a slight drizzle. A handful of peanuts on the ground and then quietly waiting. It was worth it when the unmistakeable shape of a badger came into view. I kept still. The badger started to tuck in to the peanuts.

badger

The fox wasn’t far behind. He lingered at the back of the garden, more wary of the badger than of me. For several minutes he peered around the edge of the pergola, inching forward. The badger kept eating.

badger and fox

badger and fox

badger and fox

Thinking better of disturbing Brock, the fox quietly slipped across the pergola and retreated to a neighbouring garden. Wise fox.

fox and badger

fox and badger

The fox was gone, but the badger wasn’t convinced and went to take a closer look.

Badger

Badger

Satisfied that it wouldn’t be disturbed the badger returned to the serious business of eating.

Badger

Badger

All those peanuts build up a thirst: a refreshing drink of cool water…

badger drinking

Clearly I need to spend more time out there. It could turn out to be a good autumn.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.