Tag Archives: brighton pier

Starling Murmuration

Last week I finally made it down to Brighton seafront to watch the starlings perform their magnificent murmuration display. Currently they are roosting under the Palace Pier, and they start to gather around 20 minutes before sunset. I joined many other photographers setting up on the pier and the beach to watch this amazing free show. The display started slowly, with small flocks of starlings beginning to circuit the pier, but these slowly grew and merged into larger groups, and then into a massive swarm of birds. That’s when the fun really starts.

starling murmuration

Murmuration of starlings at the Palace Pier, Brighton.

The shapes and patterns slowly merge and transform as new flocks join the mass.

starling murmuration

A second flock of starlings appears

starling murmuration

starling murmuration

Starlings over the sea with the Rampion wind farm in the distance

starling murmuration

Detail close-up of starling murmuration

starling murmuration

Starlings skimming the surface

The whole display lasted about 45 minutes, ending just before 5.30pm. But it’s a nightly event until the end of February (approx.), when the birds finally move away on their summer migration.

Photographically the main challenges are: (a) not taking too many photos, especially if you use burst mode, as I do; (b) managing the light, which is fading rapidly across the hour; (c) keeping the shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action and avoid camera shake; (d) having sufficient depth of field to keep things in focus. I used my 70-200 lens (which is plenty long enough), and set it at around f/11 (this reduced to f/9 as the light dropped). I tried to keep the shutter speed above 1/250s which meant slowly increasing the ISO (it started on around ISO 800 and ended up on ISO 6400). I also dialled in about -1 exposure compensation (this improves the contrast and helps keep the shutter speed up).

Overall I was pleased with the results (though I did take too many shots). If you are in Brighton just before sunset then it is well worth stopping to watch.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens.

Posted in Birds, starlings, Wildlife Also tagged , , |

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Finally some beautiful winter sunshine. Sure it’s cold, but dry, clear days like today are perfect. And I was lucky enough to be down at Brighton seafront at lunchtime. I wandered down to the east of Brighton Pier.

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

It was quiet there and I spotted a small group of turnstones enjoying the sun. They were very relaxed, mainly ignoring the occasional passer-by.

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Eventually they made a move and headed off to better feeding grounds along the coast. They were a delight to see, and so unexpected.

Turnstones at Brighton Beach

Turnstones in flight along the coast

The final shot today is the remains of the Brighton Wheel. The visitor capsules have been removed, and presumably the main structure will soon be coming down. A great shame. The wheel was a great populist attraction, quite unlike the corporate monolith going up further along at the West Pier site.

The Brighton Wheel after the viewing buggies had been removed.

The Brighton Wheel after the viewing buggies had been removed.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D Mark II and EF70-300mm 4.5-5.6 DO IS lens.

Posted in coastal, water birds Also tagged , , |

Experiments

I’ve been trying out something a little different recently as part of a FotoBuzz mission on taking black and white images. It’s not simply a matter of converting, but of taking images where the monochrome enhances what the picture is trying to say. I’m not sure if any of these will make the final cut (the boat can’t because I coloured it), but it’s proving an interesting project to work on.

The first (from today) is a standard shot of gulls on the pond. Fairly dull subject matter, but some nice contrasts. I’ve framed it to give it a slightly aged feel. I thought about adding some grain, but shied away from that.

Gulls on Falmer Pond, black and white with vignette

Gulls on Falmer Pond, black and white with vignette

The second is a sailing boat at Rottingdean. I’ve heavily increased the contrasts, and deliberately over-sharpened the image to ‘roughen’ it. I then added a colour filter.

Yacht at Rottingdean, black and white toned blue

Yacht at Rottingdean, black and white toned blue

The final one was a bland picture of Brighton Pier that I really couldn’t do anything with. It was taken in the middle of the day, the colours were washed out, and even in black and white it lacked punch until I turned it negative which gives this somewhat doom-laden, night-time feel to it. Of the three it’s the most dramatic transformation.

Brighton Pier (black and white negative)

Brighton Pier (black and white negative)

Apart from the colour tint on the boat (which was added in PhotoShop), all the transitions were carried out in Lightroom.

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

Posted in Uncategorized Also tagged , , |