Tag Archives: duck

A Touch of the Dark Side

Don’t worry, there’s nothing too sinister about this post. The title is a reference to camera settings.

There was some fairly bright sunshine early this morning and while taking yet more pictures of the heron, I spotted a cormorant fly over. When photographing a dark bird against a bright sky I tend to slightly under-expose by setting the exposure compensation to a slight positive number. Anyway, the cormorant swept down to the water, where everything is much darker. To retain a usable shutter speed I scrolled the compensation setting into the negative zone. I was aiming at around -1, but doing it on the fly I overshot so these were taken with a setting of -2. This had the effect of keeping a respectable shutter speed (around 1/1600s, keeping things nice and sharp), but leaving everything rather dark. A little bit of adjustment in Lightroom was needed to even things up a bit and bring out the green reflections in the water.

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant

Cormorant at Falmer

I do like deep colours and dark backgrounds, and by lunchtime the clouds had rolled in and there was even a touch of rain. Everything was grey apart from one shaded corner of the pond where some ducks had congregated. The overhanging trees provided deep shade, but that of course kills the shutter. To get anything usable I started at 800 (first shot which had a shutter speed of 1/250s) but then ramped the ISO to 1600 and – against the usual advice – under-exposed by -1. Normally under-exposing at a high ISO is risky as it can increase the noise in the darker areas, but only if the intention is to lighten the photo later on. I wanted to keep the dark areas dark, and just have enough light on the ducks. I have made some minor adjustments (and cropped), but these are very close to how they came out of the camera. If I hadn’t under-exposed the shots would have lost impact and contrast, and frankly the shutter would have crawled. This way I have something sharp. And there really isn’t too much in the way of noise (even in the second shot which is the high ISO one).

Mallard duck at Falmer

Mallard duck at Falmer

Mallard duck at Falmer

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

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Rat Scrap at Falmer Pond

It was quiet at the pond today… overcast and a lot cooler than yesterday when we had record July temperatures. The rats are pretty visible at the moment and I spotted some mixing it with the ducks at the edge of the pond.

rat and ducks

A rat looking for seeds surrounded by ducks

rat and ducks

Rat number two joins in.

rat fight

Fight time! I didn’t see that coming! The ducks enjoy a ringside view.

rat fight

Full flip!

rat fight

And over!

Later, when things had calmed down…

Rat in a drainpipe

Rat in a drainpipe

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

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Flying Over Seven Sisters

I was fortunate to be over near Seven Sisters Country Park early this morning, while the bright weather was still holding. It was windy (on my return journey trees were down and one was partially blocking the road outside Newhaven), and the Canada geese and little egrets were active.

I’ll start with the egrets, which are now essentially naturalized native birds.

Little egret at Seven Sisters Country Park

Little egret at Seven Sisters Country Park

Little egret at Seven Sisters Country Park

Little egret at Seven Sisters Country Park

Little egret over the South Downs at Seven Sisters Country Park

A small group of Canada geese were patrolling the fields, in ones and twos.

Canada geese

Canada goose

I can’t leave out the common mallard…

Mallard in flight

Or my first swift of the year. Few in number at the moment, but great to see them and a sure of improving weather.

Swift in flight

Swift in flight

No badgers or foxes tonight, but I’ve some good clips of both from the trail camera to put together (hopefully over the next few days).

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

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