Sunday, 30 June 2013

New camera (2)

On our trip to the Outer Hebrides we were keen to try out the new camera's capacity to capture images of wildlife, as we have never previously been able to snap more than very close, very still subjects.  It must be emphasised that I, as the photographer, have a long way to go to catch up with the capabilities of the camera, and sadly birds in flight (particularly a hen harrier near our last campsite) proved quite beyond me.

However (and, as in the last post, the images are unedited) we were reasonably pleased with the outcome.
On North Uist, we saw hundreds of land- and water-based oyster catchers.

On Berneray arctic terns were settling on the cultivated crofts.

There were plenty of lapwings, too.

But the stars of the show on Berneray were probably the harbour seals:

On our campsite on the south coast of South Uist bees were active in the sunshine.

On our final walking day we explored an estuary on the east coast of South Uist and were very taken with these Aylesbury ducks:

The above shot was taken from the same spot as this next one, at the opposite end of the lens' range (you can just pick the ducks out, lower centre):

But the overall star of the show (photographically at least) had to be this red deer stag, antlers still in June velvet.  He seemed to want to say something to me ('Nice camera' ?)

Monday, 24 June 2013

New camera

Inspired by Wendy at Blue Borage, I recently bought a new camera.  If you could see my stock of cameras, you might think this unjustified.  I go back to 35mm and APS film systems, have a movement-triggered wildlife camera and a motorbike/windscreen cam, as well as a nice compact digital.  My Canon SLR 35mm film body went a while ago, but its lenses live on with a digital body picked up on Ebay. But the point is, even with an SLR reasonably long zoom lens, I have been missing out on distant telephoto targets.  So enter a superzoom bridge camera, a little smaller than an SLR with a standard lens, capable of bringer those distant objects really close.

Our long-planned week-long trip to the Outer Hebrides offered an opportunity to try it out.  I was interested to test some of its overall capability, but also interested to see what I could gather in the way of wildlife shots.  That last category I will leave for another blog.  Here's a short account of the trip in some other images.

I first crossed to Skye on the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh about 50 years ago.  The 'new' bridge does seem a bit of a cheat, but it is very convenient, and photogenic with the Skye peaks in the background.

We drove across Skye, stopping off briefly at a couple of favourite places in Portree, and caught the afternoon ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist from Uig on Skye's north-west coast.  This is the ferry coming in (I'm getting used to the telephoto capacity here.)

 While we were waiting to board, Liz asked me take a photograph of a church on a distant hillside.  With a small amount of telephoto, this is how it looked:

To show off the camera's capability, this is maximum telephoto:

From the deck of the ferry (with hardly any roll, it was very calm) here is a view back to the Cuillins:

The rest of the images show the camera's ability to reproduce colours faithfully.  I am being lazy and using the straightforward, built-in formatting.  It is possible to extract RAW data and do more editing - something for another day.

Here is a North Uist sunset at about 11pm (15 June, a week to go to the longest day):

Here is Trinity Temple on South Uist, where Duns Scotus studied:

Here are hand-dyed, hand-knitted and crocheted works of art at the Hebridean Woolshed:

And to end with, a couple of landscape shots.  The first a standard shot of an-anything-but-standard beach (3 miles of deserted heaven - just the two of us all afternoon):

The second, an appreciation of the islanders' sense of colour fun - a crofter's shed picked out from a distant road in the late afternoon:

This camera is, in my humble opinion, a great bit of kit.

Monday, 3 June 2013


I first had motorised two-wheels when in the Sixth Form.  A holiday job in a cotton mill (yes, there used to be thousands in south-east Lancashire where I grew up) produced the £40 necessary to buy an ancient Lambretta 150cc which gave me lots of fun and problems until I sold it as I went to university.

When I graduated I bought my first car, a mini traveller (848cc) and over the years family responsibilities meant that 4 wheels were always the order of the day.  Then, in the 1990s, with increasingly independent children and a wife who was working a good motorway drive/ride away from home, I took the plunge and bought a second-hand BMW K100LT (998cc) - a touring bike capable of comfortable long distance rides.  I still had my full licence so I was soon back in the groove.

In the mid 00s this bike was stolen from outside the ground where I was watching older son play semi-professional rugby league.  I got a fair insurance payout and bought a BMW R1100RT (1098cc) like this one:

Since our move to N Wales, I have used the bike occasionally for the work run, and had a few adventures (Scotland twice, London for a concert, Cambridge for a funeral) to keep the engine ticking over.  It doesn't get a great deal of use in the winter, particularly not the kind of wet and snowy winter we have just emerged from.

As part of the motorcycling spring-clean this year, I decided to sign up for a safety workshop run by N Wales Police (  This is a one-day course, with the morning spent in the classroom looking at accidents and how they can be avoided, followed by a one to one 3-hour ride-out with a highly qualified observer (most are serving or ex- police motorcyclists) who provides feedback and advice about your riding style and competence, with particular reference to safety.  As the ride-out was on bendy roads I didn't know, taking us to Betws-y-Coed and back, it was quite challenging.  The level of concentration needed was very high, reminding me that trying to stay safe on the roads should always mean thinking of nothing else while riding/driving.

I was signed off with a certificate assessing me as a low/medium risk rider (there's one category safer, two less safe).  Further training with the Instititute of Advanced Motorists or a similar organisation is an option.  Frequent use of the bike undoubtedly helps, too.  Thankfully the training day brought a change to the weather, and we've had sunny days since.  Long may it last.