Donaldson Smith's sparrow weaver, Plocepasser donaldsoni

Some Like It

I will be the first to admit that it has been a ludicrously long time since the website has seen any activity.

This has mostly been due to my MSc course coming to an end, and all the work (and faff) that goes with it. I had my thesis to write up, room to pack down, and accommodation in Penryn for the next academic year to sort.

The latter needed to be sorted as earlier this year I was awarded funding for a PhD examining the role of vision in animal colour change for camouflage. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity, and I’ll probably talk about it at length later, but that is not the topic of this post.

As light relief after writing up my thesis and my masters as a whole, I travelled up to Scotland to spend a week with my family. The trip normally would be a fortnight, but due to the deadline for the thesis being in the middle of the first week, I elected to remain in Cornwall to hand in, then make my way up afterwards.

The trip was later than usual this year and subsequently the general weather and lighting was not the usual splendor of late summer. This lead to more challenging shooting conditions than I have experienced in the past, and this coupled with something else; I’m not sure if it is overconfidence, lack of practice or an abundance of past luck, has left me rather frustrated. It was only a year ago when I had one of my favourite wildlife experiences, lying in a field of grass about a foot away from a brown hare, getting a lovely frame filling shot:

Brown hare, Lepus europaeus

It may be me still needing to get accustomed to the new camera, in light conditions less favourable than the constant direct light of Kenya. Still, it left me (at least at the time of writing this) a little out of sorts. Some reflection has shown I do have some shots I’m pleased with, or at least not embarrassed to put on the website (pride thy name is Galloway!). We found more hares, and given the later time of year, we found lots of ex-leverets out and about in the fields. Mushrooms were about in force, and the amphibians were as great as ever (the toad I’m pleased with, the frog less so, but it was in overcast and forested conditions, and the frog in question was very skittish).

Overall, this trip has been a lesson in patience which I gather is one of the most important aspects of wildlife photography. Patience not only in waiting for the right opportunity, for animals to become habituated, to slowly approach subjects, to choose the right angle for the picture, but also patience in oneself, that you’re not always going to get it exactly right when caught up in the moment. That, and remembering that once you finished taking long exposure shots of rivers, don’t forget to reset your shutter-speed, timer, and exposure compensation!

Sandgreen Sunset
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