Birds. Of The Feathered Variety

*Blows cobwebs away from page*

Hello, we’re back!

We’ve recently discovered the Walthamstow Wetlands , And I’ve been doing some wildlife photography…and now realise my old Sigma 150-500 1:5-6.3 DG APO HSM lens, is, well, a bit not-so-good at the long end. Also, the autofocus is slow and not reliable.

But, it will have to do for now, as I don’t have a spare thousand quid for the nikon 200-500 f/5.6. Yet.
Anyway, the photos are here for your perusal. If you want.

Corrections, proper IDs very welcome.

Walthamstow Wetlands Gallery

2011 in Summary

So here’s 2011 in Summary:

Photos taken: Something in excess of 22,000

New places visited: Deal, Virginia Water, Groomsbridge Place, Broadstairs, Coventry, Lincoln, Durham, Bradford, Leeds and probably several others I’m forgetting…no abroad trips this year 🙁

Cathedrals added to visited list: Chelmsford, Guildford, Coventry, Lincoln, Durham, Bradford, Leeds

Twitter lovelies met: Many online, quite a few in the flesh (so to speak), and they are my highlight(s) of the year (You know who you are, stop fishing for compliments!)

Roller Derby bouts attended
: Lots!

Cakes eaten: FAR too many

Dates/Relationships: Absolutely none, as sodding usual.

Heath & wealth: Both shite.

Life summary: Fail.

Here’s to 2012. It had better be better than 2011.

Yes, I am a miserable bastard at times.

Roller Derby – A Photographer’s Statistics

Some of you know I’m one of the regular photographers at the London RollerGirls Roller Derby league – and this weekend was the Anarchy in the UK tournament, the first WFTDA sanctioned event outside of North America, I thought I’d resurect the blog with a little post about stats…(You may now want to turn away if this sort of thing doesn’t interest you!)

Somebody at Anarchy in the UK asked me how many shots I’d take over the weekend, and as I had no idea off the top of my head, I promised I’d look it up. Several people in the past have asked what percentage of shots get used/deleted, so for any stat freaks out there, here’s the lowdown (Note: this applies to me only, the other photographers will all have different shooting styles and so different stats)

Equipment used :
Nikon D700 DSLR with Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR, occasionally a Nikon 35mm f/2
Used high speed Sandisk and Transcend 8GB CF cards, one per half bout.

Backup Equipment: (not used) Nikon D300 DSLR with Nikon 24mm, f/2.8 (effective focal length ~36mm)
Mounted on a Manfrotto 776YB monopod with an ancient Manfrotto 210B Ball head
(You may ask “Where’s the 50mm f/1.8?” -well, actually, mine’s a 50mm f/1.4 G and I forgot it!)

I shoot with spot focus and either spot meter or centre-weighted average at ISO 3200 at f/2.8, unless I’m using flash when I put it down to ISO 400 and the apature up to f/5.6 or f/8.

Arrived 11:30am, entered hall 11:50am, left approx 20:15pm Did not attend afterparty due to hurty knee and shitloads of photos to download/backup

Day total: 944 14-bit Nikon NEF image files

Bout 1: London Brawling vs Montreal New Skids on the Block:
407 images (43% of day’s kept images, 34% of all shutter actuations for day)
503 images shot total, 96 deleted in-camera)
– Note that this includes initial warm-up shots, incidentals, etc, so is higher than you might guess
6 posted to Flickr, 170 posted to Facebook

Bout 2: Steel City vs Charm City:
240 images (25% of day’s kept images, 20.3% of all shutter actuations for day)
312 images shot total, 72 deleted in-camera)
6 posted to Flickr, 160 posted to Facebook

Bout 3: Montreal New Skids on the Block vs Steel City:
297 images (31% of day’s kept images, 20.1% of all shutter actuations for day)
367 images shot, 70 deleted in-camera
6 posted to Flickr, 192 posted to Facebook

Day total deleted in-camera : 238 images (20.13%)
Day total shutter actuations for day therefore : 1182

Arrived approx 10:30am, entered hall 10:35am, left around 19:25pm Did not attend afterparty due to painkillers taken for knee, and wanting to get home (which thanks to London Midland hacking their train service off, the scumbags, wasn’t until after 11:30pm)

Day total: 740 images

Bout 4: London Brawling vs Charm City:
283 images (38.24% of day’s kept images, 29.1% of all shutter actuations for day)
372 images shot, 89 deleted in-camera
6 posted to Flickr, 159 posted to Facebook

Bout 5: Charm City vs Montreal New Skids on the Block:
225 images (30.45% of day’s kept images, 23.17% of all shutter actuations for day)
313 images shot, 81 deleted in-camera
6 posted to Flickr, 133 posted to Facebook

Bout 6: London Brawling vs Steel City:
232 images(31.35% of day’s kept images, 23.89% of all shutter actuations for day)
293 images shot, 61 deleted in-camera
6 posted to Flickr, 163 posted to Facebook

Day total deleted in-camera:231 (23,78%)
Day total shutter actuations for day:971

Weekend total:
1684, 469 deleted, total shutter actuations therefore 2153

Of which:
32 (favourite 6 from each bout) were posted to Flickr (1.90% of total kept, 1.48% of total shutter actuations, all posted Monday 11th)
977 Bout photos + 116 other (Refs/NSOs/Announcers/Crowd shots, etc) posted to Facebook in 8 Albums (Most on Monday 11th, the rest mornong of Tuesday 12th)
(64.9% of kept images, 50.76% of all taken)

Data gained from EXIF info on raw images.

For the record, My Nikon D700 has now clocked 50,389 shutter actuations since I first bought it on 18/01/2009, i.e. 814 days, or 2 years, 2 months and 25 days ago. That’s an average of 61.9 images/day!

NB: There’s probably some rather gross inconsistencies, as I’ve knocked this up without checking it properly, so if you see any, please let me know. Feedback is appreciated if you find this useful, feel free to ask questions.

Shortly To Come…

…is the travelogue from my little trip to Rome and Florence (With an excursion to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa).

And, as the photos are *still* not sorted, here’s some stats before the pictures are organised:

2,140 Photos taken
Several hundred near misses on road crossings,
Bloody Miles walked,
12 Flavours of ice-cream tried,
9 Fountains visited,
8 Nights stayed,
6 Bottles of wine (shared, I might add, I’m not *that* much of a piss head!)
5 Peronis quaffed (I still don’t like lager much, but coke was too bloody dear)
5 Cathedrals visited,
4 Litres of alcohol bought in duty-free,
3 Towers climbed (stairs!)
2 Domes ascended (and descended, obviously)
2 flights (Heathrow T5< ->Rome),
2 Train trips (Rome< ->Florence),
2 Taxis taken,
2 Two hour waits in queues,
2 Hotels stayed in,
1 Limo ride (from Rome airport),
1 Coach trip (see above),
1 Lunch on a working farm,
1 Severe rain storm

and finally,
1 (If very knackered) Happy bunny.

Italy. It’s wonderful.

What To Do With A Week Off

…Which is what I had the other week. And yes, it rained. Quite a bit, to my great disgust after the recent nice spell. And this week, it’s nice again.
Bah, and bah again.

Anyway, here’s my illustrated calendar of things went to and seen:

Fri 20th Evening

After finishing work, I went to see the Spitfire. Mainly because absolutely nobody fancied a drink with me. Not that that was particularly surprising, but still.
So here’s the pic:



To commemorate the 70th anniversary Battle of Britain hero pilots and crews, as we damned well ought to. They don’t get enough praise, if you ask me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I doff my hat of freedom to you.

Sat 21st
Off to the Horniman Museum down Forest Hill way, for a nose about. I’d never actually been here before, and although it’s hardly the Natural History (my personal favourite of the big museums in London), it’s was still a fun little trip.
Here’s what it looks like inside:

Horniman Museum

Horniman Museum

The one exhibit that utterly fascinated me was the music collection – lots and lots of instruments, old and new(-ish) on display side by side. Loved it. And, quite predictably, here’s the panoramic picture of it. (badly stitched – it was dark and I didn’t have a tripod, is my excuse for making a hash of it)
Music Collection

Music Collection

It also has a rather nice little garden, which I actually spent more time in than the museum, playing with a macro lens (a Nikon 60mm f/2.8, if you must know. Much as I’d like one of the 105mm VR ones, I don’t do enough macro work to justify it. Although I promptly went and used it at Kew the very next day)
Here’s a bee on some Lavander, just for the sheer gratuitousness of it.

A Full Bee. Presumably not called Eric, then.

A Full Bee. Presumably not called Eric, then.

Sun 22nd
I annually organise a Flickr trip to the delightful Kew Gardens once or twice a year, because it’s lovely there. I really must get round to joining sometime. There’s a set of pictures on Flickr, so you can look at them instead of here. See HERE for the set, and HERE for a few more. I like butterflies. And the trip to the pub afterwards, naturally.

I was quite proud of this one (which currently adorns my desktop as a background)

LFM-Kew Gardens 03


Mon 23rd
Lazed around, processing photos from last few day’s outings, and spent far too long chattering to various people on Twitter. As you do.

Tues 24th
It’s off to the seaside! The sun’s out, and it’s nice and warm, so it’s off to the coast for a wander. Eastbourne was the train stop, and Beachy Head was the destination. A walk along the Seven Sisters (even if there is eight) was called for.
And what a lovely view. Well, once I’d hiked up the road route from the town, not realising there was a far quicker way from along the beach. Bah. Still, had plenty of time and the hard uphill hike was good for me. *Wheezes quite a lot*
There’s some photos HERE.
Taken at great risk, because it was blowing a BLOODY GALE up there. Good job it was sunny, if you’d needed a tripod it wouldn’t have lasted upright for 2 minutes.
Here’s another picture illustrating the chalk cliffs, and so you can see why it’s a favourite spot for people who feel suicidal.

A Big White Cliff. With Added Lighthouse.

A Big White Cliff. With Added Lighthouse.

I didn’t.

Wed 25th
Cathedral hopping time again, this time to Chester. The Cathedral Photos are HERE, but here’s the usual over the roof shot for you…

Chester Cathedral-03

Chester Cathedral.

It also has Rhinos all over the show at the moment in the Rhino Mania! To quote the website:
“Rhinos are some of the most endangered animals on earth. We have nine of our very own Black Rhinos in Chester Zoo. This event is helping support their relatives by fundraising for the Black Rhino Field Conservation Project in Kenya and Tanzania managed by the Zoo.”

Rhino Mania!

Rhino Mania!

I wish I’d known about this before I’d gone, or I’d have attempted more. Those are the ones I came across while looking at the city in general. There’s 62 stunning rhinos created by the regions artists, along with 116 mini school rhinos dotted all over.
Love them. Although not -quite- as much as the London Elephant parade, who I met an awful lot of very nice people through.
Good job, all those artists and schools.

Thurs 26th
Lunch with a friend, and a lazy wander in the British Museum
Complete with recycled artwork from South Africa.

A Thingy. And a bit of classical sculpture, too.

A Thingy. And a bit of classical sculpture, too.

Fri 27th
Lazy day. Doing chores. And stuff. And nattering on Twitter, yet again.

Sat 28th
A trip to Bexhill-on-Sea to see Antony Gormley’s Critical Mass at The De La Warr Pavillion.
The photos are HERE.
Here’s the inevitable panoramic image, complete with HENIOUS stitch error in the railings, and a load of people who wouldn’t stand still. *swears*

Critical Mass

Antony Gormley's Critical Mass

Sun 29th
Was going to go to Children’s Carnival at Notting Hill, but couldn’t be bothered, and watched the Grand Prix instead.
Mr. Vettel, just what the hell did you think you were doing, eh?

Mon 30th
Ooh, today’s going to be busy it’s the Notting Hill Carnival (pictures are HERE, since you ask and no, no bare boobies this year. Just a great deal of very well built ladies with rather prominent décolletage).
Who-hoo, as they say. Or at least any straight male would, anyway.
Here’s the gratuitous shot of a *cough* rather well built lady

Notting Hill Carnival 2010-01

Gratuitous Cleavage

And finally, the highlight of the season, the Great Summer Frolick!
I was lucky enough to be invited along to take pictures at the rehearsal beforehand too. Go me. This, not incidentaly, also saved me being late due to those lovely people at TfL closing Hampstead just before the start of the concert. (Faulty lifts, apparently)
Anyway, despite a slightly late start, a very good time was had by all, and The Frolick were marvellous.

As they describe themselves, they’re “Top of the Pops of London’s Baroque in modern innovative cabaret style,
with completely authentic sounds of original historical performance.”

For those of you who didn’t see the tweet, you can see a few pictures HERE.
Here’s one of them:

The Frolick

The Frolick

Wonderful stuff, and throughly recommended as an evening out. For a taster of them performing, there’s some videos HERE

Tues 27th
6:15am: alarm goes off. Back to reality, then.

Ho hum…

The Macro World

A rather nice little trip with the London Flickr Meetups mob to the lovely Kew Gardens was yesterday’s little outing, for a bit of macro mayhem.

I like Kew, and normally organise a trip there in the summer. ‘Organise’ very much in inverted commas, for this usually consists of ‘turn up at 11am, wander around until 5pm when we’re going to the pub’. I prefer informal, me 😉

It doesn’t seem -quite- the same without the Henry Moore Sculptures from a few years back (see Here, and Here, but I still enjoy a wander in the beautifully kept gardens, exploring the flowers and wildlife.

And in this case, the butterflies. There’s some info about it Here if you’d like to go too. The live ones are at the east end of the Prince of Wales conservatory. And some sculptures too.
Like this one:

A Bug. With Water Lillies

A Bug. With Water Lillies

For once, I was organised and came equipped with my lovely little Nikon 60mm Macro lens. Which, for once, I magaed to put to good use, and got some half-way respectable macros of the butterflies, in very-very-very close up (‘macro’ to you photo-y type people) mode. And a few other things, too.

You can go view them on Flickr Here.

And there’s a few bonus butterfly shots Here, as well.

Nice to see some new faces (Andrew – I was DEAD impressed with the Technica!), as well as the usual suspects.

Oh, and did I mention the new toy?

Nikon 16-35 f/4 *grins in a ‘now-I’m-borassic-but-happy’ way*
It does this sort of thing:

Temperate House

Temperate House. In Wiiiiiiddddddeeee view

Seeing Stars…

Ah, the yearly phonomenon that is the Perseid meteor shower. Been meaning to watch for years, never got round to it. Until last Thurday, that is.
And, I thought, I’ll get the tripod out and get some wonderful shots of the passing fireballs. it’s a clear and near-moonless night, no rain and not too cold. Ideal!

Har Har.

In over an hour, I got precicely ONE on camera. And quite a few aircraft going in and out of Luton Airport.

Here’s the Single one caught on camera. It’s the white blob on the left. Not very impressive, is it?

Meteor FAIL

Meteor FAIL

I gave up just before midnight due to excessive yawning.

Oh well. At least I got to use the interval timer on the camera for the first time, and was therefore able to build a small movie of the resultant failing camerawork.

here it is in rather crap YouTube quality. The single one is at about 24 second mark. If you watch the plough (just above and right of the tree) closely, you can see the star rotation in the sky. Yes, you can, just squint harder…

Bah! And bah! again.

Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside…

Today’s little trip out : Bognor Regis with The Shabby Seaside Appreciation Society. In the words of Lesley, “we go to shabby seaside places, take a few photos and then sit around in pubs”

Photos are HERE. Go have a look. There’s only 6, so no ploughing through tons!

I have lots of memories of Bognor, as many years ago we used to have our family holidays just down the road at Pagham. Where there’s no life whatsoever. I was so bored I used to have to go fishing, it was that dull.
Every so often, we’d meander down the road to get to Bognor, where there was some real *sand* on the beach, rather than the severe pebbles of Pagham. Not, frankly that it was much better, but still. So it was interesting to revisit Bognor after so many years – would it be, to quote HM King George V, “Bugger Bognor!”, or an interesting day out?

So here’s what the beach looks like:

The Beach

Bognor Beach

It’s changed a bit. The old tacky and run-down seafront shops have been replaced by up-market flats. The pier’s still crap, and short. Especially after it had 24m hacked off of it a couple of years ago.
And the beach is covered with a damned sight more pebbles than I remember.

So how shabby is it? Actually not very, it’s at least fairly clean and there’s very little grot and grime. Except on the pier, which is noticeably deteriorating…like this:

A bit of, err, rust

Not exactly inspiring you to feel safe on the pier, is it?

But on the positive side, there’s some beach huts (all reasonably well maintained, only a few slightly deteriorating), plenty of space and Fish & Chips (as you do at the seaside, obviously).

Today’s bonuses: A dead seagull in artistic pose, and a wedding couple having their photographs taken on the beach.

And no, we didn’t go to Butlins. As you wouldn’t!

Race for Life

Yesterday I accompanied the lovely Lesley to the Race for Life. (Only the 5k one, and she was puffing after that!)
And she had to be chivvied along to manage under an hour. By me walking along with her and prodding. There were several brief conversations along the lines of:

“Here, you’re not a lady”…”No, I’m just here for the immoral support!” 😉

Cancer Research UK funds research into many different types of cancer, and as my father died of it, It’s one of the charities I support on a regular basis, so was pleased to go along, and even more pleased to see the vast number of ladies who registered and turned out to raise funds for the cause.

Well done ladies, and thank you all.

Here the walkers are, all lines up at the start. Complete with wigs and silly hats.

All lined up and ready to go

All lined up and ready to go

(Lesley will murder me if I post a picture of her in her pink tutu, so I won’t!)

The diet went to hell yesterday as we went down the pub for lunch, and joined by the also-lovely Anna went to the V&A for tea. With cake (naughty, naughty). And then after some cultural discussions about the exhibits (mainly to do with the, err, mutilated state of the male statues – those of you familliar with the V&A will know what I mean!), we were thrown out at closing time and went and got some tasty but very unhealthy food.

I throughly enjoyed it. And will now have to do pennance on the exercise bike.

Sometime, anyway 😉

You Fat Ba**ard

I recently had the occasion to stand on the scales. This led to two rather unpleasant revelations:

1) I’m a fat bastard


2) I need to start doing something about it *right now*.

Seeing the scales *nearly* touch 80Kg wasn’t nice. Especially as your humble correspondent is only 5′ 8″ when he stands up straight, the round-shouldered slob. Gentlemen should not have boobs, either.

So, with only the faintest air of desperation, I bought an exercise bike.

Today it arrived. (Thank you Amazon).

– it was assembled with meticulous care according to the instructions. (Except the bit that was wrong)

– it was stood up and sat on to adjust the saddle height

– it was used. Only –slightly– painfully. Here she is in all her glory:

Exercise Bike

The thing that'll make me sweat and wheeze

Doesn’t my mother’s garden look nice?

So back to the point.

This post will be the first in a (hopefully not too-frequent) series journaling my rise from pathetic wimp to velodrome demi-god. Or something like that anyway.

In reality I’ll settle for:

– the loss of (most of) the fat gut

– the ability to see my feet while standing up (nearly) straight

– the ability to walk up hills without collapsing into a undignified wheezing heap (At least not before I get to the top, anyway)

So, today’s little session was recorded as such:

5 mins at setting 1 (A baby could peddle it)

15 mins at setting 5 (You’re *still* pathetic)

Speed (approx) 23 Kph

Distance covered: 7.4Km

Calories burned (Yeah, right!): 112

Pulse (This is probably wildly inaccurate): 125-ish

[I did try setting 8 (Cycling uphill through tar with the wind in your face), but needless to say thought better of it almost straight away!]

So in conclusion, not only am I a fat bastard, I’m a grossly unfit one, too.

This is not going to attract the ladies. Not that I’m going to anyway, but at least I can try. Badly, as usual. Ho Hum. Progress will be recorded and used in evidence.

You’re not going to get photos of the gut, though. That’s just TOO gross.