Category Archives: Photography

2021/22 Deer Photography Workshops in Woburn

Join me photographing the annual Red Deer rut in the stunning grounds of Woburn Deer Park, near Milton Keynes, home to the largest deer population in the United Kingdom and featuring a variety of deer species. Workshops start in October, the peak mating season for the red deer the most iconic British species, and continue until February.

Mowement
The call

Who will benefit from this workshop

The workshop is tailored to beginner and intermediate wildlife photographers and will focus on photography techniques, exposure and fieldcraft required to get your perfect deer shot with the least possible effort. In addition to red deer other very photogenic deer species are on the grounds and will make fabulous portraits for prints or desktop wallpaper or social media. The session will also cover preparation and post processing to ensure you get your images to the best possible quality.

P1001104_DxO
Sika Deer

Logistics

The workshops starts with a preparatory video call where we will discuss how to get the shots prior to the actual shooting session. This will also account for expected weather conditions so you can make the most of the session.

The day begins around 7 in the morning and last for circa 2-3 hours of field work, you can then continue exploring the grounds on your own at your leisure. There will be a moderate level of walking in possibly uneven/muddy terrain around 10,000 steps in total.

Two days after the workshop we will look at your 3 favourite images from the session and how to post process them for best results.

Sunrise on Ice
The grounds offer incredible landscape photography opportunity

Equipment

You will need a lens with focal length between 200-500mm (35mm equivalent) ideally with a teleconverter if you want to get close up portraits plus any other lens for landscape shots (50-100mm equivalent is recommended) possibly with wide aperture if you are interested in sunrise photography (winter months only). You will also need wellington or waterproof walking boots, warm clothing and windproof jackets, in the winter months hats and gloves are also recommended. Only green, camo or dark colour clothing is allowed.

For post processing I will perform demonstrations using adobe suite products and DxO Photolab what you will see will be applicable to any software.

PANA3909_Stag_BW_Portrait

Participants and prices

The number of participants is limited to 3 per session and the price is £100 per person for the preparation call, the shooting and the post processing. Sessions are allocated on a first come first serve basis.

For 2021 I am offering a promotional price of £50 for all members of Chiltern Camera Clubs association. Please include details of your camera club membership in the booking. I am also offering 50% to instagram followers using a discount code that you can find on my posts. Only a limited number is available.

Workshops will be carried out in any weather conditions except the most extreme. In case of rescheduling you will be informed 48 hours prior and new dates will be arranged. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Dates & Booking

Session occur on weekends excluding bank holidays.

Book your session here (you will be directed to the appointy website)

Code of Conduct

All activities are conducted in rigid observance of the British Deer Society code of conduct for photographers. You can familiarise yourself with it watching their informative video.

Workshops are conducted from public footpaths and you are required to underwrite a release form before the preparation call.

Travelling light – Part II on the field

Disclaimer: there are many USB power banks on sale however most of them do not declare the maximum output current and therefore you cannot be sure that it will work in all situations I describe. The equipment I use does work and is proven by my daily experience, the suggestions are not prescriptive but if you choose your own parts you do do at your own risk

It has been some time since my post on chargers and recharge facilities. During the pandemic I have done a considerable amount of land based photography including wildlife, landscape and astrophotography so I have had the opportunity to develop the concept of portability further on the field. So I wanted to share my experience with you all as some of the findings are beneficial in every day situation.

Charging your camera battery

Today some cameras can charge the battery in camera using USB. In almost all cases the camera needs to be turned off to allow charging, as a complete recharge of your battery can take a few hours I never use this method. I always rely on spare batteries typically 3 and a dual battery charger that can be powered using USB. I use Newmova they are cheap and cheerful for both my Panasonic and Olympus cameras.

Newmowa Dual USB Charger for Olympus BLH-1 and OM-D EM1 Mark II, OM-D E-M1X Camera £9.99

Newmowa Dual USB Charger for Panasonic DMW-BLF19 and Panasonic DMC-GH3,DMC-GH4 DMC-GH5, DC-GH5S(DMW-BLF19 Dual USB Charger) £9.99

With 3 batteries you can have two in the charger if needed and one in the camera which means uninterrupted shooting for a long period of time depending on your use.

Battery Grips

I also use battery grips in particular for my Olympus camera. Battery grip provide the most benefit when you are not wanting to interrupt shooting while swapping batteries. I usually set the camera to use the grip battery first and the camera as back up which means you can then insert another battery in the grip and keep shooting. I do not recommend using a battery grip as a sole source of power as at the end you can can go through 2 batteries relatively fast if you use quick burst shooting. The other dis-benefit of the grip is the one battery is always locked inside the camera so you need to increase your total battery stock to 4 if you use a dual charger. The grip is very useful to shoot verticals and provide weather sealing but overall is not my favourite option and I only use it for specific session on my Olympus camera because I only have 2 batteries.

There are some working 3rd party battery grip like this one that function AS LONG AS YOU USE ORIGINAL OEM BATTERIES.

Neewer Battery Grip Compatible with Panasonic Lumix G9 Camera Replacement for DMW-BGG9 with Shutter Release Focus Point Control Joystick £59.99

I have not seen versions for Olympus camera and the original battery grip is expensive. I got mine second hand for a good price.

Again if you only have two batteries or you want to rotate 4 batteries a battery grip is a good option if you don’t mind the extra weight.

Power Banks

I use a relatively simple USB power bank as I do not have PD capable cameras. This power bank has a decent capacity but more importantly it can output 4.5A using two outlets.

RAVPower Portable Chargers 16750 16750mAh External Battery Pack 4.5A Dual USB Output £24.99 

This power bank has also a light included very useful for your night photography. You can also use it to charge your phone but with two outlets means you can power two dual USB chargers and effectively charge 4 batteries twice until it runs out (typical battery less than 2000 mAh).

This power bank can also be used as constant power supply for cameras that take a dummy battery and do not support powering through USB.

DMW-DCC12 USB Power Cable kit DMW-DCC12 DC Coupler Dmw-Blf19 Dummy Battery (BLF-19 Battery Replacement) Compatible with PANASONIC DMC-GH3 DMC-GH4 DMC-GH3K DMC-GH4K DC-GH5 GH9 and more Digital Cameras £22.99

Using the power bank with this fake battery kit means I can run my GH5 in video for days (8.72x batteries equivalent charge).

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOUR POWER BANK OUTPUTS MORE THAN 3A OTHERWISE IF YOU USE MECHANICAL SHUTTER THE CAMERA MAY GO IN SHUTTER VIBRATION AND SUFFER PERMANENT DAMAGE

Some well know power bank from respectable brands like anker and even rawpower themselves only outputs 3A current total so when the mechanical shutter is used and the camera draws more current you run into issue. This also happens when you set a custom white balance and the camera triggers the mechanical shutter. So if you have such power bank you are limited and hence I do not recommend them.

If you also use flash you can use the same chargers I already linked in the previous article

Prices have dropped to £7.99 for the micro USB and £9.99 for the dual USB C and micro USB input. Note that despite the misleading description the two chargers are identical except one has micro USB and the other also USB-C. The USB-C version is slightly bigger (70x90x23 mm USB version vs 97x114x34mm USB C). The USB C version has a stronger output for AAA batteries that I do not use and it does not charge faster standard AA so don’t be mislead.

EBL 40Min Smart Fast USB Battery Charger for AA AAA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries
EBL 2-hour Super fast AA AAA Rechargeable Battery Charger with Battery Intelligent Auto-detection Tech for 1-4 NiMH Rechargeable Batteries

Dew Heaters

Another useful accessory if you do astrophotography in humid or cold environment is a lens warmer. There are two versions I recommend the one with the temperature regulator as the strip gets to 50 C and this can increase dark current noise in your shots.

COOWOO Lens Heater Warmer Dew Heater with Temperature Regulator Strip for Ice Fog Universal Camera Telescopic Bottle Heating (Black)

Amazon.com links for my American followers

EBL 40Min Smart Fast USB Battery Charger for AA AAA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries

DMW-DCC12 USB Power Cable kit DMW-DCC12 DC Coupler Dmw-Blf19 Dummy Battery (BLF-19 Battery Replacement) Compatible with PANASONIC DMC-GH3 DMC-GH4 DMC-GH3K DMC-GH4K DC-GH5 GH9 and more Digital Cameras

Neewer Battery Grip for Panasonic G9

RavPower 16750 mAh 4.5A dual USB power bank

NewMowa Olympus dual charger

NewMowa Panasonic dual USB charger

COOWOO Lens Heater Warmer Dew Heater with Temperature Regulator Strip for Ice Fog Universal Camera Telescopic Bottle Heating (Black)

beyond underwater imaging

It is now almost one year since Covid-19 lockdown in UK and a bit more since my business travel has stopped. Next week I will getting my Covid-19 first vaccine jab but we do not yet have full clarity about the implications on leisure and business travel. The various countries are dealing with the pandemic with different degrees of speed and effectiveness and it is possible that some of the most exotic diving destinations will be on the allowed travel list later than western countries.

Many people have discovered local diving out of necessity and some have also done underwater photography in their bath, however for me this was not sufficient.

Since last year I formally joined a photography club and looked at expanding my interests. In 2020 as I have been staying at home I have taken the highest number of photos to date.

At beginning I thought: how can I reuse some of my camera lenses I use underwater on land? Mostly this was about macro in the garden. Slugs, bees and flowers were part of the first part of the journey.

Eye2Eye
the eye
B-Flight Mode
B-flight mode

I soon realised the skillset was similar but not identical and there were specific requirements to be fulfilled.

I then moved into abstract tried some portraits and more night photography. I needed to start investing in more lenses as I was getting more specialised and improving in the task.

V
V for…
CarnationFurPink
Furcarnation
Backlight
Backlit
Oil&Water
Oil & water
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet home
San Francesco Portrait
San Francesco
Looking forward
Looking forward

I also started some bird photography in the garden using feeders to entice little birds. This proved challenging but I discovered I much more preferred predators and larger birds so I started going on walks locally to photography red kites. I already had a long lens so with a teleconverter started getting better at photographing birds in flight.

Il Nibbio Reale Wallpaper
Red Kite
Disrespectful Teen
Disrespectful teen

All of this has been done locally without the need to travel.

After a short summer break, where I got to do some diving re-discovering the beauty of Sorrento peninsula and the amazing diving on the coast, it was time to get back to England with the somewhat grim prospect of a very dire winter in full lockdown.

And then something happened thanks to the friends of the New City Photographic society I discovered an amazing location on my door step.

Woburn Abbey and deer park owned by the Duke of Bedford and spanning across the towns of Woburn and Ridgmont.

Cloudy Sunrise Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey on a cloudy day

I went there the first time in November and literally fell in love with the location. After many early morning rise and many pictures taken I decided it was time for a video project.

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Sika Stag Beauty

Deer are sufficiently large that are not too difficult to film compared to birds and are extremely rewarding as they tend to stare at you.

The winter season has been an opportunity also for late sunrise which meant not so early wake up calls to get there for the golden hour.

Sunrise Ruts
Sunrise ruts

Now that we are coming to the end of the full lockdown scheduled for March 29th I have decided to release a short film to remember what it was during this period and the magic moments I had the privilege to experience mostly on my own in the Woburn Deer Park.

The film will be released on my YouTube channel on Friday 26th of March at 8PM GMT. To make it easier to digest I will upload it in separate parts and if possible as a whole. YouTube is being very slow to process footage in the last months so I hope it will be all up next week.

I hope you will enjoy it. It is a total of 26 minutes of duration out of around 2 TB of video material collected in the months of January, February and March 2021. I will be putting posts on how it was shot in case you also want to expand your horizons…