Since my first ever visit to RSPB Rainham Marshes earlier in the summer to see the bearded tits I have returned a few times, It is a great place to go for all sorts of wildlife including various reptiles, insects aplenty and the birds. This week I somehow ended up in the area very early in the morning before the reserve opened so decided to take a walk along the riverside path. It is a haven for dog walkers which does have its obvious downsides. On the upside it has made some of the birdlife accustomed to people. For the more mobile photographer such as myself this is great as I can get relatively close with my 100-400.
Terns for me stir mixed feelings. They make me smile as their arrival marks the start of summer, conversely their departure heralds a return to the shorter days of autumn. In the all too short period in which they grace us with their presence I have been trying hard to grab that magic moment where they exit the water with a fish.
It is amazing the lengths we will go to in order to get the shot. Over the years I have done all sorts and received some very odd looks from passers by as a result. Wading through streams, hanging from trees, laying in grass to get that low angle only to find the grass is wet on a hot and sunny afternoon in a dog related way. I have lost count of the number of times I have gotten up only to find my jeans covered in goose poo.
Over the many moons I have been playing with cameras there have been photographs that stand out from the crowd, ones that really stick in the mind. Sometimes it is a famous photographer that that seems able to produce imagery that you just gel with. One such photographer for me was Don Mcullin and his photographs of London, something about them stirred my emotions. As those London shots and his wonderful conflict photography were before my time, coupled with my inability to photograph people, it was not something I would want to even attempt to replicate. To some extent, most photographers begin by trying to replicate and learn from those that have gone before us. I have definitely taken that route and would hope that with time I can add my own creativity along the way.
As my interest in macro photography grew I begun to visit a few online forums and blogs. While browsing on dpreview.com I came across one photographer that stood out from the crowd. His work was nothing short of stunning. What really grabbed me about this particular photographer was his willingness to share and discuss various macro techniques. Not only that, but like most successful photographers his knowledge the subject the choses to photograph matches his skill with a camera. His name, John Kimbler.
For some weird and unknown reason I have been approached a few times over the years by people offering me kit to review, some has been photographic kit while others has been windsurfing kit. I can never understand this as I am not the best at either. On all but a couple of occasions I have politely declined, but sometimes I am intrigued by what I am offered and the Aperlite YH 700C was one of those times. I wondered how anyone could produce a flashgun so well specified for the price. I already have a number of high end Canon Speedlights which cost a pretty penny, so could this device at 1/10th of the price compete on any level whatsoever? I had a lot of doubts and part of me was ready to open the box and find something that wouldn't be out of place in Toys 'R' Us. When the box finally arrived I was quite surprised by the quality of the package.
One area of photography I really enjoy is the macro world. No matter the time of year, the weather or where you are there is something to photograph. In the UK we have over 20,000 insect species which can be photographed all year round, in the summer it is bees, butterflies, beetles, bugs, flies, moths, ants and so much more. Come winter they are a little more scarce, spiders, centipedes, earwigs and all those other little beasties that spend the year clearing up the natural world are a great target group. We also have fungi, snails, lichen or just any object that you can find, even around the home. There is so much that fascinates me, so much to see and all of it from a completely different perspective through the macro lens.