13/10/2020 Jenny Webster’s topical Nature tips

Hi to all B.P.S Members and website visitors.

I’m hoping to send out a monthly blog , for everyone to have a idea on what nature is possibly available to photograph each month and to give you all some advice on what equipment you could need and possible settings to get a certain effect.

I hope to give you best ideas on where to go, but I will not be organising any trips…. this email is helping members to team up in small groups or with one other, keeping legal within Covid-19 rules and keeping a safe distance.

At this point i will also suggest no one goes alone in isolated places, go with a friend… you will be carrying a camera which is a temptation for theft to some. So please take care and always be on the side of caution.

We are halfway through October. November will be very much the same however I will include more ideas in November….

The most common nature work at the moment is Fungi. It is new, fresh and at its best.

However we don’t want too much rain.. I feel the last days of this week will be excellent Wed onwards… always take something to lie on as you have to shoot low down. Take a tripod reflector if you have one or some tin foil will suffice. Maybe a torch or a speed light… be prepared to tidy the area around the fungi, shooting low down makes everything seem big. A small twig will spoil the image. Any light used is best placed at the reflector rather than on the fungi itself.

An aperture of f6.3 max is desirable to blur out background and it allows some light to get in.

If using a tripod or bean bag, the camera is steady so you can shoot at 1/80th lowest shutter speed. If you have a cable or wireless connection on your shutter you can reduce shutter speed to under 1/80th. This will allow enough light naturally and no added light will be needed.

If you have none of the above, for hand held, a must have is a torch light needing a shutter speed of 1/160th minimum…aperture no higher than f8.0 but also check ISO…..

Fungi can be found in ancient woodlands. Worcester Wildlife Trust lists them all on computer.

The soil conditions vary. This enables different fungi to grow in different environments so there is always exciting new fungi to find..all can be named by looking at computer.

Cut trees provide bracket fungus. This is amazing. It grows on live and dead trees, it is exciting to photograph, and easier as you don’t need to lie down.  Take fungi from underneath and above, for variety.

Churches are brilliant for fungus. They have ancient areas full of old trees and unfertilised grounds with  no manmade fertilisers perfect for fungi.

Just slowly walking and checking slowly, the fungi will slowly appear when you look for it…..only photograph perfect specimens…. fungi feeds many insects and creatures you are very lucky when you find perfect specimens.

A Reflector will help throw light on your image. Pairs work well one shines light and holds reflector then swap….

Remember fast shutter speed cuts out light as does a higher number aperture cuts out light. Fungi images do need light so your image settings are trade offs.

Please note, if you are a National Trust member, you have access to the grounds of old houses that all boast ancient grounds. This is a tremendous fungi opportunity.

Could talk more on fungi but more to talk about….

The birds in the garden are hungry….. but not exciting to take them alongside the feeders….

So try a block of lard pressed on the bark of some trees or fence high up and attract some garden birds and definitely Woodpeckers all through the Winter… be discreet with the lard and your images should look. Good lard can be as cheap as 19 pence a block….Green and Spotted Woodpeckers will use the lard and Jays are keen on the fat also….

Blackbirds will eat apples and pears…..these are excellent nature images stick them onto the trees…bread crumbs in the lard are even better…..keep the birds on the lard longer.

Don’t use peanuts. They will spoil your image and not look natural with peanut in beak.

There are Deer on the National Trust Estates. They won’t be in rut so much now but they will still give amazing photography .

Autumn is nature… some images in a natural state will be eligible but any still life made up images will be good for colour entry. Some amazing colour Autumn images would make a welcome change in Nature club competitions. No people in them….or pets. Keep natural and pure for Nature..

Mistletoe is Nature and pure…as is Holly…. in abundance right know and loads of berries.

Pheasants are all around us at the moment…..they are wild but I would not enter in wildlife comps but definitely club Nature ….. they are in ploughed fields foraging….. they make great images…. they roost up in trees in woodlands so again can be found in woodlands or open land next to woodland…

The next big natural Nature treat is about to happen. It’s not quite cold enough yet but it’s coming …..the Murmuration….

There is a Murmuration map on the computer and nice people fill it in from now until Jan when they see a Murmuration… the Starlings meet when it gets cold and fly up high forming wonderful shapes in the sky… they usually roost in a church or a coppice of trees… a wide angle lens is best to catch the shapes fasting shutter speed to freeze the movement but it’s really the authors choice as to the effect that they want.

I would suggest you do several locations to get different backgrounds… Otters are about in the waterways…this is a difficult subject and is more luck that chance hide work would be the benefit…..they can be seen at Upton Warren but not constantly…and here you need to be a member of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

Badgers will be foraging at night on fallen apples and pears….foxes also scavenging for scraps. However these are very hard to get night images of and hide work is recommended… learn as much about nature as you can as by understanding what the animals and birds need and do helps you to spot them.

Our churches are hundreds of years old they have been responsible for bird’s habitats for centuries….feeding grounds for all our wildlife….I rate churches highly for nature photography probably your best place to spot owls and kestrels. We don’t have red squirrels but we do have grey and at the moment they have a sense of urgency to collect all food available. There are many squabbles and a great opportunity to catch a fight… so up the shutter speed and fire away and get a great Nature action image…..

Thats it for now…..hope there is something there for you all to have a go at…….if you don’t understand anything I am happy to explain…. but really just enjoy the challenge….. stay safe….. and embrace all that we have right at our feet….

Jenny Webster.

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