These days, weather permitting, I’m usually found out and about with a camera made of wood and metal making quite long exposures of a vernacular landscape.
My last outing with the camera that was an early morning coincidence of sunrise and low tide revealed the presence of Alcedo Atthis right under my feet. I have taken to recording my time on site with a small stereo recorder with a view to creating a backing track for hopefully, a solo exhibition of ‘Estuarine Mud’. I had just fired the shutter from my second sheet of film when I heard that mistakable call sign of a Kingfisher. Then there it was hovering over the outfall area of the major sluice into Cattawade Creek. A marvellous start to any day, shooting large format film of a mudscape and have a cherry on the top.
Now, part of the reason for this series is that most of us do not see what is there before us and making images at dead low water presents a different arrangement of boats based upon the wind direction of the falling tide. That is like nature playing a joker for me. By the very nature of the detailed large format study I am making, especially shooting at 1 second F45 fast moving things are not on my radar, but Kingfishers are an obsession with me so now I have two reasons to visit this site and weather conditions won’t stop me capturing a Kingfisher where I would not drag out the wood and metal jobby.
I’m always re-training myself based on what I shoot with and I know this contemporary malarkey is not about kit but one does have to know how to use one’s tools for the job in hand. I use long lenses for these birds and it is different when I am cruising the Norfolk Broads in a boat where I can get close, very close to them compared to being land-bound and relying on the reach of the lens and my skills. These lenses are difficult to manage for such a small subject at quite long distances. In this case I am talking about between 75-200 feet so I have been experimenting with using back button focus to see if I can capture better images at these distances. The image above is one such result from a handful shot on Saturday 2nd September.
So far the experiment has been quite good. Whether that is luck or not I do not know. I shall try different lens/body combinations and also different VR/shutter speed combinations. Above all though it is about knowing what it is I want to capture and knowing how it will behave, in terms of the Kingfisher, before I venture forth and dare to press the shutter. Often as not I will stand, squat, crouch for a while observing the scene just as I do for large format work before I decide to make an image. It does mean devoting time to watching and waiting though but then, photography is all about time.