Oliver Wright and David Noton at Birdfair 2016

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    The Canon stand at the Annual Bird Fair at Rutland Water features lectures by leading photographers. This year I saw Oliver Wright and David Noton.

    Both had been using the Canon 5DS and were anxious to praise the resolution you can get from its 50 Mpx sensor when accompanied by the top Canon L lenses. Results certainly appeared impressive as far as one could judge from the monitor but a 14’x10’ print covering one wall was better testimony. However, what the two photographers had to say about their work was more interesting.

    Oliver mainly displayed his macro shots, many of which were of insects and “focus-stacked” – a technique which requires the subject to be absolutely still, which you might think insects rarely are but in cold conditions they cease moving (torpor) and early morning is the time to seek them out in this state – they will often be covered in dew at this time too – an added bonus. He captured his multiple focusing just be changing the focus manually, and used a large aperture. He then uses Photoshop to merge the images – perhaps 20 in many cases. You thus overcome to problem of the very very small depth of field at these close distances. Some of his images were taken with the 100mm f2.8 lens and the ones which just showed the head of a fly were taken with the 65mm, which allows up to 5 times magnification. It seems someone in a camera club audience had sais that they had tried focus-staking an insect shot once and it didn’t work, his answer was that you need to try it 200 times!

    Oliver’s website is at…..http://www.oliverwrightphotography.com/

    David Noton is one of the country’s leading landscape photographers and has lectured internationally. He took us from site to site across the World, each set of pictures preceded by a Google Earth zoom out and in from one location to another, a clever little trick. His aim was to pass on tips gained from 30 years of professional work.

    He placed great emphasis on planning above all else, as Paul Hill has told us in his talks. David is sometimes visiting sites often photographed before and needs to keep everything in his favour to get that special shot. His tips on framing were to keep things simple and make sure you get exactly what you want in the frame by looking carefully edge to edge before you press the shutter. He finds that he can anticipate weather changes when he is on location and that helps make the best of those last minute lighting changes. Although he leaves nothing to chance he does not take a lot of pictures – fewer now than ever in the film days he said. He is happy to return from a trip with even just one shot, if it was what he was looking for. He uses daylight white balance (auto WB will cancel out your sunset!) and often a graduated neutral density filter to compensate for the bright sky. No other filters (he was very ashamed of using a tobacco grad in the old days (we all did!)). He remarked how it was possible now to take starry night shots, but keep below a 20 second exposure if you want to avoid start trails which he thought gave an unrealistic scene.

    David’s website is at http://www.davidnoton.com/ . He offers an online magazine which includes details of how he processes his pictures but you do have to pay! He does not cloning, getting it right in camera.

    Later in the day Simon King presented the awards for the British Birds photograph of the year. The entry is not big (500) but the winners were very good, including one of Austin Thomas’s Little Owl shots taken with the wide end of the 16-35mm. The winner, however, had captured an incredible moment when a Kestrel seized prey from a barn owl’s talons, in flight!   




    Oliver Wright just tweeted a picture which amply illustrates what focus-stacking can do….

    Imagine the depth of field you would get with one shot at this magnification

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