1. Wet and Wild Wetland

    Just over a week ago I paid a visit to my ‘second home’ (though my partner would argue it’s my first!), a substantial area of marsh in north Kent less than ten minutes drive away. The forecast was for wind and rain with outbreaks of sunshine which, for photographers, is a dream combination since such dynamic conditions can yield a wide range of images. The ‘action’ was all encompassing where, no matter where I looked, dramatic rain-filled clouds filled the sky.

    Below are a selection of images from that afternoon and evening. It certainly kept me on my toes!

    There are times when you just have to put up with the curvature resulting from a fish-eye lens!

    Shortly after the above image the heavens opened and from the sanctuary of my car took the image, below, through the windscreen as the rain battered down onto it. I deliberately focused on the windscreen and de-saturated In LR to emphasise the dire conditions.

    elmley_nature_reserve_kent_004

    elmley_nature_reserve_kent_005

    Oak and cow parsely

    Oak and cow parsley

    elmley_nature_reserve_kent_007

    elmley_nature_reserve_kent_008elmley_nature_reserve_kent_009

    Receding rain clouds and rainbow at sunset

    Receding rain clouds and rainbow at sunset

    elmley_nature_reserve_kent_011

     

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  2. Summer

    I’m certainly not in the school of thought that you should only post a blog if you have something specific to say or a technique to write about. Sometimes it’s just nice to see for yourself what you have taken over a period (as a set) and to show others, as opposed to randomly posting images on such social media as fecebook – as much as I enjoy doing so! It’s also important to remember, I think, that not everybody uses FB, so here’s a selection of my favourites from the last 6 weeks.

    Mute swan incubating at sunset

    Mute swan incubating at sunset

    With a new workshop in mind, I spent an evening capturing sunset over Camber Sands. I hadn’t been there for years and had quite forgotten what a wonderful location it is for landscape photography.

    Camber sands at sunsetNikon D300, 12-24mm @ 19mm, iso 200, f18, exposure blending.

    Camber sands at sunset
    Nikon D300, 12-24mm @ 19mm, iso 200, f18, exposure blending.

    A tip-off from a warden friend of mine led me to this wonderful plant which had flowered for the first time in 20 years at this reserve. Situated just a few metres from a seldom used footpath and keen not to give away its location, I would leave the path 20 or so metres before-hand so as not to leave a “path” leading directly to it that might otherwise have drawn attention to certain members of the public! In addition, I would shoot only at sunrise and sunset when no-one was around. Very covert! All the images, below, were taken in a single morning at sunrise where I had a window of just 10 minutes as the sun appeared between trees producing this golden light. A stunning flower and fingers crossed that it’ll be flowering there next year!

    Lizard orchidNikon D300, 200-400 @ 360mm, iso 200, 1/200 sec. f5.

    Lizard orchid
    Nikon D300, 200-400 @ 360mm, iso 200, 1/200 sec. f5.

    Lizard orchid

    Lizard orchid

    Lizard orchid

    Lizard orchid

    Kent’s largest area of acid heathland is situated just 35 minutes from me and it’s an area I have been working on (on and off) for the last 20 years. Aside from being the only location in Kent where you can see the Keeled skimmer dragonfly, it’s also home to an array of amazing plant life, including this – the common or round-leaved sundew.

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    Common or round-leaved sundew

    Sundews are remarkable plants that, due to the lack of nutrients in its acidic habitat, digests insects that become trapped on the dew-like droplets on its tendrils. They’re also incredibly beautiful!

    Common or round-leaved sundewNikon D300, 200mm Micro plus PN11 extension-tube and Nikon 5T 2-element close-up filter, iso 200, 1/20 sec. f4. Beanbag. Remote release plus mirror lock-up.

    Common or round-leaved sundew
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro plus PN11 extension-tube and Nikon 5T 2-element close-up filter, iso 200, 1/20 sec. f4. Beanbag. Remote release plus mirror lock-up.

    Cotton grass

    Summer breeze
    Cotton grass at sunset.

    Pyramidal orchid

    Pyramidal orchid

    Until recently, the last couple of weeks have given us ideal conditions in which to shoot insects with clear nights and breathless mornings, coating everything in dew. I found this Common emerald damselfly on the Kent Marshes first thing in the morning.

    Common emerald damselfly

    Common emerald damselfly

    After securing a number of portraits, I went for something a little different to give the viewer a sense of what I was experiencing – the sun penetrating the tangle of reeds and clubrush.

    Common emerald damselflyNikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/50 sec. f4.

    Common emerald damselfly
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/50 sec. f4.

    Having found a good location, I returned the following few mornings utilising the conditions as you just never know when it might turn!

    Common darter dragonfly clinging to sea club-rush at sunrise. Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/250 sec. f8.

    Common darter dragonfly clinging to sea club-rush at sunrise.
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/250 sec. f8.

    The image below was taken at 6am which even though was around 45 minutes after sunrise, a thick mist had prolonged the sunrise and kept everything dew-laden for quite some time.

    Common blue damselfly

    Common blue damselfly

    Common blue butterfly at sunrise

    Common blue butterfly at sunrise

    Mute swanNikon D300, 200-400 at 400mm, iso 400, 1/1000 sec. f7.1.

    Mute swan preening
    Nikon D300, 200-400 at 400mm, iso 400, 1/1000 sec. f7.1.

    I’ve been assistant warden of a local nature reserve for over 20 years now, and remember vividly the first time I went out searching and photographing glow worms many, many years ago. There’s only a small stretch of pathway that they can, fairly reliably, be found each spring and summer and this year, once again, they didn’t let me down! On one of my visits I was very lucky to witness and capture a pair mating. Males, as you can see, are significantly smaller and look an, almost, entirely different species!

    Portraits of our wildlife are all well and good but, in my book, nothing beats recording behaviour! Aesthetics go out the window when your working in the pitch dark on a subject that’s an inch long and continually moving in and around leaves and twigs. It was, I think, worth the 8 (I counted) mozzie bites!

    Glow worms mating

    Glow worms mating
    Nikon D300, 105mm Micro with PN-11 extension tube, iso 200, f22, SB800 off-camera flash.

    Last week I spent the evening stood in a reedbed photographing my 2nd favourite bird (1st being the lapwing!), marsh harriers. This individual looks to be a fledgling which I didn’t quite expect to fly so close! I was well camouflaged and it passed by several times so close that I could hear the wind move through its wings. Priceless!

    marsh-harrier-robert-canis-1

    Juvenile marsh harrier

    On the same evening and as the light dropped, I could see clouds forming in the west and so, thinking a decent sunset may be on the cards, I ventured to a nearby warren to try my luck at silhouettes. After 45 mins this inquisitive individual ran straight up to me and posed – quite nicely!

    Rabbit at sunsetNikon D300, 200-400, iso 400, 1/400 sec. f5, beanbag.

    Rabbit at sunset
    Nikon D300, 200-400, iso 400, 1/400 sec. f5, beanbag.

     

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  3. Prague Photography workshop – Just 1 place remaining!

    Wednesday May 8th – Friday 10th 2013

    Price: £365

    Group size: 6

    Those of you that are on my mailing list will, already, know of this workshop. I decided not to waste any time in preparing it for the website as I had interested parties priorr to me making it official. Well, I have just 1 place remaining! So, if you are interested in joining me on this short break to The Golden City then contact me on 07939 117570 or by email at rmcanis@msn.com

    Full details can be found here at Prague Photo Break

    Prague at sunset

    An extract from the itinerary.
    I would hazard a guess that there are few photographers, residing in the UK, more acquainted with Prague and Czech traditions than myself. Over a period of 5 years, I visited Prague on no fewer than 50 occasions photographing for my agents and my own library, as well as providing articles for magazines, one of which was featured in Outdoor Photography. Oh yes, and visiting my girlfriend, Martina, of 8 years who now lives here! 🙂

    Prague bridges over the River Vltava at sunset

    Although Prague is not a big city, it is incredibly easy to get lost due to the myriad of cobbled, medieval lanes and alleyways. Why struggle to get your bearings and seek out that perfect vantage point at sunset when you can have someone take you straight there!

    Charles Bridge at sunrise

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