When I was writing about our holiday on the Western Isles recently, I promised a guest post from Hub about the amazing nature photos he was able to take. Sit back and enjoy…. 🙂
I had always promised myself that when I retired I would treat myself to a prime telephoto lens. Photography is something I have always enjoyed, but for me the challenge is to capture moving things. My two main subjects are steam locomotives or nature photography, principally birds. Steam Engines will let you get as close as you like without being the slightest bit concerned. You can do what you like to a steam engine, and it will contentedly sit there simmering away. Birds on the other hand are skittish things that will, at the first real sight of you, fly away; unless it is the companionable robin or a pigeon (who is a scavenger always on the make). Birds also, rather annoyingly, like to flaunt their ability to reach high places. They will perch just out of range of a standard telephoto or zoom lens. I can tell they are looking down on me, smugly, pitying my attempts to get a good shot of them. So my long held promise to myself was fulfilled when I took possession of a 500mm telephoto lens.
So grand is the lens that it has its own reinforced case in which it lives most of the time. It needs its own carrying strap. It requires a tripod, with a specialist gimbal head to make it easy to use. It is big and declares itself as a lens that needs deference and attention. It is a joy to use and own.
Editor’s note: to give you a sense of scale, here is a photo I took of Hub with his new baby…
Liz has written about our holiday in the Western Isles, starting in Skye, moving to Harris and then to South Uist. This would be the proving ground for my new pride and joy. Our first location just outside of Portree in Skye was stunning. Within an hour of arriving I was startled to see two Golden Eagles gently flying along the ridge on which the property stood. Seeing a Golden Eagle at eye level is not something that happens often. I don’t think I have ever set up a camera and tripod so fast.
I didn’t think we would see Golden Eagles again, but in fact we saw them every day of the two weeks we were there. As if to say that the Goldies shouldn’t have it all their own way, White Tailed Eagles (also known as Sea Eagles) decided also to pay a visit. So good was the sightings of birds that despite our intention to spend much time travelling around Skye, we stayed at the property on most days, waiting for the eagles to arrive. It was such a privilege to see them at all, even as specks in the sky high up, but at close quarters a rare honour.
The images in the slide show below are some of the images that I took from my vantage point on the decking outside the property and a few from our time on Harris and South Uist. I have included some of the smaller birds, whose perching high up or by the water’s edge gave them no hiding place. All truly beautiful.
You can see more of Hub’s photos, including more nature photography and plenty of steam trains on his Flickr page.
*The title of this post is from William Blake’s poem, The Birds:
He. Where thou dwellest, in what grove,
Tell me Fair One, tell me Love;
Where thou thy charming nest dost build,
O thou pride of every field!
She. Yonder stands a lonely tree,
There I live and mourn for thee;
Morning drinks my silent tear,
And evening winds my sorrow bear.
He. O thou summer’s harmony,
I have liv’d and mourn’d for thee;
Each day I mourn along the wood,
And night hath heard my sorrows loud.
She. Dost thou truly long for me?
And am I thus sweet to thee?
Sorrow now is at an end,
O my Lover and my Friend!
He. Come, on wings of joy we’ll fly
To where my bower hangs on high;
Come, and make thy calm retreat
Among green leaves and blossoms sweet.