• Images of Scotland

High as a kite

Last Sunday saw a very welcome break in the winter weather and a brief return of the sun - perfect conditions for a short drive to the Argaty Red Kite Centre near Doune.

But I went with a little trepidation as my success in photographing birds hasn't been great lately - to the point that this trip might be my last with my fancy Canon EF 100-400 lens - I think I'd lost my photo mojo ('phojo'?) with it.

If this blog was a vlog we would cut away to lots of shots of me reading articles, watching YouTube videos and looking generally perturbed trying to work out what I was missing.

Turns out part of my problem is my fixation with trying to use Manual mode on my DSLR which has led me to overlook another semi manual mode - Shutter Priority! For those reading this and not up on such things, Shutter Priority allows you to set your required shutter speed and tweak a few other things but then allows the camera to take care of the ISO - leaving you to concentrate on the actual pictures. Let's face it - that's kind of what photograph is all about, I guess.

I wasn't sure what to expect results wise but went determined and ready to prioritise that shutter!

Given the bright sky and shadows on the birds as they flew around in the lowish sunshine, the camera did a fantastic job capturing these beautiful creatures in flight in such detail - even at the far end of the zoom range.

It's always hard to see on a small camera screen how the images are really turning out so I was both enjoying taking images of the 30 or so red kites flying around and coming in to feed and also looking forward to getting home to a bigger screen to see the results!

I took around 1500 photos in the end! To be fair, with so many birds swooping around, some of these were point and shoot rat-a-tat-tat type images but some were much more considered, tracking birds and waiting for them to approach and turn to the sun or perhaps swoop in to get the meat left out for them.

And, to be fair, I think I might have got some of my 'phojo' back with that lens - it's still a bit short in focal length but it does deliver good sharp images (cough) when you use the right settings! I think I just need to invest in one of the extenders that Canon does - saving starts now. Or I could invest £12k in their super duper telephoto lenses. The extender it is, then.

I have so many favourites from this visit to Argaty, but the one below stands out as the two birds are both in focus and I like the fact that the one below is looking up thinking about stealing the food from the one above. And that the one above is only too aware of its intentions!

I really enjoyed my time at Argaty again - it's a great place to visit and to spend time appreciating not only what nature is and does but also the efforts people go to to enhance and protect the environment we all share.

And I learnt something else which is a skill I'll be using again and again.

I like days like Sunday.


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