Pictures by Walter

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A Winter’s Month – January 2010

Nikon D300s

A New Year, with two new photographic toys Santa had very kind left at Christmas. A New Nikon D300s with a Sigma 150-500 Zoom.  It had become apparent that I needed a larger zoom than the 28/300 for some of my animal shots at zoos.  Unfortunately (if I recall correctly) there were not many third party lens for Pentax fittings.  I was contemplating buying a Sigma 150-500 for Canon but a hint was dropped to forget that.  Christmas revealed why.

January 2010 (at least in West Lothian) started off with a lot, and I mean a lot of snow, along with a big freeze.  Yet the sun did shine – it shone but not a lot of warmth.  To test my new outfit I took my normal walk to my place of work getting to know the camera and lens.  This took me from Craigshill to Almondvale and the (then) new Civic Centre where |I was employed in Legal Services, West Lothian Council. Susan, Sid and I headed off to Linlithgow – which shuts down over the festive season, and had a walk around Linlithgow Loch to feed the birds.  It is a nice walk round the loch (see WalkHighlands) and popular, even on the 1st of January.  Being a loch there are lots of waders as well as gulls.  Most popular are the Mute Swans and Ducks (Mallard, Tufted Ducks etc.)  Regretfully we had to wait until we got home to have a warm soup – as I said Linlithgow closes down at Festive Season.

Where else would one test out the combination of large Zoom lens  and new camera – Edinburgh Zoo sprung to mind.  In a previous blog I mentioned that we were once members of the Society but no longer.  However the Zoo was the ideal place to test the outfit and I captured (to my mind) some great shots of Tigers, Lions etc.  I forgot to mention that Sid had purchased a Nikon D300s and Sigma 150-500 from Jessops in Edinburgh.  I thought he would have twigged and brought it with him to the zoo.  Silly man forgot them, mind you that was the last time he did so. Nowadays he carries the D90 and D300s with a small zoom and the 150-500.

I did not realise it at the time, but the year that started off so well would soon become the year from hell as far as my personal life went.  My mother lost her battle with cancer and soon after my partner was fighting for her life against pneumonia.   In all 2010 was a year of change and led to a bigger change in 2011.

Video/Slide show “A Winter’s Month”


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Image Manipulation!

Image manipulation causes quite a “stushie”, “stooshie” as we say in Scotland. (Stushie/stooshie = tizzy, fuss, much ado about…).  Images on FB have been labelled (incorrectly) as being “photoshopped” as if that was a heinous offence.  Adobe Photoshop is the undisputed champion for image manipulation, in fact skilled users can create a photographic image with a photograph being taken.  Without doubt Photoshop is powerful, complex and the bees knees for image manipulation.  I do have Photoshop CC s part of the Adobe package, but I do not use it.  Why you ask? (Okay so you may not ask 🙂 ).  I use Adobe Lightroom with Google Nik collection add-in. Lightroom is the digital equivalent of the old chemical “Dark Room”.  I shoot in RAW format ,despite the fact that the modern DSLR creates a very acceptable JPG image, and use Lightroom to adjust the RAW (digtal negative) to produce the finished JPG export via Tif (used for printing).  I have installed the excellent Nik software plug-in into Lighroom so I am able to do the extra tweaks to the image to bring out the details, colours and contrast from the original image.  The original image of “Bath Time for Junior”, taken with a Nikon D5300 fitted with a Sigma 150-500 (1:5-6.3) zoom lens and taken through the double glazed window in my living-room.  ISO: 640, f/6.3, 1/200 sec at 500 mm.  Camera was set up for RAW and for neutral image colour.  Image below is a straight non processed of the RAW file from Lightroom.
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I started in Development mode in Lightroom I selected: enable profile correction; remove chromatic aberration; constrain crop.  In basic mode (development) I reduced highlights to -74. At this stage I opted to edit in Colour Effex 4 (Nik plug in).  I used three presets and tweaked as required, Extract detail ( minimum), Pro Contrast (Dynamic Contrast – corrects colour cast and contrast), finally Darken lighten centre.  This resulted in the finished image below:

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No cloning, no removing or adding details simple tweaks to bring out what was in the original image.  Yes I do image manipulation, no I do not photoshop I have no need to  – I use Lightroom.


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At the Feeder 6 May 2016

Early morning visitor to the “Chez Walter” facilities was the little Coal Tit (Parus ater).  It took the opportunity of a quite garden to indulge in breakfast of Sunflower seeds and the luxury of a cold water bath.  20160506-_DSC4304-Edit


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At the Feeder 5 May 2016

20160429-_MG_7995-EditBusy day today doing other tasks – still managed to keep one eye on “Chez Walter” feeders.  Very early visit by Coal Tit (Parus ater), to early for me and too quick for me to grab my camera and get a shot of him/her. These little birds are very quick, quick to land on the feeder, quick to get a sunflower seed and quicker to scapper with the seed to a place where they can eat it in safety.

The regulars were in force today, 4 Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus), several squawking  Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) fighting over the small fat pellets and the stately pair of Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto).  The feeders or rather the water feature, a pump, was graced by the visit of an old friend, Robin (Erithacus rebecla).

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Inspection Day….

Today my partner (Susan) and I finished off the restoration of our garden after the ravishes set on it by the storms of Winter 2015/16.  The almost constant storms brought down 8 Garden Panel fences, destroyed a fair few feeders and damaged two water features.  Remedial work had to wait for dry days which we got this week.  During the hiatus the famed “Chez Walter” bird feeding station was abandoned by its once colourful clientèle.  Over the past 4 days we have been visited by a Magpie (Pica pica), Robin (Erithacus rebecla) and Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus).  Yesterday some Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) paid a raid visit to grab meal worms.  However they were seen off by the Magpie.  Today, whilst we were doing the clean up (washing the slabs) we were made aware in no uncertain terms of the displeasure of a male Balckbird.  I think he was upset that his bathing area was not yet in operation, nor had we left out his usual fare. He paid a revisit about 5 pm and carried out a full inspection of the refurbished garden.  I think we passed his rather thorough check up, we will soon find out tomorrow if he uses the water feature as his shower/bath.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).  Canon 50D, Sigma 150-500 zoom

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Coal Tit (Parus ater) First Visit -2012

Prior to the winter of 2015/2016 our garden looked nice and attractive to small garden birds as well as larger ones.  It was in 2012 the our wee garden began to attract the tits, finches etc.  In fact it was in that year we got our very first visit from a Coal Tit (Parus ater).  This little bird flits around and is hard to get a good shot, it was as a result of this picture I decided to keep a camera next to my computer in the living room.  Picture taken with Canon 500D, Sigma 150-500 Zoom on 18th October 2012

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