Feb 202010

I went to Cotswold Falconry Centre yesterday. They’ve got falcons, eagles, hawks, kestrels, vultures and more owls than I knew existed. Fantastic place. Really enjoyed it. Must go back again with my son. The nice thing about it is that many of the birds are on tethered perches so can be photographed without having to go through glass or cages.

I took about 200 shots. I have to say the flying shots were total garbage, but that was to be expected. My AF cannot keep up with a falcon. 😀

I picked out one shot that I thought was really nice. This was the female Golden Eagle called Xena. It was shot with a Sigma 105 EX 2.8 Macro lens from about 4ft away at about f/5 and 1/640.

Xena - Golden Eagle. Click photo to enlarge.

This was the best shot to start with, I’ll put up some others later when I’ve had a chance to go through and sort them all out. But for now I’d better get back to work. 🙂

This was a Chilean Eagle.

Chilean Eagle - click to enlarge.

This next one is a Lanner Falcon.

Lanner Falcon. Click to enlarge

I got to hold and fly this barn owl. He was lovely. Quite hard to photograph white on a bright day.

Barn Owl. Click to enlarge

Bateleur Eagle - Matabele

Bateleur Eagle - Matabele

Turkey Vulture

Another falcon

Bald Eagle

Gyr Saker Hybrid Falcon.

Eagle Owl

Feb 052010

box brownie

my first camera ca. 1977

First camera I ever had was a small box thing that I think I only ever got 2 recognisable shots out of. Mind you, I was about 8 when I had it as a hand-me-down from my grandmother. How was I to know if you took out the film and had a look at it, the negs came back blank? 😥 At least they didn’t charge for the processing. But it was labelled “FAIL” on it. My second film ever and I was a failure. Still, it didn’t put me off. 🙂 I did give up on that camera though.


Next up was a small kodak ektra 12 I got for my (probably 10th) birthday ca. 1979, which I happily snapped away with for a few years.

ektra 12 camera

my second camera ca. 1980

It used one of those small cassette films. You could plug in disposable flash units for indoor shots, but never really had a lot of success with that. I’ve still got a few photos from that camera though.

Photography really caught my interest when I got my first “proper” 35mm camera – an Olympus XA when I was 12 – as long ago as 1982 😮 IIRC I paid £70 for it and it was almost new. (Bought from a friend of my dad’s who lived in the Philippines and travelled regularly through Hong Kong – thanks Freddie :yes: )

Olympus XA

My 3rd camera. Olympus XA. Click photo to enlarge.

They were £100+ in the UK at the time. It has aperture priority f/2.8 to f/22, manual rangefinder focussing and its own detachable A11 flash. I just tried it out and the metering and shutter still fires – meaning the lithium cells still have some juice left in them. 😎 Still works too – although who uses film these days? ?:-)

Well that one lasted me until I bought a Nikon F50 in December 1995 for £400 after saving up all my spare personal cash for a year (we also bought our first house that year). I’ve seen F50s selling on ebay recently for as little as £15 😥

Nikon F50

My 4th camera. Nikon F50. Click photo to enlarge.

Still got that one too. The F50 was a great camera. Loved using it. I took quite a lot of photos with it. Started shooting transparencies for serious stuff. Back in 1997 I considered becoming a freelance photographer, but glad I didn’t because very few people are good enough to make any decent money at it. If I’m honest with myself, I doubt if I would have been one of them.

In 1999 I got into e-publishing and in 2000 needed my first digital camera.

Fuji Finepix 1400 zoom

My 5th camera. Fuji Finepix 1400 zoom. Click photo to enlarge.

A Fuji Finepix 1400 zoom, which cost £300 for 1.3 megapixels. Seems unreal now. 😀 It was a good quality machine though, and had good optics. It also took 4 AA High power batteries and got through them in about an hour if you had the screen on. 😮

Digital photography was something of an eye-opener. I have to say that I’m glad I got a lot of use out of my Nikon F50 before buying a digital camera because the lure of instant results almost completely killed the desire to shoot film. After buying the fuji, I probably only averaged a couple of rolls of film per year up until about 2007 – and I don’t think I’ve shot any film since then – although I might do one day if I feel the need. :-)) Still got the F50 and it still works if I need it to.


Back to the Fuji though, I even took it snorkelling a couple of years after buying it. 2 weeks after 9/11 was a great time to go to Egypt. In Sharm el Sheik, I used it with an Ewa-Marine housing, which is a thick polyurethane bag with a glass front and a watertight clamp seal. SmartMedia cards were expensive back then. I remember paying about a couple of quid a megabyte. But you could fit three photos into a megabyte. I was still used to film so not as click-happy as I am now. I think nothing of bashing out several hundred shots in an afternoon now and keeping the best 10. The learning curve is just so quick with digital. You can make all your mistakes without having to write down what you did and wait for the processing.


On that holiday I did my PADI advanced open water diving course and took the underwater photography option, which involved renting a Sea and Sea MX-10 camera. A few months later, in 2002 I bought a full MX-10 set second-hand for £400.

My 6th camera. Sea & Sea MX-10.

That’s a simple 35mm point and shoot in a waterproof case, complete with hammerhead flash, wide-angle, close-up and macro lens. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of use out of it because our son was born later that year and I’ve only been diving once since he was born. 😥 I have taken it on two diving holidays though and put a few films through it, with some reasonable results. Tried to offload it for about £200 in 2005, but nobody wants film cameras these days. I’d rather keep it myself than give it away for peanuts. :-))

In 2003 the Fuji digital became a bit temperamental on a trip to Woburn safari park – just after I got this tiger shot (which I was very pleased with at the time. Now I look at it and think it needs some post processing to lighten it up a bit and give some more contrast and vibrancy. :laugh: )

tiger reflection woburn 2004

tiger taken on 1.4 megapixel finepix

Olympus Camedia C-220

My 7th camera. Olympus Camedia C-220. Click image for larger photo.








So we bought a refurbed Olympus Camedia C-220 zoom. Still got that one. Still works. Chose it because we could use our existing SM cards.

In May 2006 I picked up a Nikon Coolpix 3700 (ebay £70) because I wanted a small, light compact to put in a model plane and take aerial shots and video remotely. This is an excellent camera. Shoots 30 fps video at 640×480 and really takes nice photos. But it’s still a compact. If you want really good shots and no shutter lag, you need an SLR. Ho hum. 😉

Nikon Coolpix 3700

My 8th camera. Nikon Coolpix 3700. Click image for larger photo


March 2009 saw me itching to get a DSLR, but with low budgetary requirements. It had to be a Nikon because I already had two Nikon AFD lenses. A quick survey of the current crop of Nikon DSLRs revealed that I would need to spend £600 to get one that would operate my existing glass. Sod that, I thought. So after patrolling ebay for a couple of weeks I managed to get hold of a D100 for £170. These were selling for over a grand in 2002. 6 megapixels – DX format. But most importantly it is completely compatible with my lenses (the 70-210 f/4-5.6 set me back £300 in 1996).

My 9th camera. Nikon D100. Click photo to enlarge.

I think I’ve put around 6000 clicks on it since then. Now I’m heavily into macro photography – particularly insects. So that’s where I’m at with cameras today. I’ve bought a bunch of second-hand lenses and accessories for the D100 since then, including…

  • 18-55mm Nikkor AFS DX
  • 70-300 Nikkor AFG
  • 55mm Micro Nikkor AI (old manual focus)
  • 105mm Sigma DG Macro EX

…and you can see the results of some of them elsewhere on the site.

Feb 052010

Ok now a flash vid
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