Photographing the Grebes Courtship Display

Great Crested Grebe Courtship
On Thursday past, good friend and DGPix workshop regular Rosie and I headed out on the Oxford Island NNR reserve to photograph the grebe courtship displays.  Many breeeding pairs are visible from the hides, and you can get some great views of the birds as they pair up and go through the elaborate and complex courtship routine.

The grebes have a complex display, consisting of varied stages, and we were able to capture some of these, really close in and in good light - it all came together nicely.

Rosie opted for the fantastic Canon 5Dmk3 body and Sigma 50-500mm lens on the day whereas I was using the Sigma 150-600mm lens with 1.4xTC as light was good and it would be another good test of this lens on the Canon 7Dmk2 body.  
The following image was taken on the at 840mm - f/9 - 1/320 and iso 200.  Central focus point only on the upper bird's chest, and spot metering.  Supported on the hide window using a bean bag:

Seeing the birds at close quarters was a real…

Sigma 150-600mm HSM DG OS & 1.4x TC Kit - First Impressions

Sigma 150-600mm first Impressions
Having used the Canon 400mm F5.6L, a very underrated and razor sharp lens for bird and wildlife work - I was tempted into replacing my Sigma 50-500mm with the newer 150-600mm Contemporary lens, complete with TC-1401 1.4x teleconverter kit.
Look out on the DGPix Facebook page for Sigma 50-500mm being listed for sale, this will be a bargain lens for anyone starting out with nature photography, or anyone looking to step up from the 70-300 range of lenses.
So on to the mega zoom Sigma lens. It's heavy, but not as heavy as other reviews online were making out - for me its a lens I can hand hold without any issues (built in optical stabilisation helps!) Tripod mounted use is a joy, but I reckon I'll be using it more without one. Image quality is surprisingly sharp given the focal length and price range of the lens.  At f6.3 at 600mm results are very nice indeed, even after cropping:

The above image was taken using the Sigma 150-600mm lens mounted on a Ca…

Rams Island Photo Trip

Rams Island Photo Trips (Weekend 24th and 25th March)
This was our first trip to Ram's Island on Lough Neagh as a DGPix hosted workshop.  Two groups traveled out on two days, taking the Island Warrior out of Sandy Bay to the island.
Rams Island is managed and maintained by the Rams Island Heritage Project - and the guys are knowledgeable about the history and heritage of the area, and provide a welcome cup of tea and biccies on a unique barge acting as a visitors centre on the island.

Rams Island is the largest on Lough Neagh, and although hindered by low water levels on the lough, the cormorant colony showed well enough if at a distance.

Experts Noreen and Sandra were on hand spotting birds from the boat and on the island, and I provided the photographic tuition when needed to the attendees who grabbed some excellent landscape and wildlife shots during the day - the weather was superb with hardly a ripple on the lough!

Another attendee kindly allowed permission for use of her photos h…
January 2018 Bird Photography WeekendJanuary is always a tough time for workshops, weather, and Christmas still in people's minds, but we had a full house for the Bird Photography Weekend, and welcomed some newcomers to the courses.

The weather was fine on day 1 but rained solid on day 2, meaning we had time for our first editing and post processing day indoors.

We split up into 2 groups for the outdoors session, using a well prepared small bird feeding station to bring in the woodland favourites, like this robin shot by Amber Currie (14), a DGPix regular and great young photographer:

Day 2 was spent indoors on the computers editing and processing from Day 1 - the first time we've done this on the workshops and it was a roaring success.  Usually, I'd push to be outside as often as we can for photography and teaching, but this time it wasn't possible, but we will certainly think of a 1 day workshop on processing and editing images in the future as this was a learning day f…

DGPix November Woodland Photo Weekend

Storm Ophelia saw our October Fungi & Woodland course (and last of 2017!) postponed to mid-November, owing to a lot of felled trees, hanging storm debris and a lack of fungi from the damage.

Not to be beaten though, we had a great weekend of photography and laughter as we spent 2 days in the woodland of Oxford Island NNR on the south shores of Lough Neagh.  Topics covered included bird portraits, macro and plenty of help with equipment setups, lenses and tripods.  One of my main focuses on these "hands-on" workshops is make sure every attendee gets time with me and their equipment, to help get the best out of the kit, and to put the newly learned techniques into practice after the workshop.

Everyone went away happy, and able to use their kit better to capture nature and wildlife in their gardens, parks and open spaces:

Our next weekend workshop is on the 20th & 21st January 2018and will concentrate on Birds in Flight.  Why not join us for 2 days of great bir…