I live in a camper van with a West Highland Terrier for company.
My passion is creating images but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN

Sunday 1 May 2011


Today is all about Swallows or would have been had I got any decent pictures. We were out in heavy frost at six, as is our want we adjourned for breakfast. Then out again at just the back of seven. Now I was having a trial run with the long lens yesterday. On Jackdaws……tripod, no tripod…No tripod and manual focus seemed the best. The damned lens is just so heavy. I co-opted the bloke next door and resting on his shoulder worked……..on a Jackdaw. Decided I’d use a f1.28/ 200mm lens today whilst I practised on the Swallows. There is a lot more to this snapping game than one would assume. I just think I’m about there, on a good day with a following wind! Then I find the Swallow. Little blighters.

_4303705_6_7_8_9_tonemapped_edited-1          A mine above Weardale…….this is from yesterday. Why from yesterday I can’t explain…….I have fifty shots of this from today. There are at least three nest in here. I can get within twenty yards lying down and exhorting the dogs to follow my example, any closer and they become agitated. As they are returning with beaks full of insects then I assume they have young to feed so twenty yards it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA             A Swallow on the wing.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA              I assumed that they timed their entry as the bars are too close together for them to fly through,  They do but don’t pull there wings in they turn sideways. I’ve blown up the bird bit for the sake of clarity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA          Here is what one should look like. A bit blurry but not as blurry as is my norm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA        That’s about it for Swallows…………………………………………………………..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      After two hours one took pity on me and posed…………..I know I’m a Muppet but this is incredibly difficult for me. I’ll go back tomorrow with the big lens. This selection is the best of twenty two shots, manual focus is the way to go I think. Did I say twenty two……..I meant a hundred and twenty two.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA       Along the way a Pied Wagtail dropped by followed by a Wheatear.  Though cropped all images will enlarge with a click.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA      Just to restore my sanity I’ll finish today with a couple of shots of Middlehope Burn.

It’s May Day today and a holiday tomorrow………..have a good one and make the most of it.



  1. Those Swallows ain't easy Adrian; you did well.
    A lovely capture as it turns to enter the gate.
    Definitely manual focus, and burst shooting.

    I took over 400 today, of Terns and Swifts. Not a perfect shot amongst them; but had a great time trying.

  2. Keith the gate is the one for today I have another dozen.......was getting double vision. I focus on one pair of bars and the next bird in takes a different pair........they all turn sideways though. Little devils I'm sure they do it to wind me up.

  3. I love the last shot! I guess water and reflections are my faves.

  4. Norma a back to front infinite pool. I love reflected light. A lot easier than those wee birds.

  5. I like that last shot too. And I admire your endurance with those birds... That shot of the one flying sideways is amazing, that must be so hard to catch at just the right moment.

  6. You did far better than I have ever managed with Swallows. The record shot of one flying through the gap sideways is amazing.

  7. Hi Adrian, you did darn good on those swallow shots. Have you tried going to a high aperature, like f16 or f22 or as high as your lens allows, and a low shutter speed like 16th to 60th of a second, and then pan the birds. You may have better success with that. When your panning you have less chance of shake. Then take your rapid shots.. You may have done this but just asking in case you haven't.

  8. At least you didn't title your post "Behind Bars" which might have given us a bit of a fright wondering what you'd been up to. ;) Fascinating watching birds in action, especially when their manoeuvrings are so deftly done! Looks like you're having a great time giving us these lovely photos!

    I have missed commenting on the past few posts, but have been reading, and just wanted to mention that I thought the dogs looked mighty spiffy!

  9. Monica, the reflections are my favourite. The Swallows are coming and going all the time. It's really as simple as keeping the shutter pressed and burst shooting.

    John, I have a few but this was the best.

    Horst, thanks ....no I used f8.......trying for the best of all worlds. If the light is strong enough I'll try your method. I was panning, they are a challenge. A motion sensor to fire the camera is the answer but it is not as much fun. Many thanks for your help.

    Glo, it is great just to sit and watch them they are continually changing direction and at speed. the dogs are not quite so shiny bright now having been through a couple of bogs.

  10. I take back what I said about my swallow photos! You sure did improve a lot in one day! They are nimble little buggers, huh? Don't know how you managed to get that one at just the moment he/she tilted sideways. Terrific!

  11. Pauline, I can shoot at five frames per second so it's not that hard more luck and patience. I did think of videoing them and then just sharpening a frame. They are nimble little buggers......that's not the word I was using yesterday. Turned the air blue I did. it's good fun to have a challenge. I was going back today but have to move on.

  12. PS...Thanks for all your comments on this. I find keeping both eyes open helps. one in the view finder and one on the bird. Ask any competent shotgun man and most do the same.I forget... I used to shoot grouse with a twelve bore, the day I winged one and couldn't find it was the day I stopped........the shame!!! It's much more fun with a camera.....I still have a couple of dogs. They seem to appreciate it, they do lie quiet. Ask Keith?... Stay! Shush! Is what I whisper to them to them. I've just got to whisper it in time!!

  13. Arian, the reason I asked if you used the higher fstops is that you have a better depth of field with F16 or f22, so as to have shots that are less out of focus. If you pan, then you have less shake, and a slower shutter speed to give you more light to compensate for the higher Fstops. It's good that you have the experiance of shooting with both eyes open.

  14. Horst, I'll give it another go.......I'll use your method......it's a matter of settling on a technique and then practise and more practise. It's a good job I have digital. It would cost a fortune with film.

  15. Boasting again. Keeping both eyes open. That's all very well for those of you who have two eyes! Perhaps that's why I have so many problems with moving objects. And why people call me Dead Eye Eddie.

    I've tried moving swallows. Well actually they move themselves I should, to be grammatically correct have said 'I've tried photographing moving swallows' for years and had ne'rry a one worth printing.

    This is a superb set of pics even by your exacting standards.

  16. Graham, not boasting.....although I was happy to have twenty odd recognizable Swallows they are not very good. Wouldn't get me a job and that's a fact.