Photo Friday #18

Climbing out of the car, I headed towards the footpath and away from the main road. Less than a minute of walking brought me away from civilisation, and into a colourful meadow, buzzing with life. Bright flowers could be seen in every direction; bees steadily making their way around, dipping into the sweet nectar on offer. Butterflies flitted around the meadow and, upon closer inspection, lots of little insects darted between the grasses.

Making my way through the tall vegetation, spiders scuttled away from my feet as I headed towards the river. Once out of the meadow, I was surrounded by trees. Bird calls were louder and more frequent here, the high pitched warning of an intruder ringing in my ears. I walked quietly and slowly, looking into the trees along the riverbank, hoping that the birds would get used to my presence. My goal? To find a kingfisher. I had seen the striking, blue bird twice before – both times, the bird simply being a flash of blue as it flew past me and down a river. I had heard that there was a resident kingfisher here, and had seen many photographs from other people. Having had no luck on my first visit, I was hoping this would be the special one.

As I neared ‘Kingfisher Gate’, something caught my eye. Sitting on a small branch, hanging over the river, was a very plump looking object. I snapped a quick photo, realising that yes, it was a kingfisher!

Slowing down, I kept my eye on the bird as I made my way around a huge bush, hoping that I would get a better view from the other side. I was not disappointed! This bird was eyeing me, though not showing any signs of distress, as I made my way forwards getting as close the the river’s edge as possible. I sat down, pushing vegetation out of my way so I could get a clear view. Sitting still, I watched and happily snapped away, not believing my luck. I believe it was a juvenile, though possibly on the older end of the scale! Whilst it’s coat was a lovely, bright blue, it’s feet were very dull and you could just see a little white on the end of it’s beak – both signs of a young kingfisher.

The sound of small feet padding along the floor disrupted the silence, and the kingfisher flew high up into the trees. Once the dog had passed, I spotted the kingfisher again, this time nearer and easier to photograph. I managed to watch for a little longer, before it decided to move on and settle somewhere else.

Wandering back down the river, and towards the meadow again, I reflected on just how lucky I had been. I did not expect it to be so easy. Coming home from university for the summer, and hearing about this place, I had set myself a goal to photograph a kingfisher. It is June, and that goal is complete! Now I will just have to go back, again and again, in the hopes of getting to watch more behaviours and capturing them. Until next time…

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Photo Friday #17

I was planning on putting up part 3 of my expedition today, but this week I just haven’t looked at my photos at all. I’ve been at home for the first time in what feels forever and I’ve just been enjoying the down time and being with my boyfriend/family. The rest of my expedition photos will be up next Friday though!

Anyway, here’s an orange tip butterfly that I photographed on the morning on my animal behaviour exam. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a photograph of one before. Didn’t have my macro lens, unfortunately, but I did have the 7D. I’m really going to miss that camera over summer. After using the university 7D for well over a month now, almost continuously, it feels so strange using my 500D. When I use my own, it feels too light now, and all the buttons are in the wrong place! I really cannot wait to upgrade.

Photo Friday #16

(Photo by Louise Groom!)

Since getting back from Finland, I haven’t had much time to sort through all of the photos. I have an exam on the 6th so my main priority is revision at the moment! Once that’s over, I still have two assignments to complete for the 16th May, so if I get time I will post some Finland photos up! They will appear eventually…

Anyway, here’s a preview! Click the link at the bottom to see it on my 500px page.

Photo Friday #14

It’s Friday already?! Today I’m heading back up to Carlisle for my last weekend at work before I go to Finland. Just 4 days until I’m heading down to London for the flights!

Here’s another guest Photo Friday guest post – I’ll get right into it!

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Hello I’m Louise and I currently study Wildlife and Media at the University of Cumbria. I have a keen interest in horses and wildlife and after university I hope to join an existing equine photography business, photographing wildlife in my spare time, working my way up to start my own business. Here are a selection of my equine and wildlife photos:

1. Great Spotted Woodpecker – I took this photo last summer when at home when I spotted an active woodpeckers nest very close to a children’s park. As we walk the dog past this tree every afternoon I saw the pair of great spotted woodpeckers regularly and even saw the young poke there heads outside! I spent ages looking up at the trees fascinated by the close encounters with these woodpeckers and I hope to see them around again this summer.

2. New Forest Foal – A photo from last summers day trip to the New Forest! This picture was taken in Lyndhurst and I only came across it this year (after picking out a few favourites from the 200+ pictures I came home with last year). The foal didn’t seem to fussed at all by my presence just dozed the whole time!

3. Natural Environment – Again a photo from last summers day trip to the New Forest! This was taken in Beaulieu and was the first stop for the trip, one of my first pictures from the new forest…happens to be one of my personal favourites.

4. Early Rise – Taken last summer, I was out the door at 4am in the morning for this and am very pleased I managed to see about 4 foxes this morning! Certainly gets the adrenaline going, this is my favourite from the day, I heard a rustle coming from behind the bushes so stunk up on the fox…snapped a picture held eye contact for a couple of seconds and then off popped the fox….I then turned around to see another fox behind me, caught me by surprise anyway!

5. By the sea – Taken at Maryport in Cumbria on a day trip out whilst family were visiting me at university!. I spotted a large group of oystercatcher by the seas edge and couldn’t resist laying down and shuffling closer to get a few snaps.

6. Seal – Who could resist this face? Taken on a day trip to the Farne Islands, this seal popped its head out the water and kept its eye on the boat (either posing or wondering what the hell we were all doing). I used a 5DMark 2 borrowed from the university for this photo along with my own 300mm.

The majority of photos are taken on my own Canon 500D with a f.4, 300mm.

If you like my photos feel free to check more out at either : http://www.louisegroomphotography.co.uk or http://www.facebook.com/louisegroomphotography

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So yep, Louise is on my university course and well, aren’t these photos awesome!

(Interested in doing one of these posts? Contact me!)

Photo Friday #13

Hello! You may have seen my last Photo Friday post where I mentioned that I wanted to have some guest posts (I’m still wanting people!)… Well, here is the first one!

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Sascha is an 18 year old Law with French student from London who has a passion for all things creative, particularly photography and blogging. You can read about her adventures at her own blog www.feathersandbutterflies.wordpress.com

I’ve always had an interest in capturing beautiful moments across the globe and that is what sparked my interest in travel photography. These 6 photos are a collection of what I think have been my best adventures over the past couple of years. They’re mainly wildlife photography because, let’s face it, nothing is more beautiful than nature.

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Now isn’t it nice to see something different? I love seeing other people’s photography and hearing the reasons behind it. So thanks Sascha for being the first – great post!

If you want to do a guest post you can contact me on twitter @katehlouise or email katie_halsall@yahoo.co.uk (:

Photo Friday #12

I visited Talkin Tarn earlier this week – it’s such a great place to walk around. I saw so many different birds (including treecreepers and woodpeckers – yes more than one!) and the sun was a lovely addition to the day. It was still quite windy, but there’s nothing better than just walking outside and sitting, watching the nature around you.

Anyway, this week I’m going to ask for something from you. I want to start featuring photographers on my ‘Photo Friday’ posts. Now I’m not asking for you to be a professional; it doesn’t matter if you have a simple compact camera or a fancy DSLR, I just want to showcase different photos and have a few words from the photographer! I’m looking to include all kinds of photography. You’ll have noticed that the photos I post are mainly wildlife related, and I know that doesn’t interest everyone. I thought that by doing this, I can reach out to a broader audience and hopefully help some other photographers out!

If you’re interested, comment below, tweet me (@katehlouise) or send an email to katie_halsall@yahoo.co.uk and I’ll get back to you with more information!

Photo Friday #11 – Natural Lighting Tips

imageIt’s finally Spring (officially!) and this is my favourite time for photographing. The days get longer, the sun starts to appear and the air outside is warmer. After a long winter, plants are gaining life again and blooming, the birds are singing and the air is swarming with creatures large and small.

Here are some tips to help you use natural light when out photographing! These tips can be applied to any kind of photography really, whether it’s animals, flowers, fashion, architecture etc… Lighting is one of the most important things in photography, and getting this right will help your photographs stand out.

#1 Choose your time of day.
The sun creates different lighting at different times of the day. A photography taken at sunrise will look different to one taken in the middle of the day. Now this all depends on what you want your photograph to look like. Sometimes you won’t have the time to pick and choose when you’ll take photographs, but if you do, think wisely! You may have heard of ‘blue hour’ or ‘golden hour’.

‘Blue hour is the time just before the sun has risen and just after the sun has set. On a clear day, there’s enough light in the sky to take photographs without needing external lighting, and it gives photographs a cool blue look. This is the time just after the sunrise and just before sunset in which the light becomes softer and more ‘golden’. A lot of photographers love this time of day, and it can look lovely if that’s what you’re going for. At other times, a harsh midday sun may put across the message that you want. I found two photos that I took in the ‘golden hour’, though in both instances the sun was behind the subject (back-lit). The one on the left created a huge flare, and the one on the right made the subjects a little dark. Nevertheless, you can see the colours! Just google ‘golden hour’ and you’ll find tons of beautiful photographs!

#2 Know the sun.
Not literally, of course! Despite what a lot of people seem to think, bright and sunny days are not always ideal. The sun causes harsh shadows which can be difficult to get rid of, though a fill in flash will help in that situation. Now when photographing it’s key to keep an idea of where the sun is at.
+ Front-lit: The sun is behind you, give light to the front of your subject.
+ Back-lit: The sun is in front of you, giving light to the back of your subject.
+ Side-lit: The sun is at the side.
A front-lit subject will have even lighting, though this can sometimes make the subject look flat so you’ve got to watch out for that! A back-lit subject will give it a silhouette look. A side-lit subject will show the textures and give the photograph depth – it can sometimes look quite dramatic. My favourite lighting would be at dawn/dusk, or on an overcast day. Clouds are a photographer’s best friend – they diffuse the sunlight and create a softer light effect. Below: left is back-lit, right is side-lit.

#3 Take advantage of shadows
On a harshly lit day, shadows can save your shot. They can add interest (as in the photo on the left) but they can also give you a good evenly lit photograph (as on the right). The photo on the left was taken on a really bright day, however the bird was in the shadow on the trees – no harsh sunlight was getting to it. The resulting lighting looks even – though possibly a little flat! The frog photo right at the top was also taken in harsh sunlight, however the pond was hidden away, and was in a shadow.

I really hope these tips have helped you with lighting! Please, any questions ask me!

Photo Friday #10 – Tips on Macro

This week I thought I would bring you some of my tips on macro!

#1
Manual focus! In macro, you’re working with a very shallow depth of field. Autofocus will very rarely focus on the right thing and manual is almost always necessary.

#2
Use a tripod! I actually break this rule a lot, but generally your photos and macro attempts will be a lot better with a tripod to keep your camera steady.

#3
Use a small aperture (I try to stay at f9 and above) to get more of the subject in focus. Again, I do break this rule a lot and it can work with wider apertures. You’ve just got to know your subject and decide on how much you want in focus. If you can get on the same plane as your subject, more will be in focus. For example, photographing side on as I did below.

#4
Try to keep a fast shutter speed! I’ve read that you should keep your shutter speed at the same of your lens length, at least. So with my 100mm macro, I try to keep my shutter speed at 1/100. If you’re using a tripod then this isn’t as big of a problem.

#5
Check for distracting backgrounds. Many images can be ruined just by one random splodge in the background. A simple clean background is almost always more pleasing.

#6
Use an external (never the on-camera!) flash to freeze movement. Handy if you have no tripod! I have a cheap ring flash from ebay and it does the job fine for me! I try to use natural light as much as possible though.

So, that’s my input! You can buy macro clip-ons for phones/digital cameras if you do want to play around! So who likes macro? I do!

(Disclaimer: These are just the things that help me. I’m not saying they are the ‘right’ thing to do and that you shouldn’t do anything else. If you have different ways of doing things, let me know! Maybe we can have a discussion!)

Photo Friday #9

Photograph Hello again. by Katie Halsall on 500px

Bit of a cop out this week, but I’m just wondering if there’s anything that you would want me to cover! I’d love to get some feedback – which parts of photography do you struggle with?

Anyway, the photo above is mine… Taken with my 100mm macro and not cropped at all!

Photo Friday #8

This week, I thought I’d do something a little different… I know many people struggle with the basics of photography and using a DSLR – you have to start somewhere! Here’s a little info on aperture!

So firstly, the aperture is simply the size of the hole in which light is allowed through. The wider the hole, the more light is allowed in. Now this is where it gets confusing. (At least, it confused me at first!) The smaller the number, the wider the hole and vice versa. This means that an aperture of f5.6 is wider, and will let in a lot more light than an aperture of f18.

Aperture also controls the depth of field. This determines how much of your photograph will be in focus. Generally, the wider the aperture, the smaller the depth of field. Thus, a photo taken at f5.6 will have shallow depth of field, whereas one taken at f18 will have a larger depth of field. You can see this in the photos below! In the photos taken at f18, the fence is more in focus.

Now, in the photo below I’ve taken these shots with my kit lens. The fence behind the subject was around 3 metres away. All photos were done at 55mm focal length. The main difference is that the left hand side photos were taken from roughly 2 metres away, and the right hand side photos were taken from less than a metre away. You can see that distance also changes the depth of field.

A mistake that I’ve seen a lot (and I did it too!) is using too wide of an aperture. I got my 50mm f1.8 lens and used it on f1.8 for ages! However, doing so means that not a lot of your photo is in focus, unless you manage to get it right. Moving back and zooming in a little will help to get that shallow depth of field.

imageFor example, this photo (yes, it is a chicken – bare with me xD) was taken at 214mm f9.0. You can see that it has a very shallow depth of field – the background is completely blurred. I think I was around 2-3 metres away from the chicken here… If I had taken it closer, and at 70mm, the background would not have been so blurred.

And macro – well, that needs a whole new post to attempt to explain about the very shallow depth of field you get. I try to stay above f8 for macro, although sometimes with the light available it isn’t possible. The snail photo was at f10, and the frog was at f6.3 so you can see that sometimes a wider aperture can work!

Well, I’m really bad at explaining things. I hope this was of some help to you, and if not, definitely comment with questions! I’m happy to answer anything you’re struggling with.


  • I am 21 years old, currently studying Wildlife and Media at University and blogging about life, stationery, Filofax, fitness and more.

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