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I'm supposed to describe myself in this space, but that's quite a dull thing to do. Instead I will use this space to answer a few queries I often get asked...
Q. May I use your photos for...?
A. All of my photos are copyright and may not be used without my prior permission. If you want permission, please don't Flickrmail me (I don't check Flickrmail regularly); instead, for details and a photo usage request form please look here. I try to respond quickly but I'm afraid I do get a lot of requests and sometimes it can take a while. I don't mind being chased if I seem to have forgotten (that happens sometimes). If you wish to pay me lots of money for the photos then please make that clear and I might manage to turn around your request more quickly!!
Q. Where have you gone - you've not posted any new photos here for years?
A. I got fed up with Flickr when they made some big changes in 2013 and stopped posting. The new Flickr became difficult to use for someone on a slow internet connection (at the time I was suffering from especially slow speeds thanks to the utter incompetence of AOL - not with them any more thank goodness) and so I gave up. I stop by every now and then, mainly to check up on the groups I'm interested in, especially the Hybrid Birds one.
Q. Do you have another website?
A. Yes, I do and there are a lot more photos there. It's not complete yet, and probably won't be for ages, but it contains a page for each species (as far as I've done them), some trip reports detailing the birds and other wildlife I've seen on holidays abroad and a diary. It's...
Q. What camera do you use?
A. I've used a few over the years and you ought to be able to see the model from the EXIF data on each photo I think, except the really old ones that are scanned prints.
Q. Are your photos digi-scoped?
A. Digi-scoping is when you take a photo through a telescope. Many of the bird photos (and a few others) are digiscoped. For the early ones the camera (Nikon Coolpix 4500) was hand-held to the telescope's eye-piece. More recently (with the Coolpix P5000) the camera is secured to the telescope using a close-fitting slide-on adaptor. For fast-moving birds, like those flitting around in bushes or flying, digi-scoping is difficult so I have also used a DSLR to capture these (initially Canon EOS-400D with a Canon 70-300mm IS lens, recently upgraded to a Canon 7D with 100-400mm IS lens). Since the upgrade to the 7D I find it's so good that I often use it in situations I would previously have digi-scoped.
Q. How do you get all those moths on a clean white background?
A. I don't use a moth trap as I haven't got time to go through it every morning, but I open my windows at dusk and turn the light on and the moths come in and settle on the walls/ceiling/etc. where I photograph them (with my Coolpix). When I go to bed I leave the windows open and most of the moths fly out again. Works well, but my wife isn't so keen! I now have a Mercury Vapour light that I sometimes put up and that draws even more in.
Q. Do you use Photoshop?
A. I'm not averse to using Photoshop to tidy up my photos, cropping, sharpening and even adjusting colour/contrast, but I try hard not to falsify the actual colours of the subject! I might occasionally remove distracting background so long as I don't create a false impression of the habitat in doing so but I won't remove anything that goes in front of, or up to the edge of, the main subject - to do that would require "making up" what was behind and that could unwittingly create a false documentation.
Q. Some of the photos you post are ok but others are rubbish - why do you even keep them?
A. I'm not in this game purely for the art, though I do like to take aesthetically pleasing or even artistic photos if I see them. A large part of what I do is documenting things, so I'll settle for the best shot I can get of something even if that's not very good. If it's something particularly unusual, or something that isn't photographed very much, then I'll be less fussy about the quality of the shot than I would be for something less interesting.
Thanks for taking an interest!
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