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Newsletter - January 17th 2017

Hi Everyone - A New Year

I hope this newsletter finds you all well and you had a very enjoyable Xmas break. I have been extremely busy re-vamping the website with good old CamacWeb up in North Wales. I have to say it has been a monumental task because my typist (aka my wife Angie) managed to break her arm in three places whilst ice skating with the grandchildren! It was a rather bad break that required surgery and a metal plate had to be fitted; consequently she will be confined to barracks for some time. I would therefore appreciate if you get the chance to look at the website and report back any obvious mistakes, grammatical errors and typos that you find – they are obviously all mine! Plus also do let me have any suggestions for further improvements to the site, I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of those.

I have, after many years of requests, now included on site a list of my current lectures for camera clubs, natural history societies, RSPB groups and anybody else that might be interested. My fees for lecturing or judging are the same. I used to have lists of such clubs but I seemed to have lost them so if anyone has any current lists I would be happy to receive copies. Finally I will be putting up a gallery of prints for sale.

I have managed to get out a few times recently including a couple of visits to Arundel WWT where I have run some 1-1 workshops. This is a good place for teaching bird photography especially as I regard birds as the most difficult and challenging of all the subjects the wildlife photographer needs to master. So if this is an area where you need some tuition or advice on equipment now is a really good time. The reason I say this because for much of the year wildfowl have rather drab plumages evolved to provide them with the camouflaged protection they need throughout the year especially when nesting which they do mainly on the ground. However when they moult at this time of the year it is into their winter plumage and then they really look magnificent. This is undoubtable the best time to photograph them. Here is a stunning Ferruginous Drake that I took on the 5th of January this year. Why sit at home when you can go out and get images like this and many more to go with it?

Ferruginous Drake

I have been a member of the WWT for probably 25 years or more you would think that there would not be a picture that I haven’t taken many times before and yet I continue to return each winter because I know there is always going to be something different to take – I just have to find it. I remember on one occasion many years ago as I approached the entrance with my 600mm lens over my shoulder and there were two people coming out. As they passed me I heard one say to the other “He’s obviously here for the Spoonbill”. I knew nothing about a spoonbill turning up and couldn’t wait to go in and photograph it. Entering the glass restaurant area I saw the bird straight away. It wasn’t difficult because it was pressed up against the glass looking in at all the people looking at it. No pic for me then, I thought but then I suddenly had an idea.

Leaving all my gear there I rushed back to my car and got out a wide angle lens which I then used to photograph the bird. But, I didn’t just take the bird in the picture, I also included all the people standing at the window staring out and by a bit really good fortune I also included the bronze bust of Sir Peter Scott. I sold that pic within 24 hours. Who to? The WWT of course and they used it in their next magazine issue. To this day I am still looking to take images that are a bit different. On the same day as the Ferruginous drake I also took this image of the Smew in all his finery. Here the whole image is slightly off the wall and you either like it or you don’t but you have to admit it is different.

Smew Drake

One of the most important aspects of any wildlife photography is having the right equipment and this is so true when the subject matter is birds. How I wish I could get to the budding wildlife photographer before he or she goes into the camera shop to buy equipment. Very often, I’m not saying always, they are advised by someone who doesn’t have a clue. Result is they go out of the store with inappropriate equipment and then they turn up on one of my workshops and I have to tell them they have wasted their money. C’est la vie! Maybe I should write a book?

Talking of equipment read my piece on tripod heads that is proving a bit controversial with some of you. I can assure you that I would never recommend any piece of equipment that I would not use myself. Several years ago Gitzo gave me their top of the range ball and socket head which at the time was selling for about £300. I politely gave it back to them. At the time I was using a Wimberly Gimball head and there was no way I could or would promote their ball head. But times change and now I do use a ball and socket head called the Uniqball and I do make money from them because I also sell them. Click here or paste the link below, that will tell you why.

Incidentally you will also see that I have a great offer on them at the moment tied into my bird workshops at Arundel but you need to be quick as the deal runs out at the end of February.

Finally a bit of news that will certainly be of interest to many of you. A very good and long-time friend of mine named Roger Wilmshurst has been feeding various birds in his Sussex garden for some years among them Water Rails and Buzzards. But first let me give you some background info.

Water Rail
Water Rail - Copyright Roger Wilmshurst

I first met Roger, at the time himself a Canon user, around 1989 when I visited him for some advice on using a lens that I had just bought. It was a Canon 600mm and I was so pleased to finally get such a quality telephoto lens of my own. Up until then I had been using a Tamron 200-500 zoom but with this beauty I knew my bird photography was going to improve by leaps and bounds.

I was really chuffed when he confirmed that indeed it was a fantastic lens and he could show me some results he had got with his own Canon 600mm. I remember the jaw dropping images he showed me that day and I felt so good. That was until he said, Oh by the way I don’t have Canon gear anymore, I have changed to Minolta! I was to later discover that Roger was notorious for changing his gear on a regular basis and is still the same today.

Buzzard - Copyright Roger Wilmshurst

Anyway I digress. As well as having these super birds coming in he also has hides to photograph them that he is renting out very cheaply. If you would like to use them then you can get all the details by phoning him on this number 01903 892210.

Finally here is an amazing coincidence. I used that lens for years before eventually selling it in order to upgrade to the next generation Canon 600mm. Guess who bought it? It was a young chap named Paul Stevens who was also fanatical about birds. What is the link? Well Paul is now the current manager of Arundel WWT and I believe he still uses my original lens!

Fantastic Offer during January & February

Check out the money saving deal I have on the Uniqball tripod head during the next two months, click here for further details.

Personal Workshops 1-1s & 2-1s

I will be offering my normal personal tuition (weekdays only) in the form of 1-1s at £150 and 2-1s at £250. You choose your preferred dates.

Regards George

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