London Wetlands Centre

I’ve had a fair amount of success lately in shooting and editing pictures at various locations. Actually writing them, however, is still proving a bit of a challenge. We’re at that time of year when, although I do better at getting out at weekends and taking photographs, work tends to keep me very busy during the week, so when I’d normally come home after work and write, I’m instead just resting. Work-life balance is one of the toughest things to figure out, and although lately I do seem to be getting it mostly right, it is beginning to slide in the wrong direction a little. I’m hoping that will balance out soon.

I also, for whatever reason, remain largely light on ideas. Fortunately I have a few photographer friends with ideas of their own I can piggyback off. This is how I came to get up early one Saturday morning and head down to the London Wetlands Centre in Barnes.

1/500sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

The London Wetlands Centre is something I’ve seemingly always been aware of, but never visited, which is a bit silly considering its actually just short train ride away.

After passing through the visitors’ centre and through the first gates we were immediately greeted by a bunch of indifferent birds sitting on the path, clearly used to people.

1/1000, f/4.5, ISO 100, 90mm

We were also treated to a duck flyby.

1/1600sec, f/4.5, ISO 100, 110mm

Now if you’ve been following this site for any sort of time, you’ll know that I have a tremendous lack of desire to properly identify species that I don’t already know. My wife has her own book for doing this stuff but I’m content to name things as simply ‘birds’ or, as in this next example, ‘something that looks quite a bit like a duck’.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

By far the most interesting animal we saw was this hippogriff thing.

1/500sec, f/5, ISO 100, 190mm
1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

The centre is a mixture of enclosed areas, where the birds are presumably non-native and protected, and open areas where they are free to come and go as they please. The latter contain more familiar birds such as ducks, geese, swans and seagulls, and many had hides to sit and watch them. Obviously, birds being birds, they didn’t always do the good action in the most viewable places, but that did result in these interesting, silhouetted motion shots.

1/1250sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

It wasn’t all birds at the London Wetlands Centre. Dotted around there was a few examples of wild flora.

1/400sec, f/4.5, ISO 100, 105mm
1/1250sec, f/5.6, ISO 125, 300mm

Some plants contained their own faunae, if insects count as faunae.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

Not knowing how many bugs we’d see, I initially stuck with using my telephoto lens, resisting switching to my macro. The results came out really well.

1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm
1/200sec, f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm

This worked out, because we soon were away from plants and looking back at birds.

1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm

Shooting some bugs requires different techniques than others. With bees, you’ve just got to be quick and hope, or if you’re lucky they’re distracted by pollen and you can spend a minuscule amount of time with a shot.

With more flighty critters such as dragonflies, who will settle for a while until you spook them, I start photographing as soon as possible, whilst carefully approaching them. That way I get a series of progressively closer shots until they fly off, and I can just use the last one.

1/320sec, f/5.6, ISO 125, 300mm

Some of these dragonflies, however, were comfortable enough for me to get pretty close, so I finally switched to my macro.

1/800sec, f/2.8, ISO 125, 100mm
1/320sec, f/7.1, ISO 320, 100mm

It works on bees too.

1/1000sec, f/2.8, ISO 100, 100mm

Soon we were back looking at ducks. This one was in a shady pool that made for some lovely reflections on the water.

1/80sec, f/5, ISO 160, 160mm

The centre is also home to a pair of otters, who we were lucky enough to see at feeding time.

1/250sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm
1/320sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm
1/400sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm
1/40sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm
1/320sec, f/5, ISO 160, 200mm
1/500sec, f/5, ISO 160, 200mm

In the middle of the park is a large patch of water, in which the silhouetted birds I photographed earlier were playing. This meant that I could get some shots of birds against what looked like a huge blue expanse of water.

1/1600sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm
1/1600sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm

One of the classic shots I try for when photographing water bound birds, especially geese, is to capture them flapping their wings whilst bathing.

1/800sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 240mm
1/640sec, f/5.6, ISO 160, 300mm

The last shot I took was when we resisted the otter pound on our way out and I took of one of them swimming underwater.

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 100, 105mm

It’s been a bit of a quiet period on this site. Somehow time has flown. I have shot a couple of things and have one or two ideas or trips up my sleeve, but at the moment it seems that writing is my problem area. I was pretty surprised to see it was May when I last posted anything. Where did June and July go?

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