Wildlife of High Hauxley
My first attempt at photographing the local wildlife at High Hauxley Nature Reserve in Northumberland didn't go quite as I'd planned. I've never tried bird photography before and found it to be a far steeper learning curve than anticipated.
It was also my first time out with the colossal Fujifilm XF 200mm f2 R LM OIS WR , which took a bit of getting used-to. I've never shot with anything longer than 90mm, so it felt a little unfamiliar at first; not only the size and weight, but the narrow field of view and ridiculously shallow depth of field.
Mine is a pre-owned copy - I'm not a professional photographer, so I couldn't justify the price brand-new, which is as hefty as the lens itself. I wanted to give it a thorough test-drive to make sure its previous owner had taken good care of it, so I headed up the road to High Hauxley to find some of the red squirrels that allegedly frequent the area.
Safe to say, I didn't see any red squirrels. I did, however, bump into a couple of you Roe Deer on the way, who stopped to pose for a hurried road-side portrait before running off toward the beach. These were my first shots with the 200mm behemoth, and they didn't turn out too badly.
I had been hoping for a beautiful golden hour, with clear skies forecast for the first couple of hours, but the only cloud in the sky was directly in front of the sun. I found a beautiful shiny pheasant who gave me a funny look when he spotted me crouching in the bushes.
After that, I took several hundred photographs of the local bird life, although very few of them were worth posting here. The lens is incredible. Better than I am.
It's ridiculously sharp, and the background separation wide-open is gorgeous. The out-of-focus rendering reminds me of my old Zeiss 50mm Planar - a little busy and painterly rather than creamy smooth - but the 'bokeh' was one of the things I loved most about that lens. It had a character of its own, and this one is just the same.
Needless to say, I have a lot of practicing to do. Focus, shutter-speed, ISO and depth-of-field are so much more critical in bird photography than any other subject I've shot before. I got plenty of birds in focus, but rarely with sufficient depth of field to capture the whole body and wings. These were the few shots I thought decent enough to demonstrate my work in progress.