Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Waxwings In Burnley

Whilst out doing a spot of location finding I heard reports of a flock of Waxwing in Burnley, so a quick visit to the site produced a really nice group of c30 birds. It was very late in the day and not the best conditions for photography, but I did manage a few record shots.

There seems to be good numbers of waxwings showing all over the UK so with luck I will be able to get some more images in the coming weeks.

Waxwing Burnley Lancashire

Waxwing Burnley Lancashire

Waxwing Burnley Lancashire

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Frosty Start

Kingfisher 1

An early pre sunrise start found me sat in the Eric Morecambe hide at the Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. I had a few target species for the day mainly Green Shank and possibly the Great White Egret.

However its a long time since I have visited the reserve at weekend, I normally make my visits midweek and aim to be long gone before the reserve opens. Now I know why.... by 7.70am the hide was full of the loudest birders I have come a cross in a good few years.

The constant shouting across the hide about the ID of Shoveler, which in fact were Mallard made any real photography impossible.

But all was not lost, the sight of a stunning Kingfisher on a frosty perch can make any trip worth the effort. I was drawn by the amazing contrast of the bird against the cold, blue and frosty background. Not my best photograph ever but a superb memory.

Later in the day I decided to take a look at the Bearded Tits on the main causeway. They were there but again a lot of birders were on the path and the birds seemed to be keeping a low profile.

In the end I resorted to walking the reserve with just my binoculars and doing some good old fashioned birding... and as ever Leighton Moss delivered the birds. I saw a Cettis Warbler on the main causeway along with a great view of a Bittern from the lower hide. All in all a goods days birding. Hope to make a return visit later this week but possibly will wait until after the schools go back next week.

On the drive home the pager alerted me to reports of a Waxwing in Wray. So a quick drive to the location did in fact produce not one but three Waxwings. By the time I arrived it was just going dark so again no photography possible, but a great bird to see regardless.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Bird Feeders for Photography.


Whilst we all get drawn to rare and exotic wildlife, its really important to learn what is close to home. My back garden bird feeders are very busy at the moment and it makes the editing and admin work at the computer so much easier when I can sit with a 600mm focused on the seed logs.

Whilst most commercial bird feeders don't add to a photograph a simple home made seed log is a great addition. Simply find a suitable piece of old tree stump or branch, drill out some good sized holes and pack with suitable bird food. I tend to seal the bird seed in with lumps of fat. This makes the food that bit harder to get out, so the birds stick around that bit longer.

These logs can be positioned against a suitable background and even transported out into the field. The great thing with type of bird photography is you can do it anytime and you don't need massive long lenses. Its also amazing just how quickly the birds find the food, even in new locations.

If you decide to make a portable feeder log its a great idea to add an old tripod plate to the log. Then it can be mounted on any old tripod legs and positioned in the exact position you meed. They no time to make and will supply a source of endless images.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Some new gear arrived today.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was in the process of re evaluating my equipment. For some time I have been using a Nikkor 500mm F4.0 lens for the majority of my wildlife work.However finding a need for the ability to capture wider, more environmental images combined with a strong emphasis on bird photography in the UK as opposed to extended foreign trips led me to look at the Nikkor 200-400mm F4 lens along with the 600mm F4 Nikkor, which would become a practical lens when working in the UK and able to escape airline weight restrictions to some degree.

So after much research and testing the two lenses were ordered. Both arrived today and have now been fitted with suitable Wimberly replacement lens plates.

I will be posting more information on these new lenses over the next few weeks, along with detailed information on new tripods and heads which have also been updated to cope with the new heavyweight lenses. In the meantime here are the two new lenses just out of the box!!!

New Long Glass

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Red Deer

Last week I made a trip to Tatton Park in Cheshire to capture some Red Deer images. There was very little activity with the stags, so it looks like the warmer weather over the last week or so is delaying the start of the rut. I only managed to get to Tatton late in the day and as expected lighting conditions were not the best.

I don't often use black and white in wildlife images but it seemed to work well on some of these pictures. I will be returning to the Red Deer over the next few days.

All images were captured using the new Nikkor 200-400mm Lens which is proving to be a great addition to my equipment.

Talking of photographic equipment I have received a few e-mails and comments on the blog asking what equipment I use for my wildlife and bird photography. The truth is at this time I am revising my equipment in terms of long lenses. The Nikkor 200-400mm is the first of two major additions. The second big purchase is a 600mm F4 Nikkor which is on its way to me as I write this posting.

I intend to do a blog posting on my equipment in the next week or so, keep your eyes peeled and as ever if you have any equipment related questions please drop me a line.

Here are a few more images from this trip.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve Lancashire

On Friday last week I spent most of the day at the RSPB Leighton Moss reserve. I concentrated my attention on the salt marsh hides, were there was plenty of wader activity to keep me busy.

I was also testing out the new Nikkor 200-400mm Lens which I hope to be adding to my equipment so given a stunning October day Leighton Moss seemed like a great place to be.

Managed to get some good views of the Curlew Sandpiper which was great and seemed to be causing a lot of interest amongst the gathered birders.

Here are just a few images from a very busy day, many more to follow over the coming days.





Wednesday, 6 October 2010

More Orangutan Images.

Spent some time today working on more images for our Orangutan project and just wanted to share these with you. We are looking at the possibility of going out to Borneo again in the near future.



Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lake District Landscape Workshop

Autum Gold

Next Thursday and Friday I will be up in the Lake District with four landscape photography delegates. So its out with the ND Graduated filters and the walking boots.

For details of of courses for the rest of this year please give me a call.

Speaking of landscape photography, I am still waiting to get hold of the Lee Filter system which will work with the amazing Nikkor 14-24mm F2.8 lens. Robert White should be getting these in the very near future and I must admit life will be so much easier when I get my hands on one of these new filter systems.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)


Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve Reeds

Another image from our local nature reserve Mere Sands Woods


The Orangutan's Of Borneo


Some time ago Stephanie and myself visited Borneo to photograph the Orangutan. We had some amazing and life changing contact with these incredible creatures, both in the wild and at the Sepilok rehab centre.

This image has become possibly our most used photograph to date. I will never forget the emotion of being so close to "Noreen" as she is known with her then two year old baby "Natasha".

Now that wildlife photography is such a major part of our professional lives both Stephanie and myself feel we should help promote awareness of our endangered species both in the UK and overseas. To anybody who knows the two of us, it will come as no great surprise that we would choose to work with primate conservation. We will be doing anything we can to help raise awareness of the plight of these amazing animals.

Can I ask you take time to look at this website and consider becoming involved in some way.

All future sales of this and any of our other Orangutan images will be donated to help their conservation.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve

Managed a short camera walk around Mere Sands this afternoon. The place was deserted, which was no real surprise given the dreadful weather today.

However the heavy rain did leave the woodland trails looking really fresh. Both images were taken using a Nikon D3s Body with 14-24mm F2.8 Nikkor Tripod mounted exposure 200iso F22



Reed Bunting

Reed Bunting

Red Squirrel's At Formby

Sunday will find me with three keen delegates looking to photography the Red Squirrel population at Formby Merseyside. Here are a few of images from past field courses with these amazing animals.

Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris

Welcome to the Steve Ashton Photography Blog

Hello and welcome to my blog. Here is just a little bit of information about me and my background in wildlife photography.

I grew up on the shores of Morecambe Bay in Lancashire, were from a very early age I developed a strong interest in the natural world. As a teenager I would sneak away from football games with friends Binoculars in hand I would spend hours simply watching the amazing spectacle of Morecambe Bays abundant birdlife.

My interest in photography seemed to grow with my ever increasing desire to observe and understand the wildlife I was observing.

As soon as I could I became involved in wildlife conservation with the RSPB, and my interest in photography developed into a career which would take me around the world and enable me to see many of those birds and animals I read about as a child.

I have maintained one philosophy over the years which is simply. "The welfare of any animal is more important than any picture I could possibly take". 

I now supply wildlife images to  clients around the world and my work is represented by a number of agents both in the UK and overseas. My main interest is the wildlife and natural history of the UK and birdlife in particular. However I spend considerable time on projects in other countries.

As a very early abopter of digital photography I have continued to refine and develop the process and I also offer photographic training to photographers of all levels.

I hope that through this blog I can share with you my life as a professional photographer and pass on as much advice and information as possible. I know many people are looking for advice on choosing the right equipment, and I will do my best to offer advice based on my experience. To support this I will, were possible include reviews any news about interesting equipment and pass on my findings.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have, be they photography or wildlife related. I will do my very best to help and hope encourage you to share my passion for the natural world and photography.