East Yorkshire - again.

Posted on 10 September 2014, 10:31

It’s not like I’ve stopped taking pictures…

Earlier in the year I spent a week in Oban on the west coast of Scotland – the jumping-off spot for Mull and the other islands – but came back with little to show for it. As a friend said, “It’s a lang way to go for a few pictures of craas"...

I’ve also shot the Sunderland Air Show (albeit from Newcastle!) and have of course been out and about in general, but just haven’t really had anything I felt warranted posting up.

Not to worry.

Since Oban I’ve been using the Canon 70D. I bought it as a back-up for the 7D (which got drenched in salt water a few years ago on another trip to Yorkshire and which, I felt, must surely be on its last legs), but it almost immediately became my main body – in terms of build quality I can’t fault it (that it is “only” a plastic body is a complete irrelevance); the AF is easily a match for the excellent AF in the 7D (and is actually better, I am realising); and the image quality is clearly better – a lot better – than that of the 7D.

Not to say that the 7D isn’t still a great camera – of course it is – but the 70D has a lot going for it in direct comparison, and I speaking personally don’t miss the 1 FPS the 7D has over the 70D: in fact I’m actually using the 3 FPS mode a lot these days.

So, East Yorkshire again? I’m addicted to Bempton’s Gannets, I suppose, and Bridlington’s always good for waders – Turnstones always, and usually Purple sandpipers and Knot.

Except this time. Turnstones only, this time. Still, I like Turnstones…

I stayed, as usual, at the Mont Millais in Bridlington – Monday to Friday this time, in the first week of September.

The plan was simple enough: as I suggest, I’m hooked on the Bempton Gannets, but wanted to get something more than “just” the fairly ubiquitous “Gannet drifting by in profile…” shots that are all too easy to end up with. I also really hoped for some good light and good winds – both of which directly impact on the birds’ behaviour, and the potential for images that “pop”.

The wind was perfect, the Gannets performed brilliantly (and the RSPB visitor centre was closed for refurbishment, so the whole reserve was all but deserted, which I appreciated immensely!), but sadly I only got The Light on one of the two days I spent at Bempton – that was enough though, as these few examples hopefully demonstrate:

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs

Gannet, Bempton Cliffs

Pretty happy with these, I have to say. They’re unquestionably sharper than anything I’ve ever achieved in similar circumstances from the 7D, something I see all the time from the 70D.

I used the camera’s “Zone” AF mode exclusively for the Gannets, and the number of sharp, well-focused files I got as a result, was ridiculous.

Brid’s Turnstones rarely disappoint:

Turnstone, Bridlington

Turnstone, Bridlington

Turnstone, Bridlington

Turnstone, Bridlington

While pottering around the harbour one day, I came across a very obliging Cormorant:

Cormorant, Bridlington

Cormorant, Bridlington

Cormorant, Bridlington

Handsome little fella, I thought..!

As to the rest of the week: I was a little disappointed (again) not to hit lucky with migrants coming in off the continent on the Easterlies that had prevailed during my trip and the days before (I did see a Spotted flycatcher at distance near Buckton), but even common subjects can make for attractive images:

Dunnock, Sewerby

Reed bunting, Buckton (one of my favourite images from the week).

There was an unavoidable “sameness” to many (many) of the images I was able to capture during the week – I came back with several thousand files, the vast majority of which will never see the light of day; but these are a pretty good example of what I came home with, and I’m very happy with these results.

Now then: it’s an unavoidable fact of life that bird photography holidays necessitate dragging along a laptop, PSU and all the other bits and bobs that allow the photographer to dump his day’s efforts somewhere safe, thereby freeing up memory cards and allowing some initial reviewing and culling (if not editing) to be done.

This time round, I decided that I was sick of the weight and faff associated with a lappy, and instead determined to do the same job with a cheap and cheerful Android 8” tablet I’ve had kicking around for a while.

And it worked perfectly. All I did was stick a reasonably large MicroSD card in the tablet (64gb did the job), install CR2 Thumbnailer, plug in a small card reader using the USB OTG cable that came with the tablet, and I was good to go.

Although the tablet only supports USB 2.0, files transferred at a very reasonable sub three seconds apiece, so I was able to download the files to the MicroSD card in fairly short order while pottering around the hotel room after each day’s wanderings.

One small word of warning. Android machines don’t come with a Recycle Bin, so make sure you don’t carelessly press “Delete” instead of “Copy” at the critical point in the process, like I did!

Luckily I was easily able to recover the deleted files (which include most of the pictures here) from the card without any trouble when I got home to my PC, but I don’t recommend the stress!

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