Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Watch this space...

I caved.

One slightly used (200 shutter releases) Canon 50D has been bid for and won on eBay. It's only in Aberdeen, so if by some miracle the seller can get it to the post office this afternoon it might be with me tomorrow, but it's more likely to be Saturday/Monday now (2nd January is a bank holiday in Scotland instead of Boxing Day).

I got it for £130 less than Jessops wanted and £70 less than the cheapest online price I could find, but it's still a large enough amount to make me a bit 'Omigod I don't believe I just spent that!' So I'm going to use it with the lenses I already have for a bit, rather than splash out an even larger amount on the 100-400mm L lens as well. That way I can see what improvements (she says, being optimistic!) in the pictures are due to the camera body and what gets changed by the lens.

New camera, new boots, new year, new photos - 2009 is going to be fun :o)

Sunday, 28 December 2008


Today we headed down to Inverness so Mick could buy me some new walking boots for Christmas. The first decision of the day was which route? The A9 coast road (the longest distance, but the fastest road), Strath Halladale (medium distance, single track) or Strath Naver (shortest distance, very bendy single track). We plumped for Strath Halladale as a balance between miles covered and using a road that had been gritted and were glad we did. This is the view we pulled over to take a photo of:

Strath Halladale (1)

Mick had turned to look at the view in the other direction and was making a strange stuttering noise behind me, which eventually turned into "Stag!" And so there was - a young red deer stag with his lady:

Red deer stag & doe (2)

But nothing could have prepared us for seeing this, just 50 feet from the road:

Red deer stags (3)

There must have been 15 or 20 of them, quietly grazing, completely unbothered by us watching from the car.

Red deer stags (1)

One of them had lost an antler in the rut:

Red deer stags (2)

A bit further on we saw a buzzard by the side of the road, happily tearing a rabbit to pieces, but it had taken off by the time I got the camera out.

I dropped into Jessops in Inverness to have a look at the camera I'm intending to buy and see how it felt in my hand - I've held the next model up from the 50D and because my hands are tiny, find it awkward to hold, but the 50D is fine, fortunately :o) They had the 100-400mm L lens in stock as well and I asked if they could do me a deal if I bought both together. The ticket price was £1,850 in the shop and I knew I could get them online for about £150 less than that - or £250 less if I was prepared to take a second-hand lens in near mint condition. Unfortunately the best they could do was £20 off, so I thanked them for their time and left it.

Then onto Tiso, the big (and I mean big! It has a rock-climbing wall and several types of terrain on the floor for people to try out gear on before they buy!) outdoor shop on the outskirts of Inverness. I never thought I'd own a pair of blue boots, but they were the ones that fit best after I'd walked over their rocky path a few times and they have fantastic ankle support, so I've absolutely no excuse for not getting out and about with my camera next year!

We went back via Strath Naver, seeing another three herds of deer (mostly does, not near enough the road to stop for) and got up it just in time to catch the sunset:

Sunset at Strath Naver

Saturday, 27 December 2008

A common Thurso species

It struck me the other day that there's one species often seen in north coast waters, particularly off Thurso, that I haven't blogged about yet, despite photographing it several times.

Often mistaken for a seal, due to their black pelts, the Thurso Surfer is a hardy creature that will brave the waves even on Boxing Day if the surf's good:

Boxing Day surfers (3)

Boxing Day surfers (4)

North Light reckons he counted about 24 out on Christmas Eve and we saw 15 or so out yesterday.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Following on from my last post...

With the moon on my left and the sun on my right,
To my brother, good morning, my sister, good night.

8.50am, back doorstep:


Approaching mid-winter

Moon-rise over Lednagullin (the village - well, more of a hamlet really - on the other side of Armadale bay), taken 3.10pm yesterday afternoon.

Moonrise over Lednagullin

Friday, 5 December 2008

Lucky day

Ever since I drove past Dounreay last week and saw a buzzard happily devouring a freshly killed rabbit not 15 feed from the road, I've vowed to take my camera bag with me EVERY time I get in the car. I nearly forgot it today and very nearly didn't bother to go back into the house for it.

I'm glad I did. I have other shots taken today, but I'm so unbelievably chuffed with this one that it's going to have a post of its own! Nothing done to it other than cropping out some telephone wires from the bottom and a touch of sharpening when converting the RAW file.

Buzzard (1)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Cold day

I wouldn't want to be on Orkney right now:

Snowy Orkney

I had to go to the post office at Melvich today, so instead of turning the car round in someone's driveway, I went round the loop to see if there were any oystercatchers at Portskerra. There were:

Oystercatcher (2)

And this is why I want that new camera and bigger zoom after Christmas; the bird is sharp but because I only have 6.3MP, I can't crop in to get the shot I want without the picture going grainy (this was only ISO200):

Oystercatcher (1)

As I went back to the car, I spotted someone looking for their lunch:

Hunting buzzard (1)

And this is my favourite of the day:

Hunting buzzard (2)