Springwatch has arrived in our garden

We’ve recently treated ourselves to a new toy… an infrared camera trap. Tonight was a trial run with it, and we are utterly delighted with the results… our first ever night time image at 1:57am this morning was Mr Hedgehog having a wander around our orchard. I cannot wait to see if he comes back tonight and whether he brings anyone with him. We have twisted the camera a little further round to the left to try and get a better shot of him as he emerges from the wild. Watch this space…

To soften or not to soften? That is the question

So the age old photography mantra is to capture sharp images. But since I have started taking infrared shots I have found myself experimenting with post processing like never before. Some new effects which are gradually introducing themselves to my processing regime include boosting contrast to crazy levels, softness, graining and vignetting. (!) I know, I know… I said I would never post process to this extent, but I do love the way that infrared light challenges preconceptions about sharpness and detail. All of a sudden the detail almost does not matter – the light is the star of the picture, not the subject. And as long as I disclose how I post process, then surely there is no harm in a little creative experimentation? That’s how I see my infrared photography… it’s more of an art form, a creative experiment, a play on expectations and the norm, it’s painting with monochrome – for grown ups :)Take for example the image to the left.  This is a very soft image, purposefully created in this way to accentuate the light and concentrate the focus on the bands of lights that help to illuminate the single tree. I have purposefully framed the shot

Being prepared as a photographer in a digital world

This is a technical post about what to do when (before!) equipment fails and how to work around difficulties in non-urban locations. Earlier this year we travelled to Kruger National Park with a small group and spent a fantastic two weeks exploring the southern part of the park. We’d been before and have plenty of experience in Africa and isolated locations. The first few days went well technically and thankfully this was the period we saw most wildlife. As the trip went on though, our equipment started to misbehave. In this post I’ll take each occurrence, detail what happened and what I’d do differently in the future. Hard drive glitching or failure – having an alternate approach We usually back up our CF cards to a pair of Freecom Tough Drives before clearing them ready for the next day’s shoot, and use a laptop to do the copy. On this trip, something odd started happening: extreme lockups for 30 seconds or so whether nothing was possible, then a return for 10 or 20 seconds, and back into a lockup. The computer was basically unusable (not helpful for Marie trying to prepare some work materials on holiday) and this was the

Lessons in infrared photography – just when you think you have cracked it…

Regular followers of the Taraji Blue blog will know that I have recently become obsessed with infrared photography. For Christmas, Ali bought me a compact digital camera complete with infrared filter and I was immediately hooked. After first experimenting with the style of photography in Lapland over Christmas, I took to the streets of York every available weekend to hone my skills further. The wee compact was fun to use and gave some really great results – the only issue was that because the screw on infrared filter was so black you could not focus using it. You therefore had to unscrew the filter, focus and compose the shot, then replace the filter to take the image. Very fiddly and time consuming. Not an issue for landscape photography – but much more so when attempting to photograph wildlife or humans. Regardless, my main aim was to build up my skills with the equipment before the real test – South Africa in March 2013. However, Alistair delighted me with a lovely birthday present just days before we traveled – a second hand Canon 550D which had been chipped to take only infrared stills and infrared HD video.  Needless to say, it had not been out of my hands for the entire trip to South Africa. It is a fantastic wee camera and I

A Different Perspective On African Wildlife Photography.

I’m chuffed that we seem to have some very different shots from our time in Kruger National Park this time round – and not just because of my shiny new infrared camera. Alistair has taken some stunning paint-like images of impala (above), capturing their movement and grace in a new light, and I had a great time capturing the creativity of mother nature as she created patterns and shapes in water (below). I must admit, I don’t find it easy to reinterpret the usual photographic suspects – I am all too tempted to grab the zoom lens to capture the big cats, beautiful birds and graceful elephants in all their glory – but I was also aware that this was our third time in Kruger and our third time to Africa in just 14 months so we already had plenty of ‘stock shots’ and there was no point in duplicating these. The challenge was, therefore, to capture Kruger in a different light and shed another perspective on the incredible African landscape and wildlife that inhabits it. Two of my favorite images have been showcased in this blog. More photos are available in our Taraji Blue ‘New’ gallery as well as in our Taraji Blue South Africa