Treeless by Conor Cunningham

A Nuthatch on the stumpy trunk of Mr. Pigeon's tree.

The sods next door decided to cut down a tree which stood happily enough outside my kitchen window. There was a pigeon who lived in that tree who is now homeless, poor wee thing. He stuck around for a few days standing no a fence, but he's moved on; hopefully to greener pastures (literally).

There were also plenty of Chaffinches, Green Finches,Nuthatches, Great Tits, Blue Tits and Common House Sparrows who utilise the tree a great deal, but luckily enough they've stayed around, most likely only due to the food which I provide them.

A Blue Tit perched on another short haired tree.

The stump on which the birds are pictured here is Mr. Pigeon's old home. I hope he's happy wherever he's gone.

Spring Chickens by Conor Cunningham

A mother swan and her cygnets

The unusually warm weather continues and the birds' youngsters are all around the place. A trip recently to Østensjøvannet ( a small lake in Oslo ) revealed plenty of wee birds still yet to fledge and generally taking it easy.

A Great Crested Grebe and youngster

I used my 200mm lense for all of the shots which meant some pretty serious cropping on a lot of them. I hope to get myself a tele-extender soon which will boost me up to 400mm but at a cost of two f-stops which will bring me to f/5.6. Not ideal, but $1000 versus $10,000 is a no brainer at stage in my photographic career.

A Coot and her odd looking wee ones.

Oslo has its ups and downs, as do most cities, but its number of parks, forests, waterways and sea is fantastic for those that like the outdoors and the loonies amongst us who enjoying chasing after our flying friends.

Ducklings swim by with their mother to camera right, out of frame.

If you've not been to Østensjøvannet before, I can recommend a trip, even if it is just for a stroll or space forbid, a jog! If you do however wish to see some of spring's natural goodies, you won't be disappointed.

Great Crested Grebes giving the little one a swimming lesson.

Black Birds? (tips for photographing birds) by Conor Cunningham

I know there have been a lot of birds on this blog of late, but honestly, they're great fun to try and capture and they're quite nice, too. If you have a longer lense and are looking for a challenge, try and capture a stationary bird, and when you've got that trick under your belt, try capturing them in flight.

The black bird below (svart tross) was found in Tøyen, opposite the ring 2 entrance to the Oslo Botanical Gardens. I left the gardens after an afternoon walk somewhat disappointed as the birds were having a rest (can you blame them?) and the winter had taken its toll on the making for a somewhat duller than average park and some wet shoes. Not much I could do about the former, but after a lot I could do about the latter.

In terms of the photo's orginal area, the image has been cropped about 50%. There is only so much you can do with a 200mm lense when going after birds. I'd love a longer focal length, but a decent lense longer than 200mm costs a small fortune. 

So, that is where a good sensor comes in. I'm all for filling the frame and maximising detail, especially for prints, but with wildlife and sports, it isn't always possible. If you have good sensor such as the one found on a Canon 5d Mk III, you can crop in and still retain good picture quality. Just beware however you may run into problems when wanting to print.

Bird Photographing Tips and Tricks

Meter for the bird, not the background: I see many pictures of birds where the exposure has been set for the background and not the bird. This can lead to under exposed birds, especially when dealing with dark birds

Use TV ( or better yet, and if you can, manual): Most of the time when shooting birds, you will want a fast shutter speed to freeze the birds movements. Even when they're not flying birds can be hasty wee things. Dial in your desired shutter speed and take a few snaps. If the animal is too dark, you can open up the aperture. If you're already wide open, bump up the ISO a stop or two and see what happens.

Exposure Compensation: If you're in P, TV or AV mode you can use exposure compensation to increase (most likely) or decrease your exposure. Be aware however, that at high shutter speeds there is a chance that you're lense is wide open already and exposure compensation won't work as it can't do anything to get more light. In that case, you'll have to bump up the ISO.

Practice: Put some bird seed out and you'll most likely find sparrows and tits feasting in no time. Practice on these wee critters. They're fast movers so if you can shoot them, you'll be doing very well!

Bird on a Fence by Conor Cunningham

I've spotted a bird I've not seen before, a common chaffinch (bokfink) in fact, in the backyard. Apparently it is as common as they come, but I've read that they migrate to Southern Europe for the winter. Not entirely sure if this one was just lazy, or the mild winter has invited it back.

Not much to write regarding the photography. Camera was in manual, bumped up the ISO to 800, lense at 200mm with IS on, f/2.8 and 1/80th of a second (it is dark outside, haven't seen the sun for many, many weeks).

I've decided I like this bird. Hope to see more of them!


Local Birds by Conor Cunningham

Even though I live in the centre of Norway's largest city, I'm still lucky enough to count a few birds as neighbours. My backyard, if one can call it that, has a few trees and with the help of a little birdseed sees Nuthatches (spettmeis), Great Tits (kjøttmeis) and European Blue Tits (blåmeis) regularly visit our bird feeders. They're a welcome site and hopefully they will thrive during the winter months.

European Blue Tit in a neighbours garden. f/2.8, 200mm, 1/250 and 320 ISO

I do notice however, that once the snow washes away, I see less and less Tits. Once a downpour of snow arrives they come right back. I've no idea where they go, but I'd love to find out. If you know, please let me know.

And on a photographic note; how's the bokeh? That lense rocks!