Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The long walk...

Owl, originally uploaded by Christopher Mills

Well, here we are - November already! To say things have changed a bit since my last blog update in September is something of an understatement. Photography is not the foremost thing in mind in some respects, but in other ways it very much is. Confused?

Employment levels in our household have gone from 100% to 0% in the space of a month (as have my hopes of acquiring that 600mm lens I'd been drooling over). The job market, compared to when I was looking to change in late 2009, is awful. In three weeks, I've had two phone calls from agencies and no follow-ups. Tomorrow, I'm registering for job-seekers allowance. After 18 years of paying into the system, I'm going to take some back. There's plenty of people out there who have taken more than they've put in, so I have no qualms about it.

Obviously, I would prefer to be employed. It's no fun watching my 600mm fund vanish down the mortgage plughole. But it has provided an opportunity to get that website up I'd been promising! It's quite basic, the gallery is a tad clunky and dreamweaver's forgiving nature with case sensitivity has led to a lot of monotonous file name correction. But here it is... tada!


I will be implementing an online shopping interface in the near future and any suggestions or help to improve the site will be gratefully received. I don't anticipate making a living out of it - I've arrived at the conclusion that professional wildlife photographers are mainly tour guides and/or started out with enough money behind them not to have to worry about making a living.
It's an interesting mix of people in the wildlife photography "scene", but appears generally devoid of thirty-something IT professionals with mortgages at the sharp end! I recently saw a tweet questioning why people seem unwilling to go out with their gear in adverse weather... Whilst I agree fully with the sentiment, if you don't have a D3s or D700 and fast lenses, there's little point when the light is poor (as it often is when it's overcast - unless your preferred subjects are static animals). It's a discipline where the photographer does play second fiddle to the equipment at times, there's been many occasions where I've wished I could have got an extra couple of stops out of my D300, or missed a shot taking the teleconverter off the 300mm to get down to f2.8 - or found that the subject is just too far away without it.  I love getting out in conditions that make other photographers want to hide their gear away, but sometimes it just isn't worth the time and effort. Unless it's a particularly special or rare subject, who really wants to see a flat, lifeless, stationary image? Of course landscaping is different - with the right conditions the weather can lend itself to creating a spectacular image.

Back on the subject of the website, I must take the time to thank my wife Helen for her efforts on the website - she's done the majority of the donkey work on this and without her it wouldn't have happened at all. If I can supplement my income and maybe fund some new gear, I'll be happy. The thought of doing weddings, portraits and the like is bobbing around my head. I'll see where the wind takes me... The IT market is dead.

Finally, I can't leave you without an image after all this time away, so here's one from a recent trip to Longleat Safari Park. I'm not sure of the exact species, possibly an Indian Eagle Owl or other bubo species, but it was a fantastic bird to see at close quarters. This shot was taken with the D300 and Sigma 120-300 with 1.4 TC attached. This one came out well, but there were a lot of throw-aways - I had to use manual focus as the lens simply couldn't keep up. It's a fantastic combo for sports, but it can't handle birds in flight!

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