Remember September

We’re now very deep into October, so it’s high time I looked back over photos taken in September. I had thought September was a quiet month, but not at all. Flicking through photos taken over the last month I was surprised to find that I’ve been many places and taken many images.

September was peppered with trips into the Yorkshire Dales with limited success in regard to photography. More than anything, these trips were valuable catharsis – driving and thinking rather than specifically for the purpose of photography – so I was not overly distressed to come home without many, or on occasion any, “keepers”. I do find it too easy to fall into the trap of scoring days out by how many photographs I’m pleased with when I get home and into Photoshop but, as per my recent post Memories vs Photographs, it seems it’s a lesson I need to learn, over and over.

Nikon D800, Samyang 14mm f/2.8; 1/40 @ f/9.0, ISO 50

More and more often this month I found myself hesitating to take Maisie with me on my trips out. Maisie is nearly 12 years old now and is beginning to struggle to keep up while I’m wandering about in the woods or on the moors. It’s a genuine dilemma. I’m extremely reluctant to face the reality that Maisie is getting too old to participate by default and I have to weigh up whether she’d be happier, even better off, resting at home.

Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4; 1/200th @ f/6.3, ISO 50

I have a few “go-to” locations on my drives out, which are locations I feel very comfortable and that I’m the most familiar with. On the plus side, this means that I know pretty much before I arrive at the location what kinds of photos will be possible in the conditions. However, on the negative side I find this impacts on the amount of time I commit to exploring new locations and seeking out new photographic opportunities. With diesel getting more expensive at the moment, I’m far more reluctant to chance the unfamiliar at the risk of coming home with nothing to show for the time – and more pertinently, at the moment, the expense – spent prospecting for images.

Nikon D5300, Sigma 105mm f/2.8; 1/200 @ f/25.0, ISO 100

In accordance with the Law of Unintended Consequences, I finally discovered the down-side of a greater working distance with a longer focal length macro lens: Depth of field! What I had completely forgotten, while struggling to manage with the close focusing distance of the 40mm Micro-Nikkor DX lens, was the increased depth of field that this lens affords. With the Sigma 105mm at 1:1 macro, the depth of field is less than a quarter that of the 40mm! At first I was baffled by the struggle to get useful focus with the Sigma, but eventually the light went on. Wider angle lenses have inherently deeper depths of field, and this physical challenge doesn’t go away in macro, it’s exacerbated. It doesn’t help that I’m diabetic, with diminishing sensation in my feet, making hand-held macro photography even more difficult as I attempt to rock back and forth to nail subject focus distance. I had been contemplating selling my 40mm Micro-Nikkor but I’ve changed my mind completely now. It remains invaluable as a resource.

Glenn and I took advantage of the later sunrise to sleep in when we returned to Bempton Cliffs. Glenn, of course, has a Sigma 150-600mm super telephoto lens, which has significantly greater reach than my Nikkor 70-300mm. Bearing this in mind, I brought my 15×70 binoculars which have an even greater reach than Glenn’s Sigma 150-600mm. Still, it’s not a competition! 😉

Again, taking lessons from my visit to Knowsley Safari Park, I set out to make memories rather than images and thoroughly enjoyed merely observing with the binoculars.

Nikon D5300, Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6; 1/2000 @ f/5.6, ISO 100

That said, I still captured one or two images of birds that I was very happy with.

The reach of the Sigma 150-600mm is fantastic, though, and the image quality is tremendous for a lens with such a capable zoom range. The bokeh is very similar in nature to my 105mm and the subject separation is wonderful. It did spark in me a great desire to buy my own Sigma 150-600mm but with the best will in the world, it’s currently out of my price range if I am to keep enough money back to maintain my car. Without the car, the lens would serve no purpose. It’s something of a catch-22.

Another notable event in September was our visit to the Trackrod Yorkshire Rally at Dalby Forest near Pickering, North Yorkshire. I attended two stages, both in the forest, one night-time and one daytime. It was an opportunity to experiment with camera settings and to practice action panning. I was not overly delighted with the results – more particularly the lack of variety in them – but I created a gallery of those images, which you can see here if interested.

All in all, September did indeed prove to be much busier than I’d realised, with lots of excursions and plenty of photography. Tune in next month to see if October can compete!