Oat Fields and Storm Clouds

The weather in the UK, as everyone here will know, has been a little bit erratic of late… One minute we’re experiencing record breaking temperatures, the next we’re enduring months worth of rainfall in a couple of hours.

Personally, I love it. I think the extreme weather keeps things interesting (although I am lucky not to live within a flood plane). Much like when snow hits the country, the extreme heat forces you to slow down and abandon your usual routines. This can either prove stressful and frustrating, or, if you’re prepared to embrace it, it can be strangely liberating!

Lately, in an attempt to embrace the stormy conditions, I’ve been desperately hoping for thunder and lighting. I have a couple of locations planned out where I really would love to capture some extreme weather on camera. Sadly, the lightning seems to be hitting everywhere but near me. I’m still hopeful though…

In the meantime, last weekend I ended up in an oat field near Kenilworth after taking a chance on a footpath I’ve driven past multiple times but never explored before. The sky was looking incredibly moody, threatening some of those vast showers I mentioned earlier. I exaggerated the stormy effect with a Lee Circular Polariser and 0.9 ND Filter to save the highlights in the clouds, and I’ve made a black and white conversion to my own tastes in Capture One.

All storm cloud photos were taken on the Fuji X-H1 with the Fujifilm XF16 - 55mm f/2.8 Lens, processed from RAW with Capture One.

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Birding With the Fuji X-H1

Recently I took one of my Fuji cameras (the X-H1 along with the Fujinon XF 50-140mm F2.8 and 1.4 x tele-converter) out for a spot of birding at my local(ish) RSPB nature reserve, Middleton Lakes. Now, I’m definitely not a seasoned bird watcher, but I do have fond memories from my childhood of visiting Leighton Moss up in Silverdale, Lancashire whilst staying with my grandparents who lived in the area. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler without googling it (- in fact I had to use Google to even find the names of some birds that I couldn’t tell you the difference between…), but I still really enjoy seeing birds doing their thing in their natural environment.

I was lucky enough to encounter two really friendly feathered friends during my trip. The first was a male pheasant, all too happy to undergo a portrait session on a fallen tree. There were definitely a few ‘Zoolander’ style looks to camera. Viewing the resultant photos on my computer, I was really amazed by how rich the pheasant’s colours were, particularly that deep red around the eyes - beautiful.

Later on during my walk I found a curious little Great Tit that did some human watching from his position up in the tree above me.

Tom Cruise Squirrel

If anyone at RSPB Middleton Lakes in Tamworth is wondering why the bird feeder above the duck pond is on the floor today, well, it's because of this guy...