Wood pigeon in flight

I was in no rush to buy an Olympus E-m1x body as the spec did not seem to offer anything I needed, but as I now spend more time shooting video than stills pictures I suddenly became interested in the 120 fps video option for slow motion. I am now very glad I bought one and wish I had sooner.

The 120 FPS video is interesting, but it is the auto focus that has impressed me most. I have only had two opportunities to try it on birds in flight so far and it has performed amazingly well. It autofocuses even when I think it stands now chance. So long as I can hold the bird in the frame for a fraction of a second it locks on most times. The wood pigeon is in a messy situation with grave stones behind it, but it coped. My old Canon gear would have stood no chance.

It is a shame we have gone back to a heavier and larger camera body, but I am loving using it. The 4 custom settings are a real joy to use and to be able to toggle the custom settings on and off at the press of a button means I go from action flight mode to static settings in an instant. Why do not all cameras employ such a simple idea and how did I ever cope without it.


Wood pigeon, Columba palumbus, single bird in flight in cemetery, Warwickshire, July 2019. Olympus M1X, 300mm f4 lens. 1600 iso. 1/5000th at f4.

Dice snake

In April I went to Bulgaria to photograph reptiles and amphibians with Miroslav Slavchev. We managed 25 speices in a week, many of which I had never seen before and would not be capable of finding without Miro showing us how.  A well organised week that was a bit different to what I normally do.

Dice snake, Natrix tessellata, Bulgaria, April 2019. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 60mm f2.8 macro. 1/100th at f5.6. 1600 iso.

Grasshopper warbler

You do not get the chance to photograph Grasshopper warblers every day. This was taken from the car window and the bird was showing well as they tend to do when they first arrive on territory.


Grasshopper warbler, Locustella naevia, single bird singing on fence, Warwickshire, April 2019. Olympus em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4 extender. 400 iso. 1600th at f5,6

Little-ringed plover

Little-ringed plover, Charadrius dubius, single bird in display flight, Warwickshire, March 2019. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4 extender. 3200 iso. 12,800th sec at F5.6.

I would not have attempted this picture with my old Canon gear. With Olympus anything is possible. In fact over two sessions in a hide I only had three opportunites to take this picture and I got it on the third attempt. It was taken at 60 fps using Procapture with the focus set manually in front of the bird using Peaking to assist the focusing. No extra noise reduction has been done.

It is by far the most amazing camera I have ever used. If you have ever seen LRP’s in their display flight you will know how fast they move.

Eider duck mating

On the way back from Islay we called in at Seahouses to photograph the tame Eider duck. I take more and more video clips these days, but there is always the dilemma as to whether to shoot stills or video. When the female showed she was ready I had plenty of notice and time to choose either. I am glad I went to video mode as they turned their backs on me and it would have made a poor stills picture. I love the calls of Eider ducks, especially the sound the male makes as it dismounted.

Olympus Em1 MK2. 300mm f4 lens.

Barnacle geese

This picture sums up a very cold, wet and windy week on Islay in February. We saw a lot, but photographed little on the island. However, on the way north we spent the night at Glasgow and a long session at Hogganfield Loch for tame Goosander and Goldeneye. It has changed a lot since I was last there, but was still very good for photography.

On the way south we stopped at Seahouses for half a day with the Eider duck displaying in the harbour, whcih was equally successful.


Barnacle goose, Branta leucopsis, flock backlit, Islay, Hebrides, Scotland, February 2019. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm lens plus 1.4 extender. 400 iso. 1/2000th at F5.6 handheld.

Green woodpecker

At this time of year Green woodpeckers start calling a lot and I have noticed over the years that they call from the same clump of trees that they will later breed in. This telegraph pole is close to the nest site this pair have used for the last two years and I have seen them land on it a number of times. Today was sunny at last and I wasted a few hours sitting in a hide hoping they would land there again.

Olympus em1, 300mm lens. 400 iso.

Green woodpecker, Picus viridis, Single female on telegraph pole, Warwickshire, January 2019

Photographing jays

I have been spending a lot of time learning video. It is a complex subject with so many settings I do not understand. I have had to change the video editing software I was using as my old one could not cope with 4K video. I am now using Cyberlink PowerDirector 17 which I am finding easy to get to grips with. This clip I have put together tonight in a couple of hours. Dealing with sound is the hardest part of the whole process.

Eurasian jay

I wanted a few pictures of jays taking acorns off the floor rather than from logs. The floor is a raised platform covered in leaves. I placed an obvious perch above the platform that the jays would land on and see the bait below them.

Eurasian jay, Garrulus glandarius, single bird on ground with acorn, Warwickshire, December 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 40-150 f2.8 lens with 1.4 extender. 800 iso. 1/500th at f4.5.

Common buzzard

Common buzzard, Buteo buteo, single bird on dead pheasant, Warwickshire, December 2018. Olympus Em1 Mk2. 300mm f4 lens plus 1.4 extender. 1250th at f5.6. 400 iso

I have been baiting buzzards in a new field for about 2 weeks. The hide is half hidden behind the bank of a small pond and puts the lens at ground level. Next time I might move the bait a bit closer to the hide to reduce the amount of out of focus grass in the foreground. What I really want is more than one buzzard coming in so I get some displaying and fighting that they are prone to doing.