Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photographing Swans for Paintings

I came across these swans on the formal lake at Foutains Abbey near Ripon whilst on a family day out last week.
I couldn't resist photographing them. Swans are relatively easy to photograph and as a result I often overlook them. But they make a great subject for a painting, like in this one.
I shot these photographs on manual, spot metering the swans to make the already dark water almost black for a dramatic effect.

Often in these situations it is better to set your camera on manual, because otherwise if you leave it up to the camera to evaluate the exposure you can get over exposed photos.
I think I'm going to enjoy turning these subjects into paintings.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Field Fare Frenzy

The garden pond was bustling with bird life as the snow thawed this week. There were bullfinches, goldfinches, black birds, tree sparrows and these rather beautiful field fares.

The field fares are out in force at the moment, I watched some in Millington pastures too gathering up the last of the berries on a hawthorn bush.

I couldn't resist snapping these photographs as I watched. They should make a good pose for a painting - maybe even a Christmas card for next year?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kestrel Love

The kestrel pair I that feed in the garden every day often wait on the electric poles for me to put food out for them. I was quite amazed one freezing cold day last week to see them mate despite the fact that there was five inches of snow on the ground.

They have been inspecting the nest box in our garden too - so fingers crossed they choose to use it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Painting in the Backgrounds

I spend a lot of time photographing and watching wildlife for my paintings but the backgrounds that I get with each photograph is not always suitable for a painting. So at the same time I'm always on the look out for background ideas.
Sometimes I'll see some blossom which I think would look perfect to perch a wren on, or I'll spot a rock that I think I could sit a perergrine on, or even some farm machinery for a barn owl.
When I see something suitable, I photograph it and then file it away in my studio ready to fit with a subject at a later date.
Last week was the perfect chance to find snowy backgrounds and so I headed off to the Derwent River to catch the mist coming off the water.
 I deliberately shot the photograph below of the reflections in the water out of focus, to give me a soft-coloured background.
And flipped upside down like this

I think it should make a good background for a flying barn owl, like this one in Barn Owl on the Lookout.

Although I usually paint from photographs, I painted this one straight out of my head after a day at Fair Burn Ings.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Animal Love

Do animals experience love in the same way that we do? Whether animals feel emotions like love, jealousy and grief is the topic of my special'Valentine's Day' column in the Yorkshire Post this month.
Click here to read it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

No Snow at Spring Fair

I love getting out in the snow to see what wildlife I can find - last year I got some amazing photographs of hares mating despite the bitterly cold conditions.

But this has been our first snow fall all winter and I'm showing at Spring Fair in Birmingham - the most important buyers fair of the year. It has been really busy with shop owners stocking up on greeting cards and prints for the year ahead so I've had to contend with posting pictures of my best-selling 'snow' cards instead.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Short Eared Owl Watch

Did you know that owls with yellow eyes hunt during the day? My column in the Gazette & Herald this week is all about the day I watched five short eared owls hunting

Note their yellow eyes. This signifies that they hunt during the day. They make such a spectacle the way they quarter the grassland.
I'm looking forward to using these photographs for a painting. Click on the words short eared owls to link to the article.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Canvas Prints

Due to customer demand, I've started to offer some of my prints as canvases.

This one measures 6ftx4ft and costs £250. Gives it a modern twist. What do you think?