Rich Andrews photography
Rich Andrews photography
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I've always liked photography, and for years used a number of Canon and Minolta film cameras. I sold the lot in 2003 and bought a Nikon Coolpix 4500, but soon decided that a digital SLR was what I really needed.

Since 2004 I've been through five Canon EOS bodies from a 20D to a 5D Mark III, and 20 lenses and extenders from 14mm to 500mm. Thank god for Ebay.

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Camera Price Buster
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Digital Photography Review
DSLR Controller [BETA]
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Helicon Focus (focus stacking software)
Imaging Resource Comparometer
Mendip Wildlife Photography
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Somerset Birder
UK Airshow Review

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Dawlish Airshow

Finally, some decent weather this year for the airshow at Dawlish. This is the first year they've held it on a weekend, and the hill overlooking the bay to the south of the town was packed. Due to the height of the hill (80m ASL), this is one of the few airshows where you can look down at the planes on the display line, giving some unique photo opportunities. Display centre is a mile from the hill, but most of the planes pass very close overhead as they run in.

Looking north, the sun was in the right direction all afternoon, although the haze was pretty bad - many of my more distant pictures through 700mm of lens looked more like oil paintings.

There's a load more in my set on Flickr.


Bristol International Balloon Fiesta (the loud bits)

Balloon Fiesta time again! After the Fiesta missed out on the Red Arrows in 2012, this year I was happy to see that not only were the Reds back, but we could also expect two Typhoon displays, a Spitfire and the Breitling Wingwalkers.

I was hoping for some clear sunny skies, as with the westerly airflow I'd planned to get some shots of the balloons floating across Bristol or, with any luck, over the Suspension Bridge. In the event, the skies were mostly cloudy for the ascents that I could get to, so as my dull-weather balloon shots are always crap, I mostly didn't bother.

The aircraft displays took place in bright, if partly cloudy weather, so I had better luck with them, although a lot of otherwise good shots have remained unprocessed because I was fed up with the cloudy white-out backgrounds. I must be getting fussy or something!

That said, I was quite pleased with the remainder, so here are the faves, in date order...

Thursday - Special shapes ascent
An optimistic trip to the Clifton Observatory in the hope that there would be wall-to-wall sunshine and a light south-westerly. In the event there was neither, so here's a distant shot of the hapless Stuart Minion balloon, arty-fartily captured as he drifted behind the Suspension Bridge.

Friday - The Red Arrows
The display line isn't particularly close to the crowd at the Balloon Fiesta (about 700m depending where you are in the arena), so if you want to see the air displays close-up you have to go outside and watch near the display line. This usually runs in a north-west to south-east direction between Long Ashton and the festival site, with the centre line being over the east end of Long Aston golf course. As the sun is from the south during the afternoon, anywhere on the east side of Long Ashton should do for the closest views.

That said, if you just want wide shots of the big looping formations then just about anywhere within the general area will be fine. Due to it being a rolling display today (without the high loops or famous heart), I went for a few close-ups. These were all with the 500mm. Click to make them bigger...

Saturday - Typhoon
Hooray! Some decent weather and even a few patches of blue in the sky. The sunshine even made me get out an hour early to watch the Breitling Wingwalkers. What nutters they are...

Then at 1pm, a sight not commonly seen over Bristol.

All the Typhoon shots were taken handheld with the 500mm and 1.4x extender; even as close as I was to the centre point, the best bits took place some distance vertically above me. It's quite a challenge to support and accurately pan 5kg of camera and lens on a rapidly moving jet, and you need some pretty fast shutter speeds. Even so, you can normally reel off a few decent ones during the course of a seven minute display.

After the Typhoon, a display by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire. I always try to use a low shutter speed to get some propeller blur (1/250 on this one), which is difficult with a 500mm lens, nevertheless once I'd deleted the ones where the panning didn't quite cut the mustard, I was left with one of my favourite Spitfire shots...

Sunday - Typhoon
Oh go on then, just one more look. It's not as though I haven't seen the RAF Typhoon display three times already this year. Which I have.


Nunney Castle 2

A quick trip to take a classic shot in Bath this morning.

There are four or five bridges over the railway line through Sydney Gardens, and as the train moves through the park you can get some superb light as it passes into and out of shade with smoke billowing as it bounces off the undersides of the bridges. This was taken with the 500mm f/4L; even on a non-feathered subject the quality on the full-size photos is fantastic; it's proving to be quite a versatile lens on a full-frame.

One more on my Flickr page.


Nunney Castle 1

Another day of miserable weather, and in an attempt to find something to point the camera at, I took a quick journey to Parson Street for a few pics of the Torbay Express.

Taken with a 70-200mm f/4L, and the EF 1.4x II extender.


Chalkhill Blues

A trip to Draycott Sleights on the Mendips to look for Chalkhill Blues. I mis-timed my trip slightly as when I arrived it was raining, and even after it stopped, it was cloudy and the butterflies were very reluctant to fly. After a while a nice bit of late afternoon sunshine prompted a few of them into action, and they were still dozy enough to allow a really close approach.

Most of these are image stacks; the top and bottom using Zerene Stacker, and the second one a manual blend of two images to keep the wingtips in focus. The shot of the female is a single frame at f/16.

Using the 5D Mark 3 is a revelation after having the 7D for three and a half years - I can use high ISOs and f/16 with impunity - the quality of the files is amazing. I haven't even missed the 'reach' of the 7D yet although to be fair I've only pointed it at one bird so far.

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Rich Andrews Photography   CVL birding