On New Year’s Day 2023 I took my camera down to the river Aire at Denso Marston Nature Reserve. I was going to say “again” but since this is the first day of the new year it is my first visit to the little reserve.
As usual you should be able to click on an image to see it better quality in its gallery.
I took a few photos of a couple of birds that I hadn’t photographed recently. The male Mallards are looking colourful again and seem to be pairing with females reasonably peacefully. It won’t be long before there is all sorts of fighting going on though. All the recent rain means that the canal has more water in it than needed and the overflow is cascading down the “steps” to the field and across to the river.
After walking from the bottom of the path and back again I decided to go along to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits Reserve. It was quiet but from the bench at the far end I watched a decent sized flock of Lapwing fly around for a few minutes. Smaller flocks flew in and joined them as they slowly circled.
The following day the sun seemed bright so I went down to the river again.
The many hedges of the reserve had several Wrens flitting about and they even came out long enough for me to get a photo or two. The Blue Tit has a ring on its leg but I haven’t tried to decypher it. I walked from the reserve down to the Buck Lane footbridge and across. From near there I spotted the Kestrel fly across and perch on one of the power-line posts looking out over the field. I hung about on the footbridge for a while hoping to get some photos of birds in flight. It should be easier with this camera but the first hurdle to overcome is to get the bird visible in the viewfinder. See below for the reason for including the Cormorant photo. Normally (logically) before you get the bird in the viewfinder you have to see it. However in the view up river from the footbridge there is a flying Heron in the picture. I didn’t notice it until after taking the photo and then I failed to get it back in the viewfinder. The sun never got very high during the day but by this time it was below the trees, and it was darkening, so I headed home.
RAW vs JPEG
The photo of the Cormorant is not very good but I have included it as an example of the benefits of shooting in RAW. At the moment with my new camera I am saving the photos as both CRAW and JPEG because it creates and saves excellent JPEG files with low noise and good colour. I am wondering whether to switch to JPEG only but the settings are “baked” into the file with limitations as to what you can then do if improvement is needed. By having the in-camera JPEG I have something that I have to try and improve on. The RAW sensor data is used in the camera to produce the JPEG file and throws away some of the data in the process. Therefore with appropriate software and user skills it is possible to equal or surpass the in-camera JPEG. Situations where this is most evident is where the exposure was not perfect for the subject. The flying Cormorant in the in-camera JPEG is solid black, the camera exposed for the sky not the bird, and attempts to get details of the feathers by brightening it resulted in a uniform grey. Using software to brighten the image from the RAW file brought out some of the feather detail and this is the image I have posted. At the moment this is a big discussion point on several Facebook groups I am in. Some say there is no point in saving the RAW files because you can do whatever is needed with the JPEGs. It is true that you can go through the process with the JPEG that you can with the RAW but the results will not be as good. Another example of this is the view down river. I did take 3 photos of the scene at different exposures and combined them but the movement of the trees and water spoiled the photo. I therefore used one of the RAW files and saved 3 JPEG files from it at different brightness levels. On brightening the shadows a lot more detail was visible than if I had brightened the JPEG. The combined image based on 3 files from the single RAW file is therefore better than what could be achieved by processing anything from the single JPEG.