Small Wonders – 145/365

This morning I went back to the park with the squirrels, hoping they’d be up and about this time with it being much earlier in the day.

I still have a lot to work on with my long distance focusing, and they’re the perfect little subjects for me to practice with.

They’re adorable, and loads of fun to watch, but not only that, they’re small, detailed, fast moving and shy, so often a long way away meaning I have to use my long lens.

The girls were engrossed in playing school, so I left them too it today and went off squirrel chasing on my own.

I’m still really struggling with chromatic aberration with my long lens. My camera has chromatic aberration compensation built in for my other lens, my canon 18-55mm. However it doesn’t have the data in it for my Tamron 70-300mm lens. It’s not surprising really, as it’s obviously not a canon lens.

I’m not 100% sure what causes chromatic aberration, but I know it’s generated in the lens, and it creates what I see as a blurred ‘glow’ around edges, making things look out of focus.

Having learnt this about my long lens, I’ve refined my camera settings as much as I can to hold the sharpest image possible, to compensate for the chromatic aberration.

Also, I am stabilising myself with absolutely anything and everything I can find, and the best shots I captured today were the ones where I was crouched down low to the ground, with the lens barrel jammed hard up against tree trunks.

Another thing I’ve learnt about lenses, and specifically focal length is that it’s not just about range, or how much you can fit in the frame; focal length also controls compression.

I’m probably not explaining that using photography terms, because I don’t know them, but what I mean is the longer the focal length, the more it pulls the background towards the foreground.

This is really helping me pull detail into my landscape type photographs, something I’ve been trying to do and only really discovered taking yesterday’s photographs.

It helped today to cut out some of the noisy background, and pull the squirrels right into the image.

As much as I was having fun photographing the squirrels, they had their fun with me too. I watched the tail in the shot above for about 5minutes through my viewfinder, crossing my fingers the squirrel would poke its head around.

It didn’t, it just disappeared in the blink of an eye up-to the top of the tree!

Still, it was great fun, and I could literally have spent all day watching the squirrels going about their day.

Though the images I captured aren’t perfect, I’m pleased with the results and I feel I captured their characters well, which is really important to me. The “feel” of an image is the most valuable element, I think.

A shot below here with my 18-55mm lens, you can see the difference pretty clearly in the image sharpness.

The tree, is just a cool tree I spotted near the car park, that I thought I could isolate it with some shading during the edit. I like it, it’s my kind of thing.

Learnings – squirrels, awesome little creatures that are just perfect for learning photography. I had to balance fast shutter speeds with wide apertures to capture their fast movements, with long focal lengths. That meant I had to find squirrels in natural light, and be accurate with my focus point due to the shallow depth of field.

All whilst throwing my self at tree trunks for “natural” stabilisation to minimise camera shake.

I must have looked like a really serious squirrel fanatic to the joggers in the park…..

Finally, some shots that I’ve included below here because they 100% capture the character of the squirrels.

They are a little noisy as images due to the leaf litter, and soft/grainy due to the aberration and shallow depth of field.

But you know what, it kind of doesn’t matter to me, they just make me smile because of the character in them.


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