Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 30/01/2012

The One That (Nearly) Got Away

African Lion, originally uploaded by

Either I’ve been listening to Half Man Half Biscuit too much, or life is mimicking art as looking back through previous blog titles whilst listening to “The Biscuit” (as some call them.. not me I hasten to add.. well, except for just now) I’m not sure whether, when presented with a list of song and blog titles intermingled whether I’d be able to say which I’ve penned and which are by the equally sardonic Nigel Blackwell (mind you, he paints a visual image so much better than I can – his wordsmith is exceptional).

I’ve been taking a look at the spec’s of the new King of the Canon Hill, the 1D X, and I’m certainly intrigued enough to want to make a beeline to test it at the forthcoming Focus-On-Imaging photo show which is being hosted in March at the NEC as is customary. From what I can see it would appear that engineers have changed just about every system and function within the camera and added in a few more for good measure. I am particularly interested in seeing how the upgraded AI Servo mode has been improved though I’m not sure it’s something I’ll be able to test at the exhibition. You may have noticed that there are many more photos of birds in flight or other fast moving subjects – AI Servo mode is in part responsible for this as it will as long as you keep the subject within a predefined area refocus to keep the subject sharp at all times. I haven’t tried the problematic AI Servo mode on the 1D III which caused so much consternation, but I’ve never found issue with this mode on the 1D4 and it’s worked effortlessly – it’s usually been the user who’s been the problem. There won’t be many Peregrine falcons performing a stoop in the NEC to allow me to test the upgraded function so I’ll have to see what whether the movements of the other attendees will allow me to put the upgrade through it’s pages.

I received an email today that has quite made my day; it’s from the Mother of the boys who attended yesterday’s Photographic Workshop you may have seen a comment on yesterday’s blog. It seems the boys enjoyed my tuition as much as I did imparting my knowledge and we even managed a few laugh and even some good photos along the way. Unfortunately the weather, as I said, hadn’t been on our side and so we weren’t able to use the great flash gun (well, it’s more a constant light source rig – if it starts flashing, we’re all in trouble) in the sky to really help make out images “pop” but the boys live close to the zoo so can go and practise and practise and practise… which after all is the best method of learning (apart from my tutelage of course!).

The Blog title isn’t a Half Man Half Biscuit (C’mon The Bis-cuit) song, it refers to today’s image – I nearly didn’t take the series of photos that are up on flickr as it was taken during the Workshop and I had planned to put my own photographic urges to one side; however as were were walking back to the main public area next to the Lion cage (having been where the general public aren’t allowed to go) Solomon was posing so beautifully that I just couldn’t help myself and fired off a volley of shots…. having missed with those I then got the camera out and took his picture (only joking, whilst my camera may sounds like a machine gun that’s the nearest I’ll ever get to such a weapon). How Regal he looks in the images, but one thing they don’t convey, he was incredibly “chatty” all weekend and when I say “chatty” I mean noisy… and when I mean noisy I mean REALLY noisy – he seemed to roar ever 10 minutes throughout both days I was present. I was particularly struck, when up near his enclosure after the park had closed on the Saturday evening, I saw something rather awe-inspiring. Both Lions were in their indoor shelter, but this hadn’t stopped Solomon from bellowing out. I move to see if I could see him (having been behind the house), only so see great plumes of cloud, emanating from his doorway – it was his warm breath in the cold evening air that was issuing forth – quite a sight to behold (and the audio recorded on my phone – I’ll probably use that if anyone ever falls asleep when I’m teaching or giving a presentation to them!).


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