Posted by: digibirder | December 3, 2010

Still all white

So, the snow remains and we are still stuck in for the forseeable future. The estate roads have been partly cleared, but it’s still treacherous out there. In fact, it was a few residents of the estate that went out with shovels yesterday, but they moved the snow from the roads onto the pavements, and outside our house is now knee-deep in blocks of snow, so we have to walk on the road to go round to our garage (as it’s not next to our house – one of those stupid new estates where they like to play around with the layout). It was bad enough trying to walk in the crisp snow – now we have to try and walk on a thin sheet of mush that has now re-frozen because the grit does not work at these temperatures.

But we have plenty of provisions, and it’s not too far to walk to a small local supermarket should we need to stock up. We were planning to go over to see our friends in Lincoln today, and visit the Christmas Market, but we decided not to risk travelling in these conditions, and we were informed yesterday that the market has been cancelled anyway. There are some festive markets in Sheffield and Leeds that continue for a while yet, so we might have a trip to one of those. I wanted to get some seasonal images, perhaps with a view to selling them on one of the online agencies.

I am still pondering over my collection of lenses. I already have the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM arriving from Lenses for Hire next week, in time for my portrait workshop in Leeds, but then I noticed that they were doing a special offer for December whereby you can rent a second lens for half price. So now I also have the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM coming too. I really loved the 24-70 f2.8 L USM I had the other week, so it will be interesting to see what these two are like. I have been reading recently that technique is more important than the lenses used, but if I am getting better images with Canon lenses, then my technique can’t be the issue. Can it? Well, we’ll see. If these two lenses perform well, then it’s curtains for the Sigmas. It’s just a matter of deciding what focal lengths I will need for my new collection.

To illustrate my point, we went on a little stroll around the village yesterday and I took my Sigma 18-200mm OS (optical stabilisation – Sigma version of Canon’s Image Stabilisation) and took the following images. Now this lens was not expensive, but it did have some good reviews. I was thinking of renting the Canon equivalent to compare it with my Sigma, but I am coming to the conclusion that one of the other Canon lenses may well suffice as a walkaround lens, if necessary, and be good for portraiture as well. I already have the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM, so why bother with another lens that reaches 200mm. If it’s only to use when on country walks, for example, then I might as well just take my compact camera if I want to travel light. Mind you, that could do with replacing at some stage!! I need to decide what is needed for certain outings – is it a full-on walk in the hills, or a photographic outing?

Local farmland

Trying some minimalist images

The cows were all in the barn

But the horses were made of sterner stuff

I don’t know if it shows in the reduced version I’ve posted, but the tree branches in the first image look really ‘mushy’ when viewed at 100% in Photoshop, not to mention the colour fringing. Compared with an image from my Canon 70-200 taken last week, it’s quite bad. I tried to crop them both to compare, but it doesn’t really illustrate it well enough to post the comparison shots – different trees, different lighting. Even with this shot taken using a monopod and the Canon shot taken hand-held there is no doubt about which is the better lens. Just open the image of the horse and take a look at the trees in the distance and you will get an idea of my problem.

Below are two shots from the garden. I posted a shot of this table taken in January’s snow, but the two images below show the difference in the amount of snow we’ve had this week. The area of patio surrounding the table was also getting a lot deeper, but this was made even worse by a fall of snow from the roof. I was at the computer yesterday when I heard a bit of a rumble from outside. Just as I turned to glance through the window an avalanche of snow whizzed past the window. This was probably due to the slippery surface of the solar panels not allowing the snow to stick too much!

1st December

2nd December

Anyway, we’ll see what the weekend brings and whether we can venture a little further afield.



  1. Diane, I LOVE the first of your minimalist images – very Japanese!

    In connection with your portraiture workshop and plans, and the Canon lenses, are you familiar with Kirk Tuck’s blog. He uses Canon cameras and the 24-105 (amongst other lenses) for portraiture and has good advice on phototographing people, lighting (inc. the new LED always on variety), etc. The address is – .


    • Thanks Tony. Looking at it again, I think it may need more exposure. I did overexpose for the bright white, but it now looks a bit wishy-washy to me. I hadn’t heard of the photographer you mention, but I have had a quick look and it looks very interesting. I will investigate further. Thank you.

  2. you have to remember that the sigma is a travel lens jack of all trades…. you are not comparing like with like

    • I know it’s not perfect, but having looked at images at full resolution, and tried some good Canon glass, I guess I’m getting more picky now.

  3. I LOVE the cow shot, love it! Of course I’m from Vt the place of everything cow 🙂 but it’s a beauty. I see what you mean about the tress but perhaps you could just edit the background to be blurrier and then make it more , what is the term, bokeh? You have a lot of snow! We always get the snow whizzing by the windows since we have a slate roof which warms up nicely dumping huge piles of snow – best not to be beneath them. Thanks so much for you advice re: cameras.

    • Thank you, Starr. I thought the cow looked rather cute peeping over the fence! Yes, the term is bokeh, and that’s a bad bokeh!! As I said, if you need any further info, do ask. Can do it by email if you wish.

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