The Vyne

I can never stay inside for long. I always want to be outdoors whether its running, walking, playing sport or relaxing… I decided to go over the The Vyne for a wander last weekend, it’s a local National Trust site covering a large area of woodland with some marshland and rivers, the focal point being a huge 16th century palace. The place is really nice in the summer and perfect for spending half a day or more.  My plan was to walk one of the trails in the woodland, presuming they were dry of course! I was wrong, even though the trails are gravel in parts they were in such bad condition due to the weather that after about 100m i decided to turn back and spend some time in and around the house and gardens.

My main aim of the day was to get some wildlife shots, i hear they have a vast range of birds that like to nest in the woodland and around the marshes, i barely saw a thing whilst i was there, but did manage to get the below shot with my 70-300mm lens, i think its a Canada Goose but i could be wrong. I was looking out over the marshes trying to spot something more exotic when i noticed him taking flight. He was really far away but i just managed to catch him before he left the corner of the frame. I think the final image actually looks a lot better as it is, i’m not sure it would have the same affect if he was in the centre of the frame.  I was shooting at 300mm at an aperture of f/5.6 and an ISO of 400. The shutter speed used here was 1/6400th of a second, probably a bit quicker than it needed to be as the final image was a little under exposed but i managed to correct that in Lightroom afterwards and also converted it to black and white.

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Next up i wanted to get a nice picture of the house, or maybe one of the other buildings in the grounds. I was drawn to the one below, for me it was the walkway leading up to the door and the door itself, I also really liked the windows. I didn’t have my tripod on me so couldn’t take an HDR shot, plus i’ve gone a bit over the top on those recently so decided to take a regular shot of the building. I was using my 10-24mm lens at this point and wanted to get as much of the building in as possible. I was stood really close when i took the picture but because i was using a focal length of 10mm i was able to get a lot in the frame. By this time the sky had cleared a little and was a nice shade of blue, i’m also amazed at how green the grass is, what have they been feeding it?! I set up with an aperture of f/8 as i wanted to get a good depth of field on the building, the walkway and the rest of the foreground, i also wanted it to be as sharp as possible.  I used an ISO of 400 and shutter speed of 1/500th of a second, i’m really pleased with the overall exposure of the picture. It’s the sort of shot that might make a good jigsaw puzzle for my Nan, it would certainly keep her busy long enough.

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Next up i was on the hunt for some bugs, which is wishful thinking, especially at this time of year. There were plenty of cobwebs about and i saw some flies but nothing worth taking a picture of. I had put my 60mm macro lens on my camera to use if i found any bugs, this is such a great lens and one of my favourites, i’m planning on reviewing all of my kit at some stage so i look forward to talking about this lens more.

After realising pretty quickly that i’d need to wait about 3 months to see any half decent bugs i decided to leave this lens on the camera and wander round the building a bit more. It was pretty busy on the day and most times i tried to take a shot i found people were getting in the way, which is to be expected as this is a popular place. The people were on the ground which meant if i wanted to get a cool picture i’d need to look up and above them. I noticed an old fashioned weather vane on the roof of one of the buildings. I liked the look of the brickwork and how it contrasted against the sky, so i grabbed a quick picture. ISO 100 at 1/2500th of a second.

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After wandering around the building i wanted to head over to the walled garden, on my way there i noticed a very old looking bench which has probably been there for hundreds of years, i took a little longer to take this picture, i wanted to make sure it was composed properly and the bench was level and symmetrical in the frame. The bench was in the shade and there wasn’t a massive amount of light so i was going to need a slower shutter speed to get the right exposure. I could have used a wider aperture but wanted to get as much in focus as possible. in the end i settled for ISO 800, f/6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/60th.

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Well, the walled garden really wasn’t that great. I guess it’s a lot nicer in the summer when there are plenty of flowers and a bit more grass. The highlight of the walled garden was actually some chickens that they had in a fenced off area. I was determined to get a good shot of one of them. This proved to be so much more of a challenge then i first imagined, boy do they move fast, not the body, but the head! This one below was busy giving himself a headache by pecking away like mad at a wooden fence post. He didn’t seem too bothered by me so i grabbed a couple shots before he turned his attention elsewhere. I really wanted to get this as sharp as possible, i had no excuses because i was using my macro lens. I was using continuous focus so my camera was tracking his head and focussing for me, which is great, but its all about the timing, especially when you’re this close to something.

I wanted his eye in focus but in the half a dozen shots i did get, i couldn’t achieve that to the level i wanted, it still makes for a pretty cool picture though. I used a fast shutter speed of 1/2000th to stop the action and an ISO of 800 to help as there wasn’t much light. I think my mistake with the depth of field and focus is due to the fact i used and aperture of f/6.3, perhaps something like f/11 would have been better. Also, what on earth is that thing they have on their head?!?!

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