Kit talk. Far too much kit talk.

Great white egrets, Ham Wall.

As I have done so little photography in the last two months I hope you’ll forgive me if recount an incident from spring last year. In early May I paid a visit to Ham Wall in the Somerset Levels near Glastonbury. In a post describing a previous visit I called this magnificent RSPB reserve ‘Heron HQ UK’ : as an example of habitat creation on a large scale it just can’t be beat.

My first morning there saw me making an early start. It was humid, still, and scraps of fog hovered above the wetlands and reedbeds.  I wasted little time in making my way to the Tor View hide, joining another early-rising photographer. It can be good to chat to like-minded souls in bird hides and one can sometimes pick up useful info about what can be seen locally. But on this occasion it really was a bit too early for conversation and, besides, a surreal dawn was slowly developing into a stunning sunrise. But he just wanted to talk ….”Are you using Canon, then…..?” Even worse, he wanted to talk about kit. And did he! He proceeded to list his lenses: …the 600 f5.6, the 500 f4 and the 400 f2.8 (…..possibly…..). He carried on in this vein.

Meanwhile a pair of great white egrets were just becoming active in the mist nearby, offering a stunning spectacle to the photographer. But he just didn’t seem to notice. Fortunately a couple of other photographers arrived which took the pressure off me to respond! The sun began to break through the trees, spotlighting sections of the egrets’ brilliant white plumage. I couldn’t believe I was the only one pointing my camera in their direction.

Perhaps backlit birds don’t offer ideal subject matter for the traditional bird photographer. Whatever the reason, the others sat on the other side of the hide and chatted away. The sun rose, dispersing the mist and warming the landscape.  I was able to photograph a bittern in flight with the summit of Glastonbury Tor in the background, an image that really sums up Ham Wall for me.

And what of our friend with the car boot full of equipment? I hadn’t noticed him slip away but certainly noticed him return. This time he was pulling a four wheeled trolley loaded with gear. Someone had advised him that thieves were known to frequent the car park and he must have thought it better that he had it all with him.

I’m struggling, really, to conclude this post because the moral is surely so clear to see. There is more to photography than kit.

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About Jeremy Moore

Recently described as "Wales' leading environmental photographer"; based near Aberystwyth, and specialising in Welsh landscape and wildlife. He has published the Wild Wales / Cymru Wyllt range of postcards since 1987. His most recent book was "Wales at Waters Edge" (with Jon Gower) published in May 2012. The National Library of Wales has a large number of his prints in its Collection. His exhibition "Bird/land" was shown at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from June until August 2016. It originally received support from the Arts Council of Wales. He is also working on a new book about Wales with the author Jon Gower, due for publication in autumn 2018.
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6 Responses to Kit talk. Far too much kit talk.

  1. Spectacular images Jerry!

  2. liz snell says:

    The moral of the tale is so very true Jerry. Hides in Somerset are now monopolised by big guys with a ton of kit (so I’m told by a local birder) and there is an expectation that they should have priority. Apparently Shortie sightings are not now posted with location details because of the pressure after a well publicised visiting shrike suffered from constant harrassment and some aggressive behaviour at the site.
    Good on you for getting up so early and finding your own superb images. Thanks for sharing them free of charge!

  3. Jeremy Moore says:

    One of the interesting things about Ham Wall is that there is only one big hide, as such. Some of the other “hides” like the one I visited above, are not much more than elaborate shelters or even just screens. And they have several viewing platforms as well. I wonder if that is deliberate policy to counteract the tendency of hides to get taken over by “big guys with a ton of kit”. Although I have to admit i myself could fall into that category as well……!

    I’ve seen some appalling behaviour in hides, as i’m sure you have.

  4. lotelta says:

    The white egret with the sun light shining through its feathers looks like a creature from another world. Gorgeous!

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