Archive for the ‘Austin Taylor Photography’ Category

Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, the Moon and Mirrie Dancers too!

2 March, 2012

What an amazing night! After a few days of muggy, misty, cloudy and damp conditions, the forecast was for a clear night, the temperature perhaps getting down to freezing. I began looking forward to taking some photographs of some planets, perhaps some star trails and other possibilities. After much thought I decided to head out to Burra because I wanted some interest in the landscape and I knew just the place to get some domestic lights and streetlights as well as some nice areas of sea that I hoped the quarter moon would illuminate. But before I left home I was pleased to see Mercury above the hill at the back of us. Later, I also had a good view of Mars in the opposite direction, its distinctive red colour making it an easy sight.

Wow, I was not to be disappointed at my chosen spot in Burra! Not only did the moon help to illuminate the sea and the landscape but I could also see Foula on one set of photographs. That was the set that I hope will make a nice timelapse of Venus and Jupiter. But, more than all that, no sooner than I was there but I could sense the aurora and, as my eyes adapted I could see it too. So I set up my other camera facing over Lang Sound and was delighted to get some nice aurora shots and a cool green reflection in the Sound. As you can see it was mostly the auroral oval but there were also some beams and rays and a very brief period where the oval folded into a curtain. I also now see on some of the photos that there were some overhead forms too, though I didn’t notice at the time. As you can see, the lights were not very strong tonight and, of course, the camera sees much than the human eye but they still inspire me and I’m really glad I was in a great position to see them – I never tire of seeing the mirrie dancers.

A husky called Nik

12 February, 2012

Photo (animated gif): a husky called Nik. Just animated it a few times so it doesn’t annoy you too much! I tried to upload it elsewhere but it doesn’t animate when uploaded to some other sites. Not sure why but I’ll just post it here instead. To see the animation, open the post (click on the heading, “A husky called Nik”) and then click on the picture.

Iceland Gulls

15 January, 2012

Iceland gull, Glaucous gull, Kumlien’s gull – white-winged gulls that are normally only occasional winter visitors to Shetland and, without guidance, may be difficult to distinguish from our commoner gulls. So I thought I would get some advice to help me be sure that I had indeed seen Iceland gulls and, perhaps, the other two as well. Now is the best time in recent history to do so – yesterday’s coordinated count in Shetland revealed that there are at least 152 such gulls here; the biggest arrival ever to be recorded. The previous record was at least 120 in 1983. See the Nature in Shetland blog for full details.

On the day before the count I tagged along with a few friends doing a count in Lerwick harbour at lunchtime; we saw Iceland gull, Glaucous gull and a probable Kumlien’s gull. There were first, second, third winter and adult Iceland gulls but I found out how difficult it is to distinguish all these variants that day. Today, even though the light was poor I went back to take some more photos on my own because I thought the gulls might depart anytime and I might not get another chance. I managed to get some nice photos and even got one or two decent flight shots – something that had eluded me on Friday. I also got some nice Kittiwake and Eider images and was amused by the sight of a grey seal basking on its back for quite a while.

I was thinking of leaving when a couple of Iceland gulls decided to have a fight just in front of me so I was lucky to get a set of images that add something new to my collection. I think this sequence shows 1st and 3rd winter Iceland gulls, but I’m happy to be corrected by those with more ID skill! My ID is based on the eye colour and the fact that what I think is the older bird has some pronounced grey on its upper wings, unlike the other bird.

Scalloway Fire Festival

14 January, 2012

It was a superb night for the Scalloway Fire Festival – calm, mild and dry. Let’s hope similar conditions prevail for all the Up Helly-Aa nights this year! Here are a few photos of the procession, galley and Guizer Jarl Simon Mullay, magnificent as Jarl Sigurd the Stout (Sigurd Hlodversson) for the day.

Arrêt complet

31 December, 2011

Literally “full stop”. It’s the end of the year and here’s my last post of 2011, a collection of some of the birds I’ve seen this month, together with the Humpback whale at Sumburgh on 12 December. The birds (in order) are: Starling, an optimistic gull trying to get at a fat ball, Desert whetear at Lerwick, Greylag goose, Bigton, Moorhen and Redwing, both Spiggie, Tundra Bean and White fronted geese, Blackbird, all Bigton, Goldeneye and Whooper swan, all Clickimin. The first Whooper swan has the coloured ring JB4 on its leg. Hugh Harrop gave the history of this bird’s travels over on the Shetland Wildlife Facebook page. It makes interesting reading.

Well, that’s it. Off out now to celebrate Hogmanay and bring in the New Year. A very happy and warm New Year to you all!

December events and views

30 December, 2011

Some landscape shots taken this month, together with a couple of flash mobs for good luck! First, are 4 shots of the Moon and Jupiter from early in the month. Next, a couple of snow scenes in Lerwick, followed by the Moon, partially eclipsed. A sunset and the Moon again, this time just before dawn, are followed by the Sandyburn Singers, who “flash mobbed” the Toll Clock shopping centre, and shoppers rushing to get their Christmas shopping completed just before Christmas. The calm before the storm at St Ninian’s and Breiwick are followed by another “flash mob” of young people from all over Shetland putting on a dance act at the Market Cross on the last late night shopping night before Christmas. Christmas Day raged a wild storm that caused some damage throughout the Isles, this garden was wrecked at our friends’ house in Nederdale. Off over to Burra for the next and all but the last photo. A rope at Meal, follwed by the sea washing over the coast at Lottra Minn and the Kame of the Riven Noup. Last one is the sun, showing (from L-R) sunspots 1389, 1388 1386 and 1384.

Merry Christmas!

22 December, 2011

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Christmas is arriving! Soon be time for another post! A very happy time to you all, friends, readers and visitors alike.

5 Wonders of Shetland

15 December, 2011

I posted these photos on my Facebook page earlier this week and they generated a lot of interest and a request from my dear friend Marjolein that I post them here to make them more widely available – so here they are! Most of them are on my main website but they aren’t yet together as a group yet! Anyway the story behind this post follows and I tried to pick an appropriate image for each “Wonder”.

There has been quite a lot of positive publicity about Shetland at the moment and the Auld Rock is riding high and I thought “why not put together a 5 wonders of Shetland album?” “Why 5?” you may ask. Well, I’m sure I could have made it 7 but that might come later! So here goes. It’s already well known that Up Helly-Aa is Europe’s biggest fire festival; with the growth of the internet this fame has spread far and wide and it’s regularly featured and recommended in the media worldwide. The most recent accolade is in Up Helly-Aa being chosen as the best winter festival in Europe, according to Wanderlust. Also last week Islesburgh Youth Hostel was chosen as the best youth hostel in the world by Hostelling International; that’s an exceptional achievement in itself but comes on top of coming runner up last year! Talking of last year, the Shetland Folk Festival was crowned Event of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards. This year will be the 32nd Shetland Folk Festival and plans are already well ahead to make it another fantastic festival

Moving to natural wonders, anybody who has seen a television over at least the past decade must know by now that Shetland has some of the best opportunities for viewing wildlife anywhere. When, 20-odd years ago I started telling folk that Shetland is of worldwide importance and a global destination for landscape and wildlife eyebrows were raised. When I said it was as important as the Galapagos I found few who openly agreed. But pose that question today to Promote Shetland, or any of the highly successful companies providing wildlife and visitor experiences to Shetland and they will all tell you that’s precisely what their clients think and why they come. Whether it’s orcas or marine wildlife generally; stunning seabird cities or mega-rare vagrants; or the humble mountain hare, there’s always something to see. Also on the natural wonders front is that elusive phenomenon Aurora borealis, aka northern lights, or “Mirrie Dancers” in Shetland. Perhaps less well known outside Shetland is the fact that this is one of the best places in the UK for viewing the northern lights! Wow – it’s just awesome! And there are loads more things to see and do too. Have a look at some of the wildlife, landscape and night galleries over at my main website Austin Taylor Photography for some inspiration or just browse the stock images gallery to get an overall flavour.

Here again are the 5 photos I posted to my Facebook Page in celebration of these wonders.

2010 in review

3 January, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 25 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 31 posts. There were 216 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 30mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 13th with 127 views. The most popular post that day was Please choose your favourite image.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, austintaylorphotography.com, astrochat.co.uk, shetlandmylove.blogspot.com, and kozetland1.blogspot.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for austin taylor, austin taylor blog, austin taylor photography, hilary seatter, and austin taylor photos.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Please choose your favourite image September 2010
12 comments

2

Entangled Humpback Whale, Lunning, Shetland September 2010

3

‘Vyeshch’ a Textile Installation by Hilary Seatter May 2010

4

Best Aurora for 2 years April 2010
2 comments

5

Face to face with a frog July 2010

Disaster averted!

26 September, 2010

Even someone as meticulously careful as me does it sometimes – I accidentally formatted a memory card that had photos that I had just taken! Thank goodness for file recovery software – I’ve tried several other programs before with mixed success (the ones I’d tried so far have difficulty recovering RAW files) but I just tried EASUS Data Recovery Wizard Professional and it worked faultlessly. Just one file was corrupt after recovery – amazing. I was lucky and got a copy of this software on a covermount disk but I see that it’s quite expensive. On the other hand, if you’ve just done what I did then I recommend this program, albeit on the basis of my first real test. Having said that, my usual software (SanDisk RescuePRO) could not extract the RAW files from the CF card – so it would have been worth it in this case. No photos this time because I’m still working on them!