Steve Morris Photography: Blog en-us (C) Steve Morris Photography (Steve Morris Photography) Mon, 24 Aug 2020 18:32:00 GMT Mon, 24 Aug 2020 18:32:00 GMT Steve Morris Photography: Blog 120 80 A Home for Nature. Or, How to Frustrate a Stoat. I have a number of bird nest boxes scattered around the farm. There is an enormous nesting box for the resident Tawny Owl which took two of us several hours to mount in the roof of a barn and which he has studiously ignored for the last two years - preferring to sit on a cross-beam about 6 feet away from the custom-designed super owl-hotel, and watch me with irritation every time I walk through. Otherwise there are some standard nesting boxes on trees etc designed for the specific birds which inhabit the locations in the spring.

Luckily these have been more successful with Blackbirds, Blue Tits, and Swallows as well as Sparrows being frequent (and verbal) residents. With one particular occupied box I was determined to get a shot of the Blue Tit emerging from the hole, and set up camp on a chair at that end of the garden, well wrapped up 'cause it was cold, and about 12 feet or so away from the box, and waited.

I had no luck with the bird but after about 15 minutes this fellow showed up.

This is a Stoat (Mustela Erminea). Fairly common in the UK, not so common here unless there happens to be a surplus of rabbits for lunch. He had a good go at getting into the nesting box as there were young Blue Tits inside, but with the hole cut at around 25mm diameter he found it a bit of a struggle

In went the head for a good look 


but despite some swaying backwards and forwards the shoulders were just too much.

I give up. Still no shot of the Blue Tits though.



]]> (Steve Morris Photography) bird lockerbie morris nature photographer photography scotland steve stoat wildlife Sun, 23 Aug 2020 14:24:27 GMT
Deep in the Woods Sniffing out the Deer

The difficulty in getting up early in the morning (besides actually getting up) is that it is dark, cold and wet, especially this time of the year, in Scotland. Also, for a photographer, there tends to be a lack of light. Which can be a bit of a snag. Deep in the woods, where my pal Jack tends to go, the light really does present challenges. Once he picks up the smell of a deer, fox or other unseen furry inhabitant of the local plantation he can be off in an instant. Sneaking up on wildlife even when it is quiet can be a challenge when Jack the Lab is thirty steps ahead of you with his nose pressed to the ground. I did manage this one recently though.

Not a brilliant photo I admit, but the best I could get on the day. I always have my camera set according to the expected light conditions before I leave the car, and for the woods a high ISO ready just in case, with maximum focal length for the lens, aperture priority and wide open, and keep an eye on my shutter speed. For the photographers out there is was taken on a Sony A7M3, FE 70-200 F2.8 GM at 186mm with some manual focus to avoid the trees, and F2.8. ISO 4000, and 1/250sec. 

Regular followers of my Blog will note that I have been a bit quiet for a while. I have been busier of late and have had a full change of gear from Canon to Sony, necessitating not only change of camera (s) and lenses but the other stuff of photography such as flash, studio flash, triggers, and other stuff you don't think of when you have used Canon without thinking, for decades. I'll cover the change later, when there is (another) rainy day, and I feel another Blog coming on. 


]]> (Steve Morris Photography) blog deep deer dog from in labrador lockerbie morris photography scotland steve the woods Tue, 10 Dec 2019 15:22:03 GMT
Too early in Scotland For someone not especially into wildlife photography I do seem to concentrate on the subject a fair bit. Maybe it's because I keep bumping into creatures with four legs, or a beak. If you stay still long enough in rural Scotland you tend to get something snuffling around you in the long grass, and if you are lucky enough your camera is pointing the right way, and is switched on. Most of the time, when you have a Labrador walking ahead of you it is difficult to take wildlife by surprise, as anything ahead is normally up and off hotly pursued by my buddy Jack before you manage to even get around the bend in the track. Sometimes, you can get lucky - sort of.


This photo is a prime example. Half a dozen deer in the field, a whiff of the air, and the Lab is off! Autofocus didn't stand a chance. Got a sharp shot of the gate though.


Another case in point. Jack was poking around in the trees behind me following an early morning smell but with the wind behind me there was still no chance of sneaking up closer to this guy. Perhaps I need to get up even earlier in the morning, but lack the will.


(1st) Canon 5D111 with 70 -200 F2.8L IS USM at F8 with 2x converter at 400mm, ISO 400, 1/250sec

(2nd) Sony A7R11 with 70 - 200mm F2.8GM at 200mm and F2.8,  ISO 4000, 1/3200 sec.




]]> (Steve Morris Photography) deer dog lockerbie Morris Northumberland Photography scotland Steve wildlife Tue, 05 Mar 2019 12:41:07 GMT
I'll be Back Was it as long ago as September 2015 that I wrote about my resident Tawny Owl? It appeared that he had moved on to pastures new as I had not seen him for quite some time. I do have a range of buildings here on the farm and was surprised to see him perched high up on the frame of a tin roofed barn a couple of  weeks ago. It would be nice to think he is the same guy. Putting all barn activity on hold for a while to encourage him to stay seems to have worked to a certain extent. He was quite happy to watch me bob my head in and out of the barn end the other day as I fired off a few shots on the Canon 5D 111, fitted with a 400mm lens, and was still there in the afternoon.

A few days later he was up there and I needed to drive a bit of machinery in to pick up some heavy items. He watched me for a good while and stayed put. Later on I ventured in again for another pickup and he flew to the far end, planted his feet, and kept a beady eye open for a smidgen longer, and then vamoosed through a gap. I now have a owl box (hotel) in place high up in the beams. I think a camera up inside will be next. More later.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Dumfriesshire Lockerbie morris photography steve Tue, 26 Jun 2018 14:37:39 GMT
Living with Nature Living in the countryside as I do, the commonly used phrase "giving nature a home" seems ironic as nature seems to attack me every time I venture out the front door. House Martins, Buzzards, Deer, foxes and owls seem to do especially well here at various times of the year. Memories of being constantly pecked on the head while photographing Artic Terns on the Farne Islands springs to mind. Mind you, my shot of the Longstone Lighthouse on that day appeared in the Trinity House calendar a couple of years ago. But I digress. 

It's a question of Attitude

We are not short of squirrels around here, especially in the Eskrigg Nature Reserve in Lockerbie. Usually, my efforts to photograph them purely as an amateur wildlife photographer usually result in a red backside vanishing behind a leaf, or a perfect shot of a tree stump where only a few seconds earlier something cute was munching on something indefinable.

Occasionally, a trip to the city can give you a break from things that chirp, squeak, or make peculiar coughing noises in the middle of the night. Or so I thought. Straight out of the railway station in Edinburgh I met a squirrel with attitude. Far from vanishing in the flick of a tail he came right up and fixed me with a beady stare. I think he was trying to assess whether I had a sandwich. Luckily the camera was switched on. (the Fujifilm S1 has survived as my pocket camera - see previous blogs). He posed to make sure I got the shot, decided I had no food, then bogged off. Mercenary. Next time I go to Eskrigg, I'll pop into Greggs first.


]]> (Steve Morris Photography) eskrigg lockerbie nature reserve squirrel steve morris photography Mon, 06 Nov 2017 15:35:36 GMT
Have I bridged the gap? Not sure... Having played around a bit with the FujiFinepix S1 I am unconvinced that this is for me. The first irritant was the lack of a proper manual. These on-line things are all very well but you aren't able to just pick up the on-line guide and browse through it over a cup of tea, or dog-ear the edge of the page if you read something interesting. If you happen to be under a bush trying to alter your ISO whilst deciding which "mode" suits the fast moving woodpecker best ( see shots further down this blog) an on-line manual stands no chance. To be frank, a paper manual stands little chance either as the bird will be gone by the time a read the thing - but it does demonstrate my personal preference. I find the various modes restrictive, and settings difficult to get right. As a confused experienced photographer I think less experienced users must struggle greatly, and simply revert to one of the automatic modes - that being another story, as they are not fully automatic as you might expect.

Enough rambling - here is a decent enough shot of a woodpecker taken at maximum zoom equivalent of 1200mm, at about 20 feet distance. 


For the techies out there 1/125th second at f5.6, 1200mm, ISO 400, and rather "flat" light conditions as the snow was melting in the background. Hand rested on a support as at maximum zoom there is a fair bit of camera shake. This was taken in one of the preset modes suitable for moving subjects. Given that the max lens aperture is f2.8 and I focused on the tree itself I would have thought that the camera would have taken the shot at 1/250 or faster, increasing the ISO. It seems to be a characteristic of the camera that modes do not automatically alter the ISO as well as the aperture / shutter speed to suit light conditions when supposedly operating in a semi-automatic mode. Also, continuous shutter firing does not seem to be available when shooting in RAW or anything other than one of the lower resolution file formats such as standard JPG. They don't tell you that in the sales info. You have to wait for the camera to process the shot before taking the next one. Not good. and yes, I use a very fast memory card. There is also a firmware fault. In manual settings, the software display tells me I am setting my aperture, but it is the shutter speed which alters, vice versa when trying to set a manual shutter speed. Not the kind of fault which should get passed beta testing. (apologies for using semi-technical terms. If you understand them, fine. if you don't, you are probably  better off).


I wonder if I expect too much. Enough grumps. I shall try and be more positive in my next review. Current score 4/10. More later.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Finepix Fuji Fujifilm S1 bridge camera review Mon, 18 Jan 2016 15:23:42 GMT
Bridging the Gap  

After lugging my "walking around" bag all these years I have decided to look for something a lot lighter. My daily kit is simple, but heavy, must be around 3kg.

Canon 5D Mk 111, 24-70 f2.8L, 70 - 200 F2.8L, a polarising filter and a couple spare batteries, all in a Lowepro 300 backpack. Other contents appear if I have a plan.

So, here I am in the hunt for a Bridge Camera. Not as straight forward as it sounds, as most of these are aimed at the casual user, not the enthusiast or Pro, so the features in most of the models available are not all they should (or could) be, being geared towards that sector. Having done my research from a knowledge base of zero, I had to abandon my idea that DSLR facilities would be available in a smaller package, and accept some compromise. Oh, the features I want are out there, it's just that they are not all in one camera, without paying silly money. I think my needs as an advanced user are simple

F2.8 max aperture (knocks out 60% of bridge cameras)

RAW shooting (knocks out 90% of bridge cameras)

A reasonable zoom - anything over say 400mm max zoom is fine, but down to 200mm would be ok), so most fit fine.

Lightweight and pocket stuffable - say under 800gms

Resolution circa 20mp, as I print often at A3 or above, but 16mp is acceptable (knocks out 50%) of the cameras

Viewfinder (not a useless screen) and a good feel in the hand, all for a decent budget of under £500. 

Not an unreasonable list, however different models are excluded by the percentages above when the different criteria are applied, resulting and a shortlist of about 3 cameras! My hotlist boils down to the Canon Powershot SX60 (just under £300), Fuji Finepix S1 (£265), or the Lumix FZ1000 (£490). To be frank, given that the Canon lens is a max 3.4 aperture, and the Lumix is at the top end of the budget, the Fuji is looking good, as do the reviews. Just ordered one.







]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Fri, 04 Dec 2015 14:22:44 GMT
Talk to the animals (and birds) Wildlife seems to be gathering around me these days, a bit like Dr Doolittle, without the verbals. Most mornings when I walk into the barn at the back of the house I have a staring competition with my resident Tawny Owl.

Tawny OwlTawny OwlTawny Owl

He's fine if I wander off in a left hand direction, and even sits tight if I walk back to the door, But if I head in his direction he's off. Thing is, he's there one minute, gone the next out through the far end of the barn, and he is completely silent. Not even a flutter, or a "bye". So I decided I needed a few shots of the little guy. Thing is, when he isn't there in the morning, I kinda miss him.  


]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Tue, 15 Sep 2015 20:57:13 GMT
Selected for the 2016 calendar for Trinity House Farne Islands Longstone LighthouseFarne Islands Longstone LighthouseThis image featured in the Trinity House lighthouse calendar 2018. This shot of Longstone lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been selected for the Trinity House Calendar 2016. Trinity House is the lighthouse authority for England and Wales, and the organisation was granted a Royal Charter by Henry V111 way back in 1514.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Farne House Islands Longstone Morris Northumberland Photography Steve Trinity by lighthouse Thu, 18 Jun 2015 10:46:02 GMT
Not a natural I find nature a bit elusive. Not that I am a particularly skilled nature photographer - I tend to dabble a bit when I go out with the camera with really long bits attached to the end. Snag is, I seem to be unable to get out of bed for the nice early shots when our friends in the animal kingdom are out and about and feeding, before their habitat becomes invaded with strange bearded people skulking around in the bushes dressed in green. So I have to take what is left.

When I do manage to locate something interesting to shoot - such as the native Red Squirrel - it always seems to be on the other side of the tree trunk, or vanishing into undergrowth. The one above thumbed its nose at me seconds before I released the shutter. Perhaps I need a faster camera. And no, the photo is not the wrong way up. This really is a horizontal squirrel. Honest.

Luckily, another less awkward squirrel agreed to pose for the shot below.

He looks a bit like Tom Cruise. I think he has aspirations. Not all squirrels are the same. 




]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Red Squirrel Steve Morris Photography Mon, 11 May 2015 10:51:20 GMT
Not exactly a Bald Eagle I read today in The Guardian on-line an article to decide on a good "national bird" for the UK. Well, there is a stack of criteria to weigh up, and you can actually vote! Whichever you choose it needs to reflect a strong positive image for the UK, but I really think that the good 'ole US has the concept of a national bird sewn-up fairly well, with the brilliant Bald Eagle on everything from a flag to a mug. 

It has to be said, that most of the shortlisted choices are really good - strong on a sort of "British" image, or are cute, with a good range from the Wren to the Red Kite. I am not sure a Puffin (lives in a hole in the ground) does it for me though, and the Red Kite is not prolific enough (although there are a good few around here). 

artic tern

I think being an island nation we deserve a sea-bird. Also, I happen to have a shot of an Arctic Tern.






]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Arctic Bird National Puffin Tern UK Tue, 05 May 2015 11:41:23 GMT
Shooting for stock I am a fair newbie to the idea of stock photography. The hardest part is initially understanding what the stock libraries want (and what they don't) and then getting my rejection rate down from 70% of submissions without my sanity slipping. I have slowly grasped the concept that stock shots are like no other - it's not so much what you want to shoot, but what is likely to sell. Repeatedly.

I now have around 500 images on line - many salvaged from the cutting room floor especially for the purpose, and some of my best sellers are (in my view) very ordinary snaps I snatched with a sandwich in one hand, a can of coke in the other, and a labrador tugging at the lead wrapped around my ankle. How they came out reasonably focused and pointing in the right direction is beyond me - but somebody likes them. 


My most downloaded image is Belfast Titanic museum, sold 5 times now, so someone likes it. Closely followed by this one of Bradford.

 Both totally different types of image to most I like to use on my website. 

Contrast my meagre offering to other photographers with 30,000+ images on stock sites. I ain't going to get rich, and to be frank, I have better things to do, so I'll just plug away from time to time, when I get a mo.

More later.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Thu, 12 Mar 2015 16:58:28 GMT
all is revealed In Robson Green's "Tales from Northumberland" he tries his hand at Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling.  The episode screens on Monday 23rd February 2015, which answers my "when" question lurking in my mind ever since I shot this on location last year at the Powburn Show.

Robson Green Filming at the Powburn ShowRobson Green Filming at the Powburn ShowRobson Green filming at the Powburn Show for his TV series Tales from Northumberland  

If you have been to Northumberland you need to follow this series. If you have not been to Northumberland you need to follow this series. As I was born and raised there I have something of an affinity with the local agricultural shows, they are all in my diary, and attend as many as I can across the county. I think my favourite is the Hethpool Show (very small and local, great atmosphere, stunning location), the Alwinton Show (a bit bigger and last in the season) and of course the Powburn Show (I had family living in the village for many years). I look forward to watching the rest of this insightful series.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Green Morris Northumberland Photography Powburn Robson Show Steve photographer photography video videographer Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:15:56 GMT
where in the world....  

When you submit images to a photo stock library you tend to wonder where they end up when they are bought. 



This one just ended up in Holland on a Dutch tourism website which promotes the UK as a destination.

Nice of the owner to let me know.


]]> (Steve Morris Photography) 1853 Heritage Mill Saltaire Salts Shipley Site UNESCO West World Yorkshire baildon gallery moor Tue, 03 Feb 2015 10:48:48 GMT
hummed and harred about the Peace Wall submission Snag is, once you have gone down a certain route with your photos, you forget about some of your others. Came across this one the other day which would have made a decent enough alternative to the Peace Wall (belfast) theme/ The jury's out.

Peace Wall, Belfast, Northern IrelandPeace Wall, Belfast, Northern Ireland

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) belfast peace wall Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:17:21 GMT
Peace Wall, Belfast This one won the Royal Photographic Society Boundaries Competition, December 2014. The image was featured in the RPS Journal in January 2015.

The Peace Wall, Belfast, Northern IrelandThe Peace Wall, Belfast, Northern IrelandA hand writes on the Peace Wall. This photo was the winner of the Royal Photographic Society competition "Boundaries", December 2014, and appeared in the RPS Journal January 2015.The hand adds to the signatures supporting peace on the Peace Wall, which separates communities in the city of Belfast. Famous signatures include the Dalai Lama and former US President Bill Clinton

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Wed, 10 Dec 2014 12:56:43 GMT
Tees estuary This photo was published in The Guardian newspaper on 27th November 2014 (page 48).....

Seal SandsSeal SandsThis photograph was published in The Guardian newspaper on
27th November 2014

This was one of a number of successful images taken on a Tees Estuary assignment recording the industrial landscape around the mouth of the river.  

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Estuary Guardian River Sands Seal Tees beach dog hartlepool middlesbrough newspaper sands walker weather Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:43:10 GMT
One for me on the Guardian website This photo of Suwon City in South Korea was featured on the Guardian website in November 2014

Suwon CitySuwon CityA view of Suwon City in South Korea from the fortress walls

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) City Korea South Suwon Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:32:36 GMT
Coastal hazards.. Characters at the Edinburgh FringeCharacters at the Edinburgh FringeDiving down a back alley I came across two people in character, taking a break. It wasn't until much later I noticed that there is a seagull on the man's head......

It's funny what you find when you are trawling (no coastal pun intended) through some of your older shots. Just walking past the end of an alley in Edinburgh I shot this unusual couple having a conversation - anywhere other than Edinburgh ( where all things are possible / likely) would have been too surreal for words. It was only a couple of years after I took this, and a couple of days ago, that I noticed he has a seagull on his head. How weird is that then? Still, I suppose Edinburgh is on the coast. You think he would have noticed. 

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:40:47 GMT
Damp, and in Bolton Not exactly Bolton, but it felt like this. 9.00am and in Queens Park, Bolton, standing under Niagara falls, or something similar, on the wettest day of the year, camera perched on a tripod in a plastic cover, brolly stuck point-down in a patch of grass, wondering where the light has gone. Not the best day for a landscape assignment. The problem with waterproof trousers is that the water all runs downwards into yer boots. 

Shooting on film. I'll post some shots up when I digitise it. Must dry the camera out.


Yeah, OK - so it's not Bolton in the picture.


]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Bolton damp shoot weather wet Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:03:04 GMT
Fringe Table with sauce bottlesTable with sauce bottlesTaken at a burger bar on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, during the Fringe festival 2014 Check out a few Fringe shots in my Portfolio "Projects" section. I try to get there every year, and shoot something different, but the snag with the Fringe is that there is so much going down you need days there, not hours. My sense of familiarity faded a bit though as the man with the didgeridoo seemed to be missing this year, even though I had resolved not to photograph him (again).

I try to get on the fringes of the Fringe and ignore the performances. Best to concentrate on the street life and dive down a couple of the alleys. This photo of a burger bar sauce table really caught my eye for the colour when it was back-lit by the sun. I passed on the burger though.


Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Hot CatEdinburgh Fringe 2014 Hot CatHot Cat poster

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) 2014 Edinburgh Fringe photos Tue, 26 Aug 2014 19:47:49 GMT
....down at the Edinburgh Fringe.... Edinburgh Fringe 2014Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Took a few at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 over a couple of days. Will post some of the more interesting shots over the next week or so.

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe acts performers photographs photos Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:05:51 GMT
It's surprising who you see if you look... Robson GreenRobson GreenRobson Green, actor and TV presenter.
Saw Robson Green at the Powburn agricultural show in Northumberland this afternoon having a tussle. (Saturday 2nd August). Why was he not fishing....



]]> (Steve Morris Photography) green powburn robson show Sat, 02 Aug 2014 17:13:25 GMT
I came, I saw, I shot “This was not how the shoot was supposed to go.” I repeated this to myself over, and over, and over again. Like some sort of Zen mantra.  “no plan survives contact with the enemy” 

]]> (Steve Morris Photography) Travel Fri, 30 Aug 2013 18:53:35 GMT