Monday, 21 September 2015

Photo Competition - Top Tips from Paul Hobson

This year's Community Science photo competition, themed 'Moorland and Wildlife' is now open for your entries.

Black Darter by Paul Hobson
Local wildlife photographer and author Paul Hobson has kindly donated one of the prizes  - a signed copy of his fantastic book 'Wild Derbyshire' -  and will be helping to judge the competition alongside Kate MacRae, also known as Wildlife Kate.

The prizes - 2 fabulous signed wildlife books worth over £40

To help give you some inspiration and ideas, Paul has provided 7 top-tips for entrants:

1. The background is as important as the subject. More images are ruined by a poor background than any other reason.

2. Use a tripod, it slows you down and allows fine tuning to your composition.

3. Make sure you understand depth of field and f numbers so you choose the best depth of field (dof) for your image. Landscapes tend to want big dof's at F16 or higher. Portraits of animals and plants can look great at lower dof's using f numbers like 4 or 5.6

Red Grouse in a Peak District landscape by Paul Hobson
4. Make sure you understand the basic rule of composition, the rule of thirds. At its most basic try to get the subject to one side of your image and looking into the space.

5. Try to get away from auto and use one of the main modes like aperture priority, this allows you a far greater control over your camera and images.

6. Don't copy other images, try to be original and create a style of your own.

7. You don't need to travel far, all my best images are taken close to home because I can repeatedly visit and perfect my images.

To find out more about Paul's photography, and to see details of his new book 'Wildlife Photography Field Skills and Techniques' head over to his website.  

To enter the photo competition, please head to the Community Science website

Friday, 11 September 2015

Moor Mosses and Sphagnum Sorting...

This week the Community Science team was very lucky to be visited by ecologist Dr Ros Tratt from the University of Sheffield, who spent some time with us putting mosses under the microscope -  and putting us through our paces in the field.

We spent time separating small samples of vital peat forming Sphagnum mosses from other mosses, and then identified them to species level by looking at their typical characteristics - size, shape, colour, leaf shapes and orientations and other details which can be seen using a hand lens or a microscope.

All this activity was in preparation for our new citizen science survey of Sphagnum - The Big Moss Map, which will be launched this autumn. If you're interested in learning more about moss; why it is important and how to identify it, then watch this space...