Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Has Bird Photography become too easy OM-1 vs Morrey Salmons Glass plate camera ?

 I recently had the pleasure of visitng Skomer to photograph puffins with bird photography expert Rob Cottle and the technical experts from OM System UK where I was kindly loaned their latest flasgship camera the OM-1 

I was easily able to get some excellent pictures of the puffins as I hope you agree from the small selection of images that follows here. 

One of the key aspects of the day was to try and get pictures of the puffins in flight and the Bird AI features of the OM-1 really did lock in on the eye of the bird and enable you to track and get multiple pictures of the birds

Puffin in Flight

It was equally good at locking on the birds on the ground of course 

Puffin with Sand Eels

And dealing with extemes in dark and light in the same picture 

Razorbill resting

Guillemot keeping an eye on things

This got me thinkging about the amount of equipment that I was carrying (and my shoulder did feel the weight of the camera bag by the end of the day) and the number of images that I had taken (over 500 across the 2 cameras I was testing) and how that compared to the incredibly hard work that Morrey Salmon, his photographic partner Geoffrey Ingram and various other family and friends went to to get one or two images at a time (depending on the camera back that they were using) 

Take this for instance it is simply titled GSCI (Geoffrey Ingram) photogrpahing Herring gulls nest 22 June 1911. We have not been able to identify the location as yet, but clearly the Welsh coast or islands because that was the limit of their travels at this time. From the scan of the full negative you can see the safety rope from the cliff top (BTW thatis not approved belaying technique)

And from this cropped in version you can see the size of the camera and tripod and the size of his accessories bag which is about the same size as the camera bag I was carrying three cameras and lenses in for my day out.

As if climbing down a relatively gentle sloping cliff wasn't eough, Morrey and Geoffrey weren't averse to lugging their camera up a tree to get a picture. This photo by Morrey Slamon shows  geoffrey Ingram up a tree to photograph a Spassowhawks nest

Cropping in a little allows you to once again see the scale of the equipment

And they were not limited to natural obstacles, old buildings were scaled with the same level of skill and amounts of equipment such as this odl mill from St-y-Nyll near cardiff pictures taken in July 1911 whereby you can see some once again non approved modern safety technique

They clearly both made it as can be seen in this picture and from the fact we know this partnership went on for another 5 years or so

So maybe things have become a lot easier, but we all owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers who proved that it could be done, and done well as more pictures that we share will no doubt prove.  


Monday, June 19, 2023

The Salmon family visits the archive project

 The volunteers working on the Morrey Salmon photographic project were honoured last friday (16/Jun/23) to have a visit by Hugh Salmon and his two daughters, Jennifer and Fiona

We described the process we are doing and Hugh made a short but moving speech about how much the family was feeling honoured by the dedication of all these people putting in their own time to clean and conserve the photographs 

Hugh (seated) with Jennifer and Mike Dean to his left and Jana Horak (NMW) and Fiona to his right 

Hugh, Jennifer and Fiona have the clenaing process described as Julian Carter (NMW) looks on and Julian Carter (CNS) cleans a negative

Hugh, Jennifer and Fiona with Morrey's picture in the background 

As you can see from the pictures, we were hosted on this day by Jana Horak and Julian Carter from the National Museum of Wales. NMW staff have been overseeing us and helping us with all of the work  

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Morrey Salmon Photographic collection

We're up and running fully now with the Morrey Salmon Photographic collection cleaning (and subsequently digitsing). 

Here he is in the 1980s with his third camera 

Copyright National Museum of Wales used under CNS licence

He was recognised as an incredible man notonly in this field but because of his military service in WW1 and WW2. Some of that is noted in his biography 

“Col. Morrey Salmon must now be regarded as the father of British bird photography” (Eric Hosking OBE. Bird photographer).

“He was a legendary figure from way back in the early days of conservation in this country” (Sir Peter Scott CH, CBE, DSC & Bar, FRS, FZS, Founder of the WWT and WWF).

“He – by quite extraordinary efforts well outside what might be regarded as a norm – made a major contribution to RAF operations in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. His dedication and professional competence set a standard which has been reflected in RAF Regiment operations ever since” (Air Vice-Marshall Donald Pocock).

“I especially valued the leadership he was able to give in Wales in regard to ornithology and conservation” (Max Nicholson, President RSPB).

“He was a great Naturalist and a great Welshman” (Roger Lovegrove RSPB).

From his first bird photograph taken in 1909 to his later work we will be looking at it all 

Lapwing by Morrey Salmon copyright National Museum of Wales used under CNS licence
Lapwing by Morrey Salmon copyright National Museum of Wales used under CNS licence

After the introduction training a couple of weeks ago where Lisa from the National Museum of Wales taught us how to clean glass lantern slides and glass negatives we had our first full session today with about 100 glass negatives cleaned and repackaged into acid free archival envelopes. 

This is a "long haul project" with over 3600 objects currently noted to be dealt with and that doesn't mean just cleaning and repackaging we have to identify the pictures and locations and put information togetether about each one from his diaries and notebooks and other CNS resources so there is a long way to go. 

But we thought you may like to see a few pictures of the current volunteers at work and some of the pictures we are already working on. 

As you can see from the sparrow on the birdbox some of the pictures are sadly in a bad way, but many more are in almost perfect condition and the quality of the photography given the equipment available is nothing less than amazing. 

There is a lot more of this story to tell so keep watching out for future posts.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Howardian Bioblitz / survey day

 We used to call them wildlife surveys, but the "in" term these days seems to be bioblitz 

Anyway when you get a whole load of eyes on the plant and animal life in one location with people of all abilities calling out what they have noticed and a scattering of experts along to help with the trickier identifications you can find a whole load of things and add them to the records for the site 

CNS members recently went to the Howardian Local Nature reserve with the friends of the reserve and spent a valuable few hours looking for and identifying things and we have a nice new species list on our website https://cardiffnaturalists.org.uk/htmfiles/reserves.htm to show for it 

The Friends group already have an impressive list on their website, but if you look carefully you can find things on this new list that are not as yet on the howardian site http://www.howardianlnr.org.uk/ (we are sure they will update to include them soon, so by the time you read this it could be updated)

There will be a full write up of the day in the next newsletter, but for now why not take a look at what we found and enjoy these pictures taken by Rob and Linda Nottage 

Some of the team at work

Oedemera nobilis Thick Legged Flower Beetle

Arge cyanocrocea Bramble sawfly

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

2021 and 2022 Newsletter update

2021 and 2022 (to date) Newsletters are now being posted to our website. 

Due to a technical hitch the 2021 newsletters were delayed, but issues 121, 122 & 123 are now available along with 124 for Jan 2022

Many thanks to our excellent editor Stephen Nottingham and all the authors and photographers for giving us these fascinating articles to read and these wonderful pictures to look at 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Gill Barters Fields

 Many members may not be aware, but some years ago our very own Gill Barter purchased a number of fields near Pencoed in order to ensure that they were conserved in line with their SSSI status. 

Yesterday members of the society were treated to a guided tour of the highlights of the fields with Gill acting as tour guide 

We had a wonderful trip and here are some of the highlights with identifications from me. if any of them are incorrect please leave a comment or send a message via the contact us form

View of a field, Whorled Caraway Carum verticillatum, Sedges etc.

Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus

Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria

Red Sword-grass, Xylena vetusta Catterpillar
Speckled Wood Pararge aegeria

Dog Rose Rosa canina

Nuthatch Sitta europaea nesting hole

Common Sundew Drosera rotundifolia

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Eleanor Vachell will be featured on this Thursday's episode of The Great British Menu

 We've had a message from the family of Eleanor Vachell our 64th and first female President 

Dear all

I thought that you might be interested to know that Eleanor Vachell will be featured on this Thursday's episode of The Great British Menu.  Apparently Eleanor was the inspiration for one of the Chefs,  Ali Borer.  No idea is what capacity but I thought people might be interested.  

Here is the link:


So how does a famous botanist inspire a famous chef? You will need to watch to find out.  

Ali Borer is now head chef of Nutbourne Restaurant in London.

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