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Some time, more precisely two years have passed since we went on a phototrip to Spain. To be specific, to the southwest of Spain, on a location between the famous Gibraltar Rock and equally famous Doñana. The plural form 'we' meaning Vasek Bambula, Jaromir Kaderabek (I hope he doesn't mind that I make fun of him a little), Lada Vit and I. We chose the time of spring bird migration from Africa to northern Europe, expecting great numbers of birds in the location which is only 16km far from the African coast.

White stork (Ciconia ciconia). It's just a stork, but when he landed on a paddy field few steps away from me in a beautiful morning light, I was quite thrilled.

I haven't written about this journey yet, because I didn't have a clear idea what form should such a text take in order to not become a travel journal like: we went, travelled through some places, arrived there, you can see there this and that, and it was quite fun, ha! you, who hadn't (perhaps) been there.
So I'm going to omit this information. I don't remember anything anyway, I drove the way there (and even back, if you asked) approximately 2.000 km and all I can remember is that the GPS lead me two times to a bridge with no end and because of the same GPS I rode 160 km through a field instead of driving on a motorway. Well, eventually we arrived to the place with punctuality of 80 meters.

To be perfectly honest, this little article is just a way to show few photos from this trip.

Bald-coots and seagull. Bald-coots didn't have nestlings yet so why they were so stressed out for the seagull I don't know, because after few sweeps the seagull tired off and the bald-coots dispersed without a cause for all this had been revealed.

We didn't want to underestimate the preparations so we actually asked local expert, professional bird-guide, Scottish ornithologist Stephen Daly, and we used the accommodation at his Hoopoe Cottage. We thought that well-educated Stephen who could speak several languages (he was learning Russian at that time), ornithologist and photographer-birdwatcher will ensure the aim for which we went 3000 kilometres, that is to photo birds of southern Spain. It was clear in the end that a combination photographer-birdwatcher is totally unsuitable for a good photo. We expected a lot from this venture but the disappointment, especially Jaromir's, from our captures was big in the end. Unfortunately, as Jaromir didn't know at that time, his misfortune was to be prolonged to other foreign photo-missions... Spain, Hungary, Holland...
Let's hope that our visit helped at least Stephen to understand better the specific requirements of the market's segment wildlife photo, where he lacked perfection. After all, you can have a look at Stephens web

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta). Sigma 300-800 lens can focus on minimum of 6 meters. Puddling in a paddy in absolutely uncomfortable position, I waited motionless until the Egret retreated so much so the lens was able to focus.

Well, Jaromir paid back to Stephen and his misunderstanding with equal misunderstanding after all. Stephen and his family live in a "green" way. That meant apart from other things, that Stephen had (unlike any other house in vicinity) a human excrements sump including a special bacterial culture which can effectively decompose these and other ugliness as well. In order for this facility to function right a good dispersion of the faeces was needed and also a smooth drain of the sump-leaving, surely more "decorous shits", precisely waste products. To maintain the system to operate correctly, Stephen put at its beginning, that is to say next to the toilet, instructions in four languages: Don't throw paper in the toilet! Only Jaromir didn't quite understood the text. Or he didn't read it at all. And he spent so much vigorous time on the toilet that when we once came back from the photo shoot we were welcomed by horrendous smell, hosepipes everywhere and Stephen saying: "It worked for me perfectly for seven years," and after a while: "You haven't been throwing paper in the toilet, have you?" When we assured him we hadn't, he calmed down quite a bit. After this episode he stopped going with us so often a we had better chance to take a photo of something.

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

I wasn't so depressed myself. I had learned before that an ornithologist's (birdwatcher's) approach and needs are simply different than a photographer's. At least it is the distance from an observed object. Hundred or two hundred meters is ok for a birdwatcher, for a photographer it is usually "unnecessary" to photo elephants at such a distance, let alone birds. Stephen said to understand our requirements, but he couldn't help himself. He was always overruled by his nature. Few times he stopped his van abruptly and as he run outside he was pointing at a tiny dot in the sky, telling us that it was a for example Short-toed Eagle on the move from Africa. I trusted him readily and several times I cowardly took my telephoto lens out, trying not to offend him, but later on I said blatantly that I wasn't going to shoot it. Another time, perhaps in order for the shots not to be against the sky he showed us a locality of Stone Curlews. Their heads darted among freshly budding alfalfa, approximately 70 meters from us. At that distance I used mainly Sigma 300-800mm and Nikon D300 with crop-factor 1.5x. The resulting focal length of the set was 1200mm but nevertheless insufficient for a decent photo. In despair I put also a teleconverter 1.4x on my Sigma 300-800, so the set has eventually a considerable focal length 1680mm, which was however more suitable for static objects in early morning, because air waving in later hours caused an effect which can be compared to sunset landscape photo shooting from a moving train of Czech Railways through closed window.

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus).

At that time Jaromir's only available lens was 300mm/F2.8 and for innumerable times, also in despair, he shooted with two converters 1.4x and 2.0x put one on another. This set can be connected only if you file away part of bayonet for TC 1.4. Even then the photos he took in this clumsy way he had to crop and his quote: "It's barely for a sixmego", meaning the count of megapixels of a picture like this, went down in history of digital photography also because when you talk about it on the way back every 15 minutes for 3.000 kilometres, you just cannot forget.

Jaromir likes the main object of his photos to be across the chip, so one can't be surprised he was a little bit disappointed with his cropped-to-half pictures. He wasn't happy at all... and he was rather comforting himself with the "sixmego".

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

But the lesson remains, photo shooting even in most promising rich ornithological locality doesn't have to ensure the desired result, that is few decent photographs, let alone one excellent or exceptional photo. Quite the contrary, in raptures by the variety of species we can see, we become more like some species collectors, and when we finally don't have enough of them on the memory stick, we tend to think that our trip wasn't fulfilled... as if it can ever be fulfilled... Notorious dialectical quantity wins over quality. It cannot be very different on a short ten-days-trip like that, you want to cover as much as possible, because you drive there a long way and God knows when you can go there again... and as a result you get only an average.

Iberian Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava iberiae).

I don't want to complain all the time, to be honest we saw really amazing things. It's not a big revelation that in the time of the spring migration in location only 16 kilometres away from Morocco one can expect lots of birds. But when you sit on a rock and few dozen meters above you crosses a flock of hundred or hundred and fifty Black Kites, few hundreds meters away in a rising air stream you see rotating more than 200 storks, or every 15 minutes couple of Griffon Vultures fly so near, let alone thousands of perching birds, it is a big experience. It is experience even if you aren't a photographer or a birdwatcher (so an experience even for, in the Czech Republic before-elections popular, "common person").

Griffon Vulture(Gyps fulvus)

And now you imagine we were sitting on a rock where pre-historic paintings can be found. It's not very difficult to let this genius loci affect you, when you sit on a places where more than 10.000 years ago our pre-historic ancestors lived and maybe they also like us sat in warm sunset and gazed on the African coast line where they had come from. I think my colleagues might had been surprised if I would have stood up round-shouldered a bit, I'd shaken my tripod instead of a club, shot my lips, bared my teeth and made a determined cry, as an expression of the feeling that I am there strong and firm... and I would have downloaded the photos in a laptop instead of going to paint them into some cave nearby.
A place for a relaxed atavistic manifestation indeed.

Bohdan Němec, Pilsen, May 2010
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis). To take a photo of a Cattle Egret on a tree where they decided to rest the night was impossible. The trees were literally covered in Egrets.

Translation from czech original version by Tereza Němcová: gwareth@seznam.cz
Comments on article 'SPAIN ON LIGHTER QUILLS'
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16.1.2011 20:48:02
Pobavilo, poučilo. Zkrátka jak dobré čtení, tak pokoukání.
15.12.2010 14:49:36
Martin Pelánek
Rád jsem si početl, přesto bych poprosil o napsání termínu, kdy jste tam byli. Tato oblast je jedním z adeptů na navštívení, tak dávám dohromady informace. Díky Martin
15.12.2010 22:26:14
Bohdan Němec
Zdravím. Byli jsme tam začátkem března. Ten sup je focený 5. března. Bohdan
15.10.2010 13:00:49
Dobry den, tohle je dalsi test. Uz by to melo fungovat...
4.10.2010 20:32:05
14.6.2010 18:44:39
Pavel Stančo
Nemohu nic víc, než jen souhlasit s Oldou. Článek je opravdu perfektně zpracovaný. Žádné zdlouhavé popisy kudy tudy, ale jasné a stručné. Nejvíc jsem se ale asi pobavil komentáři... Fotografie jsou samozřejmě perfektní. Nad čápem bych se vůbec "neohrnoval"... My jsme nadšeni z volavky a ve Španělsku berou volavku jako my čápa... Je to kus krásného zvířete a krásně vyfoceného. Přeji dobré světlo a víc takových zážitků a společníků, závidím :)
15.6.2010 20:50:32
Bohdan Němec
Děkuji za reakce. Trochu jsem se obával, že to nikdo nebude číst...
10.6.2010 18:34:44
Ahoj,u článku jsem se opravdu dobře pobavil,líbí se mi,v jakém duch je napsaný.Se Stephenem musela být zábava,na kterou se asi nedá zapomenout.Cesta to musela být sice daleká,ale stála za to,alespoň podle přiložených fotek.Jsou výborné. A "šestimego"?Stačí bohatě,pokud je kvalitní.
7.6.2010 22:41:34
Já myslím,že mě znáš dostatečně dlouho na to abys věděl,že se nezlobím:-)Zkrátka velice kulantním způsobem jsi prostě popsal,že jsem ucpal hajzl a faktem je,že pokud nebudu brát v podtaz prezentaci na web,kderá snese hodně,tak u mě má fotka smysl,že bude kvalitně tisknutelná min.60x40cm.Nicméně jak jsem se přesvědšil megapixely nejsou vše,snímač je důležitější parametr,nedávno jsem provedl test D700 vs. D300 a výsledek byl až šokující ve prospěch D700 a to nemyslím v olasti šumu.Jaromír
6.6.2010 21:53:05
Ještě,že jsem pro legrci,být k pláči bylo by to horší:-)Co se týče Stephena,dobře mu tak, má mít normální záchod a ne tam chovat nekulturně a obhajovat si to ve čtyřech jazycích,přičemž čeština kupodivu chyběla,navíc šel jsem konat potřebu a ne si tam číst,na to nebyl čas:-)Na svoji obhajobu musím podotknout,že s oběma TC už bylo měřítko v pořádku.Ale cesty nelituji,rád jsem s váma jel.Míra
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