Having been away – Switzerland and Germany – I’m just catching up on my weekly posts.

CORMORANTS by John Allen

This was the scene on Lake Konstanz, the morning we were leaving for home.

Not the most brilliant image, but I had never seen so many cormorants together. I’d always thought of them as solitary – maybe the odd pair, but never more than that. And here they were in great numbers. I would guess 50+, but I didn’t count them.

The shot was taken from the terrace of our hotel in Konstanz – ( not been? Make the trip if you can ) – and even the hotel staff were amazed by the number of these birds on the lake. One suggested they were feeding on young fish, and there was certainly a lot of diving going on – and I did get a couple of shots of cormorants with fish in their beaks.

Anyway, I thought it was a worthwhile shot. Hope you do too!

Have a good week!


SWAN v DOG – 23

In Montreux, Switzerland this dog got into the water far too close to a pair of swans and their cygnets.

What happened next was what can only be described as one of the swans attempting to get on top of the dog and drown it!!

SWAN v DOG by John Allen-1SWAN v DOG by John Allen-2SWAN v DOG by John Allen-3

Finally the second swan joined in the melee.

SWAN v DOG by John Allen-4

Somehow the dog escaped with a little assistance from its owner who ran into the lake, up to his waist in water. As the man and dog left the water one of the swans had a final ‘hiss’ at the pair.

Other than a slight exposure increase and some cropping, these are as they came out of the camera ( I know, we all say that 🙂 )

Owls, a Goshawk and Bluebells – 20

Last month a group of photo club friends and I had the opportunity to photograph owls – and a goshawk – in a bluebell wood. These are some of my images.

All were taken on the Olympus EM-1 MkII. The most challenging shot was the tawny owl in flight. We had several goes at this – but owls, being owls, fly quite fast and not usually in a straight line. Tracking the bird in flight, even as it heads towards you, is not so simple!

I tried continuous focus ( or whatever your camera maker calls it ) where once in focus the camera should hold the focus on a moving object, as long as the target doesn’t move outside the selected focus point(s). I gave up.

I took to manually focussing on a point about halfway between the bird’s starting point and myself, and setting the camera on high speed sequential shooting, knowing that if I could follow the owl it would have to fly through my elected ‘plane of focus’. And it does work although you land it up with lots of out of focus shots, plus one or two ( maybe three ) that are just about in, and, with a bit of luck, one that is sharp!

On the day the light was not brilliant under the canopy of trees so a higher ISO was required, and, looking back, the lens I chose ( 40mm – 150mm [ 80 – 300 35mm equivalent ] ) was a touch too short resulting in the owl being a bit small in the frame. And I don’t have too many pixels that I can afford to throw away in a crop.

Having said that, it was a great experience. Many thanks to Robin and Derry our hosts ( and photographic advisors ) for the afternoon.

Tawny Owl

Tawny Owl in fight

Long Eared Owl



It is a little known fact ( that is to say, I didn’t know ) that plants breathe out oxygen. Apparently “Plants produce oxygen as a waste product of making sugar using sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water”. ( Source : )

The appearance of bubbles in these images is evidence that plants do breathe out.

BUBBLES by John Allen-4BUBBLES by John Allen-2BUBBLES by John Allen-1BUBBLES by John Allen-3

The images were taken by submerging the flowers into a small glass tank of water – and waiting for the bubbles to appear. The flower in image 1 is a chrysanthemum; images 2 to 4 are of blossom – cherry blossom, I believe.

All taken on the Olympus EM1 MkII with a 60mm macro lens. Images 2 to 4 are 1:1 macros; all of the images are uncropped.


With a group of friends from the photography club, I went to Wicken Fen yesterday for a morning of fun and photography – and coffee and sausage rolls, of course.
Wicken Fen is a National Trust property on the Cambridgeshire Fens. A superb place to visit – lots to see, lots to photograph.

These are three of my images from the visit. All taken on the Olympus EM-1 Mk II; the lichen shot is a ( 60mm )macro shot

WATER PUMP by John Allen


BACK LIT GRASS by John Allen