I wonder how many times I walked past this little fairy house and never realized it was there.
Really, you see the damnedest things at the Ren Farie, like the 4th Doctor wandering around
And when you start seeing mini-marshmallows all over the ground, you know you are approaching the booth of Siege The Day, makers of hand held and desktop catapults. Honestly, I love these guys.
Bristol Faire is always busy and full of sound, except here and there you find moments of tranquility. Usually you find these moments down by the Royal Court’s area in between their sessions.
They have several little tent “houses” set up for some the more major players in the court, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury. I must say his is my favorite of these little tent houses; it set up as a parlor where he can meet with people, or play a game of chess. Most of the time this parlor is passed by if he is not there, but every now and again someone takes advantage of the chess board just sitting there.
Early in the day I spotted the chess board and stopped to take a couple of quick photos, only briefly wishing my friends and I had split up to catch different shows. To be honest I’d have gotten my butt kicked by either of them, I’m just not that great at chess.
Still, I always admire the more detailed chess pieces, and this set looks like they’ve received some good use while being well cared for.
Later on in the day I wandered back to court to see if there was anything interesting going, and I spotted a young couple who had sat down to take advantage of the shade, chairs and chess board.
I admit, it made me smile.
So in this final installment of falconry photos we have the big falcons. Fast, strong and very difficult to photograph. Ray has a Saker falcon that I’ve featured here before, Chula, as well as a pair of Barbary/Gyrfalcon captive bred birds named Sophia and The Phantom.
These bird are hard to photograph on the wing. Chula is a bit easier, since I’ve been watching her for the past 4 or 5 years and kind of have a feel for habits in the arena. The young ones, Sophia and Phantom, however are maddeningly frustrating to capture in a non-blurry way. Phantom in particular, since he likes to live up to his name by vanishing in one direction behind the trees, climbing up and stooping from another direction.
Sophia kindly perched on the fence for a quick photo.
Here she just missed a pass at the lure
Braking and turning midair
Unfortunately for you the only good photo I got of Phantom was of him stuffing his face.
Last post I closed out with a quote from Ray, head falconer of Flight of the Raptor. “Falconry is based on respect and trust, if you respect the birds, you will earn their trust.” There is actually a follow up to that, “The bird will never respect you, and you can never trust the bird.”
Today we’re going to take a look at at the two smallest birds flown during the session, Ace the American Kestrel and Chica the Merlin.
To be honest, I didn’t really get anything too great of Ace, he is just too damn tiny and spent most his time on the other side of the arena. I suppose this means that I need to get a bigger lens. Kestrels are also known as sparrowhawks, though to be fair their main prey is grasshoppers and the like. They aren’t really too “useful” to a falconer hunting for his own cook pot, but are great little birds to learn with. Did I mention that they are as colorful as tiny?
Ace in flight-
Ace to the hand (you can see how tiny he is! Dare I say “Squee!”)
Next we have the lovely little Chica. She is a bit bigger than Ace, but not by much. Merlins are not hawks but falcons, meaning they hunt other birds and have long tapering wings rather than the broad blunt wings of the hawks and eagles. They capture prey in the air and bind to them, killing swiftly with a bite to sever the spine at the base of the neck. Here Chica was chasing the training lure rather than another bird.
I like this shot mainly because it shows off that wonderful camouflage as she comes in from a shallow stoop towards the lure.
Talk about intense focus! Remember the caveat Ray gave on the trust and respect of a falconer’s relationship with his birds? Well here you can see how he keeps tabs on his birds if they should choose to just fly off and not return. Which they do sometimes. The wire hanging down from Chica’s leg a little GPS transponder, if she flies off they can load up into a car and track her down. Once found she will most likely be willing to return to the falconer’s fist with the temptation of a food reward, something all the birds have learned to expect anytime the falconer asks them to return to the hand.
Next up will be the supersonic superstars of the show, the big falcons!
It is that time of year again! Welcome back to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, one of my favorite places on earth. I made a point of catching the falconry session twice in hopes of catching one or two good photos, I’m fairly happy with year’s turn out.
First let me introduce you via linky to Flight of the Raptor, please check them out. They provide the educational sessions for Bristol’s faire pretty much every year and no matter how many times I visit the show I am always impressed, enthralled, entertained and educated at the end.
I’ll start with the Harris hawks, always fantastic birds.
One of the more interesting things about Harris hawks is they will often work cooperatively. Here two of the capture the lure and battle it in an impressive display of strength.
One of the things I love about Flight of the Raptor is Ray, the lead falconer. His love of the birds and passion for falconry is magnificent. Here he calms his more nervous hawk before hooding her.
As Ray says, falconry is based on respect and trust, if you respect the birds, you will earn their trust.
It isn’t very often I get to get close to adorable exotic animals like this ring tailed lemur. He is part of the petting zoo at the local fair and for once they had him out of his cage (where he usually just paces in boredom and frustration). It seems the petting zoo finally listened to the complaints they were getting and decided to offer him a better quality of life by not keeping him locked up all the time. So, meet Oscar, a 4 year old ring tailed lemur. He was a little shy at first but since I didn’t push contact and closeness with him he decided I wasn’t evil and allowed me to take his picture, a lot.
The first thing Oscar did when he realized I wasn’t going to get all up into his personal space was find some potted plants and start munching on them.
Then he decided to give me his best contemplative look, the deep thinking lemur….
Ahhh who are we kidding he is a clown, through and through!
Visiting the court is something a lot of people skip, but it can be pretty entertaining. We stopped by in time for dinner and entertainment.
Is it just me or does she look like she is hatching evil schemes?
Something you never thought you’d see, the Queen kneeling in the dirt.
Every year their show gets better and better. If you should have the opportunity to see I strongly recommend you take it!
While the new camera is better equipped to deal with the fast movement at the Falconry show, I still have a lot of learning to do to get the most out of it. The grand majority of the time my pictures are nothing but grey or brown blurs, when I manage to get the bird in the frame at all. This past visit was a little better, most of the time my pictures were slightly out of focus when I managed to get the bird into the frame. There was still a lot of “*#*$!@#@$#^&!!” going on under my breath.
Now for the exciting bit, action! This is the first time I’ve taken this camera to the faire or tried any serious action shots. I was also using a borrowed lens that was a telephoto rather than zoom so I had to lot to try and figure out in time for a 20 minute presentation, or which only 5 minutes is actual jousting. So bear with me!
Seeing this charging down the field makes a person understand why heavy cavalry was efficient in the way back when.
The moment of contact!
Results in a broken lance. That had to hurt! The knights really do get injured sometimes, the fighting is staged to some extend, but you can’t always predict when a lance will break or a blow will land in an unfortunate manner.
As I mentioned previously I visited the Bristol Renaissance Faire this past weekend. With all the kitty craziness going on in the house sort of under control I finally had a chance to browse a few pictures. Meet Sir Gregory, I used to sublet an apartment from him. At the time he was Squire Gregory, so I am very happy to see him moving up in the world.
Not the best shot of the day, but it certainly gives you an idea of how difficult the job really is. You’re seated on an 800 pound animal with a mind and will of its own (and this company, Hanlon-Lee Action Theater, uses bit-less bridles too!) with a large heavy pole moving at about 20 to 25 miles an hour attempting to hit (or in this case catch) a small moving target about a foot in diameter.
As promised, May Pole Dancers. I love this picture, it is so far from being a great shot but I can look at it and see where I captured the exact moment I wanted yet failed to expose the shot properly. Where to start? My aperture is way off, I was likely shooting f/8 here. I should have circled half way round the dance area so I would have a lawn and empty pavilion in my background, rather than a bunch of yokels in front of a shop. Also, had I moved I would not have ended up with that brilliant glare on everything in the upper left corner, the light would have been more even (everything would have been in shade with slight dappling) . Despite all of that (and a few other small issues) I love this shot.
I love the expression on her face, I love the movement of her skirt and legs, I love the colors of the dancer’s clothes. I love that I can try again this year with the knowledge that while I may not get THIS shot with better composition and exposure, I have a much better understanding of what to do to try and improve it.
>“Things I am not good at” could be a very long list indeed, but portraits tops my list of photography things I want to improve. This was an accidentally good shot, and I’m sure I had no idea what I was doing. I had just upgraded from my hand-me-down camera to the Powershot and had no clue how to use it properly. Indeed I think I’d had that camera for all of a month when I went on this trip. I suppose it just goes to show that if you take enough pictures you will incidentally get a good one here and there. I’m trying to improve my aim a little though.
I’m looking forward to the Bristol Faire this year in no small part because of the new camera and I get to practice my people picture taking skills on the massive hordes. As well as the falcons.
This is the acrobat group Barely Balanced, and quite possibly one of my favorite acts at the Faire.
One of the difficulties in getting a good shot of them is getting good seats where you don’t have to shoot over 10 rows of heads but aren’t too close to the action, since they do move about on the stage a fair bit. I’d also like to get a good shot of Casey breathing fire, but she only performs that trick once a day so it is a matter of luck for the most part.
I am hoping this year we’ll get to go more than once, since there is no possible way to catch all the shows much less the street theater in even 3 visits. I’d also like to catch some action down at the court, hopefully get there in time for some dancing (they may even perform a “scandalous” dance in which you can see the dancer’s stockinged ankles) as well as get some pictures of the convincingly creepy Archbishop.
I’d also like to retry my hand at photographing the May Pole dancers, to be discussed in tomorrow’s entry.