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After endless days of rain over Christmas we were desperate to get out somewhere – me particularly so as I had only been able to use my new Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens once since Christmas Day!

This is a real Big Boy of a lens – extremely sharp, focuses almost instantly and silently, is image stabilised and has a wide aperture of f/2.8 at every focal length. Basically it’s great for making sure moving subjects are really sharp even when the light isn’t great.

I first got my hands on one at a pet photography course in December and it went straight to the top of my list for Santa (I did help Santa out a bit with the cost!). I couldn’t get this shot of a spaniel in flight with my best zoom lens – it just wouldn’t focus fast enough nor let enough light in to achieve the amount of blurred background I wanted.

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On Christmas morning I barely had time to get one shot of our puppy, Ferb, before the holiday monsoon set in. It was well into the New Year before a free day and good weather came together at the same time. The beach seemed like a great idea, especially as Ferb hadn’t been to the seaside before.

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Nic’s wanted to see Antony  Gormley’s “Another Place” art installation at Crosby Beach for a while (once he explained it was those naked statues of men staring out to see we were a bit more enthusiastic!).

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Conditions were perfect for an uplifting frolic across the sand and for getting used to Big Boy – bright, low sunshine, clear, flat light. At any other time of year the sun would have been too high and direct, causing harsh contrasts but it was perfect that day. The sun was at the right angle and bright enough to create silhouettes and I was able to get an amusing picture of Abi assessing one of the figures – we all know what she was looking at! Works well in black and white as it emphasises the contrast.

OK, so the naked statues weren’t exactly going anywhere and I wanted some practice shooting moving subjects. The kids and puppy duly obliged by dashing around on the beach, somewhat complicated by the fact that Ferb was on a 30 metre long lead! To keep them in focus I used the AI Servo focusing mode, which I’ll admit I’ve largely steered clear of, but it performed perfectly. You just have to remember to keep tracking your subject with the lens and it looks after the focusing. Takes a bit of practise but well worth it.

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It’s not often we see Nic in full flight – he’s renowned for falling over, so this is a rare sight indeed! I love Ferb in this one too!

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And freeze framing the kids kicking water around worked well too. (Spot the full frontal statue in the background!)

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Nic had made that fatal mistake of forgetting to put a memory card in his camera so we nipped into Crosby to buy one and to refuel. When we got back to the beach around 3pm the sun was lower in the sky, the light had changed significantly and the tide was in. I would have loved to have got a proper sunset shot of the statues being immersed in the sea but cold, bored kids and wet dog were clamouring to go home. So I made do with this shot instead and felt very jealous of the increasing numbers of people appearing with cameras and tripods.

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By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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