Going to Donna Nook - Recommendations

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Hi folks,

I'm off to Donna Nook with my local Camera Club towards the end of November, can I get away with using a 55-250 Lens or would the 100-400 be better suited (focal length wise)?

We're heading up on the Saturday, coming back on the Sunday.

Knowing there's a few Donna Nook regulars on here I thought I'd also ask for any further useful nuggets of information :)

Thanks!
 
Soldato
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Either of those 2 lenses would be fine. Last year I used 30mm, 70-200mm and 300mm lenses, and all were suitable. A few tips though;

Seal (No pun intended) your kit very well. Use raincovers or binbags and ductape. The salt, sand and water is very good at getting into everywhere! Take a compass or GPS. It might seem like overkill, but last year the fog was so thick you couldn't see more than 10' infront of you, and it would be very easy to get disorientated, which is the last thing you want if the tide is coming in.

The best place to enter the coast is to head for North Somercotes, then head right down Marsh Lane until you get to the small carpark at the end. There is a larger overflow carpark a bit further along, but try to get in the small one if you can (You will want to get there before sunrise as the carpark fills up quickly with photographers).

And the best advice I can give you; Dress like you are spending a month in Antarctica! It can get very cold! So wear lots of clothes, wellies or waders (You can get away with boots, but sometimes the mudflats get very muddy) and bring hat and gloves. Id also put in some spare clothes for when you get back to the car. Hope that helps. :)
 
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^ That's all good advice. I'd simply echo the clothes thing as one of the most important - the sand is often damp and laying on wet sand in the wind is very cold if you're not wearing enough. Full body waterproofing is the way forward - cheap pack away stuff is what I'd recommend, as it's cheap and it doesn't matter if it gets damaged. You will want something warm for lunch, so take money for a burger (or two) and some tea - the vendor who stays in the smaller car park (the non-overflow one) does the best food.

A phone with gps is handy if you have one - I actually went down to DN on the same day as MK last year and you literally couldn't see a thing (I certainly didn't see him) - though hopefully the weather will be nice to you. We ended up having a long trek in random directions across the beach and not seeing a single seal until the afternoon, though everyone else was in the same boat.

The longer the lens the better really, depending on what you're doing, obviously. Longer lenses allow you to stay further away from the seals, which is important. As the 100-400 is a push pull, then getting it all wrapped up properly is vital. YOU DO NOT WANT SAND IN YOUR LENSES!

// EDIT // One more thing. One of the more useful things I took last time around was a plastic dinner tray. If you're shuffling along the beach towards a seal, then tripods get in the way, as the legs dig into the sand. A tray allows you to put all your kit down and push it along without getting it covered in sand.
 
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Associate
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Thanks MK, I was planning on getting a raincover and also hiring a 100-400L but if it's not an absolute must then I'll just use my 55-250 and seal the lot up.

Gloves wise, are there any that are suitable so that they keep our hands toasty while allowing us the appropriate feedback through finger tips?
 
Soldato
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Make sure you check the tide timetable, http://easytide.ukho.gov.uk/

If high tide goes over 5.5 Meters it will breach the sandbar and you'll be cutoff, if it goes significantly over 6 Meters, the sandbar will be breached and you'll be underwater, roughly 1/2 a mile away from the shore. If a high tide is due, I set the alarm on my iphone to go off to remind me an hour before, so I can make my way back.

If high tide is to be less than 5.5 Meters, you can stay out all day.

I'd also seriously avoid going on the end of November. The 21st, 22nd, 28th and 29th will be absolutley heaving with people, it just ruins the whole experience, I'd recommend going in the next couple of weeks into early November, some of the UK's best wildlife photographers go much much earlier ;)

General advice:

1.> Approach seals slowly and at their level, - yes that means crawling in the sand, do not get too close as to cause distress, back off slowly if so.

2.> You may encounter parts of the Colony several hundred strong, do not simply walk up to them, as the entire colony will stampede for the sea - pups can die in the crush i've seen it happen.

3.> Get there mega mega early, if you do end up going at the end of November, i'd be there for 5am, as the carpark is stuffed by 6.


Also, watch out for the "Donna Nook surveillance crew" who are basically self appointed people who are gutted about the amount of people who go each year, and are trying very hard to get it closed down to the public because they no longer have it to themselves.
As a result they spend most of their time simply taking pictures of people "doing wrong" and posting them on the internet to aid their cause, when most of the time no harm is being done - but they love making a fuss.
If you do get close to a pup and take some pictures, don't be suprised if you see a load of 500-600mm lenses pointing straight at you, and don't say you weren't warned - cause it happened to me last year! :D
 
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Thanks for the info v-spec, that's handy to know, I think unfortunately we're fixed on the date, I'm not sure if the chairmans booked the accomodation yet though so I've let him know about this :)

If it is that busy then I expect getting accomodation for those times will be challenging!
 
Soldato
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Hehe, I didn't know about the "Donna Nook surveillance crew" Tim. Will have to keep my eye out for them. Are you going down this year?

I will be yes, very shortly in fact. Going after different shots this year, although I will be shooting some digital with a D700 - as i've totally changed my approach.
I was gonna go and meet everyone last year but the day everybody went was fogged out so I couldn't be bothered LOL!

As far as the surveillance crew go, they're just a bunch of grumpy old people who have been going for 20 years, (when nobody knew about it) since the digital explosion they've had to grin and bear it as its gotten busier and busier. They're trying to get it closed down, so they can introduce a permit system for photographers - no chance of it happening though.

Thanks for the info v-spec, that's handy to know, I think unfortunately we're fixed on the date, I'm not sure if the chairmans booked the accomodation yet though so I've let him know about this :)

If it is that busy then I expect getting accomodation for those times will be challenging!

There are several "photo safari's" running on these weekends, which equates to around 50 people, several of them do book the local accomodation a year in advance, so I'd do it as soon as possible. Grimsby should have plenty of accomdation though, its not like Glastonbury or anything...... well... not far off :D
 
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Soldato
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Anyone up for doing a group weekend visit? It's something I've wanted to do for a while but would probably have a better time going with some more experienced people :)
 
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There's a travelodge in Lincoln that's not too far away (about an hours drive) that we generally stay in when we go. It does perfectly well and, being a travelodge, generally doesn't get heavily booked up.
 
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Soldato
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I will be yes, very shortly in fact. Going after different shots this year, although I will be shooting some digital with a D700 - as i've totally changed my approach.

Yeah, I hear you are going more 'environmental'. Haven't you sold the 600? now that does surprise me. You not taking the Linhoff? :p

Anyone up for doing a group weekend visit? It's something I've wanted to do for a while but would probably have a better time going with some more experienced people :)

Id be up for meeting people, although I'm not entirely sure if and when id be going. My other problem is getting down this year as I've not got a lift. So if anyone wants to give me a lift from Newcastle way, I'm all ears. ;)
 
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Id be up for meeting people, although I'm not entirely sure if and when id be going. My other problem is getting down this year as I've not got a lift. So if anyone wants to give me a lift from Newcastle way, I'm all ears. ;)
Yeah, ditto really. I'd love to go this year, but I don't have any transport :p
 
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Yeah, I hear you are going more 'environmental'. Haven't you sold the 600? now that does surprise me. You not taking the Linhoff? :p

I have, 600mm F4 is no moar!! along with all my Canon gear!

I've spent most of the summer really thinking about what I actually do and the sort of success and failure I have with different styles of images. I've gotten a little bored of "long lens blasting" as those sorts of images seem to be well received in magazines most of the time, not on people's walls, and I don't shoot for magazines or compete with the likes of Green/Hamblin/Cairns/etc so most of my images don't go anywhere except in competitions. I fancy doing something that involves a little more thought and precision.

In terms of DNook this year, i'll probably be taking panoramics and environmental stuff, I might take the Linhof, but not if anyone else is around :D:o
 
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I have, 600mm F4 is no moar!! along with all my Canon gear!

I've spent most of the summer really thinking about what I actually do and the sort of success and failure I have with different styles of images. I've gotten a little bored of "long lens blasting" as those sorts of images seem to be well received in magazines most of the time, not on people's walls, and I don't shoot for magazines or compete with the likes of Green/Hamblin/Cairns/etc so most of my images don't go anywhere except in competitions. I fancy doing something that involves a little more thought and precision.

In terms of DNook this year, i'll probably be taking panoramics and environmental stuff, I might take the Linhof, but not if anyone else is around :D:o
So you sold EVERYTHING? wow brave move, but good that you know what direction to head in and have made the changes you need to do that!

What is your kit lineup now? A few posts above you mentioned a D700? How come you didn't just keep a Canon body instead?
 
Soldato
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So you sold EVERYTHING? wow brave move, but good that you know what direction to head in and have made the changes you need to do that!

What is your kit lineup now? A few posts above you mentioned a D700? How come you didn't just keep a Canon body instead?

Heh,

Felt like a change, I had a ridiculous amount of money tied up in long lenses and other bits, and it just felt all wrong. Simply because most of my images being shot with it were sitting on my hard drive, (apart from a few) and it seemed like a big waste and felt a little sterile - or maybe a shortfall in my own technique.
Its purely my own opinion - but I think most wildlife photography in the UK is very repetative, 500mm Mafia, birds on sticks, Bradgate park, etc. When it comes to doing wildlife I feel like an alternative approach, whether it'll work or not - who knows? but I'll be doing a lot more landscape stuff from now on.

In terms of kit, I'm shooting 617 panoramic and 5x4 large format, I decided to go with a D700 simply because its a mini D3, small compact and very good, Nikon wide angle glass is also very good and I'd like a 14-24 for doing enviro stuff.
I could have kept the 1DS MkIII but I got offered a good price for it so no love lost really.

Will you be going to DNook? I'll be going most weekends as of the end of this month..
 
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Heh,

Felt like a change, I had a ridiculous amount of money tied up in long lenses and other bits, and it just felt all wrong. Simply because most of my images being shot with it were sitting on my hard drive, (apart from a few) and it seemed like a big waste and felt a little sterile - or maybe a shortfall in my own technique.
Its purely my own opinion - but I think most wildlife photography in the UK is very repetative, 500mm Mafia, birds on sticks, Bradgate park, etc. When it comes to doing wildlife I feel like an alternative approach, whether it'll work or not - who knows? but I'll be doing a lot more landscape stuff from now on.

In terms of kit, I'm shooting 617 panoramic and 5x4 large format, I decided to go with a D700 simply because its a mini D3, small compact and very good, Nikon wide angle glass is also very good and I'd like a 14-24 for doing enviro stuff.
I could have kept the 1DS MkIII but I got offered a good price for it so no love lost really.

Will you be going to DNook? I'll be going most weekends as of the end of this month..
Fair enough, good for you! I've no doubt you'll have great success with your new approach :D

I know what you mean though, it does all become a bit tiresome - in fact I've not even picked my camera up for about 6 or 7 weeks now as I've been feeling a little uninspired over the summer with taken the same old stuff. Part of that is my own doing of course! I definitely want to get to more places overseas now though to try something a little different. I'm toying with the idea of going to Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico in Dec to do the annual Snow Geese 'blast off' every morning.

Yeah I'll be going down to DK at some point, it's a bit of a mission for me though as it's a 4 hour drive each way which is a lot to do in one day!! Be good to catch up with you down there though if I make it.
 
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I'd be up for some DNooking this year, as the previous time I went no-one was allowed on the beach due to uncovered ordnance. Could also pick people up from Newcastle on the way down. HOWEVER, very strong possibility I'll be on Kilda for the whole of November, so probably not going to happen :p
 
Soldato
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I'd be up for some DNooking this year, as the previous time I went no-one was allowed on the beach due to uncovered ordnance. Could also pick people up from Newcastle on the way down. HOWEVER, very strong possibility I'll be on Kilda for the whole of November, so probably not going to happen :p

Well if you manage to get off that rock, id love to meet up with you Tom. :)
 
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