Tatton Park and Leighton Moss

Last week was a complete and utter write off for me. I felt poorly for more of less all of it. A constant migraine and the accompanying side effects had me out of action all week more or less. I honestly thought that this week I would not have any content to blog with.

Fortunately for me, the weekend brought with it a lovely night away with my partner. A much needed break to hopefully reset.

Like many others this year, any travel plans we had booked previously for this year, had been cancelled, including what was meant to be our very first family holiday. I try not to get too disheartened by its cancellation, as with what is happening all over the world with covid it was the right course of action for the time.

This night away was much needed. A change is as good as a rest, as the saying goes.

The first day out we planned was Tatton Park. I had picked this particular place due to the residing deer within the park land. Autumn always means rutting. I had missed out on the rut last year and was determined that I would not miss it again.

Tatton park has many things to see, we started the day in the gardens and around the arboretum. In particular the Japanese gardens were stunning. A gorgeous early autumn scene greeted us as we ambled around and I could not resist getting a snap.

Then onward to my goal, off around the parkland to find the red deer.

You could hear the bellowing males before you saw them. I have to admit it is not something I had heard before, a deep, almost roar like sound from these magnificent animals.

We came across one specific male that was surrounded by no less than 25 does! At first when we came upon this group the male seemed to be on alert, making sure his harem stayed where he wanted them and keeping an eye on who or what was around.

After a while, he became quite calm and relaxed, considering there were plenty of people walking around the grounds and you could hear other males bellowing not too far off in the distance. Once he had settled, he seemed to take it all in his stride, even lying down with the rest of the herd at one point.

I didn’t get to see any fights for mating rights or territory, but I was so happy to be near them and get pictures, demonstrating just how beautiful they are.

The following day we picked Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. I have to admit I wasn’t sure what I would see there, picking it on a whim as it was close to where we had stayed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the variety on the water and around the grounds.

Leighton Moss is a great place to see bearded tits. Rare and very beautiful birds, there are only approx. 630 pairs currently in the UK. They are usually seen within reed beds feeding on insects and reed seeds. Leighton Moss has the biggest reed bed in the north east of England, you can see why the bearded tits would love it there.

Unfortunately it was not our day to witness them, they have gone onto my bird bucket list. A great excuse to return in the future (like many other places I have visited)

For the lack of bearded tits the day was made up with chaffinches, coal tits, blue tits, robins, dunnocks, nuthatches and my very first sighting of a marsh tit.

I may not be completely over my migraines but the weekend did offer some respite and great experiences to be positive about.

I hope your week has been a great one, until next time, take care.

Last Hurrah!

The past weekend brought with it a distinct drop in temperature. It’s the first time, in a long time, where I have felt cold while out shooting. Even with the sun shining the chill in the air was palpable.

My main focus for this shoot was a huge ivy bush which was absolutely teeming with life. Wasps, bees and a huge hornet were all bustling around the still in flower ivy.

It felt a little bit like a last hurrah for my macro. With the cooler temperatures setting in the macro season will be slowly drawing to a close.

Not many insects are active over winter, some lay dormant as adults throughout the winter to emerge again in the spring. An interesting word I learnt when reading into overwintering insects was diapause (insect hibernation).

This particular ivy bush provided an incredible bounty of pollen, still in flower, it offered a vital source for the insects that visited it.

There were plenty of wasps around, fighting over available flowers, between themselves and anything that dared to visit. One unfortunate honey bee was mobbed by a feisty wasp that appeared to sting the bee! It took me a while to realise what had I had seen. Some amazing behavior to witness, unfortunately I did not get a shot.

Honey bees were quite prevalent, as was a single, huge hornet. Its amazing how much bigger hornets are on relation to wasps and bees, seeing them side by side. They were flying too high for me to get a decent capture but were fascinating to observe, they appeared sluggish compared to the frantic to-ing and fro-ing of the wasps.

It was great to focus on my macro again, unfortunately my mental health still isn’t the best but its on the up. Positives for me to think upon were; I was motivated to be out with the camera, I enjoyed being out with the camera and I am pleased with what I captured.

Some of the snaps I managed to get over the past weekend are some of my best, in my opinion. Thinking of what I would like to achieve next with my macro photography, I would really like to learn how to stack images, this can take images to the next level in terms of image quality and how much detail can be seen in the image.

I think its important for me to keep learning on how to improve, I am not one to be complacent with my shots. If there are any tips for stacking, diffusing light, or general photography advice, I would love to hear them!

I hope your week has been a great one, until next time, take care.

Preparation, practice and improve.

https://www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/nature-reserves/knapp-and-papermill

For those of you that have read my previous blog posts, it would come as no surprise for you to hear me “confess” that I am not a confident person. I worry constantly about what I publish; whether it is interesting enough, whether the quality of what I post is good enough, if people are interested in what I have to comment on.

That is not to say I will not give it my best efforts, I am very determined and always looking to improve. I have stated previously (on many posts, I feel) that the best way to improve is to practice. The more I shoot and write the better/more confident I should potentially get!

Which leads me onto this weeks excursion.

I went for a lovely walk around the Knapp and Papermill nature reserve, Worcestershire. (web page linked above)

The autumnal colours in the trees and grounds were spectacular. The colours were so rich and diverse, they were just stunning. I really wanted to demonstrate how I had seen them and to try to convey the mood from that day.

In all honesty, I left feeling deflated. I was quite dissapointed with the outcome of what I had shot.

Generally when I visit somewhere to shoot, I wing it. I dont have a clear vision on what I would like to capture beforehand, I just shoot as I please. It is becoming apparent now, as I push into new styles (for me) I cannot always use this approach.

I suppose I should be grateful to have had bad days, it gives me the opportunity to learn, I have needed to have days where I have felt dissapointed with my shots, to look inwardly into how to make them better, to see how I can get the best out of my time when out photographing at different locations.

You learn more from your mistakes than your successes.

Research is going to have to become a habit if I am serious about improving. I don’t just mean researching places, I need to research styles, look for inspiration and take advice. I don’t want to copy what others have done, I want to find my own way but need a starting point to go from.

Preparation can be key, just ensuring I have the right equipment, checking the weather, tracking the light, being aware of any vantage points, could help me gain confidence in a location, which should make a big difference to my resulting shots.

Below are the shots I am happy to share, although not the best quality they fit in how I saw the area and the colours that day.

I look forward to returning to the Knapp and Papermill to shoot again and hopefully see some improvement in my techniques and outcome.

Catching up

Over the last few weeks, I have been really trying to push my photography outside my comfort zone.

I have taken a couple of big landscape shots, a few nature shots and even some architectural shots. Even if the end result isn’t always the greatest, I have really enjoyed trying new things. My mantra is definetly “it may not be my style, but i’ll give it a good go”

The first of my pictures was shot on Painswick peak (Gloucestershire). The landscape was full of autumnal colours and had so much scope, it would of been silly for me not to shoot it.

I always feel with my landscape photography, I do not possess the eye to see what would make the shot that little bit better. I know the more I shoot in theory, the more I should improve.

The next set of pictures are from a very wet and misty walk on Clent Hills, I love the shots I managed to capture there, they are some of my favourite from the last month.

There is such a mood/atmosphere to these photographs. Shooting them before Halloween, I tried to add a sense of story to one, which I hope pays off. Getting drenched was worth the resulting snaps.

“How are we already into November?” I am sure this sentiment is shared universally, it just doesn’t seem that long ago that we were welcoming this year in.

November has always been one of my favourite months.The darker nights, cosy evenings in, frosty mornings. I just love it.

As it has been so wet the last few weeks I haven’t been to any planned firework displays. I had hoped to get some firework pictures which I failed at, I did however shoot some light writing with sparklers.

I have only included one here as the others I shot picked up light from other sources ( mainly a streetlight) and it infringed on the outcome.

My most recent photography location was at Broadway Tower. Along with the other locations in this post it’s a place I had never visited before. It was a absolute gem to shoot.

Since the begining of autumn one of my photography goals has been to try and capture some deer shots, especially as it is rutting season. I may have missed the rut this year but to shoot (photography wise) deer was a delight.

The tower shots I have tried to experiment with composition and even tried attempted a mono shot. They may not be perfect but as with the landscape shots, I should improve with practice. I do appreciate any feedback you may have to improve my technique or tips on how to approach any subject. It is very welcome, I am very eager to learn.

Fungus, Ducks and a Dog.

Bodenham Arboretum ( http://www.bodenhamarboretum.co.uk/ )

This week I have been on my first photography outing with the camera club I recently joined (and have mentioned in previous blog posts).

We visited the beautiful Bodenham arboretum. A place I had never previously been. My aim was to try and capture the autumn colours and more landscape type shots, styles in which I need to practice.

What I returned with however, was lots of fungi shots! The woodland was brimming with fabulous fungus and I made the most of the abundance.

We were very lucky with the weather, the past week there has been persistent showers but we were graced with a sunny day. The wooded paths offered dappled light and I hope in a few of the photos (in particular the sulphur tuft) you get a sense of how I saw the light on the day.

I have tried my best to identify each variety I have posted, its definitely a skill to know which is what fungus. Researching through various web pages I hope I have labelled each correctly. If there are any that you think I may have misidentified please let me know. Feedback is always welcome.

I have to say google lens was not very helpful, each picture I showed to the app it labelled as mushroom!

I did manage to get one autumnal leaves/branch shot. I like the way the shot looks personally. I find these types of shots hard to gauge on how to shoot them. As I am taking the shot I know in my head what I would like to convey but most times I don’t hit the mark as I review the images on the laptop.

I did take some wider angle landscape shots as we walked around the grounds, but I do not feel confident enough with the outcome to share at this point.

I will keep trying at landscapes but it is definitely one of my weaker styles. I feel that I don’t have the eye for what makes a good landscape. Practise should hopefully help.

At Bodenham arboretum as you walk through the entrance there is a pool (think this is the correct term, it was bigger than a pond but smaller than a lake). I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the ducks. The water was so still at certain times during the day it looked like glass, the colours reflected were glorious.

Now I come to my new friend, the collie joined us on the second half of our walk through the arboretum. Looking for people to play with; this beautiful pup brought us a pine come it wanted us to play fetch with.

So as we snapped and chatted we had a new companion through the woodland and back to the cafe. We assume (as mentioned in the leaflet given to us at the start of the day) this doggy belonged to the farm within the arboretum.

Again who could resist taking a picture of such a lovely dog.

All in all a great day was had by all. I look forward to more dedicated photography day trips to mix up what I shoot and get advice from those shooting around me. To improve in photography, the more shots you can take the better.

I hope you enjoy this weeks offering.

Bath

I must start this post with an apology, I have not been great at posting recently. Unfortunately, I just haven’t had the chance to get out to do a nature shoot, which is very frustrating for me. Over the next couple of weeks I am hoping to dedicate some time to ensure I am out and about in nature.

To compensate for the lack of nature this time; I recently travelled to Bath for a day trip, like most of my photography skills I am not the strongest at landscape or architectural shots but I am always willing to give them a go.

I have never visited Bath before and I must say it is an absolute gem of a city, enhanced by the Autumnal sunshine. I had a great day soaking in the culture. I’d definitely recommend if you were looking to visit somewhere with a rich history or just wanting to recharge!

The photos below are of the Abbey, the Roman Baths and Pulteney Bridge.

I hope you enjoy my take on Bath.