One Year old!

Its my one year blogging anniversary!! I have now had this blog space for a whole year! Over that year this blog has changed quite a bit. From only logging my weekly wildlife sightings to my more recent journal like approach covering days out, mental health and still (hopefully) any wildlife seen.

I would like to thank all those that have taken the time to read my ramblings and peruse my photographs over the past year. I really appreciate all the support I have had so far.

My aim for the future of the blog; is to keep improving my writing, run a tighter blogging schedule to posting new blogs (although this has already improved greatly since last year) and to hopefully provide content you will all continue to enjoy.

I have had a little break since my last blog, still overwhelmed by my new camera and a few bad days mentally, I made the decision to not rush back to writing as I needed space to collect my thoughts. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your own sanity is to say no or take a step back to reclaim yourself a little.

I am now very ready and mentally prepared to move forward and let you know exactly what I have been up to in those 2 weeks off.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinder-edale-and-the-dark-peak/trails/mam-tor-circular-walk

The first big visit was the famous Mam Tor (mother hill) in the Peak District near Castleton. I had never been to the peaks before and boy! did it win my heart, I did not not want to leave!

As soon as you enter Derbyshire the landscape grabs you, views over peaks and valleys, lush and green as far as the eye could see. It was truly awe inspiring.

Mam Tor has a walking trail by the National Trust. you can either just walk to the top of Mam tor or continue on the ridge walk to Losehill. I did the latter. Its not hard to see why this destination is so popular.

I will admit, the day I visited was quite busy, fortunately Mam tor is big enough to accommodate everyone and be able to socially distance!

I really hope from my photos you get just a tiny sense of how beautiful it was from there.

My next day out was a seaside day to Burnham on sea, this quiet seaside resort offers a great alternative to the bigger more touristy resorts around the UK. The day I visited the beach was quiet, people were spaced out easily. This is a great place to visit if you just want a beach day, no gimmicks.

I happened to visit on the hottest day of the year, but the cool sea wind made the heat bearable. I love being by the coast, I always have. There is just something about being next to the sea which is so calming.

The final visit to end the last 2 weeks was to Carding Mill and the Long Mynd in shropshire.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/carding-mill-valley-and-the-long-mynd

Shropshire being another part of the country I have never ventured to before. I have felt guilty with these visits that I am so under traveled around the UK. There some absolute treasures around this fair isle, I have recently made the purchase of a tent to hopefully be able to venture to more locations and be able to give them more time, to appreciate their character.

Back to Carding Mill, another absolutely stunning landscape, I walked the moderate trail that leads to view the light sprout waterfall. I don’t think I saw even a tenth of the location. It gives me a great excuse to return. (I have a huge list of places to return to, I really really hope this is one I get around to revisiting).

One thing about all these hill walks; it has shown me I really need to improve my fitness! Has anyone else struggled with keeping fitness motivation and activity up during the lockdown?

Lastly a word on the glorious sunsets we have been experiencing recently, they really crept up on me one evening. I missed one evening out shooting the sunset as I had noticed too late the brilliant colours of the setting sun. I sulked that on that evening extremely determined to get out the next night, which I achieved.

The locations are random, chasing the light in the car stopping by fields where I felt the view was good enough. The resulting images show a sky that looks like it is on fire. No sulking that evening, I love a good sunset, but then again who doesn’t?

I will end with another big THANK YOU! for all the support, comments, likes, subs and generally just taking the time to read my blog. Here’s to the next year!

Until next time, Take care.

A Menagerie.

This past week has offered an abundant amount of photographic opportunities, from garden macro to poppy field and old gravel pit visits. A collection of all sorts to suit most tastes.

I had never visited a poppy field before, but I had recently seen my fair share of amazing poppy captures across all my social media feeds, from first light illuminating a sea of vibrant red to soft, delicate shots of single stems.

Poppies have long been one of my favourite blooms, as I am sure they are with others. I always feel that their season is all to fleeting, but their impact, everlasting.

As soon as I approached the field in Condicote, Gloucestershire, the first thing that struck me was the colour. Poppies always stand out no matter where they grow but seeing them en masse was stunning.

Whenever I visit a location that has been snapped and shared copious times before, I go with the view to try and take shots my way, to try and not copy what has been done before.

That being said trying to get a new perspective on a poppy is like teaching my dog to speak. I’ve tried to take photos that are true to my style. I have even edited (with my newly acquired photoshop skills) a floral portrait; not only with a poppy but with other flowers that have grown in the garden, to elaborate on their beauty without any distraction.

Speaking of the garden, from the bare mud that was dug over about 6 weeks ago, now contain some florals (Californian poppies and orange daisy’s) but mostly green vegetatian still growing to flourish soon.

I am so relieved that the seeds I scattered have since grown, it fills me with such joy. I now have many varieties of hover flies, bees and bugs visit the garden. Not all are tolerant of me trying to get their picture but I hope I can capture the majority.

From bugs to birds another new location to my ever growing list of places I now love was Grimley Gravel pits. This wetland of old flooded gravel pits housed lapwings, redshanks, oyster catchers and the usual water bird suspects (swans, geese and ducks). I hadn’t been bird watching properly since Upton Warren, just before the lockdown was initiated.

The walk around the pits was a lovely quiet event with no-one else around, you are unable to access the gravel pits directly, the walk around offers a good vantage point as not to disturb the birds. I feel this is a location I will return to regularly. I have in no way seen all that this beautiful place has to offer.

As with most weeks my mental health has been on a roller coaster ride. I do find that after I have been out either walking or in the garden watching mini beasts I generally feel brighter (if not better), I would definitely endorse nature therapy as a prescriptive therapy.

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

Finding the words

I apologise for the lack of posts recently, in truth I just haven’t been able to find the words. There have been so much to process over the past couple of weeks, it felt frivolous for me to jump onto here to write as if everything was “normal”

This year from the get go has been one trauma to the next. In my recollection there hasn’t been another year like this before. I don’t really talk about news events in these posts, concentrating instead on the photography and even more recently mental health (in hopes of helping others).

So in that same vain of wanting to help others; I am going to add my voice to plead with those who haven’t yet to support Black Lives Matter. Sign the petitions for justice for those who are no longer able to speak, donate (if you are able to), for white people (myself included) to educate yourselves and to have those difficult conversations with those around you about our privilege and what ways we need to be more receptive to learn and move forward as allys, it is up to us to do better.

There are so many heartbreaking and anger inducing situations that should never have happened. From the murders by people who are paid to protect their citizens to birders being reported to the police and having their colour weaponised when politley asking for someone to put a lead on their dog in an area that dogs should be on lead.

I am not qualified to lecture on how these affected their communities, as a white woman I can never fully understand how it feels to be judged, discriminated against because my skin colour/religion/ethnicity is different. When will ignorant people learn that different is not dangerous.

This isn’t a trend, when the news dies down and the next big story break, I urge you to continue to seek out and learn from diverse voices, support diverse companies, look at how you can help to move forward and create an equal footing for all.

I’ve started by talking to my own children about these horrendous acts, it doesn’t matter what age they are, you are never too young/old to learn about (in)justice, equality and privilege.

I will leave links for a few of the petitions I hope you add your name to:

https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor

https://www.change.org/p/minneapolis-police-department-justice-for-george-floyd

https://www.change.org/p/suspend-uk-export-of-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-and-riot-shields-to-usa?source_location=petitions_browse

https://www.change.org/p/the-school-system-petition-for-changes-to-be-made-to-the-school-system-to-address-racial-issues-in-the-uk

Nature is a therapy for me, it should be inclusive for all. When I go out with the camera, yeah …I may worry my equipment might get damaged or stolen at worst. I’ve never had to explain to others about my nature watching, or worry others may discriminate while I am out because of the colour of my skin.

I hope we can move forward to a place where can never be the case again, its an uncomfortable journey for us white people, it should be. I am willing to learn and I hope other white people reading this too are to.

Below I have still provided my most recent pictures, I still chose to share them in this post as questioning and learning about racial inequality and how to change behaviors to aid those who most need it should be the new normal and is not separate from my everyday.

Until next time I wish you all the best, take care.

Always Ready For The Fall.

What goes up must come down.

For the past couple of weeks my mental health has been in quite a positive state, I’ve been feeling confident with my photography, putting effort into improving my editing and outside of photography my mood has been buoyant and bright.

Then comes the fall, I am always grateful for the times when my mental health is secondary to everything else, I always try to make the most of these periods because I am aware that it might not last.

I know this could be construed as a counter productive way to think, but being aware of when my mental health is starting to flag can really help deter a full breakdown.

It’s so frustrating knowing that just over a week ago I was feeling proud of what I had been producing; to then have this week doubting everything I have ever done in photography.

Self doubt has always been a common thread in these blog posts and it isn’t an exclusive feeling to my photography.

I doubt myself all the time, I constantly worry about silly things e.g. my instagram profile picture gets changed regularly because I worry how people perceive my face. It’s not something I do to others and I don’t understand why I think others would do that to me. There isn’t any rationality to an anxious mind.

I am taking steps for self care, currently I am able to look for small positives from each day and hopefully this low ebb will just be a blip.

Getting outdoors is so important for my recovery, so at the weekend I made a real effort to get out. The Japanese have a practise called shinrin-yoku (forest bathing) taking the time to appreciate nature is a recommended therapy in Japan to help improve health, I have to agree. I always feel better when I’ve been on one of my walks, even if it’s only a slight improvement it’s better than none.

First stop was Crickley Hill country park, offering stunning views over Gloucestershire. The weather was clear, with stunning blue skies (that reminded me of the old screen picture from Microsoft XP). The only downside was the wind, at times it was so strong it took my breath away.

On the way home, took a slight detour to shoot Dunstall Castle, Earls Croome, Worcestershire. This folly has been a location I have been past many times, I had never thought to shoot it before.

The following day with no other plans, which is unusual for a sunday, off I went to Trimpley reservoir. Its strange finding local destinations from web searches, as I feel bad for not knowing about them sooner.

The Severn Valley railway runs past this location and I managed to capture one of the trains that pass through, along with one of the many boats that were on the water that day. I really felt for those who were sailing as the weather was very eclectic, sunny one moment to hailing the next.

Unlike last week, the shots I have provided on this post I don’t feel so positive about (at the moment anyway), I am hoping that in the coming days/weeks I can return to these and feel different about them.

I hope you enjoy what I have shared, and i’m wishing for a more uplifting post next week.

It’s a Phase…. I think

Feeling Creative

I was very fortunate this week to be treated to a trip to London, specifically with the purpose of visiting the Tutankhamun exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery. I’ve provided the link to the exhibit below if it peaks your interest. (Pre Booking tickets is advised)

https://www.saatchigallery.com/art/tutankhamun.php

I have been desperate to visit this exhibit from the moment I had learnt it was happening. These artifacts once they have completed their tour (they have already been displayed in Los Angeles and Paris) will rightfully return home to Egypt to remain there indefinitely.

The exhibit commemorates the 100th anniversary of Howard Carter’s discovery; Tutankhamun’s tomb.

It is astounding to think how old these treasures are, even encased within the glass cabinets you get a real sense of the opulence and craftsmanship these items possess.

Heading there, I knew I didn’t just want to take pictures to catalogue the items I had seen that day, I can buy postcards or guide books for that. I wanted my shots to be more creative than that, to try and encapsulate the feeling the objects held rather than the details.

I had prepared and packed my DSLR the previous evening, checking that the batteries were charged, that the lens were clean and that the flash card was empty. I was optimistic that all my pictures would come off this camera.

As you may of guessed from my tone, this was far from truth, I didn’t even take it out of my bag.

The exhibit, as you may well imagine, is quite a busy one. With the amount of people around it just made way more sense to shoot with my phone. I was still able to shoot what I wanted, how I wanted and the quality (in my opinion) wasn’t compromised.

I have to admit to not taking many pictures, at times I was just so in awe of these treasures that I wanted to immerse myself in the experience rather than worry about what shot I was going to try and take next.

This allowed me to;

A) Only take the shots I wanted to take.

B) Enjoy the exhibit without worrying I was missing out on information because I would be wrapped up in getting lots of shots.

I also have to say because these exhibits are dealing with death, even if it was thousands of years ago, I still felt taking photos of the more personal items within the collection was disrespectful.

Referring to the title of my post this week; it’s a phase. Currently I am really appreciating the aesthetic monotone gives to the photos I have been taking. I have found that while I am editing I have leaned heavily towards the monotones, I’ve just loved the feel and sense of story it adds to each shot.

Another weekend and another storm, this time Storm Dennis. I have not braved the elements and haven’t ventured out this weekend, although I had been itching to use the camera.

In a break from the rain I did manage to get outside and take a couple of shots in the garden. I knew I definitely wanted to get a daffodil picture, if I couldn’t take one then I was worried they would be flattened by the high winds that have continued to pass through the region.

Again the resulting photograph is monotone, it really gives emphasis to the shape of the petals and how delicate they are. I am not sure if this love of monotonal edits will continue for long but I am loving them at present. I hope you enjoy them too.

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.