Stuck In The Doldrums

I had really hoped that with another week gone I would be sat here typing about how good things had been over the past week. That even with it being another quiet week, I could say my mood was bright and I felt well. Unfortunately I just cannot seem to shift this cloud from above my head.

Its really hard trying to explain how I am currently feeling, its not a low as such, I am carrying on with day to day life, but it is definitely void of feeling good. Just stuck in the doldrums.

The weekend I was out painting the garden fences a lovely charcoal grey (the colour of the moment I feel). Although I must say I splashed a lot of the paint on myself, I looked like a knock off Jackson Pollock painting!

With the weather staying fair, we have decided to renovate the back garden. I had previously mentioned in earlier blog posts how I had dug over new flower beds to encourage wildlife into the garden, these proved very successful. The wildflowers providing a much needed habitat for small world nature, that had been previously been lacking from the garden.

With all the boundary looking smart, our next aim is to hopefully create a wildlife garden. I would like to introduce more wildflowers and more colour to this once drab piece of land. Before I set that plan into action there are a couple of books I would like to research to get the best achievable plan possible for the garden. (Rewild your garden by Frances Tophill and Wild your garden by Jim and Joel Ashton, for those interested on what books I mean)

Photography has once again taken a back seat for me this past week. Just snapping bits here and there.

I was out in Worcester woods with a friend during the week and noticed that fungi are starting to make their presence known. I only had my phone camera but am pleased with what I was able to capture. I will always try and ID what I find but I will warn you its not the greatest, any corrections are greatly appreciated. I am more than happy to learn from my mistakes.

I have always (wrongfully) associated fungi exclusively with Autumn, its amazing isn’t it; once I started to take a real keen interest in nature, I’ve noticed so much more of what is happening around me throughout the year. Autumn, I believe, provides us with a more bountiful variety of fungi which leads to the assumption of it being fungi season. I hope as with last year I am able to discover new varieties and old favourites as the season goes on.

With the current garden renovations, I have had my dslr camera to hand on a couple of occasions, capturing the mini beasts I have disturbed. I do feel bad about changing the garden in a way, as I have displaced homes and habitats for the mini beasts. I just hope that they can forgive me, that when the garden is finished and they have their habitat returned, they too will return.

I hope the week has been good to you all, until next time. Take Care.

Predictable

Well it wouldn’t be a normal month if my mental health didn’t take a nose dive after a run of good days. I would be lying to say that I wasn’t still struggling to find balance for my mental health.

Its exhausting to keep fighting off the same lows, I seem to get to a point where I can get on with my days without the anxiety/depression to then suddenly be back at the start.

It feels at times there is a physical weight on chest, normal activities become strained, added to guilt of not being able to function normally. If people could see the weight maybe attitudes would change towards mental health. Although I have found that the worst judge of my mental state is myself.

Self loathing is a big part of my guilt. I blame myself for everything that goes wrong, I feel like I’m being punished for being lazy, pathetic etc…. These feelings rationally are redundant, they serve no purpose other than to add to my poor mental health, I just wish that when I am at my lowest I could remind myself that these thoughts bear no meaning.

Self doubt comes along for the ride too. Every photograph I have ever taken gets scrutinised to a point where I cannot see any quality in them. I criticise my posts where my opinion of my own writing is just bland and repetitive.

It may sound like I am giving up, some days I do feel like this. I haven’t yet mainly due to family, friends and photography. There is no way that I would get through my low episodes without all of these, left to my own devices I very much doubt I would still be here.

I am a huge advocate for reaching out, not only to those around you but to professional help, charities where you can speak freely. There are days where I don’t talk about how I am feeling to anyone and these are always the worst days.

Opening up doesn’t remove the problem but it makes it more bearable, it helps to see the bigger picture which could be the difference to feeling hopeless to hopeful. I’ve included some links which may be of interest if you are not able to open up to those around you or if your worried about someone who may be struggling.

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/if-youre-having-difficult-time/signs-you-may-be-struggling-cope/

I may not be in a great position at present but I have the right support to remind me this is all temporary and hopefully when this passes the length of time between each low moment will extend.

Below are the macro shots I have continued to take from the garden even when my motivation is lacking. Concentrating on the set up of a shot, what settings I will use it allows me some calm, a distraction to the noise within.

I don’t want this entire post to be negative so I will include positive moment/action from the week. I have started a photoshop course on skillshare (the link below allows for 2 months free for anyone that would like to check it out, there are courses for photography, graphic design, painting, all sorts).

https://skl.sh/2YVW2gv

I’ve always been curious about photoshop, I am never going to manipulate my nature shots to be unrealistic but I would like to utilise the app to enhance what I am shooting.

So far the course has been engaging and I’ve learnt a lot, I hope the information sticks. I would definitely recommend Skillshare. I hope you are all having a great week and until next time, take care.

Snap Happy

With all the bad weather we have been having lately, it would have been quite easy for me to want to hibernate and not venture out to shoot. In truth; the reality has been the complete opposite. The photography muses must have been with me this week.

In between the downpours and the worst of the blustery winds, I have been out in the garden with the camera. Displays of vivid greens and resilient blooms have inspired the majority of my pictures.

Around the feeders, the hedgerow has been a hive of activity. Like myself, the birds have been making the most of the breaks in the weather. Fights over territory and food have been commonplace. I have been quite surprised to see how bolshy Blue Tits can be, they are not phased in taking on the bigger birds.

Moving away from the garden, I took a trip to Kinver Edge and Rock houses at the weekend. I must admit I was completely unaware of this location beforehand, it’s an absolute gem.

Scrolling through the National Trust site I knew I wanted to stay local. Stumbling upon this location it looked very intriguing and offered something different to the standard stately homes or parks.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kinver-edge-and-the-rock-houses

There is plenty of interest as you walk around, from the striking red sandstone to the views from the Edge, the pretty gorse flowering on the hillside and of course the Rock houses themselves.

I feel bad for not knowing about this site sooner, it is a definite recommendation from me; not only for photography opportunities. The surrounding area offers lots of different walks and I look forward to returning and taking different routes.

As I write this post the bad weather, for the time being, has subsided and there are even sunny spells. I’m feeling positive moving into the new week and hopeful my photography motivation holds fast.

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.

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.

Weekend Outings

For the last couple of weekends I have been determined to go out into the world to scratch my photography itch (so to speak).

Free time is just so rare, with work responsibilities, family /general life, I definitely don’t get out to shoot as much as I’d like to, I think many other hobby photographers feel that way to.

The first stop on my photography tour was Stow-on-the-wold, St Edwards Church to photograph a doorway. You may be thinking…”why? to just shoot a doorway?” Well; this particular doorway is supposedly the one that inspired Tolkien for his door to Moria in The Lord Of The Rings story.

Even if this isn’t true, you can certainly see why people would think so. Tucked behind the back of the Church, the doorway is very unassuming. To be honest, after shooting it, I felt like I didn’t really capture anything to depict the magic of architecture and nature mingled together.

Looking at my uploads back home and playing about slightly with the edits (I try not to mess about to much with what I shoot) the 2 I have chosen to post are to me my best representation. I am happy I did manage to get something! It all goes towards experience.

Next stop was Witley Court and Gardens, more architectural shooting although I did manage to find some nature shots.

I absolutely love the fountain at Witley, for those who haven’t seen it, the statue in the centre show the moment Perseus (atop of Pegasus) defeat the Kraken to rescue Andromeda (I adore Greek myths too, so shooting this was a delight).

Witley itself is a very grand house, gutted by a fire in 1937 the stone structure still alludes to the opulence that once was.

At the moment there is an art exhibition which is is intertwined within the property. One of the exhibits is shown below. Its well worth a viewing if you get the chance. (In Ruins- 12 July-3 November 2019)

As I was walking around one of the pathways, a flash of red caught my eyes. Tucked right under one of the trees, swamped by various foliage. I had found my first red mushroom!

Fly agaric I think it is known officially. I had to off road to get close, it was the only one I managed to find but this one was enough for me. Worth the muddy knees as I got right down to shoot. The things photographers do for a shot!

The final stop for this set of tours is the unmistakable Stonehenge. I had never been before. I had gone full of optimism that I wasn’t going to shoot the cliche shots, the ones you see all the time. The truth is the best ones I took that day were the standard ones.

The weather didn’t help, very flat grey skies and drizzly rain (I forgot to take a cover, which was poor planning really). A lot of my shots were scrapped as had rain on the lens, which could of been completely preventable if I had been more organised. Again more lessons learnt.

The stones themselves are quite intimidating, I was quite naive really. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to show this aura in my pictures and having played around with some of the shots to monotone I have hopefully given a sense of what I felt that day. Fingers crossed!