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.

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.

Croome

Chasing Otters

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome

While I attended Camera Club last week, I learnt that a local National Trust property had wild otters living on their site.

One of the very talented club members had given a presentation of the photographs they had taken in the previous year. A couple of which held the invaluable information that has excited me all week.

As the presentation started I had no inkling to what I was about to learn, I have been to Croome on many occasions through the years, it is a very striking property. There are already so many photographic opportunities there, I was completely unaware of their special inhabitants.

It was an easy decision on where I would be heading this weekend. I had to try and see an otter, I have never seen one in the wild. The week was a long one, especially with me counting down to the day I could get to Croome.

With the news full of weather predictions for the weekend looking negative, storm Ciara was on her way. I was worried I would have to wait another week before I could get there, which I realise isn’t the biggest worry I should have but I was just so excited to think I could see otters.

Thankfully Saturday was blessed with sunny skies, I couldn’t have been luckier!

As soon as I had arrived at Croome, I hot footed it to the river that surrounds the grounds. Interesting fact; the river at Croome is not a natural one, it was dug out by hand in the 1760s as part of a water feature.

The location to which I had been informed the otters could be, was south from the court and over the Chinese bridge. I crossed excitedly and once across walked along the bank stopping the opposite side to a holt purpose built for the otters.

I turned my head left then right, checking my surroundings. Suddenly immediately in front of me was an otter! I was in shock I didn’t expect to see one that quickly. They were in the centre of the river, their head was the the only part visible.

I almost thought I was seeing things, as soon as it was noticed it had vanished beneath the water. I loitered for ages hoping for another glimpse and the chance to get a picture for myself.

Unfortunately I didn’t see them again, but I am just so grateful to have seen them in the first place. I know that they are defiantly there and I look forward to trying to spot them again over the year.

Making the most of the great weather and the beautiful surroundings, the rest of my day was spent shooting around the grounds.

The bright conditions offered the right lighting for monotone shots. I am really starting to appreciate monotone edits for some of my pictures, especially the architectural shots, I feel it can enrich texture and really add mood to a shot.

Following on from last weeks post, this week has been markedly more positive. It has helped that I have had something to focus on, a goal to look forward to. Not to say all the week has been easy, but any week where the anxiety/depression is secondary is a win.

I look forward to where the following week will take me, fingers crossed for more new discoveries.

Winter Sun

Since the year began I have had this yearning to go somewhere for a proper good walk, the sort that you could say “it blows the cobwebs out” about. With each new year this has become a sort of tradition (weather permitting).

This past weekend the weather was perfect, a clear frosty morning, with bright blue skies inspired the thought and offered hope of being able to get some beautiful sunset pictures.

The Malvern hills was the chosen location for this, somewhere I have been to on many occasions growing up and could never get bored of, as the views are tremendous. I had never been at sunset, so this offered a new experience to an old location.

With the help of Google, I researched the time the sun would go down that day, I set off very optimistic, excited for what I was about to shoot.

The winter sunsets (and sunrises too) recently have been stunning, full of pinks, purples, oranges and blue hues.

In the photographs I’ve provided I hope they give a sense on how stunning the sky was at that time and how the view looked that evening.

The walk definitely blew the cobwebs out! The fresh air filled my lungs and frost from the morning still clung to the hills. I had brought with me, my tripod (I am getting better at being prepared for shoots) and set it up along different pathways offering different viewpoints.

The problem with sunsets is they don’t ever last as long as you want them too. I made the most of the time available and kept shooting as the light changed with the setting sun.

Something different for this blog too, I have provided some phone snaps, I generally use my phone for photos when I am out on a shoot but they don’t usually measure up to the dslr ones. However; this time with the light being so good, these snaps were just as effective.

I really like the way these photos have turned out. I’ve mentioned numerous times landscapes isn’t a particularly strong photography genre of mine, but I am definitely gaining more confidence and learning from each shoot.

The next day, along with the frost came a light mist, hard to resist I set out again to get more landscape shots. As before I took the pictures with my phone, and same again, I was quite happy with the outcome.

I really hope this winter sun continues for the coming weeks, offering more picturesque skies. I am currently unsure on where the next week will take me, but I looking forward to it.

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.

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.