Sunsets, Sandwell and Galls

Another quiet week this end, with getting ready for the kids to go back to school and my own struggles with creative motivation, photography has taken a bit of a back seat recently. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself to just shoot anything for the sake of it, I love photography and I would hate for it to feel become a chore.

There are so many avenues with photography, I’m just at a bit of a crossroads in where to go next. Inspiration is much needed.

The menagerie of images this week come from my home, RSPB Sandwell Valley, Malvern Hills and a local woods.

The first image is of the stunning sunset that generated beautiful hues over the county last week, which was unexpected. It was hard to resist, snapping a quick phone phone shot of the colours that adorned the sky. Autumn and winter sunsets when the conditions are just right are very hard to beat.

Next, a lovely walk was just the right start to the weekend that was much needed. RSPB Sandwell Valley has been on my location list for a while, its a lovely urban green space in Birmingham. Although quite busy with people, as I was walked around, I didn’t feel on top of others out for their dose of fresh air.

I managed to see two Herons on the walk round the reserve, one in flight and the other on the water side, not hunting, just watching the passersby very carefully.

Herons always remind me of The Animals of Farthing Wood cartoon I remember watching as a child. For those who aren’t aware of the show/books (written by Colin Dann) the story revolves around a collective of animals dislodged from their homes because of a housing development being built, thus destroying Farthing woods. They are all on the search for a new home. It was quite harrowing t.v. for a child, I remember characters dealing with death and homelessness, not all doom and gloom though the show/book also illuminated the need for good friends and looking out for each other.

Following on from the other evening, I couldn’t resist an outing to the Malvern Hills, to hopefully catch a colourful sunset. I always marvel at the views from the hills, scenery that seems to stretch out endlessly. I was lucky, although not the hues of the previous evening, the sunset glowed with golden light and I am happy with the shots I did take.

The last find was on a local walk, while taking the dog out. The brown galls made from the Silk-Button Gall Wasp caught my eye, from the underneath of an oak leaf just above my head.

Reading into the gall wasp is fasinating. They have two generations per year. One being asexual and the other agamic (all female and needs no male to reproduce).

The “silk button” galls pictured, are caused by the asexual generation of the gall wasp. Each button contains a single wasp larva. They can be seen on the leaves from August to October, until the leaves fall in autumn. The wasp larva will mature in August but remain in the gall on the ground throughout the winter, emerging the following year from February to April.

Small world nature has really pushed me to look deeper into the world around us, there is so much activity happening all the time that I am oblivious to. Knowing more about the environment around me, I learn to have a better appreciation of each plants, animals, insects, etc role in the ecosystem, and thinking of how I can help e.g having wildlife garden.

I hope the past week has found you well, until next time, take care.

Motivation

What motivates you? I’ve asked myself this question numerous times this past week. What drives me to keep going, when the urge to sink into my anxiety/depression becomes stronger?

One of the biggest factors for my resilience so far is my family/friends. From the family I am currently cooped up with, to the family members and friends that check in with phone calls and text messages, all contribute greatly in helping to keep me positive.

I would be lying if I said I hadn’t suffered times where my motivation has been lacking, where the pull of spending the day in bed was an enticing option as I couldn’t see the point of seeing the day through. Somehow, I have resisted the temptation.

There have been small actions that I’ve dedicated time to each day to keep me active and my keep my focus away from negativity. Feeding my sourdough starter (which has now been christened as RuRu), baking (the favourite recipe for the moment being chocolate crinkle cookies, found on the BBC Goodfood website) and listening to my favourite music playlists are just a few examples.

I’d love to hear from yourselves about what is helping you get through these strange days.

There is still a distinct lack of photography this week, with the bird feeder yet to fulfill my nature fix, I am still hopeful that I’ll get some visitors to the garden soon. There are always starlings, pigeons, blue tits, robins and even goldfinch that I’ve spotted flying past the house, they just need to find the feeder!

The one time I did manage to get my camera out was for the first quarter moon. This shot was achieved by stacking images together in Lightroom. I have never tried this editing tool before and although the image isn’t pin sharp I am pleased with the resulting picture.

The other shot I have provided is of another glorious sunset, taken with my phone camera. Isn’t it just the way, that the weather has been mild and bright while we have all been told to stay home.

I really hope you are all keeping well, take care until next time.