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.

Recovery

It is no secret on this blog how much I struggle with my self esteem, in nearly all of my blogs there is the thread of self doubt about what I am displaying. So i’m assuming if I were to write about my anxiety and depression it wouldn’t really be a surprise for anybody to read.

I’ve ummed and arred for ages about whether to include my mental health on previous blog posts, I am scared that it may put people off reading my posts in the future but leaving out that side of myself makes me a bit of a fraud, I want these blogs to be authentic, a genuine expression of my life, how can I truly manage that if I am hiding a huge section of myself?

I have seriously struggled with anxiety and depression for the past 3 years. At its worse I will have frequent panic attacks, be unable to leave the house, I will withdraw from myself and from those around me, I worry constantly over nothing in particular, it causes me to be forgetful, I am constantly filled with guilt, and on more than one occasion I have come extremely close to feeling like I shouldn’t be around at all.

I am so very lucky to have a great support network around me, they have been there through my worst and I will be eternally grateful that they feel I am worth helping. From the close family that have to put up with my bad days, to the friends that check in, just to see how I am doing, these things can make such a difference when you are feeling detached from everything.

From my own experience; I would honestly recommend if you have anyone in your life that struggles with their mental health, a simple message just to say Hi or a phone call to check in could help enormously.

You may now be wandering what does this have to do with a photography journal?

Photography, for me, alongside my support network is one of my saviours, it’s part of my recovery. Photography gives me a reason/ purpose to get out of the house, when in reality all I want to do is hide.

It allows me a creative outlet, being able to try and share how I’ve seen a scene or the atmosphere from what/where I’d been shooting. I enjoy trying to think of new ways of shooting subjects and it pushes me to experiment.

I love how photography gets me to look at the world, it helps me focus on something other than the anxiety/depression (this is more so when I am in recovery, unfortunately not when I am at my lowest ebb, at that point I am unable to focus on anything).

I took a week off from the blog last week because of my anxiety/depression. Self care is so important and I am getting better at allowing myself time to recuperate, to hopefully negate full breakdowns.

I am realistic; I am always going to struggle with my mental health but I want to try and avoid the worst because I’ve been there before and it’s horrendous getting out of it. Like my self esteem, my mental health is going to be something I am constantly working to improve.

Feeling brighter this past weekend, I visited the Weir Garden, Hereford (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-weir-garden). A beautiful stretch alongside the river Wye, this garden/walkway was laden with snowdrops. Thankfully on the day I visited, we were blessed with winter sunshine and bright blue skies. I did have a few issues with getting my exposures right but overall I am happy with the photos I captured.

There is a bird hide at the weir garden, with feeders set out in front of it. The shot I managed to capture of the squirrel from the hide was my favourite from the day. The squirrel was aware I was in the hide but it didn’t scare them off, they were a very accommodating model, for which I am very grateful for.

I recently became a member of the National trust and look forward to visiting more properties similar to the Weir garden.

Weekly Watch

19th – 25th August 2019

Most of the time when I go out with my camera, I know what I am shooting. House sparrows, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins etc… they are my comfort zone.

There have been quite a few times since I began blogging that I’ve had to research what I’ve seen. This week that has been in the form of a Damsel/Common Darter fly (still unsure).

Its always a thrill to capture something new and although there huge gaps in my knowledge of the natural world, I love learning.

My main ways for identifying is to go to reference books, asking on Instagram or google lens. This hasn’t worked out for me this week but I am down to 2 possible outcomes!

Macro photography is also one of my weakest styles, but one I’m keen to improve in. In the coming weeks I hope to add at least one macro shot to each weekly watch.

Expect a few mistakes in identifying, any correction is welcomed! I hope you enjoy this weeks weekly.