This past week has been full of extremes. I must admit, its been a struggle to get to a point where I am motivated to do anything. Thankfully the situation seems to be leveling out at this point, I really hope it continues.
The week started really well, a brief camping trip to Alton and a visit to Thors Cave in the glorious sunshine, gave me no reason to worry. I didn’t take many pictures, I was just enjoying the family time and the break away. As with many people this year our first planned family holiday had to be canceled, so we compromised in what we could achieve for time together.
Returning home, again things seemed fine. A walk along the riverside in my home city was thoroughly enjoyed, even with the brief rain showers, they didn’t dampen my spirits. I took a handful of images featured here, I’m not relatively happy with them but I am still learning with landscapes.
Then as though someone had flipped a switch in my mind, my entire mood and demeanor span 180′. I was completely floored. I didn’t eat, drink, or move from my bed for a good 48 hours. Its embarrassing to say out loud, but my hope is in writing my experience, it lifts the same feelings of guilt or shame in someone else, they are last emotions you should be feeling when you are struggling.
I am a nightmare to live with, my poor family has to put up with these days where the world moves through me and I am numb to it all. All thoughts fixated on the negative, seeing no quality anywhere. This of course isn’t true, but its a hard mindset to break. I am thankful this period did not last long, currently I am ok. Another episode over.
I am hopeful for next week to be a better week all round, for my photography (which has been greatly neglected), for my mood and for the blog.
Wishing you all a great week, until next time, take care.
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.
I love watching wildlife, whether it be blue tits visiting the feeders or bees pollinating flowers, I take great enjoyment and relaxation from it all. I may not have been a serious “watcher” until this blog but I have always appreciated the experiences I have had. This can mean my knowledge is sometimes lacking e.g. identification but part of the fun is learning new things.
I have a bucket list of the British wildlife that I would love to see and hopefully photograph; Otters, foxes, badgers, red squirrel, kingfishers, herons, adders, voles, harvest mice….etc. I could carry on naming copious amounts of wildlife but I’m sure you get the idea.
I was lucky enough to briefly see a wild otter at Croome, which took one off my list, fingers crossed I can get a shot of them next time! I didn’t really have a plan for the next animal I would be aiming to hopefully see.
That is, until one Instagram post from WWT Slimbridge peaked my interest. Kingfisher breeding season had begun. That was it, my mind was set.
I always enjoy visiting Slimbridge, over the years I have lost count of the amount of times I have visited. It was just the excuse I needed to make my first visit of the year.
Setting off early, I was very excited at the thought of potentially seeing a wild kingfisher in the flesh. Like the otter it is an animal I have seen in print but never with my own eyes.
As soon as I entered Slimbridge I headed straight to the kingfisher hide. Immediately, directly in front of the hide, across a pond there was the most striking blue and orange little bird. I was not expecting to see them so quickly. I was enchanted.
If you are to visit Slimbridge in hopes of catching a glimpse of them yourself, be mindful that the hide windows are currently screwed shut as not to disturb the breeding pairs. A volunteer had informed me this was due to people previously scaring the kingfishers, who in turn then abandoned the nest site.
I took a few shots through the window, but mostly I was happy to just sit and watch. I was lucky to see a male and female kingfisher who kindly demonstrated what the breeding season was. They stayed for about 40 mins before moving on.
I lingered a little longer with hopes they would return to which they did not. I did, however, manage to see a field vole emerge from their hole near the hide and grab a quick shot. Eventually I decided to visit the other hides dotted around the site.
One of these is named the Willow hide, which is placed in front of feeders. There were the usual tits, sparrows and pigeons who were making the most of the provided fayre.
At the time of visiting this particular hide, the volunteer I had previously mentioned was present and very kindly pointed my gaze past the feeders and towards a clearing in some thicket, a bird I had never seen before appeared. A water Rail I was informed.
Moving on to another hide more firsts; a curlew and a lapwing. You may be wondering “if you had visited Slimbridge so many times in the past, then why haven’t you seen these all before?” The answer is simple I have never took the time to utilise the hides properly.
I look forward to future visits where I can again make the most of the hides and try and spot more new (to me) wildlife.
The following day on a whim I took a trip to Redditch to visit Arrow Valley Country Park. The skies were mostly clear and bright, it would of been a shame to waste it indoors.
The park is beautiful with a huge lake and I can see myself revisiting regularly. I could of happily sat on the side of the lake and shot away all day. There is a great diversity on the lake, from the usual swans and ducks to canada geese, cormorants and grebe.
One of the highlights from that day was seeing a Heron on their nest. I have seen Herons in the wild before but always as a singularity never as a pair and never on a nest. I was ecstatic to find that the pictures I had taken were clear.
As you may imagine, this weekend has filled me with no end of joy, it has provided me with a boost in motivation to seek out other locations where I can observe more wildlife; either to make new discoveries or to just enjoy old favourites.
I hope you enjoy this weeks images, and I wish you a great week until next time.
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.
I hope you are all enjoying a great start to the new year and the return to normality after the festive season has not been too arduous. 2020 is now well and truly underway.
My new year has started quietly, which is in no way a negative thing. It is way too easy to get swept up in the wave of feeling like you have to change dramatically because of a new year.
I am very optimistic with the goals I set myself for the year ahead. I am taking my time to not rush through them, to do them properly. In turn, this should hopefully help negate feelings that I am not achieving enough, or feeling like a failure when more likely than not, a resolution is broken.
Following on from last week, I continued photographing the birds that had visited the garden.
House sparrows have always been a constant visiter, I do sometimes wonder how they feel, now that there is a lot more competition at the feeders.
One of the newest visitors, who I had mentioned in last weeks post; the Long Tailed Tit returned. Thankfully, I had my camera in hand to get more pictures of this cute, round fluff ball.
Moving on from the garden, this week saw me go to a local landmark. I don’t know if this happens to others, but I struggle to photograph landmarks/places I am very familiar with. I am always more comfortable with new destinations.
I wish I could offer a coherent explanation for this, but it has definitely gone onto my list of things to learn upon.
I have provided the only picture of the cathedral I was happy with from that shoot. Maybe later in the year I will try this location out again, to see if I have improved or have overcome the uncomfortableness of shooting locally.
The cathedral is located next to the River Severn, and it provided me with a subject I am more comfortable with. It wouldn’t of felt right if I had left the river without a swan shot.
The week finished as it had began with bird photography. I look forward to seeing what the next week has in store for me.