Autumn in the garden

In an effort to be more timely than I have recently (hello, 3 months of silence & belated posting), I thought I would share some photos from our garden recently. Autumn – in fact, winter now – is definitely upon us and there have been a good few days of blue skies and impressive colours. This has also been good for getting the new-ish macro lens out, although I am dependent on it not being too windy. It’s bad enough that I have to carefully time a macro shot as per my own, apparently in-built, sway, without Mother Nature joining in the game.

However, when she did make an appearance in bird-form, the 70-300mm lens was more appropriate.

300mm, 1/400 sec, f/8.0, ISO 1600

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The Grand Union Canal

On Sunday, after working a full day on Saturday mostly in the dark – for reasons that will appear in a later post – we ventured out for a slow walk in the surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. As a county it is only familiar to the larger population of the UK as one which the M1 goes through the middle of. This is both fortunate and unfortunate, as it’s really very attractive and varied, but has stayed that way precisely because so few people actually stop to find out. Also passing through Northants is the Grand Union Canal, the longest in the UK. We went for a walk from Stoke Bruerne, a village almost entirely based around the canal.

Initially I found myself struggling to find real inspiration. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and warm sunshine, but nothing was really leaping out at me. It’s a familiar feeling and one that lead to last year’s dip in the amount of photos I took. Partly it is because I quite like routine and things I know, and so we often end up visiting places we’ve already been which makes it difficult to take new and interesting photos. New camera in hand now, I am considering it more of a challenge to rise to rather than be put off by, and so I started to try and actively search out things that were a bit different.

The last photo is The Disapproving Moorhen. He may well return to express his opinions on future issues and matters that arise. He will mostly disapprove.

I switched lenses a couple of times during our walk, but I think in the end that most photos came from the 70-300mm. Given I only have two lenses, I’m not sure I can call it a ‘favourite’ as yet, but it’s getting a fair amount of use. Once again, I was switching between AF and MF, as AF only really seems to want to lock in on something if it is obvious – I haven’t spent time with the manual to find out if there is a better way to get the camera to reselect the focus point. On my old camera, it would usually work by depressing the shutter button to the halfway point over and over until it found the correct spot, but it doesn’t seem to work so obviously with the 60D. Anyway, you can see from the photo below how it misses just enough to be quite annoying.

Meanwhile, in post-processing I once again opted to change a few shots to b&w, upping the contrast a little again as I went.

As we were walking, there were a couple of narrowboats navigating the stretch of locks, queueing as each was opened and the water dropped and/or rose to allow smooth sailing.  It’s a perfect opportunity for trying out some more water shots, and I flicked to shutter priority mode to try some misty water effects.

As you can see, it wasn’t entirely successful and I have quite a few images which tell me I should probably bring a tripod next time. By this time we’d reached a road which seemed a good place to turn back and walk up the other side of the canal. In changing direction, we went under a bridge which had been decorated with several mosaic panels.

I should have tried one with a bit more colour in – to me, this photo is missing some reds – but I like the shallow depth of field. Once out in the open again, it was hard to ignore the blue skies (which looked better now we’d changed direction) and the various burgeoning signs of spring.

The pictures of the chaffinch are, I think, my favourites. They came out very clearly, and using manual focus as well although the bird was quite happy to sit and wait for me to find the right focal point so I’m not sure that I’d be quite so successful with moving creatures.

Thus ended this particular wander, but it served to remind me of my boredom issues and to solidify one of my personal aims to find new and different photos when we do revisit places.

Unrelated note, but slightly belated congratulations to Rob at Creative Splurges for his unexpected appearence on’s front page as a result of our group visit to Borough Market! And welcome to those that followed his link here!