December arrives

Although I am making slow and steady progress through the backlog of photos from months past, I thought it was time to share something a little more up to date. Winter, it seems, has been switched on in the UK. This week I am not sure that temperatures have made it more than one degree above freezing where I live. However, combined with a week of working on an evening shift pattern, this means fun with the macro lens in our icy garden. I am starting to get the measure of both this lens (although I curse it for not having IS) and my own ability to hold completely still whilst taking a macro shot. It’s still a skill very much in need of practice, but these shots are some of the sharpest i’ve managed yet and I’m quite proud of them.

100mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

100mm, f/6.3, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

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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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Italy – Covered in beeeeeeeees

Behind our accommodation, which was on a valley floor, was a bee farm. I’m not certain that’s the right term, but essentially there were a lot of hives and many, many bees. I sometimes rescued drowning ones from the pool. Although sometimes I didn’t and took photos instead, which now seems a bit morbid. In the evenings as the sun started to set, it was possible to hear the not-so-distant sound of these thousands of bees all buzzing away. It made me really want to like honey.

Av, 161mm, 1/320 sec, f/10, ISO 500

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The Peak District: Kinder Scout

(3 posts in two days? ‘What is this madness?’, I hear you cry. It might be something to do with clearing a backlog before I go on a two week holiday to Italy tomorrow, and if two days in the Peaks mean 3 posts then God help you all when I come back from a country I’ve never visited before after a fortnight…)

We wanted to do a slightly longer walk on our one full day in the area, and thanks to a book of walking routes we’d picked up last year we’d earmarked having a look at the route to Kinder Scout. The whole thing was probably longer and harder walking than we particularly wanted to do, so we planned to trim it down to 4 or 5 miles around a reservoir and up a river valley before returning in our footsteps.


We had clearly forgotten what happens when we go for a walk. Especially where there are high points involved, because the trouble is that you get to the top of one and then see another on the horizon. And suddenly you MUST see what the world looks like from there. Because it’s higher. And therefore, somehow, better. And because then you will have achieved something. Another deciding factor on this occasion was a desire to not repeat our footsteps, partly because it was a bit boring to do so, and partly because it would be a trickier descent than ascent.

This is how we came to walk 9 solid, and sometimes not very easy, miles. This is nothing to many people, but for those of us who only really do any kind of walking maybe three or four times a year it was definitely an achievement and also an interesting experiment in just how much lactic acid can build up in leg muscles during a 15 minute car journey back to the B&B.

That is the story of the day, the story of the photographs was governed by changeable – although not rainy – conditions, interesting landscape changes over the course of the walk, and the occasional wildlife. I shall let them do the talking, save to say there are quite a lot of them and so I shall select a few for highlighting and post a gallery at the end.

Av, 55mm, 1/80 sec, f/20, ISO 160

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The Peak District: Landslip

About a month ago (I am so behind), we visited the Peak District. We’d spent a couple of days there in October last year and sort of fell for it a little. It has a number of winning factors: it’s about 2hrs from home, it’s not quite like anywhere else, and there’s plenty to do. We stayed in a village called Castleton, in an excellent B&B which was an easy walk away from an impressive amount of equally impressive pubs. Could you ask for more?

This post and the next two are all from our 2/3 days there.

When we got to the Peak District, the weather was leaving much to be desired. Especially for those of us who were meant to be taking a hot air balloon flight. We realised quite early on that it wasn’t going to happen, so we went to look at a road that had been destroyed by a landslide instead – as you do in these situations. I’d actually been wanting to have a look since I read about it, because nothing spells out interesting photography like a good natural disaster with human implications. On this basis, and coupled with the conditions, I knew I wanted to go for black and white, journalistic-style images. And thanks to a little homework on apertures, I knew much more about what to aim for to control my depth of field for the shots I had in mind.

Av, 29mm, 1/10 sec, f/14, ISO 800

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Pond life

This post may mark a slightly new style of blogging here, for various reasons. I’ve been blogging here for a few months, but my post rate hasn’t been high – I began by writing my posts in a discussion style, but this has become hard to maintain as I simply feel like I am repeating myself, and I also tend to work in a compartmental sort of way which means I don’t necessarily recall everything I did to get a photo when I get around to writing about it.  The writing hasn’t flowed freely as a result, and it’s taken me a long time to grind out a post, and it hasn’t read back well either. However, I have enjoyed the platform for sharing photos, and raising questions and discussions on specific issues. So my intention for the time being is to begin posting more photos without as much writing, if indeed any at all beyond a simple introduction to time/place/event should I have nothing particularly worthwhile saying.

As such, I now bring you: our pond and it’s inhabitants on a sunny May afternoon. I shot Aperture Priority, having progressed a bit since my last few posts. First up, the frogs:

Av, 300mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640

Av, 300mm, 1/100sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Av, 300mm, 1/250sec, f/8.0, ISO 800

Av, 300mm, 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Then, and I don’t want you to be too excited by this (really. REALLY.) but I seem to have accidentally documented some pond skater porn. And I am quite worried about the search terms that may bring people to this page as a result.

Av, 300mm, 1/500sec, f/5.6, ISO 400

Av, 300mm, 1/160sec, f/8.0, ISO 800

Newts, and what looks alarmingly like a small dinosaur…

Av, 300mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Av, 191mm, 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 160

But for the most part, I went to town on the large quantity of damsel flies that like our iris.

Av, 300mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 400

Av, 300mm, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Av, 300mm, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Av, 300mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Av, 300mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100

Av, 300mm, 1/500 sec, f/8.0, ISO 500

I have to say, I am feeling now like I am using the camera much more instinctively. I think I’ve got to the place of using various options – as with all new technology – as second nature instead of having to hunt and think carefully about each process. It’s a nice place to be, and I am looking forward even more to several good photo opportunities looming on the horizon.

Wistman’s Wood

36mm, 1/100sec, f/8.0, ISO 100

Wistman’s Wood, still on Dartmoor, is somewhere I’d heard about and never been, so as we were looking for another walk of a not enormously taxing nature, we stopped here for some exploration and for me to argue with my camera about white balance. Continue reading