Experimenting with photography

I have a new lens. It is a manual one but attaches to my normal, automated camera. I am still figuring it out… It does not record normal camera data, such as aperture etc, which feels strange, because unless you write it down, you will never know what combination of settings you used for a particular shot! However, you do have to set the ISO on the camera beforehand. I experimented with it yesterday in the countryside after a rain storm and also in a garden. I think it helps you to visualise using manual settings and what they can do, more so than just moving a small dial on the camera, it is more clunky and solid.

I have an old camera which uses film and I am hoping that it will improve my understanding of that. I must also remember to use my tripod with it for extra sharpness. How funny that photography is taking me in a backward direction with old technology.

In terms of post-processing, there was very little to do, other than perhaps resize. I now reduce the image size of some photos for the web and put on a watermark. This perhaps detracts from the quality of the original, but you get the idea!

Cow parsley.
Pink campions in the evening sunlight.
A leaning tree with young leaves.
Pink geraniums
White lilac
Pale purple lilac

New Material

Now that lockdown has eased in the U.K, it is nice to get out with the camera and discover new things to photograph.

This tulip was called ‘Brown Sugar.’ I liked the tones of apricot, gold, cream and dark pink.
Sunlight streaming through a woodland glade filled with narcissus.
Need a rest? This bench has Siberian bugloss adorning it.
A solitary narcissus.
Red tulips about to open.
A tree in blossom.
Delicate pink and white blossom.
Amazingly bright yellow and orangey-red tulips.
An unusual little plant. Possibly Lathyrus – pink, purple, white and blue flowers.

Magnolias

Finally, some Pasque flowers.

Wildflowers, Wild plants & Lichens

Today there was an article in the Guardian that said only 3% of the world’s natural ecosystems remain intact. That is quite a scary prospect. 

This leads me to some pictures I took recently of some wildflowers and plants. In recent years in the UK there has been a small movement to not spray grass verges with chemicals, or to have a small patch of land where it can be left fallow, or to grow ‘insect friendly’ or indeed wildflowers in your garden to encourage more biodiversity.

In lockdown, I noticed lots of little plants that I had not really taken much notice of before. Although still considered ‘weeds,’ they are quite beautiful if you stop and look at them closely. Here are some I took with a macro lens. 

Many wildflowers, plants and lichens have been used historically to treat various ailments and some hold the key to unlocking future medicines such as antibiotics. Which is why it is so important to hang on them!

NB Some of the plants are quite difficult to identify and I am still learning their names, so they may not be all correct!

Lesser Celandine
A Red deadnettle.
A Wood anemone
Clematis vitalba
Xanthoria parietina. Future uses may include antibiotics and sunscreen chemicals.
Cow parsley.
A Field speedwell.

Maldon, Essex

At last, we can escape the confines of our homes as we head down ‘the path out of lockdown’ (as Boris puts it). There is much making up to do for lost time, albeit still in a ‘socially distanced’ manner. I decided to photograph something different today, while out and about for a walk – although there is a starling to appease any wildlife followers among you, which I captured from afar perched on a boat.

Maldon is famous for salt, Viking invasions and being situated on the Blackwater estuary, it is also home to old Thames sailing barges.

Usually, this area of Maldon is teeming with visitors, many seeking sightseeing trips on these magnificent boats. The flat-bottomed barges suited the shallow waters of the Thames. Today, I took a series of pictures which focused on the detail of these vessels, as well as a nearby barge. I hope you enjoy them.

Honey bees and Spring blossoms

The sunlight gave a beautiful ‘high key’ effect to some of the pictures.

Can you see the pollen basket on the hind leg of the bee? Pollen is harvested and carried to the nest or hive.

Blossoms.

A honeybee in mid-flight.

A honeybee dangling underneath a branch.

A honeybee in perfect alignment to the flower.

10,000 Views – Thank you!

I have noticed today that my blog has clicked over 10,000 views. It has been seen in 75 countries from Nepal to Nicaragua! Thanks for stopping by.

Photography has been a bit limited over the past year due to the pandemic, so I have been learning new tricks on Photoshop with existing pictures. This is my ‘Vintage’ style bluebell.

February

In early February, the ‘Beast from the Baltic’ roared in and we had a lot of snow and cold temperatures, so much so, that the snow lay on the ground for 7 days. After the rain washed the snow away, it felt like Spring was finally here. That dismal, grey cloud that just seems to hang around this time of year was suddenly replaced by bright, sunny days and warmer temperatures.

Nature is emerging. In gardens, there are daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and primroses. Carpets of snowdrops have appeared in woodland and next to the roadside. Buttercup yellow celandines are growing, as are little green shoots of cow parsley on the verge of the roads.

Daffodils – taken with a zoom lens
A bird of prey
Catkins dancing in the wind – almost translucent, when lit by the sun.
Winter wheat beginning to grow in fields.
A robin enjoying the sunshine.

Early signs of Spring

There is still time for a blast of Arctic air and for the landscape to disappear under a layer of snow and ice, but the days are gradually pulling out and there are early signs of Spring. Already, I have spotted carpets of snowdrops and clumps of primroses. Catkins are in abundance and the daffodils are not far off flowering.

When the cold winds subside and the sun appears in the sky, the birds come out from their hiding places and sing.

It won’t be long until the leaves start to unfurl from the buds on the branches.

January

We are in the depths of Winter.

Traditionally, January is the coldest month in the Northern hemisphere.

Sometimes it feels a little dark and gloomy, but you have to look for the light.

We have certainly had a wide range of weather. Days of lingering mist

Frosty mornings where the sun catches individual ice crystals, creating mini rainbows, as the light moves through the air and water.

Frosty mornings can give rise to bright sunrises …

And crisp, sunny days.

The promise of new life.

Then it vanishes again into bleakness and cold.

The unusual spectacle of ‘hoar frost,’ formed when water vapour in the air comes into contact with solid surfaces already below freezing, producing unique ice crystals.

It’s a miracle how these little birds survive.

Then a sprinkling of snow …

Disappears as quickly as it arrived.