Swan & Goose

A visit to Rother Valley Country Park is one of our go to places to take in nature, while also getting in some exercise walking around the lakes.

On this occasion it was the swans that captured my attention. The overcast sky reflecting off the water, highlighting the contrast swan’s white plumage against the darkness of the water is what particularly caught my eye. There is never a shortage of water birds on the lake, so it didn’t take long for the resident geese to get in on action and try to steal the show.

Red Campion

After 15 months of not being able to travel much further than our own local area due to the COVID pandemic, we finally managed to venture over the border to Scotland in June to visit family and friends. This meant we were able to explore more of the North-East of Scotland’s coastline and take in some of magnificent coastal views.

This was our first trip to Bullers of Buchan (Aberdeenshire), which is about 6 miles south of Peterhead. We’d heard several reviews stating it was a perfect location for Puffin spotting, so we actually went with the mission of hopefully being able to photograph some Puffins. Sadly we did not manage to spot any to photograph. We did manage to capture a few good photos of some other seabirds, which I’m saving for another post.

As well as being a perfect location for photographing seabirds, the rugged coastline and flora are just magnificent to photograph. The cliffs are covered in various wildflowers including these Red Campions, which line the edges of the foot-trails along the cliffs. I couldn’t resist photographing the flowers as they swayed in the wind looking out to sea.

Drumstick Primula

Memories of Spring…taken earlier this year while exploring a local woodland garden. These Drumstick Primula’s (Primula denticulata) caught my eye, their delicate white flowers highlighted by the Spring sunshine through the trees.

Two of my favourite seasons are Spring and Summer. Seeing nature spring back into life and burst with colour again as the weather begins to warm up after the colder Winter months always lightens my mood.

As we now slowly move in to Autumn I thought I would look back at some of the photos that I had taken earlier in the year, that I’ve not had the chance to share until now.

The Bumblebee & Ragwort

Our garden continues to be a source of photographic inspiration. The Ragwort that we planted last year has flourished the last few months, attracting various pollinators (bees, butterflies, and hoverflies).

The last few days I have managed to capture some great shots of hoverflies with my iPhone 12 Pro, but somehow I always feel like I’m cheating using my phone camera. So this time thought I should use my trusty DSLR. I didn’t spot any hoverflies on this occasion, but there were plenty of Bumblebees enjoying our Ragwort.

Seal Beach

Lately I have found myself busier at work, which has resulted in spending less time behind the camera and writing blog updates. When I have been able to spend behind the camera, I’ve not quite managed to find the time to sort out any photos that I have taken.

Last month we finally managed to travel North of the border to Scotland to visit family and friends for the first time since the COVID pandemic. As well as catching up with family and friends we always try to go out and explore some of the natural beauty of the North-East of Scotland and this time was no exception.

One of our favourite places in Aberdeenshire to visit has always been Newburgh Beach (aka Seals Beach). We usually stroll along the beach and watch on the seals on the other side of the bay and in the sea. But on this particular occasion we were lucky enough to have a seal venture onto the same side of the beach as us, only feet away from where we were walking, and happily posed for us as we snapped away. It was one of those situations where you wanted to get closer, but also wanted to keep your distance as to not spook the seal. Although I don’t think he would have cared much even if we had we sat right next to him. He seemed quite relaxed just lazing on the sand almost oblivious to people strolling along the beach. I’m pretty sure we were all more interested in him than he was in us.

Bulrushes

At the start of Spring this year we visited Shire Brook Valley Nature Reserve, which is about a 20mins drive from us. From what I recall it wasn’t the best weather conditions for a nature walk. It had been raining the day before so a lot of the reserve was quite wet and muddy and it was typically cold for early Spring. Nevertheless we managed to find some photographic inspiration, for me that was these Bulrushes.

I love how the Bulrushes look almost like cotton wool or candy floss on sticks of. Watching the soft cotton like reeds dance in the Spring breeze is quite relaxing. The soft golden hues of the Bulrushes at this time of year when they are in their cotton like state really creates a sense of calm, which we all definitely need at the moment.

I had not visited this nature reserve before, even though we live so close by. I shall definitely return again, it’s a perfect landscape for nature photography.

Bumblebee on Cosmos

A lot of patience is usually required when photographing bees (any winged insect for that matter) just as you have focused on them they are off to their next plant or flower. I love watching them as the busy themselves collecting nectar and pollen from the plants that they visit.

I captured these shots while photographing some Cosmos flowers (aka Mexican Aster) where the soft pink of the blooms caught my eye, clearly I was not the only one they caught the attention of.

Lockdown & Me

The tenth instalment of my #LivingInLockdown series, which I have debated for some time over publishing this particular post. I have written & rewritten it countless times in my head. This entry is more personal than my previous #LivingInLockdown posts, I wanted to document how lockdown has directly affected me, hopefully this series of photos does that to some extent. I much prefer being behind the camera than in front of it, so this self-portraiture instalment feels unnatural for me.

#LivingInLockdown

Back in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 lockdown was imposed upon us I decided I wanted to record the pandemic & subsequent lockdown somehow. It was always going to be a photographic project let’s face it.

Initially I considered a daily self portrait as a way of recording my experience of lockdown. That didn’t last long as 1) I’m not fan of always being in front of the camera, and 2) I’d basically forget to take daily photos. The above photos are my attempt at daily self-portraits. I later decided that recording particular themes during lockdown was more effective way of recording my experience of lockdown.

I proceeded to still take the occasional self portrait as lockdown has progressed to try to capture my mood at that particular moment, some of which I have shared in this entry of #LivingInLockdown.

Social Isolating vs Socially Awkward

Being someone who is socially awkward & a bit of a social introvert the thought of social isolating I have to admit did not fill me with dread like it may have done for some others. It was more like “I can do this”, in some ways I was quite looking forward to being able to work more from home.

Working From Home

Both my wife & I have been able to work from home, which was pretty easy going as our employers adapted to new ways of working. This wasn’t a completely new concept to me as I had worked from home partially prior to the pandemic. I enjoyed the freedom of home working & our own little home office that we created so we each had our own dedicated workspace.

Back to Nature

The first lockdown being during Spring & Summer definitely helped us stay positive. We used our allocated daily outdoor exercise to go on nature walks, which became photo-nature walks. This definitely gave me lots of inspiration for my regular photo posts.

Winter Lockdown

The 2nd & 3rd lockdowns have definitely been harder to stay motivated. Being during Winter has made us reluctant to venture outside for our daily outdoor exercise. I’m definitely not a fan of Winter or being cold. As a result I did not venture out much with my camera.

Furloughed = Demotivated

The last 2 months of our 3rd and most recent lockdown I have spent furloughed, which I have found the hardest. Having 2 months off with nothing to do & no where to go during Winter has completely demotivated me, even when it comes to activities that I enjoy. The novelty of having time off with no work quickly wore off after about 2 weeks. As my wife was still working from home I tried to stay out of our office as to not distract her from work. The highlights of my days have been when she finishes work or weekends so that we can do things together. I’m fairly independent but when it’s Winter and your extremely limited to where your allowed to go, being on your own is now fun. I can’t begin to imagine what this pandemic & lockdowns have been like for anyone who lives on their own. These times have been trying on us all, although I do feel that we have been quite lucky compared to some.

Looking to the Future

As we are now slowly starting to move out of lockdown (again) in the UK and more people get vaccinated, here’s hoping that we are heading towards brighter more normal times.

#StaySafe

Woodland Feast

A slightly overdue post due to not having been out exploring much with the camera lately. So another collection from my archives.

Anyone who is a regular follower of my photography will know that squirrels are my favourite woodland animal. These particular shots were taken during last Autumn. Although Summer is my favourite season of the year, I love the colours of Autumn, especially when exploring woodland. Being able to capture some shots of this little fellow in the splendour of the Autumn golds and browns was magnificent. His own colours complement and blend well with the Autumn hues.

Hopefully as Summer approaches and the world returns to a resemblance of “normal” times I will be able to find more time and motivation for photographic expeditions.

Flower of Scotland

I’m sure that I am being stereotypically Scottish by saying that Thistles are one of my favourite flowers, but it’s true they are. These in particular are quite special as they are home grown. We have been growing Thistles in our garden for a few years now and they never fail to disappoint. Apart from being beautiful flowers to photograph they attract insects such as bees and butterflies (doing our bit for the pollinators), I’m not one to waste a photographic opportunity when these insect visitors come calling.

I love the colour of these Thistles, the radiant purple spikey flower heads that always look bright come rain or shine. As well as helping bring wildlife into our garden and giving me another source of photographic inspiration, growing these Thistles is like having a little bit of Scotland in our Yorkshire garden.

Dark Frost

As we say goodbye to Winter and welcome back Spring I thought I would share a last glimpse of Winter for another year. Dark Frost is a set that I actually created last Winter (2019). After these photographs sat dormant in my archive it felt the right time to share them now.

I wanted to try something a little different with these shots, which resulted in a more heavily edited set than my usual work. I normally prefer to apply soft editing techniques such as tweaking histogram levels, saturation, etc. Trying to leave the captured image as natural as possible. This time though I felt the urge to be a little more creative, a little more artistic. So after playing around creating various different effects I finally came up with “Dark Frost”, which in my opinion really brings out the feeling of how cold it was when I first took these shots. I wanted to create something darker than my normal work, which I think it’s safe to say I have achieved that. Sometimes it’s good to go dark, as long as you come back to the light.

Little Robin

On a nature walk a couple of weekends ago we spotted this little chap. Robins can be so tricky to photograph as they rarely sit still long enough to capture the perfect shot. Thankfully on this occasion this little Robin posed quite contently as I photographed him.

As the weather is starting to warm up slightly I’m trying to find the motivation to go out for walks, which I’m not finding easy at the moment. But when I do find the motivation to venture out with my camera for nature walks and you spot sights such as this it makes it all the more worthwhile. It reminds you how important it is to try and connect with nature on some level.