Mike Wright Photography

20th July 2019

I haven't been out taking pictures quite as often this month – seem to have lost a bit of motivation for getting up really early and walking over rough terrain. Having said that, I did get up so early for a trip to Cadover Bridge that I had to sit in the car for half an hour or so while it got light enough to actually take some pictures!


This month's pictures begin with the June excursion from the village photo club – a very informal affair, with attendance varying from four to about twelve depending on who is available. June was at the lower end of the numbers, so as it was quite a nice day, we jumped into my car and headed off to Weir Quay on the River Tamar in the hopes of a good sunset. It did look promising for a while, but in the end, the sun dropped into a bank of clouds leaving very little colour behind. Still, it was quite bright for most of the time, so we were quite pleased with the shots we did get.


The next set of shots are from my daughter's Degree Show. She is in her final year at Plymouth College of Art and was thrilled to have reached this stage. It was a quite spectacular show, with a real variety of things on show. Loved the colours of Jen's glasses.


After that, I tried some experiment's in the garden, looking for some abstracts to enter into a section of the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition. I worked on using intentional camera movement and multiple exposures. I particularly liked the shot of the dying iris flower, with its twists and textures. I did get some entries, but they didn't do anything – not even shortlisted. Still, I've got the main competition coming up over the next few months, so need to begin collecting pictures for that.


I did spend a lot of time collecting and editing pictures for Landscape Photographer of the Year, only to find when I came to send of my entry, that it's not actually running this year and won't be up again until 2020. Still, I have prepared pictures for other competitions.


With the weather being bright and hot, I had a trip down to Maristowe Quay and had a walk around the river. This time I was concentrating on using the 400mm telephoto as a macro lens, taking pictures of insects and plants which stood out from the background. The nice thing about this technique is that I does throw the background out of focus, but still shows some detail, so you get some idea of the habitat in which the insects and plants live. I took my favourite shot from the lane on the way back to the car – the sun was lighting up the meadow on the other side of the bank, and on top of the bank, the grass seed heads were silhouetted against this.


The weather also encouraged sitting in the garden with a cup of tea and the telephoto lens on my knee, taking shots of bits in the garden which caught my eye and there was quite a bit of action. There was a dunnock being quietly industrious around the rockery, a great spotted woodpecker arrived on the feeder – a first – and being pleased with the way the garden is looking, I took a few general shots of that. I also caught a frog as I was weeding the path along the side of the house. It did me the favour of keeping still while I went back into the house, put the macro lens on and came back to take its picture. Very pleasing.


Next it was above-mentioned trip to Cadover Bridge. It was a lovely morning and I was pleased with the shots I got. I was out early enough not to see any other people and could set up and take pictures without worrying about getting anyone else in shot – apart from a hint of bright colour which was a couple of tents where some people were wild camping. I was sad to see the tree which had been cut down, as last time I visited the was a huge old oak, spreading its branches across the river similar to the trees earlier in the set. It did look like one branch had been ripped off, and then the rest of it had been cut down for safety reasons – there were always rope swings on its branches.


Back to the garden next. It is quite surprising what appears in the garden while I sit in the chair. We've seen sparrowhawks coming through and taking occasional birds over the last few years, but this time, one flew over the wall opposite to where I was sitting and then up onto the roof of the house, where it sat for a minute or so, giving me time to pick up the camera and fire off a couple of pleasing shots before flitting off out of sight. I think it is a male, as it was quite small and quite brightly coloured.


We had a day out in Dawlish. We were going to go on the train, but it involved changes and the timings weren't good, so in the end we drove. The weather was very hot and it while it wasn't packed out, it was quite busy. We had a nice lunch, a stroll around the shops, down to the beach where we sat in an arch in the railway embankment overlooking the beach and just sat in the sun. I took some wide-angle shots of the beach and people on it, plus some experiments with intentional camera movements.



Then back to the garden, with some shots of a juvenile blackbird trying to get to a hanging berberis fruit and a frog in the pond. The water looks really green in the picture – and that's because it was. For the last month or so, it had bloom of algae which turned it a bright pea green. On looking up the causes, it turned out that there was too much organic matter in the pond, so out came the net and I scooped up several loads of mud from the bottom of the pond. After spooning out the tadpoles and other livestock which got caught up, I dumped it in the recycling bag. Having done this, it took a couple of weeks, but the green gradually disappeared and the water became more clear and now the pond looks much better – and much fuller after a couple of days of rain.


Last month, I invested in a cheap set of backdrops. It included a folding frame and black, white and green backdrops which I could hang over it, so I can now set up a sort of studio. I worked with flowers and bits from the garden against the white backdrop. Lesley had grown and picked some beautiful sweet-peas, so I worked on these using focus stacking and also on some cleavers and iris seed heads. I had another session using the black backdrop and some editing additions which took some doing, using masking layers and painting out one layer to reveal a painted backdrop. Not sure if I can remember how I did, but I'll have another go at some time.


Following this, on another hot and sunny day, I had a trip to the wildflower meadow at Lopwell Dam. It was cut short by the battery in the camera running out and then when I put the spare in, that was also completely flat, so home I went. I think that it hadn't sat in the charger properly, so I thought it was charged when it wasn't. It charged successfully when I got home.


This wasn't my first abortive attempt to photograph the wildflower meadow. A few days previously I had picked up the camera bag and headed out, and when I opened the bag to go up to the meadow, I hadn't put the camera in. When I got home it was sitting on the table next to where the bag had been. How I missed it when I picked the bag up I have no idea.


Finally, it was July's Photo Club. Five of us this time. It had been a nice day, but as evening approached clouds gathered and the sun disappeared behind them, so there was no chance of a sunset. We drove down to Bere Ferrers and walked along to Hallowdene, taking pictures as we went. On my part, mostly details – there were some interesting lichens on the stone walls, which were interesting as they were built with the stones laid vertically rather than horizontally. I caught a bit of a television programme which explained this – apparently, if they are likely to have the sea washing against them, they are less likely to move in this configuration.


So that is it for this month. Hope you have enjoyed the good weather and the rest of your summer goes well and that you have enjoyed the pictures.