Mike Wright Photography

20th August 2018


The end of August is rapidly approaching. Normally this would be the time when Lesley (and me when I was still teaching) would be starting to count the days down to the start of term. The lovely time at the end of July and into early August, when the holiday seemed to stretch into infinity, would have gone and school would be looming; but now, she's retired and is sitting on a Sunday evening watching Downton Abbey and doing a bit of crocheting. I don't think it's really sunk in yet – she is still very much at the stage where she feels she should be doing something for school and then remembering that she doesn't have to.


Photographically, the last month has been quite interesting (at least to me). I have finished designing my 2019 calendar and had them printed. So far, I've put ten into the Post Office and Mainly Stationery in Tavistock have also taken a dozen. If you live too far away to come and buy your own, I will be quite happy to pop you one in the post – they are going for £7.95, postage free in the UK. Get in touch through the contact page.


The teasel outside the back door continues to provide opportunities for pictures. When it flowers, bumble bees love it and there were always five or six with their heads buried in the flowers. A few spiders have also taken up residence, so they make interesting subjects, as do their webs when it has rained and they have water droplets on them.


We've definitely had a good crop of young birds this year. Lots of blackbirds and sparrows, with more of the tits and finches than we had last year. Sadly, there don't seem to be any baby hedgehogs this year. We still have at least two coming to be fed every night, but they may well be two males, as they haven't produced – at least not in our garden. Perhaps it's someone else's turn this year.


July's Photography Club was pretty strenuous – we went up to the car park at the top of Pork Hill and walked round to the back of Cox Tor and then back to the car park by walking over the top of the tor, encountering ponies, expansive views, great light and a spectacular sunset over Brentor. The walk down back to the car was really hard on my knee. I took it slowly and steadily and Sean stayed with me all the way down, sticking to my pace, for which I was very grateful. Thanks, Sean, should you be reading this.


Then it was back to the garden for a few more shots of the teasel with a trip up to Burrator for a sunset – which didn't materialise. It was a beautiful evening with a totally clear sky, so the sun just sank behind the tor opposite, with no colours and no sunset worth taking. I've included a shot of a few stones on the bank of the reservoir which would normally be under about five or six feet of water. Maybe they formed a wall once upon a time. After this come shots of butterflies, bees and birds and a few shots of the teasel.


The next big event was David coming home for a week with his girlfriend – a big event because it was the first time we had met her. We went for a walk at Maristowe in the blazing sunshine. Needless to say I got left behind while I took photographs. Lesley got a bit concerned and came back to look for me and we caught up with the others then went for a tea at the Cafe at Lopwell Dam. There was even music laid on – a Plymouth Ukulele Band set up and treated us to several songs while we drank our tea.


The following day we went to Cotehele. That was hard work for me – if you don't know Cotehele House, it is all stairs and they have a policy where you either leave any rucksacks in a locker near the door, or carry it in your hand – not on your back. I chose to do this with my camera bag and what a mistake that was. It weighs a ton when you carry it like that and on a hot day and clambering up and down lots of stairs, my knee was really giving me stick. Got some nice family photos which caused some amusement, as they all made a plan and ducked down behind the wall as I was about to take a picture, then the odd head appeared and then another one, so the series of shots caused some amusement.


This is followed by some shots of the sky from the garden. Sitting out there with the camera, there were some spectacular clouds around, and a plane and a buzzard flew over. In the evening, Lesley and I went down to Weir Quay for a walk and to see if there was a sunset. There wasn't much in the way of colour, but the light was good and after walking along the river, we sat on a bench for half an hour and watched the evening draw in.


My next trip out was to Maristowe again – by myself this time, so I could take pictures without feeling I was keeping other people waiting. All the shots were using my 100-400mm telephoto almost as a macro lens, at its maximum zoom and minimum focusing distance – it doesn't do life-size magnification, but on a sunny day, the out of focus backgrounds give the shots a bit of a painterly feel, and where there are insects in the shot, they are big enough to make a point of interest. See what you think – I'd appreciate any thoughts on the contact page if anyone has read this far.


Finally it was back to the garden for a few shots. While working in the garden – unfortunately without the camera – there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the laurel hedge outside the back door and a blackbird shot out and flew up and over the back porch, closely followed by a sparrowhawk. It gave up the chase when the blackbird went over the porch and flew along the line of the laurel hedge as I watched open-mouthed and then disappeared back into the bushes as it reached the end. I could hear it moving, so I went into the house and got the camera and sat in one of the chairs hoping it would reappear and give me a shot, but it never did. When will I learn to keep the camera with me at ALL times?


Finally, there are a few shots from August's Photography Club. Pete had organised some still life work looking for high key and low key shots. It meant using the flash, which is something I don't do very often, so it was good to be forced into using it and getting to know a bit more about which settings to use. On leaving the hall at the end of the session there was a very colourful sunset over Kit Hill, with a brief flow of mist down the Tamar Valley. A good way to finish the month.


Hope you enjoy the pictures you look at. As always, any comments appreciated.