Mike Wright Photography

20th May 2020

Another month of lockdown and no sign of getting back to normality here in the UK. The slight relaxing of restrictions from last week is now causing some friction down here in Devon. The new freedom to travel as far as you like for exercise, combined with the stunning weather we are having at the moment has meant hordes of people travelling into the region to go to the beaches and beauty spots. There have been some problems, as not all beaches and towns have opened their car parks, so visitors have been parking along the roadside. There have been various comments sent in to the local news, ranging from those who see visitors as the devil incarnate and others who see them maintaing social distance and don't see it as a problem. Time will tell.


Anyway, on to the pictures. There are a lot more pictures of the garden as we have not been able to get out so much. I have been out on the bike a few times and have imporoved the average speed at which I get round the peninsula, but the hills make it such hard work and now that the body is that much older, it takes the pleasure away from it, so I haven't been out for a couple of weeks now.


The pictures start with sunset shots from the garden, mostly through the trees, as that's pretty much the only view I get at this time of year, but they are all different and it was a beautiful sunset. Then there are a few shots from around the garden. We have pond skaters on the pond again this year and masses of tadpoles and as the pond was set up so that it was relatively easy to get surface level shots, there are a few macros of the tadpoles and pond skaters.


As with last month, Jamie and Hannah of Community Photographic Studios in Plympton (Facebook Page: Community Photographic Studios CIC; website: 'communityphotographicstudios.co.uk') have continued to set us photographic challenges and the first one this month was 'Time', so the next set of shots cover that theme, with studies of various clocks and watches which are important to me.


Then it's back to the garden. Included are some shots of bits of the garden which I think look particularly attractive and some shots of newly fledged birds. The blackbirds were first to appear, followed by the sparrows and more recently the dunnock, although I don't have any pictures of them. The young blackbirds are entertaining, arriving to feed with the adult male every morning when I put the food out and generally hanging around the garden. The blackbirds really like the birdbath and are probably the ones which use it the most.


I had a go at trying to catch dandelion seeds in flight as they are blown off the seedhead. I set up a black background and fixed the seedheads in place in front of it. I then set the camera up to include the seedhead, but with space for the seeds to fly into when they were blown. I set the shutter to a fairly high speed and burst mode and then used a cable release to trigger the shutter. When I heard the first shot go, I blew on the seeds and kept the shutter firing until it began to buffer. I was quite pleased with the results, although there were a lot of failures!


The next challenge set was 'Games'. I have a really nice chess set, which is all smooth curves and reflections, so concentrated mostly on this using a macro lens and a narrow depth of field. I was also pleased with the shot of the 'Blockus' game box lid, which is very geometrical and bright primary colours.


Next comes a shot of the male blackbird and the chrysalis of a small white butterfly. These are followed by the next challenge, which was 'Rain'. I initially concentrated on droplets around the garden, but then when we had a heavier shower, I set up by the pond and tried to catch raindrops as they hit the water. 


Then, by the end of April, we decided to take the camera out for a walk. We didn't travel very far – just a mile or so outside the village, but it was so nice to actually look at things which were further away than about twenty yards! It was a fairly sunny day, but there were some quite heavy clouds around, so the light was good. I was pleased with the landscapes I got and the bluebell shots – I normally get down to the local woods and get a lot of bluebell shots, but that didn't happen this year. I was also pleased with the buzzard shots – they showed well agains both the clouds in the sky and the blue sections between.


I thought that I ought to record what the lockdown was like and the effect it was having, so I took the camera into Tavistock when we went shopping. This was a Friday morning and generally, it is pretty busy – not usually heaving but with a full car park and a steady stream of shoppers moving through the Coop. As you will see, this has not been the case during lockdown.


The walk from the village earlier in the week followed by the walk around Tavistock with the shopping really caused me problems with the arthritis in my right knee. It wakes me during the night and aches fairly constantly, so I decided it was time to start the process towards a knee replacement. I rang the doctor and was given an appointment for an x-ray. This took place and a week later I rang the doctor to discuss the results. 


The results confirmed what we both knew – that I have pretty bad arthritis in the knee, but now the results can be sent to the orthopaedic department who, apparently, will give me an appointment for another x-ray which they can use to discuss options. When I asked what the time scale was likely to be, he said originally the maximum wait was sixteen weeks, but with the coronavirus situation, I would be lucky if it was before the end of the year – and longer if there was a second spike, which he seemed to think was more likely than not.


I have to say, that is about what I was expecting, so I don't think I'll be walking up to the top of any tors on Dartmoor anytime soon. Going up is not too bad, but I really struggle walking downhill – and going downstairs is pretty uncomfortable too. Still we'll see what we can do. I may have to stop carrying my camera bag and tripod when I go out and just take the camara.


Anyway, the next set of pictures are macros of a rhododendron flower after the petals have fallen off. It reminded me of Medusa from Greek Mythology. I took one shot looking down on it which I edited to get a pure black background and while it is not included here, will hopefully be an entry into a competition.


Back to the garden next and a range of shots of birds visiting the garden and making use of the facilities.


The final set of shots was our first time venturing out in the car for a walk – we only went about a mile and a half to get to the woods by the river, but as we drove out of the village the clouds were spectacular, so we stopped for a shot across the fields to Dartmoor, before continuing down to the woods, where there were some beautiful demoiselles sunning themselves on leaves. There were also millions of midges criss crossing over the river and finally some shots from a fallen tree at the edge of the woods on the way back to the car – and a shot of Lesley.


I hope you are managing to keep safe wherever you are and the pandemic is beginning to ease. Hopefully by next month things will be getting closer to normal, but I suspect normal is going to be a bit different.


Have a good month.