Mike Wright Photography

20th November 2019


Getting on towards the end of November and winter is beginning to show its hand. A lot of the autumn colour has gone from the trees, particularly on the exposed higher ground, and their bare branches are giving the landscape that black, winter-look. There is still some gorgeous colour down in the valleys, so I will try and get out in the last week or so to catch it before it all disappears.


I have been enjoying the photography course on a Monday night. It makes a real change to be working in a studio, with proper lights and backgrounds and with other people. It's a really nice group and we all take turns when it comes to using the flash triggers with no arguments and no one hogging them. It is particularly interesting (and challenging, for me) to be taking pictures of people and having to direct them. I'm also finding getting an interesting composition from a still life tricky, but on the whole I have been pleased with the shots I have come away with.


The first set of pictures are from the course. On this particular week we worked on different lighting set ups, using each other as models. Having this list of where to place the lights and some shots to illustrate each setup will be really useful – particularly if I ever invest in my own set of lights. So several portraits to begin with, and I also worked on developing my editing techniques and was pleased with the results from that.


Next, come a few shots from the garden. It was a mizzly morning and the droplets were clinging to everything. There was very little or no wind, so it was a good opportunity to get the macro lens out. I worked mostly around the cottoneaster, as the bright red berries made a good background. There were some more subtle backgrounds against which I took pictures of droplet covered spider webs and these were quite pleasing.


Next are shots from a very, very proud Dad. Jen graduated from her Ceramics and Glass course at Plymouth College of Arts with a 2-2 and the graduation ceremony was held at the Theatre Royal. It was a really nice Sunday morning, full of happy graduands and proud parents. The awarding of the certificates went off without a hitch and after the usual throwing up of the hats, we treated Jen to a meal at Wildwood in the Royal William Yard.


A couple of weeks after that, I was asked to help take pictures of a craft fayre in the village hall which was in aid of a thrombosis charity, so there are several shots of stalls and their owners. There is an amazing range and amount of talent locally.


Then it was back to landscapes. An early start to catch the light on the autumn colour took me to Shaugh Prior. Unfortunately, while the light was lovely, the trees hadn't turned much yet and what colour there was came from the bracken. However, there had been a LOT of rain over the previous few days, so the river was running really high. Normally, I go upriver along the branch which the footbridge crosses, but on this day I decided to go up the tributary which joins just below the footbridge and was very pleased that I did, getting some good shots of the river.


The next set of shots are back to the photography course. We looked at still life refractions, which were interesting, but I struggled to get compositions which I was happy with, so didn't come away with too many shots. An area of photography on which I need to work.


These are followed by just two shots, but behind those is a story stretching back over thirty five years. Back in 1983, I began going on cycling holidays, staying mostly at youth hostels, organised by my friend Ian, who played for the same football team as me. This first holiday became an annual event, wobbling around different parts of the UK, cycling from youth hostel to coffee shop, to pub for lunch and then another couple of coffee shops before eventually arriving at the night's youth hostel. Over the years, various friends joined the rides, some for a few years and others just for one, but through it all, the constants were Ian, Big Dave and me. The last holiday was in 2015, as a couple of days before we were due to travel on the 2016 holiday, Ian fell victim to an unsuspected brain tumor, suffered a stroke, and died a couple of weeks later having never recovered consciousness. After the cremation, most of his ashes were scattered by family and very close friends, but a small amount were sent to Big Dave and myself to scatter somewhere with links to the cycling holidays. We chose The Warren House Inn on Dartmoor, a place where we had stopped as a very cold, wet evening drew in while we still had about three miles to go to the youth hostel at Bellever. A few whiskies and a couple of pints warmed us up a bit and we made it to the hostel – still wet, but not as cold as we could have been. Hopefully, Ian would have approved.


Another photography course follows. This time looking at composing different shots. The first challenge was to go outside into the night and take 24 shots from the same spot. I think I managed 23 before we were called in again. After the break, we had to choose an object and shoot ten different shots, using the lights to change the composition. After an initial problem in deciding what to use, I chose a soft toy and worked on that.


As I hadn't go much in the way of autumn colour on my previous trip to Shaugh Prior, I tried again and this time the leaves had turned. The river was still running high, so I repeated my trip up the branch of the river and worked on getting detail shots of the water and wider shots with the colours of the leaves to enhance the water. I stopped at Denham Bridge on the way home, and took a shot looking downriver. One for next year's calendar!


There is one shot from a trip to The Devon Guild of Craftsmen Centre in Bovey Tracey. I think I have shot this pot before, but this time I tried a macro shot. I really like the creamy white of the pot and the way it contrasts with the glaze pattern. This was the only picture I took all day.


By this time Remembrance Day had come around and we made our way down to the War Memorial, as we do every year. This year was the first year Stan Sherrell had not read out the names of the fallen, and while I knew it was a different person reading them, it still sounded strange. Eventually, I worked out what it was - Stan always used to read the full names of the people on the memorial, while this gentleman just read the initals and their last name.


Finally for this month, was the last photography course of the session. Jamie had arranged for three dogs and their two owners to come in so that we could work on portraits of the dogs and to try and catch their personalities – both the dogs and their owners – and the relationship between them as they interacted. Hopefully a bit of this shows in my pictures from this session. It's a shame the course has finished, but there is an 'Intermediate Part Two' on in the New Year, so I shall probably sign up for that to see what it's like.


Enjoy the rest of Autumn and I hope the preparations for Christmas go well.