Mike Wright Photography


February 2020

It's been an interesting month, photographically. Since beginning the Photography Course at Community Photographic Studios in Plympton, the range of pictures I have in my catalogue has widened considerably and I'm really learning a lot about using lights in a studio – although I still tend to rely on the other people on the course to do the setting up!


This month begins with work from the course. We did a session on product photography using a range of jewellery imported by Marie Hill of Plymouth. It comes from Thailand and is made using recycled materials – in this case, used bullet cases. It was good being able to use different lighting techniques and backgrounds and I was pleased with the results.


After this it was back to outdoor work again. I was actually driving off to somewhere else and had put the camera in, just in case, and when I got to Denham Wood, there was mist down in the valley and it was glowing behind the conifers. I pulled into the car park and took a range of shots, but my favourite is the one where the light is shining across the path and picking out a few beech leaves left over from last year.


A couple of days after this, we had one of the few frosts we have had this year. In fact I think it is the only one which was hard enough to make it worthwhile going out. Anyway, I was up before dawn and arrived on the approach to Burratorr in time to catch the pre-sunrise glow on the horizon and then went to Norsworthy Bridge and worked around the nameless stream which runs into the reservoir near the car park. I was particularly pleased with some of the ice patterns in the puddles and with the frozen leaves.


Wednesday came around and Lesley and I set off for Fowey for our day out. It was a pretty miserable day, be we did manage to stay dry and had a great lunch in Haverner's on the quay. Recommended if you are down in Fowey at any time.


Fowey itself had a strange atmosphere. Most of the properties are holiday lets and hotels and many of them were having building work carried out, so there were a lot more builders around than there were visitors. Going to these placces at this time of year really shows the effect that second home ownership has on a community.


After lunch we walked back towards the car park and then went up to St Catherine's Castle. We had intended to do a circular walk, but my knee was giving me a bit of stick, so we went back to the car and headed for home. I must make an appointment with the doctor and see about starting the process for a knee replacement.


The next set of pictures are following up on last week's product shoot – we had a model to wear the jewellery. Once again this put me right out of my comfort zone – I find it really hard directing a model into different poses. I suppose I'll get better with practice. The model was Balbina PI Ramsey and was excellent – I think it was more a case of her dicatating the poses rather than me, but I was pleased with the shots I came away with.


At this time of year, the frogs are gathering in our little pond. It is good for photographing them, as it is easy to get to eye level without having to lie down, so I can stand for much longer – not to mention I don't have to get up from a prone position, which can be quite tricky these days. It was interesting watching the mating process – who would want to be a female frog? They get squashed not just by one male, but by as many as can get a foothold. I was really pleased with the shot showing a female's hand sticking out of a mass of frogs, almost as if it was a cry for help! I did have a session where I got some shots while it was raining, trying to catch the raindrops landing around the frogs.


Back to the photography course and this week we had Mark Lawer come in to model for us. He has been skateboarding for years and has been all around the world to some extremeley challenging pipes (as in huge pipes that come out of dams, or are used as storm drains). He has written several books and his talk was both interesting and inspirational. I decided I would edit the pictures I took and convert them to black and white to bring out his character, and I think they were quite successful. Mark himself is doing one of the beginners' courses to introduce him to photography.


Now that the pheasant shooting season is over, the walk around the river between Maristowe Quay and Lopwell Dam is open again, so that was one of my first walks in February. I was a bit late getting up, which is why the sunrise shot was taken from my back door! As usual, there was plenty to take pictures of when I got walking – although wildlife was in shorrt supply, as it has been since the estate began developing the shoot.


Wednesday came around again, and our day out was to go up to Princetown to have a look at and exhibition of Diane Giles's photographs of people who live and work on Dartmoor. There was still bits and pieces of snow on the ground when we arrived in Princetown and it was pretty chilly. The photos were really good and it is well worth a visit if you are stuck for something to do. We stopped off at a small car park overlooking Burrator Reservoir and had a short walk before going down for lunch at the Burrator Inn – which is now closed for three weeks while new owners refurbish. Lesley did say that it needed a bit of tlc before we heard this news.


Finishing this month are some shots from the village camera club. We had several lensballs to work with and Helena had set up a mirror with a black background for people to shoot down onto. The whole session went really well. People coming to the club are really starting to get confident with their cameras, using a range of different settings and using the objects and set ups available with imagination, and getting some really interesting shots.


So, that is it for this month. Next month moves into spring, so – weather permitting – bluebells and wood anemonies may well be finding their way into my catalogue.


Hope you have a good month.



Happy New Year to anyone reading this first update of 2020. The pictures begin with a throwback to Christmas. If you didn't get to Saltram House for their Enchanted Christmas displays, these pictures will give you some idea of what you missed. This was actually our second visit, as we took the children (well, adults, really) while they were staying with us, so the first picture is of David and Jenny – of whom we are extremely proud. The next set are all inside the house, where each room was set up telling a different fairytale. 


Going round the grounds, to avoid repeating shots I took last visit, I went for a more abstract approach, using zoom bursts and intentional camera movement to capture the lights on the trail. I'm quite pleased with the results.


The next set of pictures are from Wells, where we went to meet up with family between Christmas and New Year. As we were there on a Sunday, I managed to catch the outside of the cathedral while an evening service was going on inside, so the lights were shining outwards through the stained glass. I then went out on the Monday morning and got detail shots of the statues and decoration on the West Front. There is something about the statues, standing there for centuries, looking out over the city. It's funny how some of them have lost their features to the weather, whilst others look as though they were only completed recently.


I only had one trip out into the landscape this month – and I didn't go too far from the car on that one. I went to Denham Woods as there was a mist hanging round for most of the day and concentrated on getting shots of the trees and branches. It wasn't quite as misty as I'd hoped, but I was quite pleased with some of the shots. Jen bought me lens ball for Christmas, so I've included my first attempts at using this – I'm sure there will be more next month.


I haven't been out walking as much as my knee has been giving me a bit of gyp. While it is quite painful while I walk – particularly going downhill – it is more a confidence issue. If I go out to somewhere quite remote on the moor, am I going to get back to the car? I will make a bit more effort in the New Year and also see about starting the process for a knee replacement operation. I think it is reaching that stage.


Finally, there are shots from January's village Photography Club. We had a session on close-ups. Helena bought a couple of plastic slinky springs, and we had a couple of stations set up with a sheet of glass with a flash underneath them so that we could work on backlit images – and I had a suggestion from my Photography Course that smarties under the glass which had been sprayed with water would be quite effective – and I was pleased with the results.


One of the shots of the spring looked like an eye, so I played around with it in Affinity Photo and Designer and tried to give the impression of the eye and top part of the beak of a very exotic bird. I have included the original shot followed by the editied version. See what you think.


So, not so many photos this month (maybe a good thing?) nor so many trips out. Mind you, the weather has been pretty foul. Hopefully there will be a few more cold and frosty days through the rest of January and February which will make me want to get out there.


Have a good month.28th Januarry

Very late update this month - Christmas got in the way, so a very brief blog as well.  Starting with some experiments with diffraction, followed by a few shots of a late afternoon around the Bere Peninsula, then a trip out to Sharpitor on a very foggy morning.  After that, shots from the illuminate festival, followed by a trip out to see the Christmas Garland at Cotehele.  A visit to Saltram to see the lights in the garden came next.  We missed the opportunity to look around the house, but paid a second visit when the children were home (National Trust membership makes these visits very cheap!), so if you didn't get the chance to see the house this year, I'll put some pictures up in the New Year.  Enchanted Saltram was a very apt description.  This months finishes off with a few shots from Wembury.  There was a strong wind and I hoped to catch some big waves, but the tide was out, so they weren't quite what I had hoped for!

Happy New Year to you all


20th November

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. â€‹

20th September

This month begins with a trip to Maristowe Quay, quite an early one, so I got the lovely, low morning light as I walked round the river. I need to get down there a bit more often over the week or so, as the walk closes on the first of October so that they can set it up for pheasant shooting. It won't open again until 2ndFebruary next year which is a shame, as I shall miss walking along the river during the winter frosts.


So, a range of pictures with some of them showing the end of summer and hints of the beginning of Autumn. On the way back I stopped at Denham Woods to get the shot of a branch which had turned into autumn colours while the rest of the wood remains green – the tree just above that particular branch snapped off in a storm last year, so I suspect there will be no leaves on the branch next year. I also got a couple of shots of a juvenile buzzard sitting on a post and eventually flying off into the woods while keeping an eye on me. After that shot it was back home for breakfast.


The next few shots are of the birds around the bird table. The starlings are always entertaining, and we have had a good crop of blackbirds this year, so there are usually three or four quarrelling their way around the garden. There is one shot from a walk we had at Tamar Trails. We went up to the remains of the calcifiers in the middle of the spoil heaps from last century's arsenic mining – still very little growing on them after all that time and dire warnings of death to stop people going on them. In spite of this there appears to be cycle tracks running up and down the slopes, We followed the walk with afternoon tea at the Moorland Garden.


As the children had gone back to school, we booked three days in a hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water. It's always good going away at this time of year, as we never had the opportunity while we were teaching. On the way up we stopped at Newark Park, which originally was a Tudor hunting lodge which was extended and then went through several different owners over the years until it reached a point where it needed rescuing. It was rescued and is now owned and run by the National Trust. It is not your usual run of National Trust properties and is well worth a visit.


Next to the car park was a field full of poppies which were crying out to be photographed. It was a bit breezy and the poppies were not still for very long, but I think I got some nice shots.


The hotel was just on the edge of the centre of Bourton and next morning, after an excellent full english breakfast, we went out into the village. If you haven't been before it is a beautiful village, all cotswold stone and with the river Windrush running through it with frequent footbridges crossing it.


We spent the morning wandering, calling in at a pottery, drinking tea and wandering a bit more and then went to the Model Village. Even this was made of cotswold stone and the houses and shops looked quite real. When I took a picture while holding the camera low down, it was difficult to tell whether it was the real village or the model. There was also a model making exhibition which is well worth the extra entry fee if you are ever there.


After the model village we walked down to Birdland – which is exactly what its name suggests. It had a wide range of birds on show and also included a dinosaur trail which was quite well done. I was quite pleased with the bird photos, although some are a bit soft having been taken through the wire fences.


The next day we went to Chedworth Roman Villa in the morning. If you like Roman history, it was really interesting, if you don't, it's probably not for you. It was found in Victorian times – covered in trees – but when cleared revealed and enormous villa with expensive mosaics, its own bath houses and a range of rooms. It was obviously owned by someone very wealthy and yet it had disappeared from all knowledge for about fifteen hundred years. Amazing.


For lunch we went to Burford, had a look round the church and then wandered up and down the main street, calling in at a little local museum. I love these little quirky places. They have very normal things in them which aren't of any national importance, but just show how people used to live. Quite charming.


It was a nice place, but had a few too many shops for my liking – but Lesley enjoyed this, so I spent a fair amount of time people watching until she emerged.


Next day we went home via my cousin's house where we took them out for lunch before travelling the rest of the way – mostly crawling down the M5, which was pretty busy.


I have started a photography course to try and extend my knowledge. For the first session we worked on strobe effects, so I have included a selection of shots from this. The course lasts for ten weeks, so there should be a more sets of pictures to come.


Next up is a range of shots from Denham Woods. I went looking for fungi, so most are macro shots of a fallen birch tree, with a couple of detail shots. Again, it was an early start and then back home for a late breakfast.


Finally, are some shots from the village photography club. We were asked to take a glass dish and the session was dedicated to photographing oil on water. I used some of the ideas from the course – setting a really small aperture (something like f/29) and then firing the flash off camera, using different positions and different backgrounds to change the effects. I was quite pleased with the results.


Also this month we have had a lot of work done around the house. After some twenty years we finally had the downstairs room at the front of the house double glazed and a new front door. It is normally our guest room, so should make a real difference to the warmth and noise for people staying there and will hopefully keep the house a bit warmer.


We also have a wrought iron gate and some railings leading up to the back of the house and up to the back door which have rusted to a point where they were only supported on one upright, so we have had these replaced. This involved a lot of drilling down into the concrete, using a lot of water to keep the drill bit cool and left a deposit of concrete mud over most of the small patio and steps. This was easily cleared with the power washer, but left a thick coating of sludge on the gravel at the bottom of the steps, so this had to be washed and then some more gravel added to the path.


Now that it's done, it all looks very good, but I don't think we'll be having much done to the house for a while.



20th July 2019

Ihaven'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.


20thJune 2019


Apologies for the order of the pictures this month. I couldn't order them by name, so I had to put them in date order and the only option for this is most recent pictures first, so if you want to see the pictures in similar order to the blog, you will need to start at the end and work backwards.


There are more pictures than usual this month. The extras are from the Torbay Airshow which we went to on the Saturday. The weather was beautiful and we arrived in good time and got an excellent position, sitting just behind the beach and to the right of the pier. We had a bit of waiting to do, but it was no hardship, sitting there in the sun and people watching.


When the show began, it was just constant photography and all from a seated position. It was realldy special when the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight came over – Spitfire and Dakota, so it was a bit disappointing that the Lancaster didn't attend. I was a bit disappointed with the pictures of these two aircraft. I tried to get the shutterspeed slow enough to catch the propellers as a blur, but this meant that the shots were just slightly soft. There were helicopter displays and the real treat of the day was when the Red Arrows roared in overhead – the only display allowed to do so. They were just superb – such tight formations and spectaular use of the coloured smoke. I was really pleased with the shots I got.


The display finished with a show from The Typhoon and while it was not as spectacular as the Red Arrows, it was a display of sheer power and speed. I was especially pleased with the shots where the air disturbance concealed some of the plane as it performed its manouvres.


Sadly for the people attending, the Sunday was cold and rainy and the Red Arrows had to stop their display due to deteriorating conditions.


Anyway, if you like aeroplanes, then I'm sure you'll find something to enjoy in this set of shots. If you don't, then just skip over these pages and on to the rest of the pictures.


Now, back to the rest of the month. The pictures begin with the last of the bluebells for this year – they began to fade in the days after taking these two pictures. Then it is a set of macro-art pictures – using multiple exposures and intentional camera movement to make abstract shots of plants and flowers with a view to finding entries for the International Garden Photographer of the Year competion. I have managed to narrow it down to four shots, so we'll have to see how they do. Closing date is the end of June, so I need to get cracking and get them entered.


I had an early morning trip to Meeth Quarry next. It is just North of Hatherleigh on the A386 and is an old clay quarry which has been bought by Devon Wildlife Trust and is being developed as a nature reserve. It is relatively early in its development, but is still well worth a visit. It's an extensive site with lots of paths through it and an enormous lake where the workings have flooded and is attracting a lot of wildlife already. Particularly noted for butterflies.


The next set of pictures are from a day out at Cockington (just outside Torquay) where we went with Ian and Gill Larkin. It was when the weather was still sunny and warm, so lunch was at an outside table, and then we walked round the estate, looking at the workshops. I tried a few multi exposure experiments in the glass-blowing workshop. It was quite fascinating – the glass blower was blowing a piece which looked like it was going to be a vase and then at the very last stage of the process, he somehow spun it and turned it into a plate. Amazing to watch.


The church was really interesting, particularly the pulpit which, according to the information sheet, was 'rescued' from the wreck of a Spanish galleon which had formed part of the Spanish Armada. Don't suppose many of the crew were rescued!


Then there are a few shots of some volunteers working on one of the public areas of the village preparing it for the 'Britain in Bloom' competition. Lesley managed to get roped in as one of the organisers and they have put in a lot of work to get the area looking good. While there weren't many volunteers for this particular task, a lot of people have made the effort around their own houses and the village is looking good.


It is also time for the Bere Pen – a 10k race around the peninsula which is quite popular with the local running clubs. Starting at the school they come up through the village, and this is my favourite position to take pictures of the athletes. The have got into their stride and are still reasonably fresh and running together.


A few days after this we had a couple of days in London with David and Robyn. We took Jen with us and stayed in the Westfield in Stratford – within site of David's flat, so it is an ideal location. The Sunday night saw a stunning sunset, but unfortuately the windows in the hotel don't open, so I had to take the shots through the grubby windows, so they aren't quite as sharp as they should be.


On the Bank Holiday Monday, we went into Central London before the concert which we had come down to see. As it was the Bank Holiday, much of it was relatively deserted, so I managed some decent shots of the buildings we passed. Eventually, we made our way to the Barbican and were treated to a fantastic performance of Wallace and Gromit's 'The Wrong Trousers' with the music played live by the orchestra. That was the second half and in the first half the orchestra played a range of music and we particularly enjoyed their version of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. We were also treated to the Premier of Wallace's 'Symphony in E Lad'. All in all, a very entertaining performance.


We finished the day with a meal in a Jamaican restaurant in The Westfield and I have to say after the route march around London (David and Robyn's legs are much younger than mine) I was very glad to sit down.


On the way back we called in to see my friends Chris and Jan. Chris was my best man and we have know each other since starting together at Bangor back in 1973. We hadn't seen each other for a few years, so it was good to catch up.


The next set of pictures are the airshow, which I have written about above. I took something like two and a half thousand pictures during the day, so it took forever to get rid of the out of focus and duplicates. I've got them down to about nine hundred and fifty now, and could do with getting rid of a few more.


After the airshow we went to Antony House with Heather and Terry. After a bit of kerfuffle trying to convert my National Trust membership to a family one so that Lesley was a member, we finally got into the house. While it was grand, as these places are, it did feel a bit more normal and lived in than some other places we have visited. They even let Lesley play the Bechstein Grand Piano, which gathered a small audience when they heard the music start. Many of the pictures are of the trees in the grounds, which were spectacular. I shall return with my tripod at some point and see if I can improve on some of the shots.


And finally, there is a set of sunrise shots. At this time of year, you need to be up really early to get to the location in time to catch the sunrise and I think I was out of bed at about 3.30 am. And it was just getting light as I reached Burrator Reservoir and got to the location I wanted. It was well worth it, as the colours were beautiful and I was even treated to mist over the water. As the colours faded, I walked along the bank a bit and got a few shots of the trees that lined the bank, but from the land side looking through them to the water. As an added bonus, just as I got back to the car, an angler arrived and called over to me, and turned out to be the dad of two girls who I used to teach, so it was good catching up with how they were doing – both very successful.


So, that's it for this month. Hope you have a good month and the weather becomes more summery.


20th May


Welcome to this months's ramblings. The pictures will take you through spring, with its ups and downs in the weather and everything coming back to life after the harshness of the winter, although the tree in the first shot will not be coming back to life. It stands in the field in front of Maristowe House. Once upon a time it was a beautiful copper beech and I have quite a few shots of it in all its glory. Then, a few years ago, I noticed it didn't have leaves and gradually the branches disappeared until it was left in its current skeletal form. I suppose one of the storms over the next few years will bring it down completely and it will be chopped up for firewood.


So, as you might have guessed the first few shots are from Maristowe. Contrasting with the dead tree, the next one is just coming back to life and then there is a shot of couple of flowers out early.


Next is a collection of shots from the garden. I have decided to put all of them together, so there will be quite a range. First is a shot of an english bluebell. Nothing strange about that, you might say, but all the bluebells in the garden are spanish ones, so this one is a complete surprise. Hopfully it will spread and we can continue to remove the spanish ones. Then there are a couple of bee shots, and a dandelion head.


Following this is a shot of the front of the house. There had been signs up for a while that the road was going to close and we had speculated on what they were going to do and where it was going to be closed. It turned out it was right in front of our house! We woke up to the sound of pneumatic drills and when we looked out of the window, it was all going on right outside. It was electricity work – someone across the road had asked for an improvement to the way they received their supply and the company decided to do three houses at the same time, so we had this trench dug right in front of our house and a similar one in front of the three houses across the road. We had a couple of problems getting out of the house one day, but generally, they were pretty efficient and put it all back – it did get rid of the weeds that were growing out of the base of the wall.


The next shots are macro – there was a beautiful sunset sky, so I picked a dandelion head and shot it from below against the sky. Hopefully one of them will be an entry into a competition. Then more macros of plants and moss and some close-ups of tulips which had started to fade. There is a shot of a slow worm which I came across while gardening. I was pleased to see it, as I haven't seen one for a few years. I had a feeling that the hedgehogs might have been eating them.


Finally from the garden are a set of pictures of starlings enjoying the birdbath. I'm quite pleased with the garden at the moment. It's always at its best in spring, and I can just sit and look at it when the sun is shining – with the camera handy just in case something spectacular turns up.


There are no shots from Photograpy Club this month, as It was the same night as the Spurs Champions League semi final and I wanted to listen to it on the radio. And I'm so pleased I did! That amazing come back was just astonishing to listen to. And now I c