17/05/18 - Good things come in Threes

A spare day with an excellent weather forecast made me look towards the Lake District for a mountain or two that I hadn't yet done, and I noticed a couple of Wainwrights that I had walked past on numerous occasions but never climbed. It was time to rectify this situation and the two Wainwrights in question were Birkhouse Moor and Catstye Cam.

A quick look at the map and TPE and I could see that the sun would be rising over Ullswater with a potential decent shot from the summit of Birkhouse Moor at sunrise. However with sunrise at 5.00am it would mean a very early start.

At 11.30pm the previous evening I walked past a bemused wife on her way to bed, got my kit together and drove overnight to Glenridding where I set off walking at 3.00am. Using Naismiths rule I calculated it would take me an hour and twenty minutes, in fact I was only 2 minutes out with my planning, and it was also good to practise some night navigation. 

I arrived at the summit of Birkhouse Moor with some lovely colours in the sky, and as the sun came up I managed to get some keepers. The sound of the dawn chorus which included Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Cuckoo, Raven and Red Grouse was truly melodic and I wouldn't have been anywhere else. MISSION 1 - SUNRISE SHOT FROM SUMMIT OF BIRKHOUSE MOOR - COMPLETED.

After the colour had gone from the sky, I put the big lens on and headed off towards Red Tarn and up Catstye Cam stopping to grab a few photos of mountain birds on the way, but for whatever reason the images were out of focus to start with but eventually I realised and managed to get a couple of keepers of Meadow Pipit and Wheatear. MISSION 2 - CAPTURE SOME DECENT WILDLIFE SHOTS - COMPLETED.

Eventually after lots of stops I arrived at the summit of Catstye Cam with spectacular views in all directions. MISSION 3 - SUMMIT 2 NEW WAINWRIGHTS - COMPLETED.

After a decent stop to admire the vistas I headed down the steep slope to Brown Cove where I followed Glenridding Beck back to the car.

In all a truly stunning morning out, and not another soul in sight. Another 2 Wainwrights in the bag, managed to capture some semi decent images and even managed to get some night navigation in as well. Highly recommended.

07/05/18 - Walney Island

A long weekend in a static caravan on Walney Island with my walking mate Dan, and the girls. We were located on the south of the island right next to a nature reserve with sunrise shots on one side and sunset shots on the other. The competition theme for the month is castles, and with Piel Island only a short distance away I was in with a chance of getting some decent images of the castle on the island. 

The weather was stunning and in all it was a fantastic trip. I had wanted to see some seals but the beach close to where they were breeding was shut to the public. I did manage to get a few decent photos of some birds and the colour at sunrise was decent. 

02/05/18 - Far Eastern Fells Mountain Leader workshop

Another Mountain Leader workshop, this time looking at birds and their habitats in the Far Eastern Fells with the excellent STEPHEN MOTT. An experienced birder giving us tips on identification and habitats with glorious sunshine and great company. Anyone looking at these workshops I couldn't recommend them enough. Managed to get a few photos today including some new species for me including Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Wheatear.

14/04/18 - Mountain Leader workshop

Well there was no way that I was going to turn down a free Mountain Leader workshop in my favourite place Langdale in the Lake District. A nice early start to avoid the Manchester traffic jams arriving a couple of hours early to give me some time to try and get an image before the workshop started. With a low mist in the valley and plenty of trees around, there were probably plenty of images to be had but I struggled to find any decent composition.

At 9.30 I met up with the others and with an excellent Ecologist David Broom leading the way we set off up the hills. It was only a short walk today but there was still plenty to see and a good input on access, environmental management, conservation, flora, fauna and wildlife.

Not only was it an excellent input on a variety of topics but there were also some good tips on how to deliver an input to a group on the mountains.

A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a few hours on the hill, the mist eventually cleared allowing some nice views down the valley.

02/04/18 - Penny Spring Woods

A new month and a new photography challenge, with this months theme being trees.

I had fully intended to get out today with the camera but woke to a few inches of fresh snow on the ground, and whilst most people just saw bad weather I saw an opportunity for some contrasting or black and white images.

I headed out with fresh snow falling, but within five minutes the snow had turned to rain and I knew I didn't have long before the rain would wash the trees clean.

I initially found a semi decent composition but the dog ruined it by running ahead and putting fresh dirty tracks in the foreground, so I ignored that and moved on. Eventually I saw a lone tree that had potential and grabbed a few images trying different camera settings. I then saw three trees in a line further on and keeping the dog close by I managed to get a few more images.

With the mist rolling in I decided to head towards the woods and see if I could find something with some colour and managed to find a few isolated brown leaves left clinging onto the trees.

In all a very wet walk out in my local woods but more than happy with the images. A good start to the months competition, especially after last months whitewash.

21/03/18 - My new favourite place

I had wrestled the TV remote from the wife and finally managed to watch an old episode of Autumn Watch which was being filmed at RSPB Leighton Moss near Morecambe Bay. It looked impressive on the TV so I decided to give it a visit and find out for myself.

An early start, a quick coffee, followed by traffic jams around Manchester and then eventually after two and a half hours I arrived at the site but an hour before the visitor centre opened, so I decided to visit the 2 RSPB hides just down the road. However the van wouldn't fit under the railway bridge so I had to park at the top of the track and walk an extra half mile to the car park. I then spent a couple of hours visiting the Allen hide and the aptly named Eric Morcambe hide; by the time I returned to the van i had already logged at least 20 species of bird including Avocet, Redshank, and Black Tailed Godwit ,

I then made my way to the visitor centre at Leighton Moss for one of the best breakfasts I've had in a while, and then a walk out onto the reserve visiting the Sky Tower and all the 5 hides. The highlight of the day was watching a Little Egret fishing and about half a dozen Marsh Harriers entertaining the crowds. 

In all a truly excellent day out, the facilities here are superb, and my new favourite place. Highly recommended

08/03/18 - RSPB Old Moor

With dull skies for the last 2 weeks and a new zoom lens some wildlife photography was the obvious choice of the day. So being a member of RSPB I visited the excellent Old Moor wetland reserve. 

The normal 40 minute journey took over 3 hours due to some heavy snow fall and drivers that have no idea on how to drive in such conditions. When I set off I was quite smug being the owner of  4 x 4 go any where vehicle but that smugness soon disappeared when I realised that I could only go as fast as the incompetent driver in front of me.

I decided to have a look at the nearby Wombwell Ings nature reserve for the rare Yellow Browed Warbler, and with about a dozen other birders all ready in place the little leaf seeker was easy to find and was showing nicely. It just about stood still long enough for me to grab a couple of decent photos and there was also supposed to be a rare Firecrest in the same tree but there was no sign of that.

After about an hour I moved onto Old Moor where a Peregrine Falcon put on a spectacular display for us and plenty of birds on display. After a some excellent cake and Hot Chocolate in the cafe I returned home with a total of 50 bird species, but not all 50 photographed. A superb place for any wildlife photographer and highly recommended.

01/03/18 - Blackmoorfoot in the snow

With a new lens (Sigma 150 - 600) there was no way that the bad weather was keeping me inside, so I dug the 4 x 4 out dropped the wife in town and headed up to Blackmoorfoot Reservoir. Very cold and windy up here, but despite the harsh weather there were a few bird varieties around including Grey Wagtail, Goosander, Robin, Black headed Gull and lesser black backed gulls. The resident Robins were only too happy to pose for the camera. 

22/02/18 - Pugneys

After an early shift at work I arrived home and suggested a walk around Pugneys, luckily for me the girls had just been talking about exactly the same thing and within 5 minutes we were in the car loaded with cameras and the dog. 

We arrived to a bitterly cold wind, and loads of wild life about including a swan with a broken wing that was adamant that we weren't sharing the same footpath with it. 

About half way around the sky coloured up giving us a gorgeous sunset with the colours reflected off the water. In all a very pleasant walk. 

18/02/18 - Anglers Country Park

My days off and the weather was shocking with total cloud cover for four days and four nights. So I was unable to get any decent landscape shots (and the critics may well say nothing new there then) I decided to visit a nearby nature reserve and have a go at Birding. 

I wanted somewhere that I hadn't been before and picked Anglers Country Park near to Barnsley, I was chuffed to find that parking was free and made my way to the main hide next to the lake ignoring the couple having a full blown domestic in the car park.

Over a 2 hour period I spotted Cormorant, Coot, Canada Goose, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Black Headed Gull, Moorhen, Greylag Goose, Carrion Crow, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Golden Eye, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Pochard and Mallard. In all 17 species and quite happy with the result even though the photos aren't too cracking.

17/02/18 - Boshaw Whams Reservoir

I was only here to do a quick recce on my way to visit my Grandma and only to see if this place had anything to offer. However as I arrived the sky turned red, so I got the camera out but as I was pushed for time I was unable to find a decent composition and the images are nothing to shout about. The tower of the Sailing Club looks like it could make a good subject so I may be back

07/02/18 - Clarence Dock

I decided that one of my night time images for the monthly competition would be some big bright lights of a city, so I headed over to Clarence Dock in Leeds to see what it had to offer. I managed to find a free parking spot nearby and made my way down to this gem of a location. With no wind the water in the dock was very still but the sky was nondescript. Tried various settings with some bracketing and quite happy with the results.

06/02/18 - Derwent Valley

Another opportunity to show some work colleagues the beauty that is on our doorsteps and with unsettled weather forecast we headed for the shelter of Derwent Valley. Luckily the wet weather held off and we were able to enjoy a very pleasant 11 miles circular walk. However with dull grey skies photography was difficult, but I managed to grab a few.

02/02/18 - Chasing the moon

A new month and a new challenge with this months theme being "Night Time".

There are so many options here and the obvious one would be the super moon. Well I couldn't resist it so I grabbed my camera to go and see what I could find but no real plan in mind. As I got to the car I noticed that there was hardly any wind so I decided to go back to one of my favourite locations Ingbirchworth Reservoir and see if I could get a reflection of the moon on some silky water. I spent a couple of hours walking around trying different settings and also tried some light painting but plenty of practise still required there. In the end I managed to grab a few semi decent shots and the dog was grateful for a good walk.

29/01/18 - Yorkshire Sculpture Park

My planned trip this morning was a complete washout, I got up looked out of the window to see driving rain and grey skies so I went back to bed. With it being my last day off work I desperately needed a photo fix and when the wife suggested a visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park I jumped at the chance. We picked the girls up from school and drove over to the park for a short walk down to the lake. The weather had improved from this morning and the image I had come for was a sunset shot over the lake but the real image was behind me. Plenty of wildlife down here with dozens of Grey Herons on the island, think I'll be back but I'll certainly be looking for some where else to park to avoid paying the six quid parking for two hours, ouch.

27/01/18 - Blagdens

With a wet front coming in today there was a strong chance of some colour in the sky this morning and for once it didn't disappoint. I was woken by the wife with a cup of coffee and a short time later a text with a photo of the red sky as she drove to work. A short drive and walk later and I was at my chosen location at Blagdens with a vent tower for the railway below as my chosen foreground object in front of an impressive sky . I grabbed a few photos trying some different settings before the colour disappeared and then home for another caffeine fix and some Light room practise. 

26/01/18 - Ladybower Reservoir.

I spent a few hours last night researching possible locations for a visit today, but in the end it was the poor weather and cloud forecast that made me choose something closer to home. Ladybower Reservoir is only a 50 minute drive from my house and there are a couple of features around the reservoir that I wanted to visit.  One feature being the plug hole on the reservoir itself which for the full effect needs plenty of water, and as  there had been plenty of rain I knew it would be in full flow.

I arrived nice and early allowing me plenty of time to get to the plug hole and find a decent location ready for sunrise. I was just getting out of the van when another photographer turned up, nice to meet you Rob. We walked to the plug hole on the far side  and although the water was in full flow the sky was dull with only a hint of colour. We climbed up the banking and found a great view point which will be handy for my return visit.

Eventually we gave up and made our way back to the cars, I then made my way to Fairholmes for a bit of a walk and grabbed a few images but nothing spectacular.

It always great to catch up with fellow photographers, especially as I'm always looking for tips, and looking at some of Robs photos which are brilliant, it just reminded me that I still have a long way to go.

18/01/18 - Bridlington

My second trip of the month to try and get a decent harbour shot for my little monthly comp with my mate Andy. A super early start and driving on the snow covered A166 I was glad to have a meaty 4 x 4 with monster tyres, but also glad I had fixed my dodgy windscreen wiper and replaced the headlights with brighter bulbs.

I eventually arrived at Bridlington harbour about 5 am with the rain bouncing down. I decided to have a coffee first and as I put on my waterproofs the rain suddenly stopped, I went out into the cold to try and find a decent composition, but I was struggling for any lead in lines. I grabbed a few shots before moving over to the harbour wall to enjoy the sunrise.

There were some great colours in the sky and I took dozens of shots with various settings and locations. I was quite happy with a couple of them and made my way back to the car for the short drive up to Flamborough Head lighthouse to try and make the most of the colour lingering in the sky.

I spent a while exploring the area and when the light had gone I made my way to the RSPB centre at Bempton Cliffs for some cake and coffee and a couple of hours of bird watching. A fantastic facility and highly recommended, today I saw a Kestrel, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Shag, Cormorant and a Grey Seal. 

In all another great little adventure, I think I have a couple of decent images for my harbour competition, I got my wildlife fix and the drive over was like an off road experience. Perfect.

17/01/18 - Hade Edge

Snow on the roads and a 4 x 4 parked at the back of the house, so there was only one thing to do, go out and rescue some poor folk. I headed up towards Dunford Bridge and found an Audi driver struggling to get out of Winscar Reservoir car park, within a couple of minutes he was out and apparently I'm a "Ledge"

So once I had done my good deed I headed over towards Hades for a short walk on Ramsden Road and to grab a few snaps. Difficult conditions with dull grey skies, but with Light Room managed to make a few look presentable.

08/01/18 - A couple of Wainwrights

With a good weather window and snow on the tops I loaded the van and headed up to the Lakes. My original plan was to get an early start and head up to Birkhouse Moor and Catstycam and try and get a sunrise shot from high up with some snow in the foreground.

However as I reached Ullswater I drove past the most famous boat house in the world and suddenly my plans changed. I pulled over and had a quick rethink, I could get a series of stars for a star trail, grab the boathouse at sunrise and then grab a couple of nearby Wainwrights that I hadn't done.

So the new plan was put into action, I set the camera going next to the van and dived into my sleeping bag to get away from the bitterly cold wind. I took 78 shots at 20 seconds with a 2 second gap before I got bored and headed over to find one of the few locations to photograph the boat house from. 

I started off with 30 second exposures but passing traffic and increasing daylight cut the shutter speed right down, but in the end I was quite happy with my first attempt here. However a passing photographer stopped to have a chat, and showed me some of his photos of the boat house which made me realise that I still have a long way to go.

Once I had finished at the boat house I made my way on the ice covered roads to Martindale for a short walk up Hallin Fell and then a longer walk up Beda Fell and back down Boredale. I had originally planned to incorporate Place Fell but I was stopping for images that often I ended up running out of time.

In all a great little trip, I finally managed to photograph a honey pot location, but the real gem of the trip were the views of the Helvellyn Range.