Jenny’s topical Nature Tips for July 2021

Hello EVERYONE

My July blog is just a short one.

Where are all the Butterflys and what is happening to Summer!

June 21st has arrived, our longest day of the year and then we lost 1/2 hour in the evenings immediately due to the low cloud, all very disappointing. Actually quite cold nights are making the moths population very hit and miss.  Strange times indeed.

I don’t have a lot of detailed Nature news for you, I think I chose the worst possible year to do a nature blog especially in the middle of Covid but it has made us search our gardens and surroundings much more than ever we would have done before.

There is still plenty of Nature going on though, the birds are still busy, and there are plenty of Bumble Bees and bugs about to photograph and the wildflowers are abundant and many insects are to be found pollinating. The Teasels are forming nicely ready, we hope, for the illusive butterfly. I have some giant Sunflowers growing in my wildflower garden in readiness for the birds to feed on later in the year. It should make for some good natural images.

I’m aware that Julie Hall has been out walking and found a Stag and a Rabbit. I’m thrilled. It just shows you that it is out there and how amazing that she has been able to get some lovely images. However not without considerable effort, as I’m sure it is an effort to carry the camera and lens just in the hope of maybe getting a glimpse of something. Well done Julie.

It is all about effort, and the rewards. Rebecca Nash is always searching and finding amazing Chasers and Demoiselles Orchids and much more. We are an amazing club, we have so many wonderful places in which to find these gems.

I was watching Country File the other night and a young autistic lad put a white sheet under a tree and gently shook the tree and the white sheet became alive with bugs that fell out of the tree. What an idea for us all to have some jars at the ready and shake the tree and bottle up the bugs and then photograph (catch and release) them. Just an idea.

In Nature competitions at the moment I’m seeing a lot of images being entered into Nature that are more geological and floral like Wild Poppy and Bluebell and Foxglove. Because of the restrictions in travel more flora and nature are being chosen. So, just a thought. Poppies are well in flower at the moment and will be accepted in Nature competitions of PSA and FIAP but not Club Nature but they will be great colour images. Try what Tony Gervis has been promoting in club. Close your shutter speed down to about 1/10th  close the light coming in by using possibly f16 and a low ISO and do a slow camera tilt as you press shutter button on the poppy to get a wonderful blurred poppy image.

I have not followed up on the hides in Wychbold yet, I want to be sure it will be successful for us to visit them. I will just assess the situation a little further.

Jenny

Here is a link to the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Beetle Detective page which you may find useful.

https://www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk/sites/default/files/2020-04/beetle%20detective.pdf

Jenny’s topical Nature tips for June 2021

Hello EVERYONE,

June is nearly here but we are a month behind what we should be seeing.

The Fox cubs are late, the Butterfly have been an almost ‘no show’ and the trees are only now plumping up with fresh green leaves.

The birds have had a terrible time raising their young as insects have been few and far between. It has been a very strange time for nature. However I feel that with the weather changing to more of what we expect, we should have a very active nature month ahead. I’m sure the birds will have another cluster of babies and there will be many more insects for us to photograph. Covid rules may be eased, although that’s not a definite.

I had arranged to go on a Butterfly field trip but I cancelled it due to the fact it was too cold and wet and I was convinced that they would be a no show coupled with the fact that we still could not travel. So I have consoled myself with visiting wildlife parks and conservation parks.

It is a amazing experience, as you soon realise just how few animals are safe from extinction, I have met Bongos for the first time the reckoning is there are between 75-120 in the world left and suddenly you become so aware of the tasks that lie ahead to save our animal world. It really frightens me.

Because nature is so vulnerable, I feel the zoo’s and wildlife parks are so important to help with the breeding plan and fresh gene pools, however I appreciate some people will not feel the same. However if you do, please consider supporting the animal parks when you can as they really need our support.

On the subject of animal parks and zoo’s however, any photography taken where wire fencing is involved it is very hard. It is possible to overcome this if you try to blow out the wire by using a low f stop and being very accurate with the focus point position. It can be done. Most of these parks have unwired areas so that’s fun and gardens. So something for everyone.

If you are staying near home or staying in the UK, there are plenty of wild flower gardens everywhere to get those nature shots. In addition there is always such a lot of work achieved from our own gardens, macro work is always a place to make improvements. With the more you do it the more you become comfortable.

At the moment I am having a badger dig up the field. He is making such a lot of damage, and I have just seen why!!! It is only the last few nights that I have been able to put my Moth box out due to it being too cold. The last 2 mornings I have had a huge number of Cockshafer beetles inside and around the box. They are very big juicy beetles, great to photograph but the badger thinks they are great to eat. They are very large grubs underground for most of their life but are now hatching in their hundreds and flying at night. So badgers will be hunting these and the beetles are attracted to light.

This just shows that so many things happen in our gardens and with macro photography we get a fantastic opportunity to view it.

Of course we have many Bees around this time now too. I know there will be some members who wish to do more and for them there are many safe hide places now re-opening for many specialised birds and animals including Osprey, Little Owl, Herons at night and so much more. If you want to find something, Natures Lens holiday web site may help or just search on internet hides and the animal/bird you want to photograph. Of course check Covid safety.

I think when shooting nature, yes the photograph is important, but actually it is what you learn from taking the image, that really is amazing. Macro work especially brings this tiny world into ours and allows us to see things that truly are fantastic albeit animal or plant.

Practise makes perfect with a macro lens. A few hints:

  • You do need a small aperture when shooting macro, then you hope that the image you shoot will be sharp always get the focus point on the eye or main interest point. If it’s a flower then possibly no less than f11 but f18-f22 is optimal. However, with tight apertures such as these, the light is severely cut down so additional light in form of reflectors or flash must be added.
  • With my Moths and Insects I use a soft box light so this allows me to use a small f stop, f18 mainly.
  • The camera must be very still or on a tripod. If not possible, then use a 160th plus shutter speed to prevent camera shake. But remember that if the shutter speed is raised, it will cut down the amount of light.
  • Lastly, I do not stack or layer macro images but I do try to take different areas of the subject I am shooting, keeping the camera still but moving the focus point to cover the 4 areas of the insect/flower. If you then place the 4 images onto each other it is possible to get a single image of all-round sharpness. This is allowed in Nature. I have got the multiple images but not yet stacked. However I do find that I am pretty happy with f18-f20,     SS100th     ISO 1250. IN A SOFT BOX ENVIRONMENT it works nicely.
  • The above would work outside as well but all cameras are different and outside light changes, so always take a shot and look at the result and make changes accordingly.

I do hope this helps both members that are staying near home and those that wish to venture out and explore Good luck everyone.

This is my image taken through thick wire at Howletts in Kent last week. Pallas Cat lives in Mongolia and so rare in the wild. Quite rare to see one behind wire so I was thrilled to get this image. It was wide open aperture f2.8 to blow out the wire, focus point was on the eyes hence soft on legs but the face is strong.

GO OUT AND EXPLORE……..AND LEARN.

Jenny Webster

01/05/2021 – Jenny’s topical Nature tips for May 2021

Hi Everyone,

WOW – what a lot is going on now.

Bluebells have been photographed by members, they seem to be adorning the verges as well as the woods this year along with huge clusters of Cowslips.

The tall purple flowers in the meadows are abundant with Cuckoo flower or Meadow flower, it has a few names, and this attracts the butterflies. Wild garlic is in full flower. All these are wild flowers and nature.

This April has seen a lot of frosts and this has greatly affected the Moths, there are only a few about at the moment. I hope for more moths and butterflies in May. The frosts have also affected the trees making the leaves very late. This has made for some truly amazing tree lines where the trees are in emerald green grass. Yet although they have some leaves, they are also showing the veins of the trees and the result is some powerful tree lined landscapes. In fact just the trees themselves have been very artistic and photographic.

I went for a drive in local lanes this morning. I stopped whilst a young solo fox cub old enough and confident to go for a walk. This was a surprise to me – camera not ready!!!!!!

I drove possibly one mile max and watched as two hares played in a meadow and a little further on a buzzard was perched in a tree. I doubt I had gone more that 2 miles from my house. I didn’t take a single image but the glow that I felt from observing nature was uplifting.

It is all out there, we must all just keep looking. It’s in town and in the country, the more time that we take to learn about nature it will help us to find it.

The month of May will be a busy time for taking nature images. Photography opportunities abound for birds, young fox cubs, badgers, butterflies and moths. Basically, it’s full activity.

The Wild Orchids will be showing themselves. I’m sure Beks and I will be posting emails when these orchids are available for being photographed. I know Eves Meadow and Pepper Wood have a wonderful show of early purple. Again pure nature images. Beks is able to walk to a lot more areas where the orchids are so please keep an eye out for Orchid alert emails.

The Mayfly is a amazing insect to capture and will be abundant around the May blossom. The smell from the May blossom is intoxicating.

Many insects and bees will be about. Just sitting around a garden or walking through a wood or settling by a pond, should lead to some amazing nature images.

There are no excuses. This is an amazing month for wildlife, embrace it.

Don’t forget 12th May if you want to fill your portfolio and come to the Cotswold Wildlife Park. All the images will be Nature.  Knowledgeable help will be on hand. It may be in the form of a zoo but the animals within it will all be amazing to watch and study. The test will be for you to capture images in which the camera catches not only the true emotions and character of the individual animals but the positioning of your shots to avoid unwanted areas within your images and to catch that ‘decisive moment’, usually by taking time and understanding the animals.

This is a short nature blog but there is lots for you all to do and find.

Good Luck Everyone.

Jenny

Blossom Watch – National Trust

Hi everyone, I just wanted to draw your attention to this. The link is below.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/blossom-watch

Regarding blossom, of course at the moment it is abundant but it is short lived. So don’t forget to get some close up images of the very different versions, but also try the wider mass image which can also be used as a background. Basically from 1 image you can make at least 5 backgrounds for later use. How? you ask.

Import your image into your editing software for post processing, duplicate it and blur it. Duplicate it and go into hue and saturation and change its colours, in Photoshop there is stylise under the filter section and you can change the image in even more ways. So a few images of blossom will get you all on the way to starting your background and texture portfolio’s. Don’t forget to mono it for another useful background or texture.

Finally, as a thought, when the blossom starts to fall, hopefully not until you have your images, a tripod and slower shutter speed is a great shot and different shot but if it fails you can turn the image into another useful background or texture.

Blossom isn’t here for long so don’t miss the chance.

Jenny Webster.

Additional April Nature Blog

Just at the moment we have a wonderful show of Wood Anemone, a small white gentle flower that is in the woodland where it has been cleared. This is a wild flower and is Nature. Use either a wide angle shot of a carpet of them or a macro shot of the flower, it doesn’t last long

There are also other wild flowers such as the Lilac Meadow, Ladies Meadow or the Cuckoo Flower which is abundant, again pure Nature. Tall and graceful it is out now and actually visible on grass verges around lanes and meadows especially Knapp and Paper Mill but in any meadow. I have seen this at Eades Meadow in the past. Meadow Cuckoo flowers attract butterflies

Macro shots of the flowers are nice and a landscape image showing carpet of colour.

Any of the Wildlife Trust woods will give you these wonderful wild flowers that are here for only a short time.

My blog did not clarify Bluebells which are well on their way towards their show but many of the National Trust houses will have Bluebell shows also Woodland Trust woods, Tiddersley, Monkwood, Pepper and even Pipers Common, Hanbury which has undergone a lot of clearing so the Bluebells will be abundant. Not forgetting Shrawley Woods (thanks Beks for helping me list some of the places).

When photographing Bluebells, don’t forget to try moving the camera downwards,  a trick if you want a blur. Also a carpet of landscape blue to use as a texture or future background. Bluebells of a dark blue and slim look are the Wild Bluebell. To distinguish it, the Spanish is thicker and lighter blue Bluebell and is a cultivated version and is not Nature. Don’t forget a macro shot to show the Bluebell at its full beauty.

Lastly Snake Head flowers are abundant right now and these are in meadows like Eades Meadow, Hanbury, but I would suggest you do your homework on the internet as one year they are abundant the next year they don’t show. Plenty of wonderful flowers for everyone to enjoy.

All these flowers are pure Nature as long as taken in situ. If picked and photographed they are no longer Nature and should not be picked.

Lots of ideas for you all enjoy xx.

The Severn Valley Park will offer some flowers along with the Clent Hills and Woodgate Valley Country Park.

Jenny Webster

27/3/2021 Jenny’s topical Nature tips for April 2021

Hi Everyone.

I’m more hopeful that we can start to do a little bit more in April and even maybe in a small group of no more than 6 and we can go to a destination to find wildlife.

My intention is still to organise a lot of trips from May through to August. I have had a very kind offer of help from Shelia Ballantyne -Smith to find destinations and dates when on etc. So we are working behind the scenes with a view to get members to explore new things and to enjoy different trips along with always abiding with the Covid rules. Luckily all the events will be outside.

The fantastic talk by Phil Savoie last Tuesday evening should have given you all an insight into Nature possibilities around us in the garden. I cannot get the image of the bee at the end of the talk with the grains of pollen on it out of my mind. I was in awe of that image.

Also I know that club photography rules differ from international but the latter competitions include landscape of nature and plants if not managed by humans and geology. So there is still so much scope to gather up many nature images.

The bird life is thriving at the moment. Beaks full of food, some late comers with beaks full of nest materials all make potential amazing images. If you are feeding birds still that is great for the adults but take care nuts and seeds spell danger for chicks. Meal worm is a safe food for the both young and adult birds. Blackbirds will be grateful any older or soft apples as they hunt for worms.

A great potential image is a bird alongside blossom. Maybe, if you have a feeding station you could arrange some twigs of blossom so you have a pink bokeh behind the bird or yellow from daffodils. Just a thought.

There are some water birds about too. Nesting Crested Grebes will be doing the beautiful mating dance but access to them could be restricted although Arrow Valley will possibly have a display going on. Wildlife Upton Warren will still be closed.

Some Butterfly are waking up but they are very much on a mission. Small Tortoise mainly and they are difficult to get. Maybe towards the end of April the meadows will have some flowers and Butterfly photography opportunities will be more prolific. We do need the meadow flowers.

Eades Meadow is a wonderful meadow to lose yourself in for a few hours. If anyone needs guidance on where it is, just ask me. I tend to go at the top end where there is also a footpath leading to other meadows and more wildflowers.

You may recall I took a wild flower/weed image and although I was playing with Nature I entered the finished image in Colour and have had so much reward from it. We do have to realise that although we love to go out and find and shoot Nature, sometimes it is better displayed as another genre.

This talk on Nature opportunities is still restricted as indeed are we. If we could travel we could be thinking of travelling to other areas in UK, Wales for the Kites, Scotland, Yorkshire for Red Squirrels and so much more but not yet.

Those photographers out there who need to build up their portfolios urgently could think about booking hides. They are run Covid safe. Just book yourself the hide. Then your portfolio can include Red Squirrel, Little Owl, Harvest Mouse, Kestrel, Fox , Badger in the bluebells, Buzzard, Kingfisher and so many more. They are out there, even in the depth of Covid. I booked a hide last year, it was all handled safely and correct.

I just wanted to say something that Phil spoke about on Tuesday. It is so true and something I have said and totally believe in. He said that we should try all genres, not stick at just one and I agree. I have my favourite, the one that I wish to be known for but through delving into other genre, I have learnt so much. Studio work has taught me light control, Landscape has taught me positioning within the final image, Sport has taught me shutter speed and ISO and on we go. Every genre teaches you and gets you more comfortable with shooting in manual and being in control. There is a certain satisfaction when your portfolio contains images from many genre and even more fun when people do not know that it is your image as they do not associate that genre of photography with you.

Another idea. Moths are a great subject and will start to be available in a moth trap from April onwards. You can buy a machine that is obviously non harming or one can be homemade. Information is on internet on how to make your own. Moths make a great nature subject. I recommend this exciting adventure.

Plans for trips, although quiet this month, are being discussed for May. We are trying to keep the cost in admission down. As soon as we have an event it will be posted. The details will be last minute so when it comes up reply quickly. Stratford upon Avon horse racing is an idea.

That’s all for now folks. I wish you luck this Spring and keep safe.

Jenny Webster.

26/02/2021 Jenny’s proposals for possible Nature events this year.

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to a different March Nature Blog.

I don’t wish to tell you all what you could be doing if Covid-19 wasn’t here. I’m fed up with that so I have put a hold on my normal format March Blog. I have decided to try and give hope instead. At this point I have to say, the adventures I propose are subject to how Covid-19 responds over the next few months and what we are allowed or not allowed to do. I do not intend to encourage the breaking of any rules.

I wish to invite members to let me know what events they may like to take part in during the months of May, June, July and August. These days out will be possibly last most of the day but obviously individuals can leave at any time they wish. Individuals will be responsible for their own entry fees into the events and also, at this moment in time, travel costs, unless we can car share at that time.

I will be available at these events beforehand and during them to advise on equipment choice and ‘on the day’ settings etc. and I will be fully participating and paying along with you. At this point any members that think they could join in to help and give advice to others would be very welcome.

I’m thinking that we may visit some Zoos which will promote and help them. Please understand Zoos are so important to us and need our help. In the past I have had my usual photography in the wild until last year when I took some images in a Zoo e.g. “In the arms of Mother”. Although I chose to enter it into Colour, it could easily have been in Nature as Zoo images are allowed but not however in Wildlife. Some Zoos specialise in different animals so we could do different destinations.

Wildlife parks are a great possibility. I’m not too keen on our local Safari Park but I will consider it if there is enough interest. The reason is I would not really want to risk my car being damaged.

A Butterfly Farm such as the one in Stratford upon Avon would yield some great nature images. Dave Riddle supports them and has arranged successful group visits in the past.

I would be happy to arrange a bird of prey photo shoot of quality where birds fly rather than being static. A quality falconer is important and I’m thinking this would be possibly £100.00 max a person but I have no quotes at the moment. I could easily arrange this and the quality would be superior. If the interest was strong enough I would love to arrange this to coincide with a visit to photograph Poppies but we will see. I would appreciate some feedback on this one please as to whether it is a possibility.

All my Birds of Prey images are done this way. I have them in Bluebells, Heather and other brilliant habitats which make all the difference but I would like to try Poppies.

I’m also thinking of visiting a private garden or two that open for a specified time each year to allow you to visit. What a wonderful way to get some flowers and possibly Butterflies.

Linda, Shelia and I have attended Horse events together and had so much fun and photos that is a wonderful way to add to your portfolio. I can’t say it’s Nature but it is so exciting especially when it involves water jumps etc. There are also Polo matches although entry to Polo matches can be expensive. Linda was able to find a match where we just walked in and no fee was required.

I’m sure I could think of more but these are just a few ideas of what I would like to offer to do for members if Covid-19 allows. I think we can watch the Government’s progress with vaccinations and I will work in the background on a few ideas. If anyone can suggest others ideas or would like me to research or try something, please get in touch and let me know.

When it all comes together, I will send invites out and hope that members will support me.

It will take a Herculean effort on my part to achieve all this as at the same time I will be re-starting my business. I will be trying to earn some of the money that has been elusive to me throughout lockdown.

As you can see, I’m very happy to give everyone a great big push and loads of encouragement to start to live life freely again and in what better way than in a group of like minded people.

When these events and adventures start, Covid-19 allowing of course, they will be open to small numbers, I’m thinking no more than 10 including me, and possibly only 6 if that is beneficial. For example, I’m pretty certain the Birds of Prey day would need 10 because the higher cost would influence it. The result should be a professional day which would give all participants many birds to photograph and so many images to take home. I promise.

My aim in this Blog is to give hope to everyone for many events to look forward during the year but I repeat that it is all subject to Covid-19 updates throughout. I will not condone breaking rules but anything we can do let us try to make sure we will be there.

That’s it for the moment. I look forward to receiving your input not only now but during the rest of the year too.

You can email me using:

natureblog@bromsgroveps.com

All the best.

Jenny Webster MPSA EFIAP DPAGB LRPS BPSA BPE3*

29/1/2021 Jenny’s topical Nature tips for February 2021

Hi Everyone

Well here we are in February when normally nature photography is beginning to get going again, so I have decided to write the blog as if we were not locked down in Covid-19. Instead I’m treating this blog as a record for future years when life will hopefully allow us to get out and search for nature in a far less constrained way.

February if mild like now usually means that the birds and mammals start to think about breeding. They are busy finding and clearing old nests, and really at this time they start to look at their very finest. So it’s always a good time to photograph birds.

The lakes will have a lot of active birdlife including migrating birds coming over to breed. This is early but not impossible. Each year it starts to happen earlier and earlier.

My absolute favourites at this time of year are the Brown Hares. They can be seen in Worcestershire but they are minimal sightings. In Leicestershire and upwards they can be seen and also Northampton, Norfolk and Suffolk. Anglesey in Wales is a prime Hare photography hotspot. Basically, anywhere where the land is flat.

Understanding the Hare helps in the photography. The female is out to get the best and fastest male Hare to father her leverets. The female can have up to 6 or more males following her, but they do not mate with her until she checks them out. They can all sit in a area of land quietly for ages then suddenly one hare just moves and all hell lets loose, they scatter run jump leap and yes they box. To be present and to see this spectacle is magical and unforgettable. As a photographer you get to study their movements and hopefully recognise when a box is coming they don’t last long and the adrenaline is high while it is going on. You need a long lens. They are wild and will run at the slightest movement as they are already on edge. They are small, so ground level photography is essential. A day’s Brown Hare shooting is a test of stamina for Hare and photographer.

I believe some photographers shoot Brown Hares in Ireland. I don’t know anymore about these tours but apparently they are a nuisance at the airports. Hare photography is best from Feb and March, and only then for boxing images. It is worth noting that this is a very hard time for hares and old hares do die. As with the life cycle of nature, where there is a lot of hare activity, keep an eye out for birds of prey as they are close by to tidy up.

This brings me onto another thought. Here in Wychbold, I see, on a daily basis, a pair of Buzzards who hunt from the electric wires that span a large field roughly opposite the large electrical store in Wychbold in the same area as the road/causeway down to the wildlife reserve. I know that they are on the wire but they are on the wires daily so they must be getting mice. It’s worth a chance to see if they come off the wires. They are a nervous bird so be careful. Long lenses are needed. Also at the moment, if the weather is misty and heavy, the big buzzards rarely fly. Instead they perch in the trees. When I go out at the moment I always see the buzzards. This is a great time to try to capture one in the camera.

For other years this is a great time to do trips. White-tailed Eagles, Lammergeyer and Owl trips are available about now and will suit some people. I have done these and I find the more that you can do with wildlife helps you to understand just that little more about them.

Scotland is a great place to head to around this time of year. There are many amazing photographers running wonderful trips to enable you to see the fantastic diverse wildlife that Scotland has to offer.

Sometimes, with the addition of snow, the Red Squirrels are usually hide work enabling you to get awesome images and helping the squirrels survive with the feeding of hazelnut, so a win, win situation.

The Crested Tit is a wonderful sight found only in Scotland as are Mountain Hares, while in Winter plumage. Sometimes we have to travel to see the wildlife because even if we stay just in our own area we have to remember that different species thrive in other areas of the UK.

I hope these small suggestions encourage some of you to search for nature. Don’t forget the wonderful flowers about to brighten up our world and the early nut trees producing foliage and young early leaves that may just start at the end of the month.

Keep strong everyone, inoculations are just around the corner.

Jenny Webster

Crested Tit native to Scotland

31/12/2020 Jenny’s topical Nature tips for January 2021

Hello everyone. Well January is going to be very difficult. I am, as always optimistic, but even I’m finding photography quite hard to find with lockdown and tiers. However I will do my very best for you all in these very difficult conditions.

I start my blog with a explanation. I was reminded that in our Society and PAGB Nature rules, they do not accept Geology and Trees as Nature. Basically, I’m saying that you can enjoy taking these “nature images” and enter them into mono and colour within the Society competitions. However, once you start entering outside competitions the rules change and Trees, Geology and Weather are all classed as Nature. To make it easy for myself I base all the rules of my nature images on external competitions not PAGB. Then I won’t mistakenly enter a touched up image, as is allowed in PAGB, only to be thrown out and be blacklisted for 2 years and unable to compete because of the much stricter PSA and FIAP rules.

Be very careful with Nature images. If you alter them or do work on them, place them in a file where you know where they are. FIAP and PSA have strict rules for Nature and Travel and Journalism.

So Nature at the moment is difficult.

Fantastic news we have snow so the birds will come to the gardens for food and water. Bird photos are great. Remember always to plus exposure to compensate for the brightness of snow.

On the first fall of snow I expect everyone was out with their cameras. There are some berries still on the trees and the snow looked nice partly covering the berries. The trees themselves look amazing with their bows bending under the weight of the snow. I always think a tree with no leaves and covered in snow makes an awesome image. All animals and birds become fresh and a present a new image when the snow arrives, very exciting photography.

I think we will have more snow in the coming weeks, well I hope so, definitely not a nature image but sheep on a snow laden field takes some beating.  Again watch your exposure levels. Another awesome image but again not Nature are cattle or horses eating hay in the snow or frost and steam coming off in their breath

Getting back to nature, when snow is on the ground living becomes harder, so be watchful and look for tracks. I love walking on virgin snow looking for tracks. It’s just like reading a book, you will see prints of so many animals and birds that have visited the area.

Apples will help feed Blackbirds and all birds really. Rabbits will be making tracks too. A wonderful image to have is a rabbit running in the snow. Don’t forget the deer parks, everything looks fantastic in the snow.

Sorry for the small blog this month but I hope I have given you all some encouraging ideas.

I hope everyone stays healthy and strong and next year we can try to do bit more.

Jenny Webster

27/11/2020 Jenny’s topical Nature tips for December

Hi everyone, these blog’s come around very quickly, however, before I start I want to say how absolutely chuffed that I am for David Ward and myself, that our suggestions and ideas are being attempted and used by you, all the members. Thank You.

In the last pdi competition, Novice Nature was so well supported and third place went to a non-animal nature image, the judge even remarking about the fact that more flower and berry etc. images should be seen in Nature.

I understand that we firstly wish to take and show animal /bird images and that is fine if you are lucky enough to get them but there are alternatives if you cannot. He also showed pleasure in the snowdrops, so well done.

Do remember, if you are taking a non animal/bird image for nature, the Nature Rules still apply. As with the berries, he was looking for a pattern so you still need to study the chosen image. With the berries a wider aperture of possibly f4 and a smaller composition section with a twig positioned within the image so that it hits a diagonal position would have impact.

December is not the greatest month for Nature regarding animals. They are all still out there but light is poor and days are short. The foxes and badgers can be lured out by food but usually still under the safety of darkness. Lighting spooks them, so bird photography is more available to us and here we have huge encouragement from a BPS member going out and purchasing a portable hide and luring the birds in with food. Dave Ward is to be congratulated on his encouraging talk.

Again we have a wonderful range of birds in Britain with a few who migrate. Also squirrel. So it’s well worth setting up a set of logs and twigs with hidden food offerings in return for a photo.

Be warned! when you encourage the little birds into your garden it won’t go unnoticed. The birds of prey watch so keep your eyes sharp you could have a Sparrow Hawk visit as well.

Buzzards tend to eat dead carrion, so possibly won’t come down but you never know. We actually have permanent mouse traps in our vegetable patch and all mice are offered as dead carrion to hopefully bring down Buzzard and Kestrel in to feed.

The Peregrine Falcon is also a small bird feeder but we don’t see them as frequently here this time of the year, but never say never.

We still have the Deer so with locations already mentioned they remain a possibility for December.

Fungi will mainly have finished now with the onset of frost but some fungi including Bracket fungi will still be possible to see, but a fungi expedition will be much less rewarding at this time of year, but not impossible.

The weather however becomes a strong Nature work contender, frost especially. Get up early and just walk a short distance to the garden or a hedge and look for amazing frosty cobwebs.  A Macro lens is best but a wide or basic lens will capture a pure nature spectacle. Make sure when you take the image that you walk around it to find the best angle that no strong colours or whites appear within the cobweb maze. Again, it’s essential you do use a low f number to block out detail beyond the web, e.g. f4 or less. It doesn’t matter that the spider is not there.

Leaves look amazing with a frost on them – especially if a haw frost, trees look amazing and don’t forget water, it steams on a frosty cold morning. They all make great nature images. A frosted Bracket fungi is a great image.

I don’t know if snow is forecast yet but of course snow is a Nature weather image. So be prepared. Always a challenge, remember when shooting with snow you will need to increase your exposure, at least a whole 1 stop. The reason for this is the camera will be confused and react to the brightness so you need to use ‘plus’ exposure to compensate and you always need to set the exposure for the actual item you are photographing. That snow will possibly also trigger the warning highlighter on your camera but still you should trust the golden rule to compensate with ‘plus’ when shooting with snow.

The flowers we can enjoy will be snowdrops and crocuses. They do grow wild and are a little bit of a grey area in pure Nature but wonderful if we have snow and quite a challenge with white snowdrops. With snow, again, make sure you get the exposure correct for the snowdrops by using ‘plus’ exposure compensation. Crocuses with the rich colours can be a powerful image. Make sure you get low down, don’t shoot downwards on these flowers unless you are after a particular personal look.

Catkins are out right now on hazelnut trees – pure Nature – so try to place them naturally artistic within the photo and as always with any images intended for Nature, remember Nature rules apply regarding post processing. 

Mistletoe, Holly berries – pure nature – images totally enhanced in haw frost and snow mornings.

Mist is another exciting nature weather addition, usually in early morning. It’s a chance to possibly get mono or colour images for your portfolio if people walk out from the mist. A landscape mist image is very eligible for Nature if no human or human evidence is in the image.

The seals on the Norfolk and Suffolk coast have now got fencing to protect them from us. Photography is still possible but limited. They are still there and will be for a few more months. Meanwhile they continue to give birth and raise their pups. With the strains of travel this year possibly best to stay local however it’s worth mentioning for those who wish to go.

That’s all for now. Plenty of Nature images to get.

Good Luck.

Jenny Webster