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

29/10/2020 Jenny Webster’s topical Nature tips

Hi Everyone, here is the November Nature Blog, I’m hoping you will all enjoy the following:

Obviously a lot of the last Blog will still be very active throughout Oct and Nov but these are additional ideas and thoughts.

Canadian Geese, at the moment fly to and fro to large areas of water, you may know of certain routes they use, I have geese flying over every morning and evening. There can be up to 50 or more in each fly past.

The route they use is from Upton Warren waters, across to the Swan Rescue at Wycbold, right near to J5 of M5. The approximate times geese fly over is 7.00 am morning and evening roughly about 5.30pm.

I suggest a wide angle lens to capture the magnitude of the event… and possibly a telephoto lens 100-400mm and single out a section out for inter flight images. You do need a well lit day as you need a fast shutter speed.

Note that when shooting into the sky, you must manually increase the exposure to at least plus 1 full stop if not 2. This is to expose correctly for the birds and avoid them becoming silhouettes the sky. It will still give a highlight but as long as you are shooting in raw you can pull all the sky detail back into the image.

Remember also, that a shutter speed of no less than 700th. This speed will show some blur in wings which is good to show movement when they are in flight.

Moving on, this could be the time for Field Fares to arrive over from France, but it is warm and they do tend to come when colder, along with Red Wings. These are stunning birds, and quite large, the size of song thrushes.

They come for the berries on the holly and Rowan trees. Also apples that have fallen to the ground and mistletoe berries.

At this time the Haw Finches and Wax Wings will also be arriving for the rich source of berries we have… they are seen up North rather than this low down but sightings are not impossible. However, if you are going North for a reason it’s always a good idea to know that there is a possibility of a sighting. There is a big chance that a sighting can happen at Webbs Garden Centre. It is a fact that Webbs does have from time to time a flock of Wax Wings that arrives for the berries. There is a often a massive collection of photographers that sort of give the game away…… apparently it is best to be on a Facebook bird site to get this valued info…. or like me watch each time I pass Webbs just in case.

At this time of year the Wild Saffron can be seen, another pure nature image. This is just like an over sized crocus…. it only comes in a light mauve colour and is extremely short lived so very difficult to catch at its best. It is prevalent in Arboretums and can be found in old mansion grounds like Heritage and National Trust…. don’t confuse with Cyclamen small flowers as these are not wild. they started as cultivated.

Another Nature sighting is the Severn Bore…basically where the river runs backwards..only in UK and Japan does this occur, there is a dedicated web site listing all times to see this but remember, yes it is Nature, but you cannot use the image as Nature if you include into the image any human elements. However, with people in the image it is eligible for Colour and Mono.

Deer Images were spoken about in my Oct Blog and I was asked about specific areas where to find deer. Because it’s such a popular genre I am adding some info here…

  • Woburn Abby Zoo Deer roam free
  • Broadway Tower at the top of Fish Hill Broadway.
  • Ashton Court Bristol. Free and open all Year…..please check under Covid-19  at the moment.
  • Croome Park, Worcestershire.
  • Eastnor Castle, Malvern

Deer images in rain or snowy frosty mornings all make awesome images….. the New Forest is another gem for stags and wild ponies.

We have 6 kinds of Deer,  Roe, Red Sika, Chinese, Muntjac, Fallow I think the prettiest…….

I do know getting these images is a high on the wish list for many people, so anyone knowing an easy and productive site to add to my suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

At this time of the year… water will be bringing many, many migrating water birds …Arrow Valley Wildlife Park is a great area to visit and also any local water parks and RSPB areas Joining local wildlife trusts is cheap and helps support local wildlife.

The chances available to build up your Nature Portfolios is immense and exciting, you start with a small snippet of information and it grows so quickly …however remember if you are in a birding hide there is an etiquette you must not poke your lens out of the hide you must use a tripod and try not to disturb the birdlife…. this means you do need a decent long lens when shooting in RSPB and wildlife trust areas because you are not that close to the subject.

Fungi has a small mention, I have said a lot but do read up about FUNGI, it will help you to find it…remember there are 3 kinds…

  • Parasitic this fungi grows on a tree 
  • Saprophytic this fungi lives on a dead tree…. 
  • Symbiotic Live in the web of the root system the host and the Fungi support each other

It’s important to know the fungi that like certain trees. Then all you need to do is look for the tree to find the fungi. 

You can see how nature photography can teach you so much more. This is why I love it so much even though it has taken a long time.

Weather is nature and as long as no “Human Elements” are in the image it is a Nature image. A tree in frosty morning or snow is Nature

However while I have been searching for Autumn colours, I have collected some acorn specimens and holly and chestnuts…. I have placed them into still life images and made up some images for future colour competitions…. these cannot be placed in Nature. They have been artistically arranges and were not naturally in the position photographed and will not be eligible for Nature. For me, the great satisfaction is that I have collected pure nature and placed it in position and shown it in all its beauty in a Colour competition..

This is just a suggestion for you to think about……I hope this helps you all in these difficult times…..I know without photography I could not have dealt with it all.

Jenny Webster

13/10/2020 Jenny Webster’s topical Nature tips

Hi to all B.P.S Members and website visitors.

I’m hoping to send out a monthly blog , for everyone to have a idea on what nature is possibly available to photograph each month and to give you all some advice on what equipment you could need and possible settings to get a certain effect.

I hope to give you best ideas on where to go, but I will not be organising any trips…. this email is helping members to team up in small groups or with one other, keeping legal within Covid-19 rules and keeping a safe distance.

At this point i will also suggest no one goes alone in isolated places, go with a friend… you will be carrying a camera which is a temptation for theft to some. So please take care and always be on the side of caution.

We are halfway through October. November will be very much the same however I will include more ideas in November….

The most common nature work at the moment is Fungi. It is new, fresh and at its best.

However we don’t want too much rain.. I feel the last days of this week will be excellent Wed onwards… always take something to lie on as you have to shoot low down. Take a tripod reflector if you have one or some tin foil will suffice. Maybe a torch or a speed light… be prepared to tidy the area around the fungi, shooting low down makes everything seem big. A small twig will spoil the image. Any light used is best placed at the reflector rather than on the fungi itself.

An aperture of f6.3 max is desirable to blur out background and it allows some light to get in.

If using a tripod or bean bag, the camera is steady so you can shoot at 1/80th lowest shutter speed. If you have a cable or wireless connection on your shutter you can reduce shutter speed to under 1/80th. This will allow enough light naturally and no added light will be needed.

If you have none of the above, for hand held, a must have is a torch light needing a shutter speed of 1/160th minimum…aperture no higher than f8.0 but also check ISO…..

Fungi can be found in ancient woodlands. Worcester Wildlife Trust lists them all on computer.

The soil conditions vary. This enables different fungi to grow in different environments so there is always exciting new fungi to find..all can be named by looking at computer.

Cut trees provide bracket fungus. This is amazing. It grows on live and dead trees, it is exciting to photograph, and easier as you don’t need to lie down.  Take fungi from underneath and above, for variety.

Churches are brilliant for fungus. They have ancient areas full of old trees and unfertilised grounds with  no manmade fertilisers perfect for fungi.

Just slowly walking and checking slowly, the fungi will slowly appear when you look for it…..only photograph perfect specimens…. fungi feeds many insects and creatures you are very lucky when you find perfect specimens.

A Reflector will help throw light on your image. Pairs work well one shines light and holds reflector then swap….

Remember fast shutter speed cuts out light as does a higher number aperture cuts out light. Fungi images do need light so your image settings are trade offs.

Please note, if you are a National Trust member, you have access to the grounds of old houses that all boast ancient grounds. This is a tremendous fungi opportunity.

Could talk more on fungi but more to talk about….

The birds in the garden are hungry….. but not exciting to take them alongside the feeders….

So try a block of lard pressed on the bark of some trees or fence high up and attract some garden birds and definitely Woodpeckers all through the Winter… be discreet with the lard and your images should look. Good lard can be as cheap as 19 pence a block….Green and Spotted Woodpeckers will use the lard and Jays are keen on the fat also….

Blackbirds will eat apples and pears…..these are excellent nature images stick them onto the trees…bread crumbs in the lard are even better…..keep the birds on the lard longer.

Don’t use peanuts. They will spoil your image and not look natural with peanut in beak.

There are Deer on the National Trust Estates. They won’t be in rut so much now but they will still give amazing photography .

Autumn is nature… some images in a natural state will be eligible but any still life made up images will be good for colour entry. Some amazing colour Autumn images would make a welcome change in Nature club competitions. No people in them….or pets. Keep natural and pure for Nature..

Mistletoe is Nature and pure…as is Holly…. in abundance right know and loads of berries.

Pheasants are all around us at the moment…..they are wild but I would not enter in wildlife comps but definitely club Nature ….. they are in ploughed fields foraging….. they make great images…. they roost up in trees in woodlands so again can be found in woodlands or open land next to woodland…

The next big natural Nature treat is about to happen. It’s not quite cold enough yet but it’s coming …..the Murmuration….

There is a Murmuration map on the computer and nice people fill it in from now until Jan when they see a Murmuration… the Starlings meet when it gets cold and fly up high forming wonderful shapes in the sky… they usually roost in a church or a coppice of trees… a wide angle lens is best to catch the shapes fasting shutter speed to freeze the movement but it’s really the authors choice as to the effect that they want.

I would suggest you do several locations to get different backgrounds… Otters are about in the waterways…this is a difficult subject and is more luck that chance hide work would be the benefit…..they can be seen at Upton Warren but not constantly…and here you need to be a member of the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust.

Badgers will be foraging at night on fallen apples and pears….foxes also scavenging for scraps. However these are very hard to get night images of and hide work is recommended… learn as much about nature as you can as by understanding what the animals and birds need and do helps you to spot them.

Our churches are hundreds of years old they have been responsible for bird’s habitats for centuries….feeding grounds for all our wildlife….I rate churches highly for nature photography probably your best place to spot owls and kestrels. We don’t have red squirrels but we do have grey and at the moment they have a sense of urgency to collect all food available. There are many squabbles and a great opportunity to catch a fight… so up the shutter speed and fire away and get a great Nature action image…..

Thats it for now…..hope there is something there for you all to have a go at…….if you don’t understand anything I am happy to explain…. but really just enjoy the challenge….. stay safe….. and embrace all that we have right at our feet….

Jenny Webster.