Jenny’s topical Nature tips for August & September 2021

Hello Everyone.

Nature blog here again, I have decided that both August and September are so very similar in the world of Nature, that this final blog will involve the last 2 months of the year long Nature Blog. I believe that August and September are the two months where Mother Nature puts her affairs in order ready for the Winter ahead.

August will be the finishing of most flowers and the last production of valuable new life for next year in seeds. The fruit and nuts are finally fulfilling their last growth ready to be stored as valuable foods for winter. This only continues in September with the seeds and fruits leaving the plants and being gathered. These months are the great finale of the amazing Nature year.  There are no more birds nesting, however there are still great images to be collected. Bugs and Butterflies and also Moths are still going about their business but main thoughts are on collection of Winter food stocks or fattening their selves up.

About this time we can have some cold evenings and we do see a lot of spiders and their webs which make great photography.

Nature images are all about adult or well sized juvenile versions now and in these months it is fun time for juveniles and they can look comical as they are in a change of feather or hair mode.

Kingfishers are always great to photograph all year around. The Heron on the lakes will still be fishing along with other water birds.

August should still provide a whole host of insect, bird and mammal images but things will be changing and there will be a urgency as Winter starts to approach. September signs may be early this year because the heat and the trees have lost many leaves already. This may, or may not have an impact on Autumn colours later on, so worth watching out for. It just may feel like September half way through August.

A lot of hides are popping up with interesting animals to photograph and there are many workshops to investigate. Nature images in competitions are becoming so much harder to impress as the high quality rate of Nature images continues to get rise. All we can do is watch nature and learn and try very hard to capture images that will always wow and make them as creative and special as you can. Your aim, of course, is for perfectly photographed images as you try to stay up with the ever-changing fast world of Nature photography.

There is no question Nature photography is in high demand. Everyone wishes for the perfect image and the only way to achieve it is to keep on trying. Look at images other photographers take and the kind of images that you take. Do you like anything that they do? Can you put your own touch to the sort of image that the judges have seen many times already? An image that comes to mind is of a Demoiselle. How can you make yours win over the others? All these things matter and the skill to take Nature winning images is not getting any easier. For ourselves, we think wow, I have a very special Nature image of a very rare hardly seen insect or mammal. We are proud of it and we believe it will do such special things and win over everything else because it is so rare. But 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t. Nature images are sadly not judged on rarity of subject. Nature images are images that provide a story, the whole image tells the person looking all about the subject of the image. Hopefully, include some movement albeit feeding, calling etc. and well photographed. They do say you can get a pass with a Nature image on its storyline but I do not see many poor Nature images get through. Aim for a natural colour Nature image, not colour enhanced. Do remember, many top class Nature images do not get accepted due to the quota of the pass rate having already been reached and the large quantity of high quality images to start with. It’s very, very tough out there and it’s down to the judge’s choice and who can ever know what that is.

Thank you everyone. I hope the past year’s Nature blogs have encouraged you all to have a go.

Good luck.

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.

19/12/2020 Extra Vocal Point

Yes, I know I said that last week’s Vocal Point would be the last of 2020 – but this is so exciting it needs to be shared. I realise that a lot of you will already be aware of this through Facebook, but not everyone uses social media.

We have made the front page of the Bromsgrove Standard with our High Street display of our work. The latest edition can be picked up free from the local supermarkets and other outlets. I have also attached some images of the event – one from the Standard and the remainder from my own camera. There is also a list of the images and authors who feature – a wide range of members, and I thank you all for your contributions.

Special thanks must go to Linda for sourcing the location and Anne for getting us this excellent publicity – as well as to the members who helped set up the display. We have helped brighten up the High Street at a particularly difficult time. 

If you cannot get to the High Street to see the display, or store to get a copy of the newspapers, then they can be viewed online as follows –

bromsgrove-photographic-society-uses-empty-high-street-building-for-stunning-display

https://www.bromsgroveadvertiser.co.uk/news/18948566.photographers-brighten-empty-shop-windows-bromsgrove-high-street/

2021 can only be an improvement on 2020, but I have no doubt that Bromsgrove Photographic Society will go from strength to strength in the months and years ahead.

A Merry Christmas, a Happy and above all Healthy New Year to you all.

David

High Street Shop Display December 2020

Faye   Linda Allen
Bumble Bee on Lavendar   Richard Chapman
Marmalade Hover Fly on Ragwort    Richard Chapman
Assertive   Colin Close
Workout   Colin Close
Washday   John Davison
Pots   John Davison
Golfinch Eating Forget-me-not Seeds   Janice Godwin
Robin on Milk Bottle   Janice Godwin
Red Squirrel  Jan Godwin
Poppy   Barry Green
Grass Snake   Barry Green
Robin in Winter   Julie Hall
Female Kestrel Looking Left   Julie Hall
Vietnamese Travel   Jan Harris
The Quirang   Jan Harris
Steps   Tony Hawksbee
Golden Scalycap   David Jellie
Shelter from the Storm   David Jellie
Classic Morris 8   Anne Galbraith-Jellie
Furry Flower   Rebekah Nash
Adoration   Liz Perrins
Her Master’s Voice   Ele Rae
Frankie   Ele Rae
Colour Wheel   Ruth Seadon
No. 39 in Front   Paul Smith
Ashness Pier   Nick Veale
Hayden   Sue Vernon
Apache Attack   Sue Vernon
Gentoo Penguins   David Ward
King Penguin Chorus   David Ward
Grey Wolves Bonding   Jenny Webster
Red Squirrel Foraging in the Rain   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

Knockout Results 2020

For anyone that was unable to attend but still wants to know how their images did, here’s a quick recap of the results:

In third place, we had “Dead Tree”, by Nick Veale

In Second place, we had “The Surfer” by Pat Billyard

and in First place, we had “Antarctic Seas are Freezing”, By Jenny Webster

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Congratulations to the winners, and to all that took part!

Richard Chapman

Vocal Points 6/10/2019

Hi all

So we have passed the Autumn equinox and summer is definitely a fading memory. Why not set yourself a new challenge for the Autumn and winter. The countryside is about to produce it’s most colourful display of the year. It would seem a waste of all that mist and Autumn fruitfulness. Also, the firework season is nearly upon us, so why not get those tripods out and take some long exposures, One thing that has been very noticeable when we have interclub competitions – we don’t have very many sporting images – I think we are missing a trick there. It doesn’t have to be a major event – start with something local – if appropriate get consent especially if children are involved.

Our first studio night of the year went very well. What a good turnout and two great models. Thanks to everyone who helped on the evening. Remember, the models would like to receive some of your images – Colin has already sent you details of how to do this.

This Tuesday we start with our early session, presented by the always entertaining Tony Gervis. The main event will be presentations by several of our members. Please give them the support that they deserve.

See you all soon.

David

Vocal Point 29/9/2019

Hi all

What a great start to the competition season on Tuesday. We had a lot of high quality work in both sections. It was also refreshing to see so many entries from our new members, many of whose entries were held back by the judge. I can see this club going from strength to strength in the future.

This week we have our first studio night of the year. We have two excellent models posing for us – including Sophie who was gave us some great images when she attended last year. Bring your camera. Even if you have never taken studio shots before, you will learn a lot from the night. You will all have had an email from Colin yesterday. We would appreciate a little help on the night – someone to organise an order of shooting rota for the night, and someone to attend to the models. There is not a lot to do in either of these roles – and you will still be able to take your own shots on the night.

Due to the amount of work involved in setting up for the studio night, there will be no early session this week.

There will also be a number of studio backgrounds displayed around the hall on Tuesday. These will be available to purchase for home studio use, at a fraction of the price that they cost online.

Finally, our established members will be aware that we normally have a display of members “mugshots” displayed on the board each week. This helps us all – it is an easy way to learn the names of new members and great them in person. For new members, it is a quick way to learn the names of everyone in the club. This is not compulsory and anyone can opt out. We would plan to continue using the images of established members which were taken in previous years – any member whose image has been taken in the past, can off course opt out if they so desire. Nigel Taylor will be on hand to take images on the night.

Well, that’s it for this week. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

Best wishes

David

Vocal Point 15/9/2019

Hi all

John Chamberlin certainly served us up a treat with wildlife from around the world. High standards indeed.

We also had our first practical outing to the Stoke Prior Steam Rally. Lots of steam traction engines of all sizes, plus vintage motorcycles, cars and trucks. There were plenty of people in period costume and even a chance to enjoy a proper cup of tea (no tea bags) in the refreshment tent with a World War II theme. The weather was perfect as well.

This week we have an interactive night, partly hands-on and partly lecture/demonstration – guaranteed to be all informative I believe. Wendy Irwin will be showing us how she achieves special effects with her still lifes. We will see her work and how she processes it in Photoshop. She will also set up some still life tables with basic lighting – a chance to bring your cameras and perhaps practice some new techniques.

Finally, for those of you who have not submitted your entries to the first PDI competition (myself included), there are 2 days left. It’s an excellent chance to receive positive feedback and advice from an experienced judge, plus being able to learn from the critique offered to other people’s work. Don’t miss out.

See you all on Tuesday.

David

This, That and the Other 16/12

Hi All,

It’s starting to feel like Christmas with all the shopping, decorations, last minutes panics and of course parties, the “Camera Chicks” looked like they had a good time last night, how’s the hangovers ladies (any embarrassing photos you can share).

Well done to all who put their prints into last week’s competition.  I thought the quality was very good and great to see a larger entry in the novice class. A special congratulations to Linda Allen who got a well deserved 1st in both Colour and Mono and it was the first time she has ever entered prints.

The results aren’t on the web site yet but I think it was Colin Close who got the 1st for colour and your truly got a 1st for mono –  well you could have knocked me over with a feather but it backs up what I said last week, sports images seem to do well.  Whilst on the congratulations I missed out Sue Vernon last week who got three acceptances in Smethwick International. The talent we now have in the club is the best for many years and the beauty is it is spreading throughout the membership, but let’s not get complacent however a little pat on the back is truly deserved.

A couple of thanks, firstly to Tony Gervis for his excellently entertaining presentation on how with just a few tweaks in Elements you can take an ordinary photograph and make it more interesting, maybe even competition worthy. A good laugh and hopefully we learned to concentrate on the main story and drop the dross. I would also like to thank the very modest Roger Tyler for giving up his time with an open house for mainly novice members to help with Photoshop skills. Colin Close organises model studio sessions both at Avoncroft and other studios further afield. I understand January and February dates are all taken, Colin works on a rota system so if Studio Photography is of  interest get Colin to put you on his list for future sessions.

This week Colin Close will doing the early (7.00 start) session and will be concentrating on what works well for competitions and obtaining distinctions. The main event is a couple of old friends to the club, Dave Lowe and Dave Yates (fondly known as the two Dave’s) who, going by previous times, give a hugely humorous and entertaining presentation and just for good measure throw in some brilliant images.  A brilliant end to the year.  Win, Win!

Other bits and pieces include:

Have you signed up to the New Year Party yet?  Last chance this Tuesday together with payment. For those that have and not yet paid (me included) we really need your money in this Tuesday.  Don’t forget the Mega Raffle tickets which include £60 of Amazon Vouchers plus, plus – again last chance to purchase if you can’t make the Party.

 

For those that don’t know our Print Easel after 20 plus years is starting to show its age plus with colour accuracy and health and safety issues it needs replacing. The cost of a commercial one recommended for Photographic Clubs costs £1,700. This would have meant digging into our reserves which includes monies ring fenced for our ambition of once again holding a BPS National Exhibition which we held up to 2012. Fortunately some lateral thinking was why not try for a Grant and I am pleased to say we have been notified we were successful.  I would like to thank Bromsgrove Institution Trust for their consideration and generosity as well as all the Committee Members who helped put the bid together.  Well done!

Running out of time so hopefully see you Tuesday evening for the last of this year’s meeting.

Best wishes,

Roger Lewis