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Still On The Wing

Red Admiral on Fatsia Japonica x Ivy

Still On The Wing

A sunny, late November day in the gardens of Firespark Records and Studios. It’s only 9°C but there are butterflies on the wing! Three red admirals emerge from their winter roost, in the nearby fir, to feed on the flowers of this ivy tree (x Fatshedera lizei), soaking up the sun for the few, brief hours that it’s autumnal rays now fall across the garden. Are these the last butterflies that I will see before winter sets in? Perhaps. There may not be any more sunny days while nectar sources are still available for them to leave their roosts again. But if the sun is shining, wherever you are, keep your eyes peeled for dancing wings! You can help citizen science by recording your sighting with Butterfly Conservation UK. This is my entry for this week’s Wex Mondays challenge. Good luck everyone!

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Amy

Amy Turk

Amy

Have I mentioned all the amazing musicians and creatives that I am blessed to know? Maybe once or twice 😉 Yesterday brought a few of us together at my friend, Julia’s, studio and rehearsal space for the filming of Amy Turk’s forthcoming YouTube release. I brought the studio backdrop, captured a few stills, Julia and Simon cooked a Tagine, Ben and John filmed and Amy provided the day’s soundtrack on harp. I love watching Amy play. It’s seemingly effortless and absolutely mesmerising. Her arms and hands flow through the moves of some graceful ballet and the music follows her lead. I love photographing musicians performing live, as it gives me a way to try to capture the essence and emotion of their performance, the connection between artist and instrument. So this is Amy, captured while lost in the music, in harmony with her harp. I’m putting this into this week’s Fotospeed challenge and I hope everyone will be enchanted and intrigued to follow this LINK for Amy’s YouTube channel. The new video will be aired very soon! I hope to be bringing more news from Julia K’s Firespark Records and Studios soon.

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Upon Reflection

Fading Out

Upon Reflection

I had another go at focus stacking this last weekend. This time my subject is botanical, the decaying petals of a hydrangea. They’re all from one flower-head but all at different stages of decay, from the age-spotted pinks through to skeletal lacy remains. The petals were arranged on glass on a black background and lit with a diffused, blue spotlight. After stacking my images in Photoshop and masking in the focused areas, I decided that the image felt more appealing, almost vintage, with some areas left soft and unfocused. I gave the whole piece a hazy, matte finish to accentuate that vintage look that is a mirror to the subject itself. I hope you like it! I’m putting this one forward for both Wex Mondays and the Fotospeed challenges this week. Good luck to all taking part!

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Living Lawnmowers

Living Lawnmowers at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre

Living Lawnmowers

I went for a short walk with the hubby at Heather Farm yesterday to capture the fabulous skies over the Autumnal landscape for today’s Fotospeed challenge. I actually ended up with added extras to the scene that I had had in mind! The Horsell Common Preservation Society (HCPS) is based at the Heather Farm Wetland Centre near Woking in Surrey. You can see the building that they use, alongside the cafe, at the back of the landscape within my photo. The Society’s landholdings include 916 acres of high forest, woodland, meadows and lowland heath that form a part of the internationally important Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. Heather Farm riverside meadows and wetlands were developed as a SANG (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace), which provides a less fragile landscape for people to enjoy walking through. Part of the site is now a much loved dog walking route. Dogs also receive a warm welcome, water, biscuits and towels at the Water’s Edge cafe! Owners are being asked to be extra careful with their four-legged friends at the moment. Within the fenced-off wetland area, Badger Face Welsh Mountain sheep are grazing the grasslands as part of the natural land management and conservation work done by HCPS. Larger areas of grassland within the common are grazed by Aberdeen Angus cattle. These living lawnmowers are the most natural, environmentally friendly way to manage grasses and scrub, maintaining the habitat for a large variety of wildlife. They’re also really very attractive sheep to see! On Saturday the ewes got to meet a rather important new member of this little flock. His name is Hector and you can see him just off-centre in my image. Once all the ewes have fallen pregnant this winter, the farmer who owns them will collect them from the site, so they can lamb safely in the Spring. For now they seem to be greatly enjoying their job and visitors are definitely enjoying them!