Image

L’Amour Looks Something Like You

The Masked Musician

L’Amour Looks Something Like You

You came out of the night,
Wearing a mask in white colour

Kate Bush from the album The Kick Inside

The mysterious, masked musician performing with the band Cloudbusting – The Music Of Kate Bush at the sold-out 40th Anniversary show, celebrating the album The Kick Inside. I promise to unmask this special guest in a write-up about this amazing concert that we went to on Saturday night. For now, I will add this piece of mystery into the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed photo challenges.

Image

In The Pink

In The Pink

In The Pink

Having just recently been awarded a Judge’s Commendation for Bird Photographer Of The Year (for the second year in a row), I decided to start creating more abstract and creative images, in camera, of various birds. Birdworld, near Farnham, provides the perfect setting for my experiments and the flamigos proved to be the ideal subjects for capturing unusual portraits. I really enjoyed studying the shapes and lines of their poses! This piece was my favourite composition from yesterday. I just loved the sinuous shape of the neck, flowing in and out of the frame. My commended images have both been in the Creative category for BirdPOTY and have involved a lot of processing. As most of you know, that is definitely where my passions lie, but I do want to expand my portfolio with creative pieces that only require minimal processing, like this flamigo. A bit of Topaz Clarity, selective blur, dodge and burn with some colour adjustments were all that was required. It’s also the kind of composition that I know I can get even more creative with, if the mood takes me. I’m posting it today for both the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges. I would love to get some feedback and ideas! I shall include my commended images, below, for you to see, and do head over to the BirdPOTY pages on Photocrowd to see all the shortlisted and commended entries this year. There are some extraordinary images to view!

Wren In The Woods

“Wren In The Woods”, BirdPOTY 2017 Judges Choice. Published in BirdPOTY 2017 book

Caracara With Character

“Caracara With Character”, BirdPOTY 2018 Judges Commendation

 

Image

Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

Blue Tit

Blue Monday: Big Garden Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is a citizen science project that has been running for almost fourty years and helps provide a “snapshot” of bird numbers across the UK. The data collected helps inform the RSPB of any problems in bird numbers. Steps can then be taken to identify the reasons for these problems and find resolutions. The data collected over the years can also provide us with some great success stories. Since the start of Birdwatch, blue tit numbers have actually increased by twenty percent!

On Saturday morning I joined a group of wildlife enthusiasts at RHS Wisley Gardens for a tour of the grounds, identifying different bird species, led by experts from the North West Surrey branch of the RSPB. The highlight of the morning for me was a flock of siskin found near the bottom of  Battleston Hill. They were very silhouetted againgst the morning skies but I finally managed to get a shot of one to show you the wonderful yellow colourings. We estimated there were around fourty birds in the flock.

Siskin

Siskin

On our way up to the orchards we saw a mistle thrush in the oaks. I shall be looking out for it in the area as I couldn’t get a close enough view for a photograph. The flocks of fieldfare and redwing were also keeping their distance from us in the orchards but we witnessed them swooping and diving to outwit the local buzzard. Quite a sight! There are more flocks of redwing feeding on the lawn areas at Seven Acres and around the lakes. Recent rainfall has turned the ground marsh-like, bringing up plenty of insects and worms for these hungry winter visitors. Among the flocks are other thrush, robins and blackbirds all taking advantage of this feast. I was delighted to see the Egyptian Geese have returned to the lake again! Hopefully they will have their goslings at Wisley again this year.

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

We finished our birdwatch at the birdhide situated at the far end of the Pinetum, on the banks of the Wey. With so many of us in the group it was hard for me to get many photographs but we were all delighted to see the nuthatch, chaffinches, robins, parakeets, ducks, moorhens and very healthy numbers of tits. There were great, blue and coal tits all visiting the feeders and flitting around in the trees and scrub. I’m putting one of my shots of a blue tit, with absolutely wonderful colouring, into this week’s Fotospeed challenge. A perfect example of a citizen science success story!

Many thanks to Amy from RHS Wisley for organising the workshops and educational events at the gardens, and to NW Surrey RSPB for leading the event and providing some great information and close-up views with their spotting scopes.

Image

Encapsulate

Encapsulate

Encapsulate

This last week has been a complete write-off thanks to sinus and chest infection. I know many of you have suffered similarly just recently! I’ve been back at the doctors today for stronger, more targetted antibiotics and phlocodine. Increasing my steroid inhalers has helped me breathe a little easier today but it always gives me the shakes. In short, I’m totally fed up! I just about managed to set up a piece of blown glass yesterday, so I could take a series of macro shots, from which I created a composite for today’s photo challenges from Wex and Fotospeed. Encapsulate is an abstract expression of how I have been feeling with this bug; trapped, dizzy, fuzzy, short of breath, drowning in mucus. If you’ve had one of these Winter bugs, I hope you are on the road to recovery as I very much hope for myself! I don’t do well being stuck indoors. The winter skies, misty landscapes and busy birds are calling to me!

Image

Insert Quote Here

Insert Quote Here

Insert Quote Here

or… Flaming Flowers

or… Colours Of Christmas

or…. I had to get a photo for the Fotospeed challenge; it was late on Sunday night; I would have photographed The Belles but ended up co-opted to sing with them; pub was packed; this was my last chance subject; there was practically no light

or… I just fancied going abstract

You choose!

Image

Smoke And Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke And Mirrors

For the Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges this week I have created another of my little still-life squares. I added a bit of smoke to the mirror using my vape but I must say it was harder to try and control than I thought it would be! I stacked nine images together so that I could get the smoke in all the areas that I’d wanted. I kept it soft like a sea mist. These little pieces are very self-reflective. There are many times that I feel like an empty shell, a pale reflection of the person I should have become. I can put on a mask but it’s all smoke and mirrors, tricks of the light. This shell is cracked. Not fit for purpose! Even a hermit crab wouldn’t want it. Half a life of Crohn’s will do that! It’s IBD awareness week with the theme Make The Invisible Visible (Crohn’s and Colitis) so this is a way of sharing something of the impact that the disease has had on me. I think if I took off that mask and lived showing people how I really felt all the time it would absolutely destroy me. I’m a rather fragile shell really. The mask is as much for myself as for anyone else. But still, there’s beauty even in an old, cracked and empty shell.

Image

Bouncing Buskers

Bouncing Buskers

Bouncing Buskers

This photo of friends and musicians, Claudia Stark and Lisa Von H, totally encapsulates the atmosphere at The Phoenix Cultural Centre‘s Big Busk in Woking Town centre on Saturday. We had all come together to celebrate music, community and culture in Woking. It was hoped that we would also be celebrating the signing of the lease on Quake nightclub, to be renamed Fiery Bird, as the next phase in the Phoenix project. Sadly the lease deadline passed, once again, without any further word on the completion! Get Surrey posted that “the council said it is looking into the matter”. Neither this latest let-down or the freezing cold could stop us partying though! I’m so proud to be part of this project and to have been part of this brilliant, fun event too.