Posted by: digibirder | March 29, 2014

Garden open day

By chance I discovered that there was a garden open day in association with The National Gardens Scheme, so fancying a day out we headed for Goldsborough Hall in North Yorkshire, not far from Knaresborough. It was a lovely day, if a little cold, but it was nice to be out and about. On arrival, as it was near lunch time, we went into the restaurant in the hall where they were serving light lunches and cakes. Prices were a little naughty, so we ended up having a scone with jam and cream and a cup of tea each, paying £9 for the privilege! And it was nothing to write home about. One can only hope that their catering for residents, weddings, etc, is a little better.

We had a wander around the woodland area, although the snowdrops had finished and other plants had not yet started to look their best. The main garden was also a bit of a disappointment, as there wasn’t that much of it, being only a short walkway between two beech hedges. Beyond that there was an avenue of lime trees, some of which had been planted in the 20s by members of the royal family, this being the home of Princess Mary, daughter of King George V, when she married into the family that owned the hall. The main interest was the collection of champion trees to the area at the side of the hall, but again they were not in full leaf. Perhaps the open day in June would be a better time to visit. Some images on this page will give an idea of what it can look like when at its best.

After our wander, we drove on to Harrogate, where we visited a couple of outdoor shops as I was after a new casual coat. Seeing nothing suitable in the first one, we walked round to the Rohan shop. We have bought numerous items from this company over the years, although it is not cheap. I found a lovely coat, but almost choked at the £145 price tag. As luck would have it, during March they have a Gift Your Gear offer which enables you to ‘part exchange’ existing outdoor clothing for a 15% rebate on the price of the item you are buying. As I was not aware of this offer, the only thing I had to give them was the coat I was wearing. As this was one that I don’t wear very often and was thinking of giving to charity at some point, I simply did a swap and walked out of the shop in my shiny new jacket! The clothing they take in will be given to charity or good causes anyway (the lady quoted Riding for the Disabled as one they have contributed to in the past), as they are still usable.

All photos taken with Fuji X-E2 and 18-55mm lens.

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Part of the woodland walk

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The beech avenue and garden borders view from the house terrace

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Looking back to the house

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The lime tree avenue

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Posted by: digibirder | March 22, 2014

Birds again!

After a very long hiatus away from bird photography, the acquisition of the excellent Fuji XF 55-200mm telephoto zoom for my Fuji X-E2 spurred me into having another try. After a brief trip to the supermarket we called in at Old Moor for a wander around, and spent an hour or so walking around the reserve. It was quite cold, but it was good to get some fresh air and exercise.

I have been trying for quite some time, unsuccessfully, to get a decent photo of a long-tailed tit, and getting ribbed by other birding/photography friends for this lack of success. So knowing that the feeding garden at Old Moor attracts these lovely birds, we spent some time in there waiting. There were opportunities to get other birds, such as the blue tits and goldfinches, while waiting, but eventually one arrived at one of the feeders. Still not the perfect photo, but a photo nonetheless. Further round the reserve a very friendly robin perched nicely for me. I was also taken by the reeds and grasses and tried a few abstract shots of those.

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Posted by: digibirder | December 29, 2013

Blog Alert!

Has it really been that long? My last post was published back in April! What has taken me so long? Well, work for one thing, taking up most of my time these days. And the fact that I haven’t really had the will power to keep this blog going. We have been out, now and again, and I have taken quite a few photos, but I suppose I assumed that these things weren’t worth blogging about.

I did start another photo project at the beginning of the year. After the failed 365 a couple of years ago, where I lasted till February before I ran out of steam and ideas, I thought I would put less pressure on myself and make it a 52 project, where I would choose one photo from the weekend and post that. That lasted a little longer, but fizzled out by the summer. I was toying with the idea of doing something in 2014, but giving myself a bit of leeway with the rules. Maybe another 52 project, but allowing an image from anytime during the previous week, rather than an image only taken on one day. I certainly don’t think I could manage a 365 project (taking a photo every day). Perhaps concentrating on one genre, or a different one every month, or a particular colour theme. We’ll see. I have a couple more days to think about whether I am up to it and disciplined enough.

I recently decided to get rid of my Canon dSLR and moved over to a compact system camera, the Fuji X-E2. As I am not running my photography business any more, I decided that carrying around the heavy gear was no longer fun. I had already purchased the Fuji X10 last Christmas, and had hardly used the 40D since then, so it seemed a good idea to move all the way to a compact system. Some items have been sold via a photography forum and some went in part exchange towards the new camera. I still have a few items to sell, so hopefully that will get me some extra lenses.

The new camera had its first outing a couple of weeks ago when we visited the Manchester Christmas Market, and today we went out to blow the Christmas cobwebs away with a walk around Otley Chevin. We have driven through Otley numerous times, and stopped a few times in the town itself, and we’ve been a couple of times to the large car boot sale in the town. We didn’t want to travel too far so we decided to investigate the surrounding area, having seen the walk reviewed on a walking website. It wasn’t too far from the centre of the town, and it was very popular with other people, especially dog-walkers, but it was an enjoyable day, finished off with a tasty soup and bread, followed by cake and a pot of tea.

So, I am now going to try and keep this blog updated in the new year, possibly with the weekly photo project as it goes along. For now, here are the recent outings with the Fuji X-E2.

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Posted by: digibirder | April 2, 2013

Walking in an easter wonderland

It was a long weekend due to the Easter break, but snow had arrived the previous weekend and was still hanging on in places. The temperatures were also not what they should be at this time of year. We had some snow back in January, but this episode seemed a lot worse. I couldn’t get the car off the drive to get to work on the Saturday, so had to dig out and go in Sunday instead. Of course there were problems at work, with solar panel installations being cancelled, so it was quite busy on the phones.

We’ve not really ventured very far for some time, so we decided to have a walk in the Yorkshire Dales and headed for Grassington. The idea was to do a short walk, as we hadn’t had much practice for some time, so that we weren’t too shattered at the end. There was still some snow lingering, but the roads were fine, and most of the walk was no problem. Until we arrived at a gate leading into a walkway between two stone walls. The snow was over the top of the gate, and the snow between the walls was chest height! There was no way we would manage to get through there, so we went further along the road to another path leading us back into the village. This brought us back round to the top end of the path leading from the gate, and it was a little more manageable. Just! The rest of the path was still difficult to walk on, with some snow drifts reaching the top of the walls, but we managed it, after sinking in to our knees on a few occasions.

Back in Grassington, we headed for a tearoom and had a welcome soup and a roll, and a piece of cake and pot of tea. Refreshed and revitalised, we wandered back to the car and then home. Who would think it was spring?

Photos taken with Fuji X10.

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Some other highlights from several outings over the past few weeks.

Snow in January at Old Moor RSPB Dearne Valley – photos taken with Canon 40D

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We also had a visit to Hodsock Priory to see the snowdrop displays and other plants in the gardens. We went on a Sunday and they had a food and craft fair on, so it was quite busy. Photos taken with Fuji X10.

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Every year, the NEC in Birmingham hosts the Focus on Imaging exhibition, and I usually like to visit. Last year, whilst self-employed as a photographer, I got in for free, and this year they sent tickets without us having to book, so off we went. I managed to get a bargain deal on a lens hood for the Fuji, but little else of any note. I no longer had need for photo albums and other business items, and there were no talks that took my fancy, so we managed to get round in record time. Photos with Fuji X10.

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Other than that, I am continuing in the not-so-new job and time is passing quite quickly. We will be off to Spain with friends in a few weeks time, so looking forward to that trip. In the meantime, stay warm.

Posted by: digibirder | January 27, 2013

This and that – again!

I started this post in December, hoping to do a round up of the year, but life got in the way again, and here we are almost at the end of January! The new job has been keeping me occupied these past few months and I don’t seem to have a lot of time for things any more, but I am hoping I can get my act together this year.

So, after Cyprus, and then getting my new job, I have had to put my photography business on the back burner. We have done a couple more craft fairs, but they weren’t that successful, so I think we’re shelving that idea for now, even though Keith gets a few framing jobs each time. He is thinking of winding up the business anyway, as using the equipment is putting a strain on his back. I’ve taken photos when out and about, but I haven’t had any paid commissions for some time. I did go on a dog photography workshop early in January, which was quite interesting. Even though I had already done a couple of pet sessions, I wanted to learn more about pet photography in order to add this to my portfolio of services. At the moment I am not sure what I am doing about the business, so I will have to see how the job goes.

So, it’s a new year and I have settled into my routine at work now, and enjoying it. It was a little stressful at first – so much so that I lost quite a bit of weight with all the nervous energy I was using up! I was a little concerned that it was too busy for me, but I am getting used to it now. It’s nice to be earning a regular income again, and being able to buy a few new things.

I treated myself to a new compact digital camera this month, a Fuji X10. I was thinking of sticking with Canon and getting the G1X, but the Fuji was a couple of hundred pounds cheaper so I thought it would do me for now. I have had to get used to all the features, as it’s a totally different beast, but it’s great not having to carry a heavy DSLR and all the lenses around. Normally I shoot in RAW format, but the JPGs from the Fuji are really good. I will have to try printing one large, but they seem OK to me. I might experiment as I get more used to the camera. Also the automatic features and the special effects are great, so I’ve been leaving it on one of the auto settings for many of my shots. It’s just nice to ‘point and shoot’!

It’s no good me telling you news from months ago, as that would just be boring, so I will just post a selection of images taken since my last post.

Saw these characters at the Penistone Show back in September 2012

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Taken on a workshop in the Peak District in October – a very misty sunset

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The following images are a selection from a trip to Thorp Perrow Arboretum, in North Yorkshire, obviously in autumn. Apart from the glorious display of trees, they also had a bit of a Halloween theme going in one part of the garden!

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Here’s a few from the dog photography workshop at Aspire Photograpic Training.

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And here are some of the first efforts with the Fuji X10 – a walk round a local parkland area, just before I was struck down with a nasty chest infection in time for New Year!

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A wander around Old Moor RSPB reserve.

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A stroll down Padley Gorge in the Peak District.

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That’s enough for now. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next update!

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