Dec 2017
January 2018 - A new lens

Christmas is now over but December for me was a real eye opener - literally! I underwent cataract surgery on one of my eyes and am staggered at the difference it has made; everything is now brighter and sharper. It's as if the 'lens' of my right eye has been cleaned of dirt, refocused and the white balance set to daylight. I now realise how bad my other eye is which seems to be set to a cloudy white balance and marginally off-focus! The eye operated upon is recovering well and to say I am pleased is an understatement. I hope it will show in this year's photography - although I do now wonder how I managed to cope with manual focussing throughout last year, having to switch to my left eye to take images!

Consequently I have taken very few photographs this month in spite of some wonderful seasonal weather. The beginning of December on Scotland's east coast was bright and frosty making for some glorious, icy conditions; one was able to wrap up against the cold to enjoy the winter sun. At the start of the month I did manage a trip to a burn in Edinburgh which I had heard was occupied by a kingfisher. After a couple of exploratory visits I went down with the telephoto lens and, on arrival, saw the bird fly off a perch. Kingfishers will often return to the same spot within 30 minutes so I set myself up and, sure enough, the bird returned for me to fire off a burst of images. Kingfishers are one of my favourite birds; I love that electric blue plumage and mottling on the head.

I gave a talk in Edinburgh to the Friends of Wester Craiglockhart Hill at the beginning of December about the wildlife and nature on the hill they strive to protect. It's part of an on-going project of mine and it was good to share some of the images with those who care so much for the area. The slide show went down well and there were many questions following the talk.

While the weather on Christmas Day was a washout with continual rain in Edinburgh, we woke up to a few inches of snow on Boxing Day. It lasted a couple days and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the woods to grab a few quick images of the trees in snow (see image). Snow has become a bit of a rarity on the east coast in recent years so the opportunity had to be grabbed while it was there.

I was delighted to supply the Horniman Museum and Gardens with some images and information to support the touring British Wildlife Photography Awards 2017 exhibition which they were hosting. They kindly profiled individual photographers who featured in the exhibition on their website which can be viewed at www.horniman.ac.uk

It's that time of year again when one considers the year ahead. There are many ideas mulling around my mind - some quite feasible, others more adventurous and challenging - which give me plenty to contemplate. Should a few of these come to fruition, it promises to be an exciting year ahead. It's good to have aspirations to spur one on and may all your wishes for 2018 come true.