Nov 2017
November 2017 - Woodland wonders

Well, autumn is here and leaves have turned gloriously golden. I usually manage an annual October pilgrimage to the Spey valley to photograph the birch woods but failed to do so this year; time has been simply too tight. Nevertheless, the local wood just a 'stone's throw' from our house has given me plenty of autumn magic to enjoy. The array of fallen leaves, husks and other tree debris have made fascinating photographic subjects whereby simple compositions focus interest on the colour combinations and contrasts between the leaves and the bark, stone, moss or other base they are placed upon. I find the simplicity of such images an interesting change from the 'busy-ness' of other landscapes.

I have also experimented with different lighting techniques to photograph toadstools on the woodland floor. They can be most frustrating; one awaits for them to grow to size only to find they spurted overnight and were nibbled by insects reducing them to unattractive remnants of their former, healthy selves by the next morning! The variety in species size also presents both an illumination and photographic challenge to portray them in a novel manner - but a challenge that I have enjoyed and, arguably, has pushed my photographic creativity another notch up the ladder.

I enjoyed a very warm welcome from the North Northumberland Bird Club at Bamburgh during October when I gave them a talk on "Forthshore." I was amazed how many turned up on a Friday (the 13th!) evening to create a full house. Many were familiar with the stretch of East Lothian coastline and seemed to enjoy the photographic journey they were taken on. My thanks to all who attended and made me feel so welcome.

As this area of Northumberland is one my wife and I visit regularly, it was inevitable that we made a weekend of it and enjoyed our stay in Alnwick. With the Lion Bridge over the River Aln now open once again following restoration, it was satisfying to enjoy and photograph the view of Alnwick Castle from it which was posted on Facebook.

Last month saw the Water of Leith Conservation Trust AGM during which we were shown a short film made by an art student of dippers on the river. It was a wonderful video showcasing much of the river's wildlife and its relationship with the dipper. The film has deservedly won awards and makes one realise one doesn't have to travel far to find such a wide range of wildlife. The Water of Leith is still my 'go to' place when I have a sudden need to take pictures and is exceptional at this time of year with the autumn leaves adding so much colour and vibrancy (see image).

A meeting in Perthshire at the end of last month allowed me a fortuitous few hours in the Birks o' Aberfeldy. The woodland floor was awash with birch leaves and the burbling Moness burn always acts as a useful focal point for all images. While the old pine forests have a magic of their own, you can't beat the variety and character of trees in sizeable expanses of deciduous woodland.