I lived for 21 years in England in total and have been away from it except for short visits for almost 30. There are some scenes that are uniquely English memories for me (though they might well exist in other places) and I am hoping to find some of them on this trip and share them here. These are two special scenes to start off with.
As you gather from this post, we are back in England for a visit to family and friends. Today we went for a lovely walk along the bank of a river near where Steven’s parents live. There is something so very English about a river in the country, with the weird and wonderful boats moored along a rickety jetty and the ‘Walk here at your own risk’ sign posted there. The path was damp and muddy with blackberries still in the hedgerows which surprised me as ours have been over with long ago, as well as the bright red wild rosehips. The trees still have some leaves and, though they lack the brilliance of the autumn foliage we see, there is a rich depth to their colours of yellow and browns and to the greens and rough black earth of the ploughed fields. This is always intensified by the dampness in the air and on the ground. A lonely horse grazed quietly in a field, hardly bothering to lift his head to watch us go past.
The sun was setting behind the misty paler clouds that were gathering in the distance beneath the darker cloudbanks. It was by no means the most spectacular sunset, as my father-in-law assured me. In a way that made it more special for me, in the understated quiet ending of the day. So very British.
My landscape gallery is here: Landscape Gallery
I Wished For Swans
The river is just by an RAF station and suddenly there were jets screaming deafeningly overhead as they practised whatever manoeuvres they were performing. The sound of the engines ripped through the air and buried itself in my chest so that, with my fingers in my ears I instinctively pulled my elbows in to protect my heart. I can’t see how this noise is permitted in an area where people and wildlife can be so assaulted, but it is. (I felt so sorry for the poor horse grazing nearby who couldn’t put his hooves into his ears.)
And then, just as if they had read my mind and placed themselves where I couldn’t miss them, I saw two swans dabbling in the reeds of a pond on the other side of the river bank. I don’t believe I have seen a swan since I last lived in England. They are the quintessential royal bird, indeed they are the property of the Queen, no matter where they are found in the UK. They never turned their heads when the jets flew over. Their very presence and calm, elegant dignity turned that humble reedy pond at the edge of a muddy field into a place of silent, glowing, pristine beauty. It’s all part of my England.
My gallery of animal photography is here: Animals – they enrich our lives now and fill our futures with wonderful memories.
Almost every time I drive past this scene I want to photograph it. It’s so close to where I live that I pass it several times a week, so I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t give in to this impulse each time or my hard drives would be filled with images of these experimental fields. And you, dear viewers, would be tired of them… But maybe you wouldn’t be bored, but would be as drawn to them as I am. The attraction of this scene is the constantly changing designs, growing over the original hard work of the farmer. In the spring the patches look wonderful with the neatly plowed rows and squares, then come the patterns of the sprouting crops in their straight lines; in the summer the grain varieties grow at different rates, but the overall look still remains crisp and defined in the blocks so carefully arranged by the planter. There is even a little, older tractor that is used to cultivate these as they are too small for the monster vehicles normally used in modern day agriculture (and by the same farmer on different fields).
So although I am pretty sure that I have shared an image of this scene previously, I hope you will indulge my obsession and enjoy an October evening view as the fields are ready for harvest. The foreground is an expanse of soy as a foil to the crops behind. Two days after I took this, the soy was harvested and it all looked different again.
View the full gallery of landscape photography here: Landscapes
When we were out photographing the moon last night, Steven said something that resonated with me when I saw this image. He said “it’s not only about the moon, it’s about what’s around and under it”. And this photo is about the moon, but also about the clouds, the light reflected on the waters and the shining mud of low tide, as well as the tiny lights glimmering on the shore on the other side of the bay.
It’s so much more than just a beautiful big moon. It’s what it’s all about when I’m out with friends, in beautiful surroundings, in the still of a cold night as the moon rises through the clouds over the Minas Basin, in Nova Scotia.
For every photograph that I take, there are far, far more that I miss. They are the pictures stored in my memory, ready for when I plan to go back and spend the time it takes to get it right. They are the ones that got away because the scene is never there again. That first time, the light was just right, the elements all came together in a pattern or shape that was perfect, or something else about it made that moment (as every moment) unique. You can never get it back. As we drove by this scene at the end of the summer, the light and dark lines in the harvested fields, cresting the curving hills really made me want to photograph it. Unfortunately each time we were passing it we were in a hurry to go somewhere and it is right on the main highway, making a sudden stop a dangerous manoeuvre. So every time I had to content myself with looking longingly at the curves of the landscape and the straight paths left by the mower, the big round bales and the smaller squared ones. I knew that soon these would be gathered in and the green growth would blur the clean look of the field, the impression of all the elements flowing like meandering streams down the hill. On this particular weekend we set out specially to catch it. We had to stop on the side of the busy highway, with cars and trucks rushing past and the wind they created making it difficult to be still enough for the photograph. I had a long walk to get to this particular vantage point (sorry on the one hand that I had not brought my tripod, but also glad as it would have been so heavy to haul along the shoulder of the highway) and the day itself was a very blustery one as you see by the sky. I could already feel the shift of the season beginning with the gathering in of the crops. continue reading
The night of the full moon (the night after my previous posting) I went out again, this time with Steven, hopefully having overcome the technical issues, to try to get a better photo of it. That night, the elements decided to get involved and a single big cloud rose with it. There were stars around the sky in other places, so this really was a cloud dedicated to obscuring the Super Moon. I took the photo above in spite of it, as the colours reflecting off the water in the bay and the cloud around made it look more like a sunset than a moon rise. It was much darker than the night before as the sun had gone down over half an hour earlier.
After taking a few photos the cloud really thickened so that we could barely see the moon any longer and we gave up and decided to pack up cameras and tripods and head for home. As we drove away we remarked to each other that for sure as soon as we left that cloud would disappear and we would be in the wrong place to get a picture. Sure enough, as we turned into our drive, the moon was appearing above the trees at the bottom of our field. The cloud was beginning to break up and you could just see that full moon coming through, though looking much smaller than it had before. This next photo was taken from our driveway, when a ring began to appear around it, with the trees silhouetted underneath. So after this we now will choose a location for next month and wait and hope that the elements will be kind to us and the night not too cold.
See more of my landscape photographs on my gallery: Landscapes
We had a fun time, Linda and I, planning our trip to try to photograph the Supermoon which was also the Hunter’s Moon this month. We chose the location to try to get the reflection of the moon in the little water that would be visible at one of the lowest tides, if possible. We also hoped to get some cliffs in the scene, but I miscalculated the position of the moon and it rose in a different place from where I thought it would so we only have the tidal flats and water in the scene. (Note to self for next time: calibrate the device for the app before using it if you hope for any degree of accuracy.)
This was the night before the full moon which was the best for getting some light into the landscape as the sun set just before the moon rose. The next night it was much darker as the sunset was half an hour before moonrise and it wasn’t possible to see much foreground.
I liked this one with the colours of the fading light from the setting sun which just showed a hint of the foreground detail and warmed the sky. The atmosphere on the horizon gave the moon the reddish tone.
We had a few other little technical difficulties which meant that most of the images from that night are not usable, but every photographic session seems to be a learning experience and we plan to try again next month on the 13th, putting into practice what we learned from that evening’s results. And I have in mind a setting where we can get some cliffs into the scene as well. What we have to hope for is the same clear weather on that night, though a few wispy clouds would work nicely, too!
See more of my landscape photographs on my gallery: Landscapes
A path that runs along the side of a field that’s near our house has always given the best view of sunsets within a 5 minute walk. As we have so many trees around us and the ground rises in the direction of the setting sun, the most glorious bursts of colour in the evenings can go completely unnoticed if we don’t make a special effort to get to this clearing. Yesterday night I saw the reflections in the clouds in the east and practically ran out with Joni, camera (and blue ball) in hand, hoping I was not too late. The display was almost over when I got there, but the landscape has changed since my last sunset visit there. For the first time in 19 years the farmer has planted corn in that field that has lain fallow for so long. The ripening crop stands about 3 feet taller than my head, with the path on a much lower level. The foliage makes an interesting silhouette in the foreground, but the (in camera) multiple exposure gives such a dreamy feel that I decided to share this. Dreams of country sunsets.
I’m happy to post another audio recording of one of my stories. This time it’s a thought provoking one of alternate realities. The audio file is available on the original story page as well as on the audio sections of the site and via podcast downloads. Enjoy!
Living, as we do, very close to the Bay of Fundy which boasts the highest (and the lowest) tides in the world, twice a day we are able to walk far out along the bottom of the sea bed to the edge of the receding water. It is a strange feeling, knowing that within a few short hours the water will be many feet, even meters above our heads as we walk out on the hard sea bottom. It is a constantly shifting underwater landscape, with the perpetual motion of the waves sculpting the sand and rocks into new formations twice a day, every day. The movement of the water doesn’t allow for anything but buried sea creatures and crabs to remain for long. It gives a clean sweep, every 12.5 hours. Here it looks as if the sand has taken the form of the receding waves themselves. This is Kingsport Beach, about 10 minutes from where we live.