Non-essential Shops open for business

I took a walk through Preston city centre yesterday on the first day that ‘non-essential’ shops were allowed to open. Judging by the queues and the increased number of people about, it would appear that what is labelled as non-essential to one person is another person’s must have.

No doubt the businesses are mightily relieved to be open again but I can’t see how the relaxation of lockdown restrictions can have anything other than a negative impact on containing the virus. I wore a face-mask while walking through town but I would estimate that less than 10 percent of people were bothering to cover their faces. I guess time will tell if the laissez-faire approach to virus control in the UK will result in another infections spike.

A few photos…

Street Photographer Vivian Maier

One positive of the lockdown and there hasn’t been many, is the opportunity to spend time seeking photographic inspiration from other photographers.

Today, I discovered the story of a secretive american photographer who’s talent was only appreciated after she died. She may not have sought fame and fortune, and it’s impossible to know what she would have thought about her subsequent elevation to photographic icon status but what I do know is her street photography is truly inspirational.

The photographer I am in awe of is like many artists after their deaths, now world renowned. She is Vivian Maier. Take a look at this trailer for ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ and you will hopefully see what I mean:

You Tube Documentary

The sad demise of the Fylde Women football team.

Last week there was a Covid sporting casualty when AFC Fylde announced that it was disbanding its women’s soccer team, citing the the difficult financial environment as the reason. A disappointing decision to say the least, given that the season had already been suspended.

I’ve enjoyed photographing the team many times and have always been impressed by their skills, dedication and team spirit. Here I’ve put together a few black and white photographs from happier days.

Garden Birds in Lockdown

So we have a lockdown in the UK right now and if you are not a key worker you are only allowed out for one bit of exercise per day and for essential food shopping.  Clearly the exercise bit is open to interpretation because when I went for a short walk I was passed by numerous cyclist who were obviously doing the Guild Wheel cycle route. That’s a 21 mile route around the city and it was a lot busier than an average weekday.  I guess some people will stretch that one daily exercise out quite a bit.

Anyway, I’m digressing from the the main topic of this post, which is photographing Garden Birds while isolated at home.  I’ve noticed some days are busier with birds in the garden than others and I haven’t worked out why, so that means somedays you have to be really patient.

I order to attract more birds, it would have been useful to have a better selection of bird food too but we are where we are so to speak and we seem to get around half a dozen different species on a fairly regular basis.

The photos here have all been taking over the last few days using the Fuji X-T3 with 100-400mm lens attached. Many have been shot through the window so are probably not of the highest quality but generally I am happy with the results. See what you think…

Everybody is doing the Woodland Bop

Looking at a few recent woodland photos this morning and a song from the early seventies came into my head by the late great Marc Bolan and Tyrannosaurus Rex. “Everybody is doing the woodland bop, once you’ve started you’ll find it hard to stop”.

Well, guess that was me following the recent storms and heavy rainfall. The waterlogged woodland locally made for some interesting photographs that took on an almost painterly quality.  See what you think…

Waterlogged WoodlandWaterlogged WoodlandWaterlogged WoodlandIvy climbing up a tree trunkIvy climbing up a tree trunkIvy climbing up a tree trunk

Our feathered friends are a calming influence

I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a bird or wildlife photographer but sometimes it’s nice to take time to appreciate what is around us.  Being outside in the countryside is therapeutic in these difficult times.  It’s calming; patience is key to capturing bird photos and that is good for the soul. 

At times I wasn’t even sure what I was photographing here but half of the fun is getting the photo and the other half is learning about the birds afterwards! Hopefully more photos will follow over the coming weeks but for now here are a few images taken in the last week or so…

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Birds-1020

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Birds Lytham-1390

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Nuthatch  (Sitta europaea)

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)

Coal Tit (Periparus ater) taking bird food from a tree stumo.

Coal Tit (Periparus ater) 

Birds-0963

Great Tit (Paris major)

Birds-0965

Chaffinch (Fringilla celebs)

Birds-0995

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Birds-1017

Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

This Outdoor Trail is magical

It was the opening night when we visited Blenheim Palace, not really knowing what to expect, but it’s fair to say that the Illuminated Trail exceeded our expectations.

Treetops glow in the dark and the colours are amazing. There are light sculptures and a constantly changing vista to keep things interesting. As you begin the trail you walk through a light tunnel glistening with 100,000 small lights – a magical experience.

The trail itself is around one mile long and as you return towards the Palace you are greeted with seasonal projections onto the house itself and search-lights dancing across the sky.

It was great to photograph, though to be honest it was also a bit of a challenge.  The exposure levels varied so much between the various set pieces and it was quite busy on the opening night too.

The fantastic light experience is available to book at Blenheim Palace until the 1st January.

A few photos…

Blenheim Palace-6541Blenheim Palace-6548Blenheim Palace-6553Blenheim Palace-6563Blenheim Palace-6564Blenheim Palace-6569Blenheim Palace-6581Blenheim Palace-6588Blenheim Palace-6597Blenheim Palace-6599Blenheim Palace-6605Blenheim Palace-6615Blenheim Palace-6619Blenheim Palace-6648Blenheim Palace-6655Blenheim Palace-6692Blenheim Palace-6721Blenheim Palace-6740Blenheim Palace-6744Blenheim Palace-6749

A weekend in Southport

A little bit of everything last weekend in Southport both in terms of the weather, which was cold and also photographically with a bit of street photography, a few sunset photos, a visit to an art gallery and a firework display.

I guess it’s the variety that makes Southport a good destination for a short break at this time of year.  The AtkinsonWhitworth gallery was a great spot to shelter from the rain and enjoy the latest exhibitions.  The costumes of Vivienne Westwood pictured below formed part of an interesting display. I enjoyed the portraits of various celebrities wearing the same t-shirt against a plain grey background. It was interesting to see how they each posed and managed to make the t-shirt their own.

There was also a fabulous art exhibition featuring painting by Nahen Shoa called ‘Black Presence’ which is also worth a visit.

Here are a few photos…

Southport-4861Southport-4873Two telephone boxes on Lord Street in SouthportSouthport-4895Southport-4908A cyclist riding along the promenade at SouthportSouthport-4928The setting sun reflected in the windows of a shelter on Southport PierA couple watching the sun set on the coast at Southport in North-West England.Southport-4985Southport-4995Southport-5002-2Southport-5026

A visit to Cuerden Park

It wasn’t a planned visit to Cuerden Park. We had been out and about visiting local DIY stores, searching for something or other, which was pretty mundane. We did however remember that there was a cafe at Cuerden Park which was only five minutes away and so we set off, more in hope of finding a coffee and a place to relax for a while than taking any pictures.

As it happens, we didn’t get the coffee. We hadn’t counted on the cafe being like the place  in Lancashire for dog owners. Every table was taken. It would appear that this is the place to go if you are a ‘professional’ dog-walker, because everyone seemed to have at least three dogs lashed around the seats and table legs.

So, no space for us in the cafe but we did still enjoy a walk around the country park, albeit as the only ones without dogs in tow!

Here are a few pictures…

Cuerden Park-4796Cuerden Park-4799Cuerden Park-4807Cuerden Park-4821Cuerden Park-4823Cuerden Park-4825Cuerden Park-4831

Autumn walk in Preston’s Parks

Preston is lucky enough to have some fabulous public parks and at this time of year they are spectacular.  The Autumn colours have been good this year and it’s hard to resist the lure of a walk with the camera.

Here are a few photographs taken in Avenham/Miller Park, Moor Park and Haslam Park.

All photographs captured on either the Fuji X-T1 or X-T3.

Avenham Park Autumn-4572Avenham Park Autumn-4578Avenham Park Autumn-4583Avenham Park Autumn-4589Haslam Park, PrestonHaslam Park, PrestonYoung man and women taking a walk through park in AutumnMoor Park-1937Young women walking along park pathMoor Park-1948Autumn Avenham Park-1827Autumn Avenham Park-1811Autumn Avenham Park-1810Autumn Avenham Park-1806Autumn Avenham Park-1804Autumn Avenham Park-1803Autumn Avenham Park-1795Autumn Avenham Park-1793