Up until I got my DSLR (Nikon D3200) any pictures I took of the Moon showed a bright blob in the sky. Even with the standard kit of the D3200 things only got slightly better.
It was not until I obtained an 18-300mm zoom lens that I started having success (though I am a definite amateur here). The best bit of advice I ever received about shooting the Moon was to use a shutter speed of around 1/250 to 1/400, ISO 100 to 200 (though some say higher), f10 – 12 and around 200mm (though I do start to creep towards 300mm at times) – then I started to get some better results. I have since been told to shoot with the focus set on manual but have not tried that yet.
Getting the focus crisp seems to be my goal – most Moon pictures I take I bin but just occasionally the details of the craters really pop out.
While out and about I try and get the Moon from different angles – though I have never mastered that art where you can use your zoom lens to make the Moon look larger than it actually is in comparison to other objects around it – below the Moon is sitting on top of some electricity cables.
I have always wanted that Moon shot with a plane or a bird flying across it – this is the best I can come up with – one day 🙂
I often shoot the Moon through tree canopies however the scene below of the Moon over Lose Hill in the Peak District really caught my attention.
I have tried to put my photos of the Moon into the order they would appear in the sky from Waxing to Waning and realised that I had only one Waning Moon picture – must work on that 🙂
It is not all about detail – my kids asked to do this pic with a camera phone.
My last picture on the Moon is one of it rising. I took this without really looking at my settings – not crisp as I was using auto focus instead of manual but I do like that one of the craters is visible.
The Bushcraft UK (BCUK) Bushmoot was supposed to be held this August however like many other big events had to be cancelled due to worries around Covid.
Wayne Jones from Forestknights Bushcraft (a fellow BCUK Moderator) along with his co-worker Beth Shepheard offered to run a small (for 20 to 30 people) Minimoot at his woods near Arundel for anyone who felt they could make it.
Home in the woods
This was proper camping (no cars anywhere in the woods) and after a few trips back and forth with the trolley we soon had our hammocks up. I was joined by my son Finlay and our friends Dave and Alan.
We had a communal cooking area and Fin managed to sneak a movie in each evening around the fire (got to make allowances for this day and age).
A little bit of whittling
The Minimoot, like the Bushmoot, was a relaxed affair however there were a few classes. One of the first that many asked for was spoon carving – this one went to Wayne to organise with all ages involved – it was great to see all that knowledge being shared.
If spoon-whittling didn’t appeal, we had a lot more going on over the weekend including;
Net needle carving
Campfire cooking constructions
Down on the Range
Usually in the afternoon we had the range up and running – we had all sorts of bows to choose from and Finlay was happy to be shooting some Mint Imperials down the range from his catapult.
Food – Glorious – Food
One thing that did not happen on this weekend was going hungry – Beth and Wayne (I will put them in order of priority here) are renowned for their cooking skills around a campfire. They cooked a mega breakfast every morning, a curry on the Saturday night and had the pizza oven fired up on a number of occasions.
Life around the fire
It was not just Beth and Wayne around the fire – eveyone got stuck in. My son Finlay loved making pizzas and Alan (being a cheffy-type person) loved the raised firepit – I was happy to stick the kettle on every now and then 🙂
It was not all hard work (though that heat really made doing simple chores twice as hard as they actually were) and in the evening we would sit around our campfire before joining a socially distanced group fire when it was fully dark.
Most evenings you could hear the penny whistle from the likes of Stephen Crump and on the Saturday we had great singing (and guitar work) from Ruth and Mel.
As a photographer I usually struggle to get good shots in the woods with my phone camera and have to rely on the big old DSLR. But on this weekend the light was fantastic, so my DSLR never left my rucksack. Loved seeing all these rays through the canopy with the smoke from the cooking fires.
Thanks again to Wayne and Beth for hosting the Minimoot – the first camp I had attended since lockdown. It was great to see some friends again in a relaxed and socially responsible way – there was plenty of room in these woods.
Cheers (and look forward to future Minimoots alongside the main Bushmoot), George
For the last few years my wife Alison has compiled a calendar from my photography to give out as presents to our close family. Alison is both a Publisher and an author and she inspires me each year to get out there and photograph life around me – so this blog post is dedicated to my wife Alison .
Looking at the pictures in the calendar they have brought back some great memories of the last year.
We spent a day visiting our friend Molly from the Field Farm Project earlier this year where I spotted Henrietta the Hen (no idea if this is her name) wandering amongst the Daffodils.
Anther trip was to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove (went twice in 2017). As the sea was so calm on the first trip I had to get really down low to get any sort of wave action in Lulworth Cove.
I took lots of wild flower pictures this year however I decided to see what the underside of a Snowdrop looked like – I was pleasantly surprised at the green stripes and the shear number of petals.
On a trip to Chesil Beach to meet my friends Fraser (Coastal Survival) and Dougie (an ex army buddy of mine) we spent time as a family building a Beach Henge. We came across one of these structures years ago on Chesil so decided to build our own.
This year I got myself a new phone – a Samsung S7 and I decided to test out its zoom abilities. The Stitchwort flower below was probably only a centimetre in diameter so you could say I was happy with the phone.
Throughout the year we take time to head out into the woods as a family. This shot was in our local woods at Pamber Forest – I must admit to emphasising the blues a bit but I did like the effect this had on the trees.
July found me in Ashdown Forest with the Sea Cadets. In between classes I found time to stalk a herd of wild ponies, Using my phone I managed to get this cracker of a skyline as the sun was setting.
August was holiday time and every couple of years we spend time in Brittany with our friend Rick. There are great beaches on the Breton coastline however we did find time to do a bit scrambling at Pénestin.
September is a busy time for me with the Cadets and although this picture was not taken in that month it does epitomise to me the adventures we have. I was working as a Mountain Leader Safety Officer with the Royal Marines Cadets on the Brecon Beacons earlier in the year doing a mountain night nav when I managed to snap this shot as the sun was setting. It was a long night on the mountains but everyone came off safely and had a great time.
My son Finlay is 9 years old now and had expressed interest in getting out into the hills a bit more. In October I took him along with me on a Gold DofE Expedition in the Peak District. Needless to say Finlay showed no fear of heights while exploring Kinder Scout.
My daughter Catherine has not expressed that same wish for roaming the hills however she is extremely happy roaming the woods. I loved the colours of this winter shot in our local woods near The Vyne National Trust property.
December is winter time and although I was wishing for snow in Southern England there was not much to be had. This shot was taken earlier in the year on the side of Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. We were there to celebrate the Dining Out Weekend for our friends Perry and Graham.
This was a tough one for me but Alison decided on this shot of a Swan taking off from the River Thames. I was delivering a course at my friend John Kelly’s Sea Cadet Unit – TS Black Swan and decided to spend a half hour seeing what life was going on on the Thames – a good half hour I think.
Thanks Alison for taking the time to putting this Calendar together – without you I know it would never happen.
As a bushcrafter I like to keep an eye on what is going on around me. As an amateur photographer – ditto. This habit of always looking for an interesting shot has led to a few comments recently about my ‘Geek’ levels 🙂
Perusing my albums over the last few months though I felt a number of shots lent themselves to this blog of contrasts and colours – Geeky I may be but I enjoy it.
The two ‘In Profile’ pictures above are of my kids Finlay and Catherine. Both shots were in separate locations but truth be told they were well posed. It was great to walk past a site – see its potential at that moment in time and then get the shots I wanted.
Recently I was with a group of friends in the Brecon Beacons having fun in the mountains. I spent a fair bit of time scouting around on my own to get what I think are decent shots like the top picture above. I had fun ordering the guys around on the mountain until I was happy with the shot but it was hard work.
In contrast the picture of the guys sitting on the bridge, low down in the valley was at the last moment after an impromptu group photo. They all just decided to do a ‘Bolt‘ at the end of it and I just clicked away – easy.
I love to photograph my children and they love to be photographed. Colourful pictures in the late autumn and winter can be hard to find at times but they are out there.
The two pictures above were shot on different days however with a bit of good sunlight coming through the different colours in the woodland really stand out – a bit of action always helps to 🙂
I really liked the contrast of the two pictures above. I stalked the deer for quite a while and waited until I could get the best picture of her as she finally noticed me. The woods were very closed in with lots of underbrush and noisy from the leaf litter.
The field though was different in every way and I only decided to take this shot as I passed by. It was so quiet and open however when I looked at the picture later I could see the subtle greens of the weeds coming through. Even though the pictures are so different there are similarities with the colours of the weeds and moss in both pictures.
The ‘Curves and Corners’ pictures are stills from some video I shot at the Surrey Hills Wood Fair last October. Not the greatest quality however these were two scenes that had me entranced.
The skills needed to form the glass bowl over the log and the carving of the links out of a single trunk make my mind boggle.
I went for a walk with my family in Basing Wood at the end of last year. It was a dark and dreary winters day – the type that could really do with a great dollop of snow to cheer you up.
Not to be put off with this greyness I kept looking for something a bit cheery. I found this where the trees met the sky when the sun finally came out.
The kids woodland play park arch came alive when shot from below – its depth really stood out at this angle. The bottom picture I love because of the bands of colour you can pick out in the weak afternoon sun. My wife Alison was the one who suddenly stopped me and pointed me in this direction – so easy to just walk on by…………
Last weekend I was teaching near the River Thames and in the evening spent some time standing by the river waiting to see what happened. One Swan swept by and I managed to get a shot of him clear of all the buildings. I enhanced the evening skyline to make the picture warmer and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
In contrast the B&W picture below I nearly deleted. It was a nice enough picture in colour but nothing special I would say. A niggly thought bugged me as I hovered over the delete button so I went with it. Glad I did as the B&W version really works for me.
A single last picture – no contrast – would not dare 🙂
I love this picture of my beautiful wife Alison as she led the Christingle service at our local church – St James here in Bramley last year. I could not use a flash and relied on a zoom lens. The colours and the smile really make this picture for me and a fitting one to end on.
‘Looking for that moment‘ – always something at the back of my mind when I am out and about. These last few months I have been extremely busy at work so my Bimbles have been severely curtailed however there were one or two ‘Moments‘ over the last few months.
The thing that the three pictures below have in common (apart from the obvious) is that I walked past each location and then purposefully double backed to get the shots – I am glad I did now 🙂 The colours came out beautifully in my opinion.
As the nights have been drawing in I have tried to get a few night time shots in as well. The two shots of the moon I took using my DSLR however the Christmas Reindeer (outside Cardiff Castle) I took using my Sony mobile phone. I think I will be trying out a bit more night time photography in the future.
Walking in the woods on my own I find very relaxing as I can wander wherever my interest takes me however taking the kids out brings the woods more alive I think. There is something magical with the light in the autumn that the kids really love and I think it makes them more adventurous than when we have a heavy canopy of leaves – it certainly makes for easier photography.
As winter approaches (strange saying that in January) I hope we get some snow here in Southern England to get out to explore and photograph.
Over the last year I have dabbled with some of my pictures to see how they they fared in Black and White. I did look for pictures that gave me good shadows and high levels of contrast. I have no idea if that is the best way of going about it but I had fun along the way.
I hope you enjoy the pictures and wish you all a Happy New Year.
Last weekend I ended up in Dorset visiting my friend Fraser Christian from Coastal Survival. It was a stormy weekend but thankfully the wind dropped enough on the Saturday evening to allow me to sleep in my hammock.
On the Sunday morning not long after I got up I spotted this waterfall effect of Turkey Tail fungus on an old stump and was quite taken with them from a top down view – kinda glistened in the early morning sunshine.
Today found me out and about with my family at The Vyne National Trust Property near Bramley in Hampshire. The day started wet and overcast but we still managed to get out and get muddy.
I took lots of pictures but this one of my son managing to have fun with just a couple of sticks on an old wooden fence really put a smile on my face. He likes his X Box but thankfully likes to get muddy just as much.
This is my 200th post on my Bushcraft Days blog and I have had fun writing every one – Looking forward to the next 200.
Thank you to everyone who follows my little adventures.
So begins a New Year and I was considering where my photography would take me this year. After a long hard thought (about 10 minutes really) I came to the conclusion my photography could go wherever it liked.
So I plan to have a post once a week with what I consider my best or most interesting picture.
On New Year’s Eve I took a bimble around our village and was seeing lots of signs of spring (a bit early if you ask me) when I spotted this leftover morsel from last year.
Normally the squirrels beat me to these little nibbles so I was surprised to see some still left over from last year’s crop. This hazel tree was overhanging a reedmace-covered pond so maybe it proved too precarious a perch for the little fellas.
Carrying on with the Memorable Moments theme I thought a post on my favourite family pictures of the year was due. Each of the 12 pictures I have chosen have some special memories for me.
Starting off with my beautiful daughter Catherine who has the most amazingly curly hair. I captured this picture early in the year of her backlit by the morning sun. The moment caught individual strands of hair framing her perfectly.
We had a lovely day trip to Winchester in the spring. While we were relaxing in one of these small cafe’s you find in the Medieval backstreets I caught Alison looking perfectly relaxed with a cheeky little Finlay snuggled up to her – quite a beautiful moment you could say.
One of my favourite pastimes is to head out for a Bimble around our village of Bramley. I spend a lot of time photographing what I find. Catherine spotted some Chicken of the Woods fungus one day and was really taken with its colour.
The resulting picture taken in such a dark coniferous woodland I found both striking and beautiful.
A moment of joy is how I would describe this picture. We were visiting our friends Tracey and Neil on an RAF base one day and after a lovely barbie Alison decided it was time for for some gymnastics with the kids.
This picture reminded me to always be on the lookout for the unexpected – excellent style by the way Alison.
While visiting our friend Fraser from Coastal Survival we spent an afternoon on Chesil beach in Dorset. Someone had decided to build themselves a mini Stonehenge on the beach. Myself and the kids were very taken with it and it made for some great pictures.
Once I got down low to the mini monument the whole look of it changed transforming it into a picture I wanted to keep.
When we go camping as a family we can mostly be found sleeping in hammocks. Alison insists though that before she gets up that a cup of coffee is produced. It is a bit of a tradition now this coffee business but one I am happy to maintain – needless to say Alison is in full agreement with me.
Last June I took part in the 30 Days of Wildness organised by the Wildlife Trust. I blogged about my nature adventures for 30 days. On one of these little adventures I was exploring the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre at Silchester with my daughter Catherine.
We stopped for a rest and Catherine spotted a beautiful thatched cottage through the trees. She sat there and told me later that she had found her ideal home. To me this picture is like a painting and I can sit and look at it for a long time without getting bored.
As memorable moments go there are plenty to be found at the BCUK Bushmoot. We go every year and it is a great location for families.
I caught my son Finlay mucking about with some stocks ( they belong to the Live Action Role Players who use the site as well) and as I took the picture the parachute set up beside it suddenly puffed up with the wind. Not your typical outdoorsy picture but one I felt lent to a bit of B & W manipulation.
I took a lot of pictures while on holiday in France this year of some really beautiful places however it is this simple picture that sticks with me.
We were walking through a small industrial estate to get to a river walk when I grabbed this picture of the kids walking along holding hands. A little moment in time so easily missed you could say.
My friend Paul Kelly runs his own canal boat hire company called Thames Boat Training and I have been out twice this year to photograph his boats for his web site. On the last trip we moored up waiting for a lock to open when I snapped this little moment in time. I like the picture for its feeling of depth and sheer peace.
Remembrance Sunday was a lovely day in Bramley. After the service I took some group shots of all the Scouts, Cubs and Beavers however my daughter Catherine wanted to take some pictures with her iPhone.
I think Catherine has an eye for photography and I am keen for her to explore this talent of hers. Catherine took this slightly dark picture of Alison and myself with one of these Instagram filters you can load onto your iPhone. Not often anyone gets what I think is a good picture of me and I think Catherine did well here – As for Alison, well – she always looks good 🙂
I started with Catherine so I will finish with Finlay. He has been keen on Karate now for a year now and I was very proud to watch him recently get his Orange belt. Finlay is only 7 and can be as mischievous as any other young lad however when he applies himself to something he can show some excellent self discipline – so well done son.
The next instalment in the Memorable Moments series will be on some of the nature photography I have taken this last year.