Pheasant, West Sussex

Common Pheasant, Horsham, West Sussex January 2021

Walking in the rain isn’t much fun. More recently, there has been a fair amount of it on my daily walks and this morning, I almost left my camera on its hook (making one less thing to dry out afterwards). But I didn’t. And, as you can see, when I saw this bird as I walked into the park- I’m glad I didn’t.

I’m sure I’ve written before about the wildlife which wanders into the park from the neighbouring farmland. I occasionally see deer, buzzards and on this occasion a common pheasant. I have essentially no fieldcraft skills beyond moving slowly and creeping closer. Although the bird was perhaps 5 metres away, with my lens at 70mm, it was hard to show real detail. But, I suppose there is a lot of that in photography, where unless you are specifically equiped for a particular subject, you are always going to be having to work hard to catch anything.

Morning Frost, West Sussex

Trees, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

Christmas isn’t the coldest time of the year in the UK. In December, we can usually relax because the coldest months for us are January and February, So, after a relativly wet Christmas, the weather has turned increasingly colder and finally we having really hard frosts – as you can see in these photographs.

Frost on Tree, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

This year, I forget to buy a calendar and to make any New Year’s resolutions. Is it too late? What should they be? I like taking photographs – as you can see. Should it be to do with that? During lockdown I wrote a novel (I think there will be glut of novels when this is over) – struggling with editing at the moment. Should they be to do with that?

What do you want to do in the New Year?

Frozen Cobweb, Horsham, West Sussex January 2020

At ZSL London Zoo, London

As I’m writing this, in the UK we have just entered our third official lockdown, so I thought I would write about a visit I made to ZSL London Zoo early last year, just before our first lockdown.

ZSL London Zoo is located on the edge of Regent’s Park, which while in central London, isn’t very close to any tube stations, which I think is why it isn’t as popular as it could be. It manage to be small and sprawling, with a mixture of large and small enclosures spread across the site.

For this visit, I took my Nikon S2 and an Olympus Mju II (both film cameras)- for this post, I thought I would write a little about the Mju II and share a few observations about it. First of all, as you can see, the weather was rather overcast, so both cameras were loaded with Kodak Ultramax, which is a 400 ISO colour negative film.

Penguin Pool, ZSL London Zoo, February 2020

At the Penguin Pool

I used the Mju II to take some photos of the Penguin Pool, because it has a 35mm F2.8, which was wide enough to capture some of the interior – the 50mm lens on the Nikon would only allow me to take pictures of details.

The Penguin Pool might be the most important surviving Modernist building in the UK. I enjoyed looking around it – it is wonderful collection of sweeping curves constructed from reinforced concrete. I wonder if they ever filmed “Poirot” there? There is very little Modernist architecture in the UK, I suspect because flat roofs and the fairly primative concrete technology of the time made for unsatisfactory buildings. It was designed by Tecton, an architectural practice which comprised many of the leading Modernist architects working in the UK (noteably Bertold Lubetkin and Denys Lansdun). It opened in 1934.

In this case, in 2004, the zoo decided that although it looked great, the enclosure wasn’t a very natural environment, so they moved the penguins to the “Penguin Beach” enclosure. Looking at the space (photographs of when it was in use), I can see that it was fabulous for displaying the penguins – shuffling up the helical ramps and hopping up and down the steps – it made for a very hard environment to live in.

Penguin Pool, ZSL London Zool, February 2020

This is a humbolt penguin in their “newer” residence.

Humboldt Penguin, ZSL London Zoo, February 2020

Looking at these photos, can I say any more about the Mju II?

Well, I think the lens is quite good – all the photos are sharp to the corners. In the penguin photo, I can see that the corners are a little darker than the centre of the frame, so I think close to wide open, it vignettes a bit. I tried to focus on the penguin’s head, but missed and got its neck instead. Or perhaps I was just too close to the subject – I remember holding my hand over the glass.

I liked the size of the camera. Lots of cameras are “almost” pocketable, but with its lozenge shape, it easily slipped in and out of my pocket all day. After staring at the back of so many digital cameras, I was pleased this one had a viewfinder to look through – I wished it was a bit bigger though. And the exposures seem – spot on.

Yachts, Shoreham Beach

Yachts off Shoreham Beach, West Sussex October 2020

During October, we had some lovely weather in Shoreham, which made it feel like a gradual change from summer into autumn. At the time, the COVID number had slumped and people felt more comfortable being away from home. As you can see, the Sun shone and lots of people took the opportunity to take their yachts for a cruise off the coast

Yachts, Shoreham Beach, West Sussex October 2020

Morning Frost, West Sussex

Frost, Horsham, West Sussex December 2020

Right now, like many people in the UK, I’m living in lockdown again!

I think I’ve written it before, but one of the things I have appreciated this year, has been the opportunity to notice the passing seasons. I particularly remember the change from spring into early summer, and now, with the hard frost this morning, I’ve noticed we are in the hard part of winter. The picture is of ice which formed on my car overnight – I have taken pictures of this before, because I love the patterns the ice makes.

There is a weather forcast for snow tomorrow – have to see how that goes!

Tree, Horsham Park

Tree, Horsham Park, West Sussex October 2020

I may have posted pictures of this tree before – perhaps in a different season.

As I recollect it, I was sitting on a bench, when I thought the tree reminded me of a still life or perhaps a Chinese landscape painting. So I took a picture.

Dog on the Beach, West Sussex

Dog on the Beach, Shoreham Beach, West Sussex December 2020

After what has seemed like weeks of rain, yesterday, we had a few hours of sunshine, so I went to the beach. It was warm enough to sit on the pebbles and watch the waves for a couple of hours, so pretty mild for mid-December.

In the photo, the sea looks much flatter than it was, every so often there would be some quite large waves which arrived with a crash.

And then, large clouds formed and the sunshine stopped. Time to return to the car and drive home.

Evening Sky, Horsham

Evening Sky, Horsham, West Sussex August 2020

Time passes. This photo is from a test roll I did on a (new to me) camera. I think it was mid-evening when I took it and as you can see, the Sun is setting. As I’m writing this, it is a similar time of day – but it is completely dark outside (and has been for a couple of hours). I am almost 50 years old, I know the science, but the seasons still amaze me.

I love the delicate range of colours and the whispy white clouds. So it is a “shapes” photo rather than a “things” photo.

I remember as I was walking around the park, I was thinking, that if we could get everything back to normal by the end of the year – then all the inconvienience would have been worth it. But – things aren’t back to normal!

Thanksgiving, Shoreham Beach

Swimmers, Shoreham Beach November 2020

I was going to write about life on the beach – but then I noticed the date – and decided that I would write about Thanksgiving instead.

In the UK we tend to slowly take on things from the US – liablity lawyers, Adam Sandler – all the good stuff. But I do think we should get the British Museum to borrow Thanksgiving from the US and forget to return it – or take molds from it so we can cast our own.

I think in the UK we do lots of things well, but if we had this holiday, it would help us to recognise them too and then maybe when New Year’s Day comes around we wouldn’t feel quite so down.

In a moment I will go for a late night walk and think about things I should be grateful for – what would you choose?

Trees in Fog, West Sussex

Trees in Fog, Horsham, West Sussex November 2020

I think I have walked around the park every day since the first lockdown. Normally, in the noise of work and rush, the seasons tend to pass outside the window, but because we have all been at home I have been able to notice the changes in the weather as the seasons pass.

As you can see, we have had a patch of foggy weather, which makes me think we are transitioning into winter. I’m trying to think of a good poem to quote which would describe the feeling of walking through a foggy landscape. Any ideas?

Anyway, to come back to the original thought – it is gently pleasing to see the seasons pass – notice the days get longer and then get shorter again. I used to hate getting up to go to work in the dark and then returning home in darkness. But it did mean that I got to see sunrise, which always feels special, particularly in spring, when the light seems golden on the morning frost.