Living Lens photo weekend , 12-14 Nov 21

Some time back I was looking at courses whereby I might improve my Lightroom and Photoshop skills and as I Googled I came across Living Lens which was offering weekends of photography. That promised an opportunity to get away from the rather uninspiring landscapes of Cambridgeshire with a little instruction thrown in as a bonus so I signed up and early this month ended up in the New Forest.

I’d not really been to the New Forest before so that was a first for me. It is a forest and although we weren’t blessed by the best of weather we did seem to hit it at the height of its autumn colours.

There were only six of us on the course, those standing in the photograph. The lady in front is Mary McDowall who looked after the course’s logistics. Behind the camera for this shot was Pat Cummings who provided the instruction.

We had a super hotel, the Woodlands Lodge within the New Forest and a walk out the back garden giving you immediate access. It’s not large but is well appointed with excellent food and excellent service. With that sort of combination you really can’t go far wrong.

Our first afternoon on the Friday was just a walk out of the back of the hotel. I reckon I took my best photo of the weekend early on that walk but captured several other good ones too. I found that the colours were impressive but on their own said little. I followed the advice of James Popsys to make them more photos about things than simply of them.

It didn’t rain at all over the weekend but we didn’t get much sun either. That meant that our attempts on Saturday at sunrise (at Janesmoor Pond) and sunset (at Hatchet Pond) were unrewarding.

After an excellent breakfast of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon accompanied by a proper coffee, an Americano from the espresso machine, we set out the next day to overdose on autumn colours.

We started at Rockford Common from which we had access to Bratley View which is maybe the highest point within the New Forest. From there we took in more trees and their leaves and got our first close ups of ponies at Mogshade Pond. My pony photos are sadly uninteresting.

We also stopped at a good place to practice some ICM. That’s Intentional Camera Movement and it can give you some nice visual effects. I regard it more of a case of been there, tried that, done it.

We had lunch at the Red Shoot where I made the mistake of ordering a non-alcoholic lager before gong via the Ornamental Drive, to get us completely saturated in Autumn colour, to Beaulieu.

Beaulieu is on the river of the same name which drains a large pond in the village. Sadly when we were there it was empty pond time. It’s also the home of the Marques of Bath and his motor museum which is now described as the National Motor Museum. Unsurprisingly there’s also evidence of historic and classic cars within the village.

On Sunday morning we headed off for a change of scenery. We stopped first at Milford-on Sea which is a pleasant seaside town with sea defences which make for an excellent promenade and from which you get good views of the Isle of White and the Needles

Finally we ended up in Lymington, a ‘picturesque coastal village’. It’s a great place if you want to photograph lots of yachts and their display of vertical masts, which I do, there’s also evidence of some local fishing and there’s nice high street leading down to the harbour area with a good number of cafes, artisan food stores, boutiques and estate agents. Not a bad place to live I guess.

It was a good weekend although I felt it petered out a bit towards the end. But did I learn anything?

Well yes. I’m a lazy photographer and work with a 28-200mm lens which is fine for most situations. I also set my shots up at f5.6 and minimum 1/125th with auto ISO. I came unstuck with landscape photography where I needed a little more depth of field and with close-ups when I wasn’t precise enough with respect to my focus point. Good lessons learnt.

There’s a more complete set of photos from the weekend at

Photo of the Month: October 2021

I spotted this splendid art deco property on Queen Edith’s Way as I drive past it one day and just had to go back and get a photo.

The photo was taken with my Sony Experia mobile phone, 1/50th at f2.0 and ISO 64 with a focal length of 4.4mm. 

There’s been a heavy crop so I’ve lost a lot of the detail in the foliage. I’ve subjected it to a fair amount of post-processing to compensate for the shortcomings of the phone camera

Photo of the Month: September 2021

It’s that time of year again. I usually get a tractor photo at some stage and this is the second one this year. We got lots of sunshine during the month so I guess it’s been a good harvest and with the dust rising the photo’s pleasantly evocative of a summer’s evening

This photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/160th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 126mm. It’s another photo with an irregular crop but otherwise minimal post processing but for an increase in the colour temperature to make it ‘warmer’

Birthday eve dinner at MJP@TheShepherds

I like to go out to dinner to celebrate my birthday and given our experience during the Covid period I wanted to go somewhere good (don’t I always?) and different. So I did a search on TripAdvisor for restaurants with some sort of Michelin connection. This yielded a list including Navadhanya on Newmarket Road and Restaurant 22 on Chesterton Road, The Crown & Punchbowl in Horningsea and the Tickell Arms in Whittlesford all of which I’ve been to and to which I would return. It also included Midsummer House on Midsummer Common and Parker’s Tavern at the University Arms, neither of which I’m inclined to  go to, and the rather new MJP@The Shepherds in Fen Ditton which looked interesting and different. I decided to give it a go.

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Photo of the Month: Aug 2021

I like this one because of the vibrancy of the colours and stories within it. I took it in the morning before the Gay Pride event in Peterborough.

There’s a great mix of people in the photo from the strong, maybe arrogant, pose of the girl fourth from left, through the cheeky grin of the guy second right who’s enjoying the crack and the sadness of the guy fourth left who wants to be in the group but isn’t bold enough to push himself forward, to the group of three girls on the left who haven’t quite got the style yet but are happy to be there on the day.

The photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/125th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 181mm. It’s got one of my now ‘trademark’ irregular crops but otherwise minimal post processing. My first crop was too aggressive and with this one I’ve given the characters a little more headroom than they had when I posted the photo on

Stent plus two

Today is exactly two years since I got my stent. I’m particularly aware of this because Google Photos has told me with pictures of my journey from Addenbrooke’s to Royal. Papworth.

Of course lots more has happened in those years than my really rather trivial experience of living with my stent, and of course a lot has not happened as our freedoms have been, not unreasonably, constrained because of Covid.

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