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’

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

Photo of the Month: Jul 2021

We were due to be in Yorkshire for the weekend to stay with Clare’s family and for me to go the cricket with Alex and we booked a night in Stamford on the way up. Unfortunately everyone except Clare tested positive for Covid (they’re OK now) so we had to cancel that trip but we stuck with Stamford.

We stayed at the Henry Cecil and after dinner took a walk. It was one of those crystal clear summer’s evenings and I took this photo of St Martin’ Church with the spire of the Church of St Mary just behind.

This photo was taken with my Sony Cypershot WX-350 1/40th at f4.5 and ISO 800. There’s been minimal post-processing just a modest crop to get rid a a couple of stray lights in the foreground.

Photo of the Month: Jun 2021

I offer this shot of King’s College Chapel for PotM with some trepidation. Firstly because it’s a cliché and secondly because it’s been subject to a lot more post-processing than is my normal practice.

It was a summer’s evening and I’d turned up for an event an hour early so I had the opportunity to just walk around and enjoy Cambridge. I was drawn to this shot by the cows but the shot is really of the chapel.

The photo was taken with my Sony Experia mobile phone, 1/125th at f2.0 and ISO 40 with a focal length of 4.4mm. 

In post-processing I first of all gave it a severe crop and then got rid of some temporary fencing in the foreground. I added a sky with some colour and increased the texture of the buildings. As I said, quite a lot of post-processing. Check out the original.

This is my first phone PotM for some time and you can see its limitations. The lack of resolution is not displeasing but it does look a little more like a painting than a photograph.

Photo of the month: May 2021

It’s been a good month for photography with several candidates for PotM. Then when I’d chosen this one I was in two minds whether or not to post the version with a few, very minor, post processing adjustments. In the end I’ve decided to go for it. Click here for a copy of the plain unvarnished version

This is a photo of good friend Stuart Lothian who’s just been shopping at Michael’s fruit and veg ‘stall’ on Park Lane and it’s confirmation yet again that it’s always carrying your with camera with you.

The photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/100th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 170mm. As mentioned above there’s been a little light post-processing and a square crop.

Photo of the month: April 2021

Two PotM posts in a row rather suggests I haven’t been doing much writing recently. I’ll blame that on the election and promise to improve now that’s behind us.

This is a photo, one of the first, taken with my new camera, that’s a Sony Alpha 7 III. It was taken with an exposure of 1/2000th at f1.8 and ISO 100 with a 50mm lens.

I took it low down so needed to crop it to bring it back to vertical but there’s been no other post processing. How could you improve those colours?

Photo of the month: March 2021

I was stuck without a DSLR for a couple of weeks as I was trading up. That meant I resorted to my perfectly good Sony WX-350 compact.

This is a photo of Ros Hathorn who’s standing as the Lib Dem candidate in the county council elections to replace me. She’s an excellent candidate and will make an excellent councillor. We needed a shot of her in Orchard Park with visible context so here she is in Unwin Square in front of Tesco.

As I said it was taken with my Sony WX-350. 1/100th at f5.0 and a focal length of 12.05mm and ISO80. I confess to a little light work in Photshop to add a tad of blur to the background