Garden Birds

This is just a short piece to talk about the setting up of a garden bird hide at my home.

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I had recently been to a hide out in the Lincolnshire Wolds, and having examined the set up there, decided that I’d have a go at home.  It’s taken a bit of sorting out, but the results are starting to come in.

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It took a while for the birds to decide that they ‘liked’ where I’d put the new feeder, and that they trusted the perches I was putting out for them.

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So far, I’ve had the usual suspects creeping in – Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Coal Tit, Starlings – and the usual crop of Wood Pigeons.  Collard Dove is around but not had them on the table yet.  I’ve seen other finches and I’d love it for Woodpeckers to arrive.  Most years I get a cuckoo in the garden – and it would be amazing to get a shot of one of those.

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Fingers crossed.

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All images were taken with the Fuji X-T3 and the 100-400 lens.  The latter two with a 1.4 extender @f8

Boston – Where East Meets West – part 8

Boston and the Maud Foster Mill

According to legend, Boston is named after St Boltoph. It is said he came to the area in the 7th Century, and built a monastery and church next to an existing settlement. The settlement was renamed St Boltoph’s Tun (Town) and contracted to Boston.

Boston was not named in Domesday of 1086, but probably grew into a town in the 11th or 12th Century. At that time, international trade was booming, and Boston was well situated to trade with Europe, and became a busy port. It became a focal point for the villages around Lincolnshire, and slowly grew as the population expanded.

Once the church and tower (known locally as the “Stump”, was completed in the 15th to 16th Century it was a local landmark and used by sailors to find their way to the coast, and the town.

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It was the wool trade that made Boston important – and with a Royal Charter to hold a market – it became the place to see, and be seen.

The wool trade had almost stopped by 1500, but Boston continued to be an important trading town, with the import of spices and other goods.

In the mid 16th Century, work was started on the Maud Foster Drain.  Why this drain has this name is not entirely clear.

In History and Antiquities of Boston, Pishey Thompson states (p201) “Maud Foster herself  has ceased to be a myth, for we find frequent mention of her in the Corporation Records. But we cannot connect this person with the Drain, so as to discover any reason why it should bear her name. Tradition asserts, that Maud Foster was the owner of the land through which the new cut would pass, and that she gaved consent to its passage on very favourable conditions, one of which was that it should bear her name. Our readers must take this tradition for what it is worth, as we cannot strengthen it by any facts.”

The Mill was not built till 1819.

When we visited the windmill in February of this year – there was some construction work going on in front of it, but the current miller was talkative, and I was able to purchase some of the flour, ground there.  He sells a good variety, and I purchased both seed and plain strong bread flour – since made into a loaf.  You can also purchase porridge oats.

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I appreciate that there has been quite a jump from the last location to this one – and I intend to fill in the gaps as time goes on.

On the same day that we visited Boston, we also went to East Kirby Airfield, which houses not only the Lancaster ‘Just Jane’, but a stone which deliniates the East West Meridian.

I think that East Kirby deserves a post all to itself, but I think I need a return visit for more photographs.

The FujiFilm X-T3

Just over two years ago, I started to move over to the Fuji camera system.  At the time, it was with regret that I sold my beloved Canon 1D MK4, and some lens.  I bought the Fuji X-T2, and a 23mm f2 lens, and promptly went on holiday with it.

I could not believe the results from such a small camera – I’d done my research, and quizzed people who already used the Fuji system, and trusted those whom I had asked.  They had assured me I would be happy.

I’ve been a Canon girl my entire photographic life.  The first one I bought was the 350D, and after that a range of their cameras, and lens.  So a switch to a completely new system was a bit of a culture shock.

Once you get over the problem of sorting your way through a completely alien menu though – and realise that everything the Canon did, this does (and in some cases does it better), then you’re away.

Last year, Fuji brought out the X-T3 – and whilst I’m not one for upgrading for the sake of it – I decided that I’d go for it.  I had Canon stuff still to sell, and it sold really easily.  So with an upgrade trade in price from Fuji, and a great price for the X-T2 from the local camera shop, and cashback on a new lens, also from Fuji – the deal was done.

So, how am I getting on?

Well, it’s about image quality, and to be honest it is stunning.  I’ve worked this camera much harder than the X-T2, shooting sport and wildlife.  I’ve also had it in the studio, and shot some portraits.

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There’s a massive amount of detail.

With the X-T3 there are even larger files (the downside is I need more storage), and you do need a fair amount of processing power to move these through quickly. Detail and quality are excellent, and the ever increasing range of Fuji Lens, gives the shooter more and more options.

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This hare was on the other side of a field.  Taken with the 100-400 lens, and cropped in.  I’ve not lost any detail, and the image is still tack sharp.

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Catching small birds means getting the shutter speed up, but using the electronic shutter means I can access a much faster frame rate, and get exactly the shot I want.  Plus it’s a silent shutter.  No more spooking the birds.

_DSF1819I’ve read a lot about ‘worms’ within the xTrans sensor that the Fuji has.  I’ve also read that Adobe Lightroom makes the problem worse.  To be honest I just can’t see it.   I have sharpened the Fuji files in Lightroom, in the same way I did with the Canon.  There’s no difference.  They sharpen up just great – and a bit is always needed as I shoot in RAW.

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The end result is what matters, and it seems to me that whatever I do with this camera, the results are going to be brilliant.

So to those who are ‘sitting on the fence’, don’t wait any longer.  I can thoroughly recommend the Fuji system – and in case you’re wondering – no, I’m not getting paid for this – it’s just my thoughts and my impressions of a system.

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Enjoy your photography, whatever you use………

Old Bolingbroke – Where East Meets West – Part 7

It was a gloomy day when I set out with the intention of covering Old Bolingbroke, East Kirby and Snipe Dale.  The weather was really not conducive to photography, and it was very cold.  The water in the moat round the castle was frozen, and so I made the decision to return home after only visiting the castle and church.

The village of Old Bolingbroke lies in a broad valley of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and is not far off the Prime Meridian.  It is three miles West of Spilsby, and has one church – that of St Peter, and St Paul.  It is also the home of Old Bolingbroke Castle.  To the southwest a hill known as Kirkby Hill is topped with a former windmill, that sits just within the parish boundary.  So much for an introduction….. Castle First

Bolingbroke Castle was one of three built by Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester and Lincoln, in the 1220s after his return from the Crusades (the others being Beeston Castle, Cheshire, and Chartley, Staffordshire).  After Blundeville’s death, the castle remained in the ownership of the Earls of Lincoln and was later inherited through marriage by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.  It is now owned and maintained by English Heritage.

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John of Gaunt and his first wife, Blanche, lived at the castle during the 1360s. Their son, Henry of Bolingbroke, was born there in 1367.

Henry had a tempestuous relationship with Richard II and was exiled in 1397. He returned to England after the death of his father in 1399, enraged that the king had seized the estates he had inherited. Richard was in Ireland, attempting to quell a rising, when he heard of Henry’s return.

These events marked the end of Richard II’s reign. Henry of Bolingbroke was encouraged to claim the throne of England from his unpopular rival, and Richard was imprisoned. Soon afterwards, Henry was crowned king as Henry IV.

There is no documentary evidence to suggest that Henry IV ever returned to his birthplace.

The main function of the castle during the 15th and 16th centuries was as an administrative centre for the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster. The current names of the towers, for example the Auditor’s Tower and Receiver’s Tower, refer to their use during this period.

Surveys undertaken at the castle in the 17th century show that only a few of the towers then remained in use and that the enclosing walls were extremely dilapidated.

Bolingbroke Castle is a prime example of 13th-century architectural design and is described as an ‘enclosure’ castle. Such castles are characterised by curtain walls with towers enclosing a courtyard. Within this courtyard there would have been timber-framed structures, including a great hall and service buildings, evidence of which was found in excavations during the 1960s.

The south-west tower, which is now known as the King’s Tower, was rebuilt between 1444 and 1456 on an octagonal plan. By this time, the castle was more than 200 years old, and this remodelling represents an attempt by the owners to express their wealth and importance.

From the Auditor’s Tower can be seen the Rout Yard – the field to the south of the castle – which contains several earthworks, including a rectangular enclosure.

Debate continues as to the original use of this earthwork, which may have been a fishpond, an animal compound or a 17th-century fort.

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The Church of St Peter and St Paul – Old Bolingbroke

Seating about 250 people, the church was built of traditional Spilsby sandstone c1363 by John of Gaunt and was originally three times its current size.

The church suffered at the hands of Oliver Cromwell and fellow parliamentarians as they laid seige at Bolingbroke Castle in 1643 and was restored and the north aisle added in 1889.

In the centre of the village is a rose garden, and is depicted the Shield of the Duke of Lancaster.

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The Royal Village of Old Bollingbroke. The shield bears the arms of Edmund first Earl Of Lancaster. These are the arms of theDuchy of Lancaster who presented the sheild to this village on August 4th 1966 in commemoration of the birth in Bollinbroke Castle in 1366 of Henry Bollingnroke Duke of Lancaster. King Henry of England. The Roses are the original rose of Lancaster grown in Provins and adopted by Edmund as his emblem in 1280. They are a gift to the village from the mayor and people of Provins. March 1967.

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The text from the above plaque is shown inbetween the two images.

Next time – East Kirby Airfield – home of ‘Jane’, the Lancaster, and site of a Prime Meridian marker stone.

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It’s about the Light (and the weather)

How often do you hear the phrase “I only shoot in the golden hour”, or alternately “I won’t shoot in the middle of the day”?

I’m constantly surprised by these remarks, because, if you think about it, it only leaves a few scant hours to shoot in the Winter, and it must knock at least 12 hours off your Summer schedule too.

Life goes on, and light goes on, even during the day – and at mid-day too.

I grant you that good light is great, and when it happens, and you are there – the images, you just know, are going to be amazing. The caveat is, that this great light, has to have something great on which to fall.  No subject equates to no picture.

This week, (early in February) the weather in the UK has been pretty grim.  The folks down South seem to have had the worst of it, but up here in the micro climate that is the East Coast of Lincolnshire – we didn’t get a lot of weather as such.  What we did get was a blast of freezing fog, grey sky, sleet, and as I type a smattering of snow.  ( And even as I finish that sentence – the snow stops and the sun comes out)……..

However, I digress – I had to go out – I had an appointment that I was not able to change, or postpone, I had to go.  The roads were icy (I’m three miles from the nearest main gritted road), the fog was thick and patchy, and if I hadn’t had to get out, I’d have stayed in and watched the fog!

So, when I did get the car out, I thought I’d take the camera….. just in case.  turns out it was a good thing I did.

Appointment finished about 10am, and the fog was still freezing – the car said -5 but I thought I’d head out to the coast.

First impressions were not thrilling, and the cold air took my breath away.

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None the less, I enjoyed the lead lines fading away into the distance.

It was heading up to 11am by the time I arrived at my next location – which I swung into on impulse.  It’s the Country park, which is usually chock full of dog walkers and joggers.  The paths were OK, but the car park itself was lethal.

The hoar frost made everything look much more beautiful, and the low light gave everything an air of peace.

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By changing the white balance on the camera from sunny to cloudy, it warmed the pictures up a little but still allowed for that feeling of cold.

Moving around the lake to the jetty I found that by shooting low – (this means sitting in the frosty grass by the way), I was able to get my favourite shot of the day.

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A tweak or two in photoshop, add a vignette, and I’m done.  It’s lunchtime.  The light is directly overhead, it would be harsh but for the fog (now lifting) – it’s revealed the textures in the icy water and in the wooden stumps.  There’s no cloud, so I’ve not shown much of the sky.

All in all, I’m glad of the appointment – I’m glad I shot in the worst part of the day – chose the wrong weather, got cold, and wet.  It was worth it.

Get out in the ‘weather’, whatever it may be.  You just don’t know what will be revealed.

Where East meets West – Part 6

It’s Sunday – January 20th – it’s minus 4 outside – it’s frosty, and the light I know is going to be fabulous.  I drag my other half out of bed and announce that we’re going out.  “Where?” he says…. “To the Meridian of course”.

I’m retracing some of the route I took the other week, but taking in the village of Hagworthingham.  This historic village nestles on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The important and beautiful Snipe Dales Country Park is adjacent and Hagworthingham is situated approximately equidistant from the market towns of Horncastle, Alford and Spilsby.

Snipe Dales is right on the Meridian, and I’ll be visiting there another time.  We had to stop at the ford though just outside Hagworthingham, and the cold seeped into my hands and feet – out of the sun, and near water, the temperature plummeted and we got a move on quickly…

Next – was Stockwith Mill and Bridge.  The 17th Century Mill was run for over 30 years as a tea room, but recently it has closed, and the property has been sold.  I would have loved to have photographed the mill and included the overshot waterwheel (which was last used in the 1950’s).  As it is, I had to make do with images from the main road.


The mill used to have a small museum which included artifacts which belonged to Alfred Lord Tennyson.  I have seen some beautiful photographs of this house, but sadly it’s all marked as private now, and I could get no closer.

On the route back, I decided to stop again at Somersby – as I’d seen a lovely tree lined road, which I didn’t photograph last time, as the light was dull and flat – today was much better, and having got the trees – I looked around where I had parked the car.


I’d parked in what looked like a small quarry – though very overgrown – and I clambered up the rocks to see the view from the top – what I didn’t notice on the way up was all the carvings in the rock face – and because the sun was low still, it highlighted the names engraved there.  It didn’t seem to be random graffiti.  You would have had to have taken tools to inscribe your name so deeply in the rock.


It has obviously been going on for generations, and I wondered why, and how it came that people travelled to this really out of the way place to carve their names on the rocks.

Next time, a bit further South still, to  Bolingbroke and East Kirby.


You can follow the tour on Google by clicking this link