December 2020
December 2020 - Leaves, seals and gulls

November saw some fine weather that allowed folk to enjoy the great outdoors as we all endured varying levels of lockdown. The colours in the trees graced the beginning of the month before strong winds stripped the remaining leaves to expose bare, winter boughs. Yet there is something special about walking through a carpet of leaves as they rustle beneath one’s feet…

The Water of Leith provided plenty of entertainment for me photograpically as yellow, bronze and golden leaves stood out amidst stone and water. I am often found photographing from the middle of the river and neoprene wellies become essential at this time of year as they keep one’s feet warm and comfortable; cold feet often lead to a premature departure as they rapidly strip the fun from the adventure! The earlier evenings also provide some additional opportunities to play with available and artificial light on the water to produce something altogether more creative.

A visit to a local pond in Edinburgh was surprisingly productive. I went with no clear image in mind and the light was beginning to fade but the black headed gulls in their winter plumage contrasted beautifully with the dirty, shadowed water. A moorhen glided across the surface but once it dived and emerged with a scrap of food, the chase began. A gull swooped down on the moorhen which was now fully sprinting across the top of the water to successfully seek the sanctuary of a reed bed. Some slow shutter-speed bird flight images also produced interesting results (see image).

November is seal month! I assist a group that counts grey seal pups in the Firth of Forth with the data being submitted to scientists to monitor the population. It also a prime opportunity to photograph these incredible animals close-up. Autumnwatch featured the grey seals on the nearby Isle of May so their behaviour will be familiar to many but to be sitting amongst the pups and cows while the bull - the “beachmaster” - patrols to ward off any males offering to challenge him for mating rights with the females, is an amazing experience.

I gave a Zoom talk to Kirkintilloch Camera Club at the end of November which charted my 20 year journey in photography. The images seemed to go down well and my thanks to the club for the warm welcome I received.

However, the pandemic still remains amongst us and travel restrictions limit the choice of locations to photograph. Consequently we are all finding photographic material closer to home and discovering new places on our doorsteps that have been overlooked for years. As the most strangest of years draws to a close, many challenges still lie ahead in the shape of covid and Brexit but, like nature, humans can adapt and overcome. I hope you find some peace, happiness and hope during this Christmas period.