Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 28/03/2012

Orange Blossom Special*

As you may have gathered I don’t watch Football on the TV (or even live) very often but last night I had the misfortune of watching the Sunderland vs Everton match whilst I was writing my blog (or trying to). An incident, 15 minutes from full time caught my attention and with my Rugby perspective bemused me. there was an altercation between two players with a shoulder barge occurring (I can’t say who was at fault) – it was an incendiary moment, and suddenly it seemed that the whole team were postulating against their opposing number. The Ref. tried to calm the situation down by repeatedly blowing his whistle, it was this point that really sparked my interest – I’m not saying such altercations don’t happen in Rugby, after all it’s a much more physical game, it’s just if the Ref was to blow his whistle.. well, the players listen and respond.. .they have to, any disrespect shown to the Ref can result in a 5m or 10m loss in position – such rules and regulations need to filter down to the Beautiful Game (I’m referring to Football, not my term you understand)

… some time later… no, don’t worry, you haven’t walked into a Film Noir script, I’ve been out and about with my camera and whilst I didn’t see or photograph the intended target I did manage a few other passable photos. As mentioned a couple of days ago, with the UK currently enjoying a mini heatwave (for this time of year), I was lucky enough to spot a Common Lizard amongst the leaf litter of a local park. I’ve long wanted to photograph our only native venomous snake, the Adder, and with that in mind I set out to try and find some at a local nature reserve where they are known to exist. I suspect I arrived too late in the day for my searches to be fruitful, as temperatures had already risen ensuring that the snakes would not need to bask to raise their body temperatures. I did however find exactly what i was looking for, a large piece of corrugated iron placed close to vegetation where snakes can shelter and also gain heat directly from the metal work. I did look under the sheet which sounds braver (or more stupid) than it was; part of the metal sheeting is bent up at 45° to the ground and looking part way under the covering I was able to see that I could safely lift the covering to look underneath. I suspect if I return first thing in the morning I might well be rewarded with some slithery inhabitant (no, not merchant bankers or estate agents!).

I’m amazed any of these spring blossom photos actually came out at all – the circumstances weren’t idea to achieve a sharp image. Certainly the light levels were perfect and I even manage to lower the ISO down to ISO400; the sun was illuminating the blooms perfectly as well, the issue was the location of the flowers. They were up high, but luckily there was wooden fence adjacent to the large tree where the flowers were – there were three parallel wooden cross members – I had to stand on the middle strut to be able to get close enough to the flowers but this did mean I wasn’t able to keep that still. Even holding my breath (as I’ve explained before) didn’t help as I wobbled too and fro, up high on the fence but somehow I managed quite a few sharp shots and the best bit – I was using manual focusing! A friend told me it takes over 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything… so despite being able to get a sharp image – I think I still need to put some more hours in.

*It’s the title of a Johnny Cash album


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