Sunday 30 September 2012

Harvest Moon

I stood outside in the chill, stillness of dusk. As the robin was singing a goodnight melody and the bats flitted overhead, the bright moon was rising in the eastern sky.

It was the moon that I was waiting for. A special moon; the Harvest Moon.

Ok, let's come back down to earth from the poetic idyll.
So, you say, it looks the same as any other full moon, what makes this one special?
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox and is said to have gained the name due to the useful light it gave during the busy harvest time, thus extending the working hours.

According to my diary, the equinox was on 22nd September and the full moon is today, 30th September. Right? Well, yes, it is and we all seem to have the notion that the full moon should be in the middle of the night, making the moment of full moon during the hours of darkness tonight. Which is why last night I went out with my camera for the set-up shot, ready for THE shot tonight. That is fine as far as it goes, but if you really want to split hairs, I have already missed the moment of the full moon. That occurred at 4.19 this morning, on the 30th, which in sleeping terms, equates to last night and I certainly wasn't around for that moment. By tonight, when I set up the camera again (clouds permitting) the moon will be on the wane again but to most un-trained eyes, no-one will notice the difference. Therefore, I will try for a more exciting shot of the Harvest moon tonight, seeing as I was thwarted by a patch of cloud during the lovely deep blue dusk sky phase last night. If I don't manage another shot, at least I have these two but then...
there is another opportunity with the Hunter's Moon also known as the Sanguine Moon. This is the next full moon after the Harvest Moon, apparently named for a similarly obvious reason.

And the poetry? Actually, it really was a lovely evening.

Wonderful...  TW
The sky never ceases to wow, does it?  KL

Excellent !  DC

Saturday 22 September 2012

Baltimore RNLI

At the far South West corner of Ireland lies the small community of Baltimore where today a special ceremony took place to name their new €3million Tamar class lifeboat, The Alan Massey.

This is one of two RNLI stations in particular, which I support out of all the brilliant crews around the UK and Ireland (the other being RNLI Southwold in the far East of England) and I do like to follow their happenings too. So, today I was rather sad to have missed out on the opportunity for best value flight fares to enable me to return to West Cork this weekend and join in with events.

I had already acquainted myself with the then newly arrived RNLB Alan Massey during a visit I made to West Cork back in February, when I saw it sitting resplendent in the harbour.

The Baltimore lifeboat station (as seen in the first image) located at Bull Point just around the corner from the main harbour, was not first suited to the new arrival, and the Alan Massey had to be temporarily moored in Baltimore harbour. Tom Bushe, Lifeboat Operations Manager said at the ceremony today. "The Alan Massey has already been called out 14 times since it arrived on 15th February" The outgoing RNLB Hilda Jarrett Tyne class lifeboat, which had served Baltimore since 1988 was most notably involved in the Rambler rescue in August 2011. However, along with the successful rescues there were also tragedies, more recently witnessing the search for the missing crewmen from the Tit Bonhomme in Glandore Harbour.

Here, we should show our gratitude to all RNLI volunteers and I have every respect for their bravery and dedication. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the crew of the Alan Massey lifeboat all the very best in their new vessel, hope that they may continue to save many lives in the future and be a beacon of safety to all those in the seas around West Cork.

Thursday 20 September 2012

I wonder if you can...


"...I need some portraits taking of our two boys for their mother's birthday"
This was the message on our answering machine when we returned from holiday at the end of last week.

The first constraint was that these boys, or rather, young men, were due to return to their respective Universities within three days of me picking up the message. The second was that I was scheduled for shoots on two of those days, so that left... well, just that day.

An hour in the woods with two young men, (of whom I had been informed, "usually pull silly faces in photos") rendered a clutch of images which proved that they could indeed be subjects to make their mum (and dad) proud.

And the birthday?
Today, actually, so "happy birthday to you", their mum!

Sunday 16 September 2012


They can't half shift !  Hedgehogs that is. They lift up that little prickly skirt to reveal two pairs of long-distance legs. This one, was like the Mo Farah of the Erinaceus europaeus olympics, and trying to photograph it without the benefit of a dolly track was quite a challenge.

I was reminded that I ought to post about this particular meeting I'd had a couple of weeks ago, when last night, we had another hedgehog encounter. Driving down a narrow dimly lit lane in town, I first spotted an adult hedgehog running alongside the shadow of the wall, closely followed by a hoglet. With hedgehog numbers struggling, it is always exciting to see these endearing creatures, so we turned around, provided spotlights on the running track and sat and watched. Very soon, three teenagers sat down on the lane and joined in as spectators, enjoying what otherwise might have been an overlooked event. Shortly after, the leanest, meanest adjudicator rocks up to inspect in an inimitable feline style - nose first. Of course, the anticipated outcome of this tete a tete was a recoil in shock, and with this, we had a smug giggle and left them all to it.

A cautious sniff and a recoil in shock was the exact same reaction that mutt had given during the daytime encounter in the park the other week.

In fact, I think this little hoglet was more concerned about finding it's way around than being bothered by all things massive on both two and four legs.

First it started tucking-in to the bag of (well I don't need to explain what) which I had temporarily put to one side to free up a camera hand.

Next it took a shine to my denim-clad knee, which I recoiled pretty smartish before it became a distressed denim-clad knee.

Whilst I and several other passing dog walkers were enjoying this close encounter with the little hoglet, everything was telling me that it felt wrong. Why was I seeing this little fella running around during the daytime? Was it big enough to survive on its own, and was it of sufficient body mass to get through the coming winter?

Not having armed myself with thorn-proof gloves or a box (as of course I always would when out on a walk with mutt!!), and being some way from home, there was not much else I could do, apart from shoo away the nosey, slobbering, passing canines in an attempt to protect our prickly friend. Eventually, the hoglet hurried off into the long grass just as Mrs Tiggywinkle, where I hoped it might be offered some respite from the heat of the sun and the attentions of any more dog-walkers.

On my return home, I checked my concerns about daytime sightings on-line, at both Tiggywinkles and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, where my fears were confirmed.

"Hedgehogs are nocturnal so those out in the day are displaying odd behaviour. Even though they appear lively and are rushing around these hedgehogs probably need rescuing. Once out in the day they can be days away from death. Even when rescued they can seem OK for a day or so and then suddenly collapse and die. So if out in the day whether rushing about or curled up asleep they need rescuing."

I was gutted that I was unable to do anything on this occasion and fear this is one more lost hoglet. However, I now know for the future what needs to be done, thanks to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Should anyone else encounter a similar situation, and are unable to care for the hedgehog themselves, help should be at hand by ringing the Society on 01584 890 801 They will provide the name and number of local volunteers as well as any further advice. Tiggywinkles can also be contacted for assistance on 01844 292292 (24 Hour Emergency Line)

I do so hope that the hedgehog population might see a much needed increase in the years to come, so that the teenagers of the future, and indeed, everyone can continue to enjoy the antics of these animals.

Friday 7 September 2012

SX Urban Games, Saffron Walden

"SX Urban Games, an opportunity for young people to compete in and watch demonstrations in a range of Urban activities at skate parks all over Essex, and as part of the Olympic initiative"

Sunday 2nd September found me tasked to a shoot at the One Minet Skate Park in Saffron Walden where skateboards, bmx and scooters had come together to use the highly regarded facilities at the park. From youngsters on their first board to pro skaters, all mixed together in a way that wouldn't be found in any other sport. The atmosphere was alive with exhibitions and demonstrations and there was an overwhelming feel that this was a cordial and safe event. Rules of use were respected and adhered to, making it one of the most family friendly events I have attended in a long while. It was amazing to watch the developing skills, the honed skills and the almost blatant disregard for caution when it came to the potential risk of injury. Indeed, tears were not something I saw during my time amongst these active youngsters.
(It is just a pity that those youngsters who could most benefit from activity of this sort, can be the ones who fail to become involved and end up being the minority to abuse these world-class facilites. Sadly, such antisocial behaviour during the current summer break appears to have impacted on what was finally allowed to go ahead at this event.)

Regardless, all that I spoke to agreed that the skate park is one of the best in the country and most are prepared to travel many miles to regularly use the facility. From Lincolnshire to London, Hertfordshire to Suffolk, I met, chatted to and photographed these skaters in action. A selection of images follow.

Sam Jiggins aged 17 performs a scooter backflip

Pro skater Mark Munson

 Further pictures can be found at Saffron Walden Reporter