It had been a long time coming. I'd waited all week for a sunny day and finally, on Friday, the skies were blue and the temperature was just right. I grabbed my camera, found a random footpath nearby and headed into the fields ...
It's amazing where you go when you find a random footpath and just follow it!
The last time I took my camera out for a wander - the first time since before I got ill - I felt that I'd forgotten a lot and I wasn't that impressed with the pictures I took. I'd got the autofocus set wrong, the exposures were all off and the polarizer I had fitted lost its effectiveness as the afternoon clouded over.
But I've spent a lot of time just playing with my camera recently, and taking random shots around my home and in my garden, twiddling with settings, playing with various filters and annoying my cats.
"I felt a lot more confident this time around!"
The footpath I chose opened onto farm buildings. Although there was no-one around there were a number of ewes with lambs in some of the barn stalls. I didn't want to disturb them as they were obviously newborns but I shall try to get back there soon for a few shots.
Using the Ordnance Survey mapping app on my iPhone, I found where the footpath exited the farm and headed along the edge of the field and deep into the countryside.
It was the middle of the afternoon by now and, as I was heading west, the Sun was in front of me. This meant that any photographs would be over exposed if I shot in that direction, but to the right and left of me and behind me, the images would be well exposed.
I was traversing a huge field that had young oilseed plants growing in it with the occasional early flower to be found. About 2/3 of the way down, I sat down and took some photos of the village church across the field.
It was then I suddenly realised that I was completely alone in all directions for at least 1/4 of a mile! I was listening to a blackbird in the hedgerow and there was a pheasant in the next field calling out. Above me, a skylark was twittering away and even further above that, a number of Red Kites were circling on a thermal.
"That's when I took my shoes off and just wandered barefoot!"
Yes, I know that fields are full of stones and there are all sorts of agricultural debris on the edge of them, but it took me back to being a child wandering around barefoot in the fields of the Wirral and it gave me a real sense of connection with the place.
I eventually got to the end of the fields and arrived at a Tarmac farm road so sat under a tree, surrounded by daffodils in full bloom, put my shoes back on again and rested for a while.
I had spotted a lake on my mapping app and asked a chap at the farm if it was ok to go visit. He was happily mowing his perfect lawn on a ride on tractor and said he owned it, but gave me permission to go down there and check it out. I'd spotted the swans and geese using the zoom on my camera and, as it's breeding season, promised him not to go near their nests or disturb them.
It looks as though it was a gravel pit originally (maybe for the nearby railway line) and it is quite deep but the water was crystal clear and it's no wonder that waterfowl like it here as, apart from the farm, it's miles away from any people! I guess that there'll be fish in it although I didn't see any whilst I was there.
I stayed for a while but as the Sun was lowering, I wasn't able to get many shots of the birds and with me not wanting to disturb them just to get a better picture, I wandered through the field and along the bridal path that connects back up to the village road I live on.
Half way back I tried photographing those pesky Red Kites again but even with focus tracking switched on my camera they were just out of reach. I was shooting at 800mm (the maximum my camera will do) but without some super-long professional glass there's no way I'm going to get anything pin sharp from that distance!
By the time I got back to the village road I was absolutely exhausted and just sat in the field next to the stile recovering and just enjoying the view. I played with a few filter shots, but the sunlight was incredibly harsh and I need more practice with my external filters before publishing some images.
"I must get a stout pair of walking boots and certainly a water bottle to take with me for next time!"
The next time we have a sunny day in the village I'll be out and about again and, this time, will be practising with my external filters to get a range of different effects on my photographs. I'm really looking forward to it!