Saturday, 3 December 2016

Allotment Black Gold

I'm not sure I remember seeing the forecast that suggested the first couple of days of December would be milder nor can I remember seeing the forecast that said it would rain on Friday.

We were in need of a few fresh root vegetables so we decided on a visit to the plot. I was a little bit concerned that the keen frost last week might have damaged our carrot crop which we leave in the ground over winter. It was very cloudy when we arrived and it was trying to rain. It seemed a good ides to dig up some vegetables first just in case the rain got heavier.
Carrots - Flyaway
Our carrots appear to have survived the frost. A few have split and allowed easy picking for slugs and other pests but most of the carrots are still in good condition even if some are a little bit misshapen. When I'd finished harvesting the vegetables it was still trying to rain but not really enough to put us off carrying on with a few jobs. One job that I needed to do was start emptying one of our compost bins. I'll admit that I'm rubbish at making compost but now and again I must do something right and I get some good stuff. This particular compost bin worked pretty well.
It's got a few twiggy bits in it that haven't completely broken down and the largest of them were removed and added to a compost heap in the making. I've managed to get four barrowfulls of good friable compost and am using it to mulch around our fruit bushes.
That was all I had time to do as it started to rain somewhat heavier and we decided to call it a day. I think I'll get another four barrowfulls of compost out of this bin which should be enough to finish mulching around our fruit trees and bushes.

I wish I was better at this compost making lark.

Friday, 2 December 2016

A December Visit to Clumber Park

December is the beginning of meteorological winter but to be honest it feels like winter started a few weeks ago. Thursday though wasn't a bad start to December and compared to recently it was milder. The average  monthly temperature for this November ranked sixth coldest out of the seven Novembers I've records for.
We had a visit to the National Trust's property Clumber Park on Thursday to have a walk around the lake and see what wildlife we could spot.
We even had a little bit of afternoon sunshine as we walked along the edge of the lake watching the ducks and geese making the most of the sunshine just like us.
Sue remembered to take some seed and peanuts and as we walked back to the visitor centre through the trees the birds and the squirrels were happy to take advantage of some extra food.
All I've to do now is sort out the best images out of a few hundred taken.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

End of Meteorological Autumn

The thermometer suggests that Wednesday wasn't as cold as Tuesday but with a stiff breeze it didn't feel any warmer outside. I couldn't resist this snap of one of our local cats looking for some rays of sunshine and warmth as it sat precariously on the top of the fence.
It's now got to the time of year when our garden gets very little sunshine. The sun's track is so low in the sky that house, trees and fences mean that the sun never shines on the ground.
As you can see from this morning shot taken in our garden the sun is so low in the sky that it shines through the remaining leaves on our Medlar onto the side of a very frosty greenhouse. It's still another month before the sun sinks to its lowest in the sky.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Coldest This Year

Tuesday was a lovely sunny day following on from a bitterly cold start. Even in the sunshine the temperature only managed to reach 5.1°C (41.2°F). Our average temperature for the day was 0.6°C  (33.1°F) the coldest in 2016 taking the place of 17 January 2016 that had a daily average of 0.8°C (33.4)°F.
It's not even winter yet!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Into the Freezer

Sunday wasn't all that bad for November and Monday was a lovely sunny November day. We decided on an afternoon at the allotment.
However, we've paid the price for that lovely sunny day as with clear skies overnight the temperature plummeted to a low of -3.7°C or 25.3°F.
I didn't have a little image of the lowest temperature and by 08:00 it was warming up a fraction. As far as records go it doesn't make it into our top twenty coldest days but it is the third coldest November day in six years. My record for November is -7.6°C (18.3°F) on 28 November 2010 with -4.4°C (24.1°F) taking second place on 27 November 2010.

I did take a little bit of video during our visit to the allotment on Monday afternoon. If you'd like a little late autumn tour the video is below.
The forecast is that after another sunny day on Tuesday but temperatures could fall even lower overnight into Wednesday morning. Watch this space.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Photography Kit

I thought I’d do, as one or two other bloggers have done, and go through my camera details. Sue has done a post on the camera equipment she uses here. As Sue takes photographs of the places we visit I often take video if nothing else to be different. I still want my camera to take good still shots when I’m out and about and for this reason I have moved away from the camcorder I used when I first started taking videos.
The world of video has moved on very quickly to encompass the world of 4k UHD (Ultra High Definition). As daft as it sounds a camera capable of shooting 4k video can produce video of a quality as good or better than normal broadcast TV quality.

My main camera is a Panasonic GH4 and is capable of shooting 4k UHD video and still images.
I put a great deal of thought into the decision to purchase this camera as it went against my idea that I wanted a camera where I didn’t have, what I see as, the nuisance of changing lenses. I wanted a camera with a lens that ranged from wide angle to long telephoto. However, there are lots of video on the Internet showing the image quality achievable with the GH4 and this persuaded me that this was the camera to go for especially for capturing video. Unlike our other Panasonic cameras this one doesn’t come with a multipurpose built in lens, so once I’d decided on the camera the next decision was which lens to buy to use with the camera. I chose a 14mm to 140mm zoom lens in the hope that this would fulfil all my video and still image requirements with just one lens dispensing with the need to change lenses.
Whitby Harbour Panasonic GH4 14 -140mm lens
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that photographing steam locomotives is one of my hobbies. The 14mm to 140 mm lens is perfect for doing this as zooming in to the full extent of the lens is not normally required. A camera has to be held very steady to avoid shaky video. I don’t particularly want to be limited to using a tripod for taking video and in any case where there are lots of people about it seems dangerous for both camera and passers by to have a tripod erected on a busy railway station platform. Nor do I want to be carrying a tripod around on the North Yorkshire Moors.
North Yorkshire Moors Panasonic GH4 14 -140mm lens
I also enjoy wildlife photography and I haven’t found much wildlife that hangs about long enough for me to get a tripod set up and camera switched on to capture the scene for either a still or moving image.
Thorp Perrow arboretum Panasonic GH4 14 -140mm lens
For some wildlife photography where the subject is reasonably close, like the swan at Thorp Perrow arboretum above, the 14mm to 140mm zoom lens captures some excellent still images and video. However, visiting nature reserves and wildlife parks when the subjects were further away, it didn’t cut the mustard. I’d been using a Panasonic FZ1000 with an equivalent zoom lens of 400mm so 140mm maximum wasn’t giving me the results I wanted. As a result, I’ve added an additional Panasonic  100-300mm lens to my camera bag even though it goes against the grain of having one single all purpose lens.
I’d normally take both lenses if I’m visiting a nature reserve or wildlife park but on other occasions like visiting the allotment I wouldn’t bother with the longer telephoto lens.
RSPB Reserve – Old Moor Panasonic GH4 100 -300mm lens
Providing the wildlife isn't too far away the 100-300mm lens gets some good shots and isn’t too heavy to carry around.

Then there was a new kid on the block. Not to replace what my existing Panasonic camera was capable of but to add a new dimension to my videos.
DJI Osmo 4k camera & gimbal
Doesn't look much like a camera does it! I think the DJI Osmo deserves a post of its own as it's most unlike any other camera I’ve used.

Freezing Mist

Saturday wasn't the sort of day to be outside.  Rather oddly the coldest part of the day was through the daylight hours. The cold peaked at 08:30 in the morning dropping to -0.8°C (30.6°F). Shortly after that the freezing mist formed and remained until the late afternoon when it lifted and the temperature gradually began to rise reaching the dizzy heights of 6.0°C or 43°F by midnight.
It was a bit cold on the fingers trying to capture the frost on the leaves.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

A Murmuration?

Friday wasn't too bad a day. At home it was cloudy all morning but in the afternoon we visited RSPB Old Moor where we were lucky enough to have a few hours of sunshine. Overnight Friday into Saturday saw this November's lowest temperature so far with -0.8°C or 30.6°F.
It was cold enough to form a thin sheet of ice on the bird bath.

Over the last couple of weeks there have been reports of starling murmurations at RSPB Old Moor and we were hoping that they would perform their aerial antics on Friday as they roosted for the evening. After our afternoon walk around the reserve we hadn't spotted all that much of note to take any photographs of. As usual most of the birds were keeping nicely out of reach of our zoom lenses.
This robin was tempted onto a fence post with some carefully placed seed. It was a pity about the twig casting a shadow.

We stopped off by the kingfisher screen where by all accounts a kingfisher had been spotted only moments ago. My camera was at the ready but unsurprisingly the kingfisher didn't return.
I did, though, manage a decent photo of the branch specially positioned for the kingfisher. It was now late into the afternoon and the light was starting to fade and my camera was taking a few seconds before it was able to focus. As we were moving away from the kingfisher screen the starlings were starting to gather on one of the large electricity pylons which cross the reserve.
As it got darker more and more starlings kept arriving until at one stage the top two arms of the pylon were covered with starlings. It was also cold standing waiting for the starlings to do their thing. You'll have to watch the video of our visit to see what happened.