Goodbye 2020. A dramatic year of fire (Australian Bush), plague (Covid) and stay at home. New phrases have entered our language such as “Social Distancing”, “Lockdown” “Staycation” and “R” Number”. Instead of signing off e-mails and messages with Best Wishes or “Regards”, we now exhort friends and relatives to “Stay Safe”. Who had heard of Zoom in January 2020? Now you can’t get away from it, and everything from educational tutorials to family quizzes, virtual parties and get-togethers are held on Zoom. I did hear a description on a radio programme of someone attending her office Christmas party on Zoom! Weird, but its the world we are currently living in! It has meant a year of staying at home, exploring locally and trying to avoid people for risk of infection.
As the year slides slowly towards its inevitable conclusion and we have slipped from a warm mild autumn to a frosty, damp, chilly winter, trips out with my camera have still been possible within restrictions. Our intended trip to the English Lake District in November was cancelled because of a second lockdown, and as I write this, a few days before the years end, there is no prospect of anyone going anywhere before next spring, as we are back in a form of lockdown, cunningly disguised as Tier 4!
At the beginning of December I planned a short trip out to the Norfolk Broads to photograph a couple of the old Windmills which used to provide power to drive the pumps that regulate the water levels in the Broads. Most are redundant now, and many are in varying states of disrepair, but some have been restored and provide local landscape photographers with a rich source of material. After a frustrating afternoon avoiding crowds of folk intent on viewing the Grey Seal colonies on nearby beaches, I ended up at How Hill Nature Reserve which thankfully, was deserted. The reserve lies close to the River Ant and a short walk from the car park is Turf Fen Mill, which was built around 1875 and finally ceased operations in 1944. It was restored in the mid 1980’s but is slowly falling into disrepair again. The main building is intact but the sails are barely a skeleton of what they should be. Nevertheless, it’s position on the bank of the River Ant and it’s orientation makes it a gift for photographers looking for a sunset shot.
Top and Centre: Turf Fen Mill on the River Ant; Bottom: Sunset on the River Ant
Autumn was alive with colour this year and seemed to go on far longer than usual. Maybe because we had more time to be able to stop and appreciate it, I don’t know.
Top Left and centre: Late autumn colours; Top Right: Silver Birch tree in our front garden displays its autumn finery. Main Picture: Woodland scene shot on a walk around the woodland grounds of the University of East Anglia.
Continuing the Autumnal theme, the view from our home often gives some beautiful sunrises, if I am up to capture them. Autumn sunrises are special, the sun is lower in the sky, there is often wispy high cloud which adds to the spectacle and the colours seem to glow more brightly.
Contrasting Autumn Sunrises shot from home.
I have mentioned Wymondham Abbey before in my blogs but recently, we endured a bitter cold but bright frosty morning so I decided the Abbey grounds would be a good place for a few images.
A cold frosty morning at Wymondham Abbey
On a cold and misty morning I spotted a couple of cobwebs hanging from our front porch. They were well worth photographing as the detail of the web structure was highlighted by the heavy dew emphasising their structure. These things are immensely strong when you consider the size of the beastie that creates them. A wonderful example of natural engineering.
Different images of the same cobweb, the left converted to a mono image.
A selection of random images reflecting Autumn and winter around where we live, each with it’s own narrative.
Above are scenes from a pre-christmas walk from Knettishall Heath. We met friends here for a socially distanced walk and a catch up. Because of Covid restrictions we were not permitted to meet indoors for our traditional meal out, so this walk was a good substitute.
Two images from a recent walk from Walberswick. Our route took us on a path inland before crossing the river and walking into Southwold, where we enjoyed our own coffee on the pier, sat at tables two metres apart. From there we followed a very muddy path through a reed bed, where I caught the top image of a swan taking flight……just! There was a tremendous amount of flapping and noise, with the swan managing about 20 metres of flight before settling down again.
The bottom image is towards the end of the walk, looking south along the shingle beach and the setting sun.
Two images of us and our friends on our Walberswick walk: Left: Us in foreground with Neil and Lynne behind on Southwold Pier; Right: Us on Walberswick Beach towards the end of our walk.
The run up to Christmas Day was very wet, with two days of heavy rain falling on already waterlogged land. This resulted in parts of Wymondham being flooding and the River Tiffey, which flows just to the west of the town, bursting its banks. Luckily no homes were impacted by this breach but some of the allotments, as can be seen from the bottom image, were flooded. The town was not as badly impacted as some areas of the country where several hundred homes were flooded and property damaged.
Top and Bottom: Christmas Eve floods at the Northwest side of Wymondham. The bottom image shows the extent of flooding over the Allotments on this side of town.
Finally, two random images from our local area. Being restricted in where we can travel has forced me to look around our close surrounds for subject matter. This has been a challenge for me because I love searching out new landscapes to photograph.
Bare trees in silhouette I think have an almost mysterious quality to them. This one, shot on a local walk before Christmas had not been pruned so had retained is thinner branches and twigs which added to its striking view.
This is the lane on the way to our house, shot late one frosty morning after my earlier expedition to Wymondham Abbey (see above). The trees were still heavily frosted and the pale sunlight shining through the top branches created a dappled light on the ground. The image was “focus stacked”, i.e three images taken at different focus points, and combined in processing software. (another thing I have learned about in this year of Covid).
As the year draws to a close, hopefully we can look forward to new things in 2021, and learn not to take for granted, those things we did as a matter of routine pre pandemic.
HAPPY NEW YEAR