Westonbirt Arboretum in the Autumn

Now that autumn has arrived in the UK, it’s a great time to spend some time outdoors seeing how nature responds to the change of season.  An arboretum is a great place to see nature and, of course, take photos too!

So I recently went to Westonbirt Arboretum with fellow photo blogger Sheila Morris (you can see some of Sheila’s photo’s on her blog) to spend a few hours getting photos of the amazing colours and wildlife.  Westonbirt is a very large place, and even with all the crowds we saw at the cafe, once out in the woods there was plenty of peace and quiet to focus on getting the best photos.

For most photos I used the Olympus 60mm macro lens, which allowed me to get in really close for detail in some of the photos below.  It’s probably the first time I’ve used the 1:1 mode on this lens, which meant that I physically had to move towards the subject to get it in focus.  But when you get it right, the results are outstanding.

Bitten in Oxford

From recent blog posts you’ll probably have guessed that Just 10 Photos is based near Oxford, England. Oxford is magnificent – apart from its’ world famous university and tourist attractions, it’s a very photogenic place, has some great restaurants and bars, and has a very active Twitter community.

One of my longest and best Twitter friends is Becca Chaplin (@Ox_Bex), we’ve previously organised a few Tweetups (Twitter meet ups, where folk from Twitter meet in real life). Becca has recently joined forced with Jacqui Thorndyke (@FoodieOnTour) and Katy Routh (@Kalicer) to create Bitten Oxford, a website and blog to share information about the best and worst food that Oxford has to offer.

One of Bitten Oxford’s first ventures was a Tweetup at a new Chinese restaurant, Zheng, in the Jericho area of Oxford. Twelve Tweeters went along to share a big table and try lots of the dishes. I was lucky to be one of the twelve, and took the camera along with me to get a few photos along the way.

For once the taking of photos wasn’t my main concern, I was hungry! In fact, a couple of the photos weren’t taken by me. They were mainly taken with my macro lens (Olympus 60mm) and fisheye lens (Samyang 7.5mm).

Miniature landscapes at the Pendon Museum

Last weekend, after I’d visited the World Pooh Sticks Championships, I went on to the Pendon Museum. Pendon is just five minutes drive from the Pooh Sticks site and houses three large miniature landscape scenes, a small shop, and a tea room.

The museum was founded in the 1950s by Roye England, and although I’m new to the world of modelling the thing that makes it stand out to me is the attention to detail in the models. I got chatting to some of the friendly volunteer staff who told me that alongside some of the commercially available models there’s a lot of custom built models. Not only do Pendon build their own models, they also run workshops on modelling techniques. One day an American clay sculptor visited and was so taken with the place that she hand made several of the figures exactly to the requirements of the Pendon scenes… you don’t get much more unique than that!

From a photography point of view there’s so much to shoot, and with the relaxed atmosphere, tea and coffee on tap, and protection from whatever the British weather is doing, I could easily spend an entire day here. Sometimes it’s hard to choose a maximum of ten photos from a collection to blog, and this is one of those occasions… even after a couple of rounds of culling I still had 33 photos to choose from, so I hope those I’ve settled on give a good feel of the Pendon Museum.

I’m a big fan of macro photography – taking photos of really small detailed things, generally insects, flowers, and the like. I’ve often seen people use these techniques with Lego mini figures to create fun photos and scenes – a friend of mine, Al Power, seems to have hundreds of the figures and often amazes me with some of his photos. Recently I spotted some photos from Matt Lincoln advertising a Jisc event, which were taken using a different type of mini figure (see examples here and here). It took me a while to realise that these were actually figures from the model railway world.

I browsed a few model shops and a whole new culture opened before my eyes. I expected model trains and railway-related figures, but there’s so much more variety available, even including some adult themes – something I wasn’t expecting to see! So I’ve bought a few figures and some time soon I’ll blog some photos with them.

To capture the photos below I went armed with my macro lens (Olympus 60mm), fisheye lens (Samyang 7.5mm), and walkabout zoom lens (Olympus14-42mm), and a Lens Skirt. The Lens Skirt is basically a flexible fabric pyramid with no bottom and a hole for the lens at the top, it allows me to cut out any reflections when I’m taking photographs through glass. I bought it for taking photos at aquariums and have also used it to take landscape shots from the top of tall buildings. It’s very simple and very effective.