Home Patch

Sunset Findhorn Bay, Scotland
Belinda waiting for sunset and scanning for birds coming into roost.

Findhorn Bay in Morayshire, Scotland.  We are lucky to live only a few miles from this place. Surrounded by steep sand dunes and home in seals, an abundance of seabirds and now the arrival of the Osprey – sometimes it’s a challenge just know to what to focus on!

Street Photography In Madrid


I’ve got back into photography again after a long pause… I got fed up with digital photography as it was just too … Digital! Then I was given a Sony mirrorless camera, and my photographer friend Mike explained to me how to put manual focus lenses onto it. He gave me an old manual-focus Yashica 50mm f1.7, and, once I got the 8 pound adaptor to fix it to the Sony, we headed out into the streets of Madrid – and I totally loved it! The mix of cutting edge camera and classic old lens.

After taking the photo below, in La Latina market, the market security guard came up and asked us rather gruffly what we were doing taking photos of closed-down stalls. I think he was upset that we were going to write some article about how bad the market was doing in the financial crisis. I explained that we were just wandering foreigners taking pictures of beautiful old things. He said they’d had trouble with journalists making the place look bad. You can see more photos from the day in this post here.


Winter Reeds

Female Reed Bunting

Winter Reed

Taken at Loch Spynie, Morayshire, Scotland. Nikon D7000 with Tamron 150-600mm lens.

My photography since the last entry (I dare not look at the post date) has ranged from an intense full-time activity to being practically non-existent.  I’ll spare the excuses and just say it’s great to be back with camera batteries fully charged – and the creative juices flowing again. I’ve missed it badly.

We have relocated to the Scottish highlands and have spent the winter evenings scouring maps and guides in search of new wild places to visit and hopefully to capture.

Above is a female reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) perched in the winter reeds, also home to the elusive water rail (Rallus aquaticus), which we didn’t see but constantly heard calling.  It was a chilly, dull day with long waits in the bird hide interrupted with a few exciting sightings – least of all a male otter fishing some 50 metres away.

Cheers, John.

Backyard Birds

It’s all to easy to overlook these small, common birds.  But I wonder how many birdwatchers would travel far and wide to see a Blue Tit, if it was a rare species?

It was time to test the new Tamron 150-600mm lens. I opted for some ‘easy to find’ targets, at a nature reserve near the New Forest, England.  These are the first test shots.  There’s a lot to learn about this new ‘beast’ of a lens, least of all, how to carry and maneuver the extra 2 kilos.  I might have to start working out – I’m thinking if I lose 2 kilos myself, it will cancel out the weight carried on the next long hikes in the mountains!

– John

Male Chaffinch

A handsome male Chaffinch posing, very obligingly.


A Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow, probably the dullest garden bird, but their song outshines their bland exterior.  

Blue Tit

The colourful and highly acrobatic Blue Tit.

Young Robin

A young Robin, still awaiting their full redness and adult plumage.

Looking West

Cuevas del Mar, Asturias in Northern Spain
The clifftops at Cuevas del Mar in Asturias, Northern Spain.  I was waiting for a sunset, but mother nature had other ideas.

It has been a while since I last posted anything here.  But there’s been good reason.  Belinda and I started a road trip in April, and we are still travelling!  A record of a journey is here at ‘Stories from the Wild’.  I hope you like it.

– John

Sky, Sea, Sand


It’s been a while posting here.  But there’s a good reason.  We have been up scaling our endeavours in ‘making time to live’ and Belinda and I are currently starting a new project involving a lot of getting up early and going to bed late.  More about that later.

Here’s a picture from Galicia in northern Spain on a beach close to the La Playa de las Catedrales.  A long exposure with intention camera movement, panning from left to right.


Against the light

Me! – Taken by my Dad (under supervision!).

A rare moment on our visit to the UK. The weather has been horrendous – walking has been replaced by wading.

Another New Day

From the Parque de la Concordia, Arriondas, Asturias, northern Spain.

A photo was taken this morning in the same place as my last post – Clearing Mist.  This sunrise crept up on a me.  Our lounge window is north facing and it looked a bit gloomy as I peered out at 7.30am.  But leaving the building, we were greeted with a tinge of red in the higher clouds, that eventually evolved into this scene.  And behind us the rising sun turned the previously gloomy north view to a blanket pink colour.  It looked amazing but I wasn’t carrying the wide angle lens needed to capture it….. there’s always tomorrow.

I think in 2014, I will try to experience as many sunrises as possible.  Magical.

Happy New Year to everyone.

– John

P.S.  Full disclosure, I photoshopped some annoying overhead cables.  Sometimes you just can’t avoid them!

Clearing Mist

Taken from the centre of Arriondas in Asturias, looking down on the Río Piloña.

At this time of year our morning walks are often accompanied by a thick blanket of mist.  Sometimes it can last until early afternoon.  But yesterday, it cleared enough to allow a little colour from the sunrise.

Ben made a black and white shot of the same scene earlier in the year.

– John

Las Cañadas


An early start, walking in Las Cañadas below El Teide in the volcanic landscape of Tenerife.

It turned out to be a one-day holiday – even though we went for 7 days.  I spent the first 3 days with flu and another 3 days forced inside by a tremendous storm.  Lightning, wind, rain and floods.  Although we did see the sun again – as we were driving back to the airport!

– John