A busy and difficult summer

Noss Head Lighthouse. A HDR image taken on a whistle stop trip to drop my daughter off at an archaeological dig.

Noss Head Lighthouse. A HDR image taken on a whistle stop trip to drop my daughter off at an archaeological dig.

This is just a very quick update on what is happening at Scott Tilley photography at the minute. Coincidentally this summer has turned out to be one of my busiest and most difficult! The number of workshops and one to ones I do has increased greatly which is absolutely fantastic. My daughter is working on her dissertation and as she doesn’t drive and sampling needs to be done in the North of Scotland it is a fantastic opportunity to mix in some photography. She also needs transport to a dig near Wick in the far north east, again all good as far as photography is concerned. I was also training for a full Ironman triathlon at the end of July so as you can imagine spare time was at a premium.

A hastily taken image of a Common Blue butterfly taken during a quiet moment on one of my Macro Photography Workshops.

A hastily taken image of a Common Blue butterfly taken during a quiet moment on one of my Macro Photography Workshops.

An image taken well over a year ago but never processed. This is certainly one of my favourite images and it would have stayed hidden on my hard drive if I wasn’t laid up after surgery!

An image taken well over a year ago but never processed. This is certainly one of my favourite images and it would have stayed hidden on my hard drive if I wasn’t laid up after surgery!

So, busy as you can see but not impossible especially when your doing the things you love. I was all on course in April and had just started to up my training from around seven hours a week to the required eleven to fifteen. It was at this point I somehow developed a hernia and everything was put in jeopardy. Being a triathlete teaches you one thing if nothing else and thats organisation. At first I tried to train with it on the advice of my GP. I did wonder why she was smiling when I asked if I could train with it! After a couple of weeks I knew it wasn’t going to be possible, and not having a date to be operated on I decided my only course of action was to pull out of my event.

After a couple of months I finally got a date for surgery (8th August) That really helped as it enabled me to reschedule a few things get my macro workshops done early and make the landscape ones later when I should be fully fit again. I also had to reschedule a couple of one to ones but both clients where very understanding.

I’m currently writing this a few days after the surgery and doing as I’m told so that my recovery is fast and without complications. Over the next few months you should get some images from the far north of Scotland appearing on the site and perhaps a wild camp in the Lake District?

Dates for 1-2-1 photography days are still available and you can book a date of your choosing directly on this website, just follow the links. I will then contact you for some further information on your camera setup as well as organising a suitable location to meet up. I tend to chose this nearer the day depending on weather, light and also your location.

I have to say a big thanks to all the staff at Kings Mill Hospital for looking after me. In the end I had an injection in the back so was awake throughout the operation. Unfortunately for me this numbed my legs but with twenty minutes to go I could feel pretty much everything!. I only have myself to blame for this really. Being a triathlete, pain pretty much comes as part of the training and racing deal, and not having had surgery before I wasn’t sure if this was normal, I just locked my jaw and took the pain until the last stitch when the surgeon noticed the grimace! I advised him I could feel everything and they hastily gave me some more local anaesthetic! As I say I really should have opened my mouth, it was certainly an experience. The images in this update blog are a selection of the images i have managed to take either before surgery or as I now recover at home.

Keep an eye out on the website for more updates and if your interested take a look at my courses and workshops page. This list is not exhaustive however and I am always happy for clients to come to me with the own ideas for a day out with the camera, just contact me in all the usual ways.

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Walking On The Moon!

We recently spent a few days in the North Pennines and we stopped in a wonderful holiday cottage on the edge of moorland with the magnificent Hamsterly Forest bordering the other side of the moorland. Of course as a landscape and wildlife photographer I was expecting some great things from this few days away. Sadly I was to find that all was not as it seemed.

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Burnt Moorland

Grouse management

Hamsterley Forest is managed by Forestry England who actively encourage wildlife and from our position so close to this we where expecting a huge range of species. Over the three days we spent here we walked eight miles every day and where able to get a really good feel for the area. On the drive to the cottage on a single track road the first interesting point to note was the number of baby rabbits both alive and killed on the road. Immediately, at this early stage my eyes where drawn to the electricity/communications poles that bordered the road expecting to see the familiar site of a buzzard perched on every other pole. Strange, not one was spotted on the two miles of single track. Still it was early days.

We took our first walk that afternoon, an out and back route that took us over the moorland. There where grouse a plenty and also a high number of Curlew, Plover and Lapwing. Oh, and of course the rabbits. On top of the moor I had hoped to see a short eared owl or perhaps a hen harrier. Sadly there was nothing not even a Kestrel.

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This same story was played out on the next two walks we did all had some moorland, farmland and woodland. Over three walks I counted not one bird of prey. On our second walk we also bumped into the estates female gamekeeper. She topped the rise on her quad bike and could be seen hastily sheathing her gun before approaching us down the hill. She seemed nice enough although there appeared to be a veiled warning about keeping to the paths and being extra careful with our dog as there where grouse chicks everywhere. We advised her that our dog does not come off the lead as she is a rescue dog. I had my camera and told her I was a wildlife photographer. She wasn’t very helpful on wildlife and it soon became clear to me there was little I could learn from her. I wondered later if keeping to the paths might also keep us from seeing something else that may be going on?

Every evening we where treated to the site of her tweed clad husband slowly emerging from his back door with his gun and walking to a pile of wood before shooting into the ground presumably shooting rabbits. He did this every ten minutes for a couple of hours.

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Killing in the Name of

Eh, Killing!

The moorland itself, as the title of this blog infers was not too far away from the moons surface. The heather has been regularly burnt and cut, presumably to allow a few over privileged pricks to descend on the place and shoot anything that moves during the grouse shooting season. We took macro lenses in the hope of some moorland mini beasts but apart from a few green tiger beetles it was largely sterile. The shots we did get where from the Hamsterly Forest. I have witnessed similar things in Derbyshire but I have to say they look positively flourishing compared to this ecological disaster.

Now I have to say I have no firm proof of what is going on here , but laying my cards on the table I am 90% certain that the management of the grouse moor can explain everything that is happening here. A plague of rabbits, why because these grouse moor guardians of the environment have annihilated every apex predator to protect the grouse. Not a fox, stoat or bird of prey is allowed to live in this sterile moonscape. So you have to spend your time wasting shot on the rabbit plague. I know what they will then say to defend themselves, but what about the waders we provide a habitat for? This I’m afraid is inconsequential. I would bet large sums of money that if curlew started to down grouse chicks they would soon mysteriously disappear.

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Golden Plover

A Non-Grouse eater!

Despite the wonderful cottage we will not be going back here. It is such a shame that what could be a wonderful haven for wildlife has been spoilt to provide a part time playground for a privileged few. At time in the past I had found myself falling for the rhetoric of these grouse moor custodians, that they where really protectors and enhances of the environment. The evidence here was stark and this behaviour really does have to stop. The sad thing is that this area could make far more money from its landscape by actually working to protect the environment for its wildlife. How much money do the white-tailed sea eagles bring to the Isle of Mull?

Anyway, here are a few images I did get and I will leave you with this. I happened to mention to the female gamekeeper that I had just seen a roe deer heading off the moorland and into a small wood. Presumably it had cut across the moor from Hamsterley Forest. She could not hide a tut and exclaimed they cause us problems as well. I could also see her itching to reach for the gun!

Until next time.

Scott