Home Newsletter Locations Diary



Current Newsletter

April 2012    Photographers Resource - Monthly    Edition 100

Old Time Images, Wildflowers and Bluebells

We are celebrating Our 100th edition!

In This Issue:-
  • Editorial

  • Features - Wildflowers and Bluebells

  • Photographic Feature - Monochrome, Duotone, Sepia and more

  • Photographic Feature - Producing Photographs in older Styles

  • Photographic Feature - Pinhole Photography

  • Photographers Diary

  • April Wildlife Diary

We have reached our 100th edition. It has taken a while but we have enjoyed enormously putting it together and sharing our knowledge with you, as well as getting your feedback and finding that we have created a resource that people find really useful, and it is our intention to continue for another 100 editions and beyond.

So how did it all begin. Well our initial vision was to use the power of the internet to create a magazine that printed magazines just can't do, and that was to provide a resource where both past, current and future content would be fully indexed in a multitude of ways so that the reader could use it and come back over and over again knowing that the information would still be available.

When it started back in 2007 it was designed initially to be a resource for those who attended Camera Images training courses, providing them with a resource where they could get helpful friendly advice and useful resources to help in their photographic quests. It also allowed Camera Images to keep clients up to date with course details and new and upcoming courses. It was, at the start a weekly publication, and in between running the courses the two people behind this would write the articles and put them up on this website. Eventually the training had to come to an end but this resource was so well used that we felt it was necessary to continue. It continued to be a weekly edition through 2008 and into the beginning of 2009, but the content was getting larger and our ideas for things to include and for expansion were out growing our weekly resources and so on the 1st of April 2009 we published our first monthly edition with our first features being Welsh Castles and Red Kites and our first photographic feature being Pinhole Photography. Three years further on we are still going and the newsletters are much larger as we not only continue to add but also link back, update and extend previously used material. Although we have found recently that trying to keep all existing material up to date is beyond what we can achieve, calculating out what needed updating would take up all our time and we would not have the resources to add more new items and keep this resource growing.  So our decision for the future is to continue to add new stuff and to update items as we come to reuse them, or if our readers specifically let us know something is out of date and provides us with the details we need.

From the very start it has been our intention to have all the articles indexed to make it easier to find them once the current newsletter has been replaced, although all newsletters can still be accessed via the recent editions. Everything that appears in a monthly edition stays and is indexed in a number of ways, alphabetically, by topic, by county, and often linked into sections. Many of these sections have their own front doorways so those with specific interests have direct access through these doors to their area of interest.

From the start our location guides were created to provide clients with ideas and details of places they could visit to use the skills they had been taught on the courses and these are also indexed by county, so making it easier to find something near them or for when they were out and about visiting different parts of the UK. We still continue to provide this for our readers and continually add more detailed location guides many now with beautiful images to illustrate what can be seen.

Our most popular feature is our Photographers Diary, it provides, both for the current month and the next, a list of events that give good photo opportunities for photographers. Most of them having free entry. It doesn't try to list all events throughout the UK as this would become an enormous task, but highlights a selection of different types of events from around the UK, and also includes some of the more unusual events many of which come from some of our historic traditions. But it has also proved a popular item with others who are just looking for a good day out. When analysing which pages on the site are used most, top of the list is usually the diary.

Overtime we have continued to add more useful facilities and items that we feel make it easier for you to use, find and navigate your way around, including adding symbols to highlight specific items and links. All of our links are coded showing you for example if it's an external link or one of our own pages and when it is, the type of page it is. You will find a key to the most popular ones at the bottom of the contents panel on the left and clicking on any of the symbols will bring up a full list. Holding your mouse over one of these symbols also tells you what that particular symbol means.

All photographs included use the Creative Commons Licence whether they are taken by us or others, and the images on the site are all coded with which part of the licence they are being used under. We always encourage our readers to send in any good photographs they have, using creative commons, particularly for our location guides, it is always appreciated as it is not possible for the two of us to visit every site that we cover.

As we evolved we continued to add more useful items including adding sections and doorways, galleries of images, portals of places or particular resources, a bookshop and more.... and we will continue to expand and add more in the future. But we have also tried to open up our readership to not only be for photographers, but to anyone who has an interest in the UK, it's history and traditions, it's landscape and wildlife or just those who fancy a good day out by using our diary or location guides.

I particularly enjoy being able to share my knowledge and act as editor bringing together the articles and photos to make up each monthly issue and I hope you have bookmarked this site and continue to make use of this useful resource in the many months to come.

If you are reading this on your first visit to us, then welcome and you might find this link useful, to find out how you might best use this site to help you find what you are looking for.

Moving Forward This Month

We have 4 featured topics this month. This first is Wildflowers of the UK with a new simple Wildflower Guide created that you can print out and take with you when out and about, but also taking a more in depth look at Bluebells which will be bursting into flower towards the end of the month.  We have three photographic features including taking a look at Monochrome Photography as well as looking at the techniques of Sepia, Duotone and Cyanotone Photography. All of these older techniques are still achievable today with digital cameras and accessories and our look at Creating Vintage/Old Photographs, takes a look at these methods, techniques and how to create the effects with today's digital cameras or in editing. Take a look below for more on this, but also look out for the third item on Pinhole Photography Day, which is at the end of this month, you may find something different and exciting to do if you start to plan now.


Wildflowers and Bluebells

The UK is awash with wildflowers, and you never have to travel far to find them. You will come across them whilst out walking in our open countryside, along our coasts, along road verges, in our town and city green spaces and even some pushing their way through pavements and roadsides. There will also be some in our gardens mixed up with those that we have planted, the most prolific and probably most recognizable being the dandelion, which some consider a weed, but also in your lawn you may have clover and daisies.

We are lucky in the UK as we have a wide diversity of habitats from fields, meadows, heathlands, uplands, coastlines providing rock and sand habitats and more, but we also have a relatively mild climate and all of this combines to make good growing conditions for our wild flower population. Use Where to Photograph UK Wild Plants to find links to other resources on this website that will help you to identify places to find them.

Not all our wild flowers are native, there are some imports, such as rhododendrons which have made their way from the gardens and woodlands of estates out into our wild countryside. It's not surprising really when you consider that the whole life cycle of a plant relies on birds, bees, butterflies and other insects to transport their pollen and seeds, and the wind also has an impact more locally.

Wildflowers are available in some habitat in some part of the country all year round, from Snowdrops flowering in January through to Gorse, with it's 3 different varieties flowering somewhere throughout the whole year. However from this month, April, through to September this is when most of them will be out in flower, so it is a good time to start working out what it is you might see on your travels through our beautiful countryside.

Blackthorn found in hedgerows along roadsides and fields.

I have not been able to identify a complete guide or list of all our wild flowers, native or otherwise so am not able to say how many there are, but one book I used to help with my research stated it contained over 1100 different species. There are many websites run by charities and conservation groups which list those that are of specific interest to them, and a search for 'British Wildflowers' in any search engine will bring up various sources for you to use.

To help with identification, this month we have created a new guide for you, Guide to Common Wild Flowers in the UK.   We have tried to concentrate and limit it to the more well known wildflowers most of us would see when out and about. It is organised by which plants you are more likely to see in a particular month of the year, as well as listing them alphabetically. It has 3 images for each species, a small thumbnail in the monthly chart. Whilst in the alphabetical list there is a larger thumbnail which then links to an even larger image. We have tried to use images which best show the flower so that it should make it a bit easier for you to identify what you are photographing. This is by no means a complete list, to start we have tried to identify the more common and well known species and our intention is to continually add to it, therefore if you come across one we have missed and you feel it should be included let us know, and if you have a photograph you have taken and we can use to illustrate it, then that would be appreciated also.

I have a personal interest in photographing flowers and whether I'm in a garden or out and about in the countryside, woodland or on our coasts my camera is usually focused on the plant life around me. Books do make a good reference guide, but I find lugging my camera kit with me is enough without also having to carry around a heavy book. So the idea to produce a more simple and smaller guide using photographs appealed and as I was producing it for myself then why not share it with you.

Most wild flowers are small and near to the ground and to get good pictures of them you need to be able to get up close, and have a steady hand, if you can, use a tripod. It is also important to get the colours right and you can do this by setting the White Balance   on your camera. I always use the PRE setting on my camera and use a Lastolite EzyBalance as a grey source for setting the PRE up, it folds up and fits in my camera bag, so is always with me. If you have a macro  setting or a DSLR with a macro lens then this will usually give you the best results. Watch out for sunlight, both it's brightness and direction, both of which can cause problems particularly with single dense colours, like red or white, you can loose some of the definition and detail from the petals. It is better to take the picture with a darker exposure and then pull the detail out of shadows in editing afterwards, as lost detail in over exposed images cannot be recovered from the highlights.

As with most wildlife and nature conservation there are concerns that some wildflower species are in decline or endangered and there are many organisations out there trying to

 Cuckoo Flower   Tim Green

identify which species are under threat. They do this by getting their volunteers and members of the public to take part in annual surveys.

Two of these surveys include the Wildflowers Count run by Plantlife, on their website you can download forms in order to take part, but you will also find a good plant and fungi species database being built, not all species are covered, and a page where you can look up your 'county flower', which have been nominated and voted for by members of the public as to which wildflower best represents their county.  For instance when I looked up the county flower for Gloucestershire, where we are based, it returned the Daffodil, coming from the fact that the villages of Newent and Dymock are famous for their wild woodland daffodils, and have a ten mile footpath known as The Daffodil Way which runs through woods, orchards and meadows. In the 1930s, the railway even ran ‘Daffodil Specials' from London so that people could see them.

Another survey for Bluebells  is run annually by the Natural History Museum, to allow them to keep track of where our native bluebells are in numbers but also to record when they are flowering each year.


It is said around 70% of the worlds Bluebell population is found within the UK, and from the end of April, Bluebells will be starting to appear in woodlands around the country. Depending on which part of the country, the weather and local conditions, these will all have an impact on when they flower. Whenever Britain runs a 'Favourite Flower survey', Bluebells usually come very high up on the list.

Bluebells can be found in very many woodlands throughout Britain and the Woodland Trust's database of 14,000 woodlands, all open to the public, should allow you to find one near you, especially if you enter your postcode into their Bluebell Wood search. There are some places which have, over the years, become particularly well known for their bluebell woods, and two which have free access are Micheldever Woods in Hampshire, and my favourite location is the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, and specifically Staple Edge Wood in the Soudley Valley. It may take a number of trips to get them at their most abundant but by May the woodland floors will be carpeted in them. It is said now that they are appearing in many parts of UK and you will also find many within the grounds of some of the larger Historic Houses.

Bluebells in the Forest of Dean


Another location is Coton Manor Gardens in Northamptonshire, this is a private garden open to the public for a fee during the spring/summer months, and they have a 5 acre bluebell woodland, which they say is good to visit in May. They also have a wildflower meadow which apparently is at it's best during June and July. From the images I have seen on their website it would appear to be a good place to go, although as they have become so popular you can no longer use a tripod. On their website they also keep you up to date with at what stage the bluebells are flowering so it should be possible to work out the best time to visit.

We had a list of places that you can see Bluebells within the UK and this year we have decided to split it into the countries which make up the UK, to make it easier for you to find them. So to find somewhere near you or for somewhere you can take a drive to and make a day of it, take a look at:-

Where to Photograph Bluebells in England

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Wales

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Scotland

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Northern Ireland

There are some that feel the British Bluebell is at risk due to a number of factors, including the destruction of it's native woodland habitat for agriculture or being converted to coniferous woodland, although from taking a look at our lists and the Visit Woods website you wouldn't think so. It is also felt that they are under threat of interbreeding with the Spanish bluebell, which were introduced into the British garden in the 17th century.

The native British Bluebell is distinctive with its narrow tube-like blue flowers with up-rolled tips and because the flowers are near the top of the stem their weight causes the stem to arch over, as shown in the photo on the right.

By their very name bluebells are a blue/purple colour and many photographers struggle with getting their colour captured accurately, but it is not impossible. Some even say it is not possible to reproduce this colour with a camera. However with a bit of knowledge and using your cameras White Balance settings it can be achieved. The best way to get it correct is to come off auto and use the PRE setting within your white balance settings, and combined with a white balance target this will give you the best possible results, 'auto' will not do.

  British Bluebells

Remember when using PRE it is setting the white balance for the lighting conditions you have in that particular location, if you move location even if it's only to another part of the same wood then set it again for that new position, the lighting conditions will be different.

Within the woodland setting you will also probably need to increase your ISO settings or work with a tripod and when doing long shots of the bluebell carpets on the woodland floor you will need to take into account your depth of field. If you want to get up close and capture the detail in the flower heads then take a look at how to best achieve a macro result by using macro lenses, or possibly using other close up methods.

For a more detailed look on how to go about photographing bluebells take a look a Where to Photograph Bluebells. Don't forget these are wild flowers and in your determination to try and capture this springtime spectacular try not to damage them and definitely don't try to uproot them, this is against the law. Enjoy them!

Photographic Features

Monochrome, Duotone, Sepia Photography and more

While many of the middle aged and senior readers may be well aware of monochrome photography, some of our younger readers may see it as something completely new to them. So lets take a new, and exciting look at monochrome.

Monochrome  images are images in a single colour, with graduations of the colour making up the image, so black and white for example has many shades of grey in between. At one time most images were monotone, the most common ones in more recent decades were black and white or the brown/orange Sepia images. Early images came also in a blue colour, using a process called Cyanotype, the first being produced without a camera.

When all or most photographers took monotone or black and white images, all but snapshot ones, would use monochrome effect filters  and routinely carry a range of colours and strengths of some to allow the image to be recorded in detail, bringing out the sky, sorting out colours that produced the same shade of grey and more. Today we can still do this with a glass filter, but can also use in camera digital filters and colour contrast filters in editing.

Colour printing was historically expensive, but often in magazines a second colour, often referred to as a spot colour was available. Printing an image in two colours could allow more tonal range detail, particularly in the mid tones. An image produced by this technique is called a Duotone,  they can be effective images, with feeling but also more depth. In the article on Duotone  images we also have a short description of how to make these easily using Photoshop.

Monochrome Portrait taken using the in camera settings of a digital camera

Producing Photographs in Older Styles

Looking back at older photographs, we may find the idea of Then and Now Photography excites us, or perhaps instead of looking to compare the past with today, you would like to create a photo in the style and look of an older photograph. Then we have a new article now covering this art form, together with background information, so take a look at:-

Creating Vintage Images - Old Look Photos 

Early Photo Sizes 

List of Film Sizes

Cross Reference of Films  

Towards this end many other skills and techniques come into play including Monochrome  photography that we have introduced above, Sepia images, and also Vignetting (images darker or lighter on outside than the centre) and Soft images

Axbridge, Somerset March 1905   (Then and Now )

Then and Now Photography  gives us the opportunity to play detective, find the position and factors that will allow us to take the photo today to compare with a photo from another time. Perhaps the information we have may be of interest, starting with:-

Then and Now Photography

Then and Now Locations 

Derbyshire Then and Now Locations 

Somerset Then and Now Locations 

Where to Get Old Prints From

How to Photograph Old Prints

John Constable Painting Locations

John Constables Painting Locations Then and Now

How to Photograph Old Prints

Photography Timeline

An Introduction to Photochromes

Photochromes On Photo Archive contains many images.

Pinhole Photography

April 29th is World Pinhole Photography Day. Pinhole photography is a technique that has been used to capture an image using light for many thousands of years, in fact it is thought that pinhole cameras have been around for over 2,000 years. It is a method of photography without the need for a lens, a tiny hole replacing the lens on the camera. It was used as a tool by painters, with upside down paintings of animals being found in ancient caves and then progressed on to be used by photographers.

It is thought that the first pinhole photographs to be published were by a Scottish Scientist, Sir David Brewster, produced in the 1850's, and by the 1880's the impressionist movement, in painting, were having an influence on photography, where the 'old school' wanted sharp focus images and the 'new school' (pictorialists) went for what they called the 'atmospheric' look. In 1890 a pinhole photograph, 'An Old Farmstead', won the first award at the annual exhibition of the Photographic Society in London. To find out more about the history of pinhole photography, take a look at Pinhole Cameras, this also explains how a pinhole camera works, and links to more pinhole information.

A pinhole camera is basically a device which is  light-tight and has a very small hole in it opposite film, photographic paper or a sensor to record the image seen. As light travels in straight lines, if you have a small enough hole that the light can get through and looking on a screen or surface in a darkened space, opposite an object, then on the surface you are looking at, you will see this object upside down, as shown in the image to the right. The smaller the hole, the dimmer and sharper the image.

Pinhole cameras can be small or large and have been made out of sea shells, cereal boxes, coke cans, Pringle tubes even rooms in large buildings and in many other forms. The largest recorded pinhole camera was built in the US and it's pinhole was 1/4 inch and it was set up to record an image 80 feet away using an exposure of 35 minutes.

How the Pinhole works

This produced a print measuring 108ft by 85ft that was processed in tanks the size of an Olympic swimming pool. In 2008 NASA commissioned a dedicated visible light telescope designed for finding and photographing new planets using the pinhole technique.

You can replicate the pinhole technique using your digital camera, and this is discussed in more detail in a pinhole for your DSLR. A search on the internet will give you some suppliers that make and supply pinhole adaptors for cameras like those found in pinholes from the Pinhole Factory and pinhole adaptors, which looks in more detail at how adaptors you can buy, work, as well as how to set up your camera to get the right exposures, and how by using tube sets you can get additional focal lengths, therefore creating telephoto techniques. Rather than buying adaptors you could of course have a go at creating your own Pinhole Kit   to add to your camera, and with further adaptations you can get a zoom/wide angle effect, as well as simulating the rising front on a camera just as if you were using a Perspective Control (PC) lens.

To see some examples of the pinhole effect using a DSLR adapter take a look at our Stanton Drew Stone Circle - Pinhole Gallery. You will notice that most of the images are not sharp, as we are used to seeing many photos today, that's because there is no lens, they are 'soft focused' or what some would term artistic. Another feature is that pinhole images via modifying your DSLR camera are shown small in size, this is because the sensor used in modern digital cameras is small, and as you know when making an image larger the quality of it reduces, so for this reason pinhole images are better shown at the size they are taken.

There is a rising amount of interest in pinhole photography with adaptors and several pinhole cameras being produced over the last few years. A pinhole camera that was launched at last year's (2011) Focus On Imaging show, the Ilford Harman Titan 5x4 pinhole camera, manufactured in the UK by Walker Cameras, on their website they have a video of one in use. The camera is basically three pieces, a frame which has two tripod mounts, two spirit levels, an accessory shoe and some clips to hold on the interchangeable Pinhole Cone which in turn has a small hole at the end and an end cap. It needs a 5x4 cut film holder to hold the film. It is currently being marketed as a Pinhole Photography Kit at a cost of £150 (no film holder) but the Walker Cameras website also has a version available for £174 that includes a 5x4 cut film holder, other suppliers have the option of buying new or secondhand 5x4 film holders separately, you will find they are widely available from camera collector websites and shops. The kit comes with a 72mm wide angle cone (F206), but also includes 10 sheets of 4x5 inch Harman Direct Positive photographic paper, 10 sheets of Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper (paper negative), 10 sheets of 4x5 inch Ilford Delta 100 Professional (black and white) film, and a Pinhole Exposure Calculator, which you have to cut out and put together.

Ilford Harmon Titan 5x4 Pinhole Camera

It was announced at this years (2012) Focus Show that they had sold their 1,000th kit and they were showcasing a new 10x8 prototype version. As well as Walker Cameras you can also buy it from Speedgraphic, (who have some sample images taken using the camera) or Harman Express and others, if you search them out. On the Ilford website you can get access to the PDF instructions on how to use it and a PDF of the Pinhole Exposure Calculator supplied in the kit and specifically made for this camera and format, or to find out more about how it works you could also take a look at the Harman YouTube Video.

For more on pinhole photography, take a look out our Pinhole Photography Section where there are more articles and helpful advice on how to achieve the pinhole effect.

The Photographers Diary

The April diary has been moved from 'next month' to 'this month' and has a lot of opportunities to suit all tastes.  Some highlights that are of particular interest are:-

The month starts with April Fools Day, and a day of merriment and tom foolery will be taking place all over the country, the most fun being those that make you ask 'is that real'. April the 1st is also the date for this years Sharrow Lantern Carnival which takes place in Sheffield. From 7pm to 9.30pm a procession of hundreds of handmade lanterns, which have been created by local people throughout March, will leave Mount Pleasant Park and move through nearby streets culminating at a grand finale at Sheffield General Cemetery.


 Sharrow Lantern Carnival, Sheffield   Mike Smith

Easter weekend starts with Good Friday on the 6th and various events and local activities will be taking place including the start of the non stop 125 mile Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race on the Kennet & Avon Canal, leaving Devizes in Wiltshire at 7am. At this end they have to master, over 50 locks, a long tunnel and a one mile run at Crofton Locks and when the competitors get to Reading in Berkshire the course then goes onto the River Thames, ending at Westminster Bridge in London. Over the 4 days competitors can do the course in stages, or like the elite crews, do it continuously and complete the course in 17 or 18 hours. Another Boat race this weekend, on the Thames in London, on the 7th, is the annual Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race where two teams from the two universities compete for the annual title.

Being Easter it is a long weekend and on Bank Holiday Easter Monday there is a lot going on including the London Harness Horse Parade at the South of England Showground in West Sussex. An annual event

incorporating a parade of Harness horses, ponies and donkeys, also lots of ponies on parade from Shetlands to Shires including Hackneys and Trotters. Or for something a little more unusual you could join the spectators at the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scramble in Hallaton, Leicestershire where pieces of Hare pie (replaced now by a beef pie) are hurled into a good natured mob who then make a procession, led by a bronze sculpture of a hare on a pole, up the hill to a spot where bottles are blessed, before the start of a rugby-like mass football game between Hallaton and nearby Medbourne. The aim is to get the bottles (three small iron-hooped wooden barrels) across the goal lines (streams a mile apart), there is no limit to the number of competitors on each side. Or perhaps the annual World Coal Carrying Championships at Gawthrope near Wakefield in Yorkshire, watching grown men with muscle carrying 50kg sacks displaying their stamina is worth taking a look at.

 Coal Carrying Championships, Gawthorpe

Stephen Bowler

Our main feature this month is wild flowers, and there is always plenty going on to celebrate including, Daffodil Day on the 1st. This month is said to be the best time to see the white plum and damson blossom on the Worcestershire Blossom Trail. On the 11th, 18th and 25th they will be running coach trips along the trail, between Evesham, Pershore and Broadway, but there are also self drive routes, Bike-aways, and walks that allow you to see them at any time during the month at your own pace, and in a couple of weeks there will also be the addition of the white and pink apple blossoms to see. The Fritillary Sunday Festival in Ducklington Oxfordshire takes place on the 15th April, where their meadow by the church is opened to the public to view, this is said to be one of the good spots to see the more rarer Snakes Head Fritillary. Primrose Day is celebrated on the 19th, this is an annual traditional celebration that is said to have started in the late 19th Century following the death of Prime Minister Disraeli and a wreath sent by Queen Victoria, they were her husband’s favourite flower. This month is also the start of the annual RHS Flower Shows with the first being in Cardiff, held at Bute Park, from the 20th to the 22nd April.

For those interested in motorised transport there is the UK Coach Rally on the 21st at the East of England Showground in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Or the Brimar Vintage Car Display this year being held at Sanders Garden World, Brent Knoll in Somerset. For motorbikes there is the International Classic Motorcycle Show on the 28th and 29th at Stafford County Show Ground, and if its fast cars you like then 28th and 29th sees the British Championship Speedhill Climb at Prescott Hill near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where road going sports cars and racing cars ascend a narrow twisting hill road at speeds of up to 110mph.

The 29th is also the date for this years famous annual charity fund raiser, the Maldon Mud Race in Essex. Where competitors race through the mud of the River Blackwater at low tide. The return crossing can take an hour with competitors returning covered in mud. Best time in previous events is under 4 minutes.


 Maldon Mud Race, Essex  David Jones

For photographers and the chance to do something different or even just to experiment with a different technique, don't forget World Pinhole Photography Day is on the 29th, where photographers are invited to take a picture using a pinhole camera during the 24 hours and then submit it to the World Pinhole Photography Day website, where you will also find photos of previous years contributions. If you haven't done pinhole photography before and don't have a pinhole camera then read our piece above on this, which shows techniques on how to use your existing camera with a little adaptation, or how to make one from a 'Pringle Tube'. You still have time to create the camera and take a photo with it if you start soon!

Wildlife Photography In April

For many this is the start of spring when everything in the wildlife world starts to happen, bird song fills the air from the dawn chorus in the mornings to courtship and territorial displays throughout the day.

February may be the time for love and courtship in the human world but April is a full on month for wildlife. Over the past month many of the birds will have been finding nesting locations and building their nests ready for the new generation. I know in our garden a female blackbird has been busy collecting moss from our lawn and tiny pieces of straw from my flower baskets and going off with a beak full to line her nest. Keep an eye out in your garden to see what activity is going on.

With the onset of spring there are a number of days in the wildlife and natural world calendar that are marked by specific days. These include:-
  • Cuckoo Day which signals the arrival of the Cuckoo and is celebrated on what is believed to have been the first day it is heard. Because of this, different parts of the UK have various dates during April which they call Cuckoo Day.

  • Swallow Day is traditionally the 15th as this is the date that swallows were first seen again after their winter break in Africa.

  • Primrose Day is on the 19th of April. In the late 19th century it was celebrated in memory of British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, who died on this day 1881.

Whilst out taking a walk in woodlands you may be lucky enough to hear the sound of the Nightingale as she sings. Below your feet keep an eye open for the tiny Wood Anemone on the woodland floor and if you are a fan of garlic, or not, you will not be able to mistake the strong scent of the Wild Garlic on the woodland edges. Towards the end of the month the first Bluebells will be flowering, see the piece above for more on this. If by any chance you are in a pinewood in Scotland in the early morning, keep an eye open and ear out for the Capercaille as the males will be putting on a display for their intended female in a clearing (the 'lek').

Bees and butterflies, particularly following the nice weather we had at the end of March, will now be out and about in gardens and meadows foraging for food on nectar plants. Caterpillars for several varieties of butterfly can be discovered on the back of leaves, if you look closely enough.

Cuckoo in Wye Valley
Mark Kilner

Frogspawn in ponds and rivers will be hatching into tadpoles to start the next part of their journey into frogs and toads, this morning as I took a look in our little pond I noticed a number of tadpoles swimming about near the surface. Sand lizard's change into their breeding colours and the grass snakes are amorous and in courtship, with males following the females.

In the plant world new leaves start to appear on trees and shrubs, fruit trees are filled with blossom, and activity underground starts to push through the surface and spring into full colour. Many of the spring bulbs, such as crocuses and Daffodils will by now have pushed their way through the surface and be out in flower adding a little colour to the picture. Taking an outing to a park, town gardens, woodlands, along roadsides, rivers and canals you will come across a glorious sight and smell. Many fruit trees will be out in blossom, prior to their leaves growing back and they will be attracting bees and other pollinators to take their pollen. Their colourful blossom and sweet smelling scent decorating our countryside and for the majority of April Worcestershire shows off their display by encouraging visitors to take their Blossom Trail which takes you through Evesham, Pershore and Broadway. This is the best time to see white plum and damson blossom, and a couple of weeks later the white and pink apple blossoms, before the leaves reappear. There are coach tours, drive yourself car routes, cycle routes and walks, that you can take to see this spectacle.

Primroses cluster in hedgerows and gardens while cowslips will be starting to appear on downlands as well as in fields, on the roadside and in meadows. Marsh Marigolds will be flowering beside ponds, rivers and streams. And the distinctive yellow gorse will be out in some areas of heathland. Some meadows will also be starting to take on colour as their wild flowers spring out in the daytime sunshine.

Snakeshead Fritillary Miles Underwood

April is also the month for Fritillaries and two good locations for seeing them are the North Meadow National Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Cricklade in Wiltshire, this is a 108 acre hay meadow between the Rivers Thames and Churn, which is generally under water during the winter months. At its peak in mid April around one million blooms have been counted in the past. It is one of the best locations for seeing the rarer Snakeshead Fritillary, having the largest population of them in the UK. They have marked footpaths running through the meadow so you can take a look without doing any damage to the plants, the blue and orange routes are good for the Snakes Head Fritillary plants, which according to their website, because of the recent warm snap some are just starting to flower. There are many other wild flowers within the meadow such as the Marsh Marigold which is also out this month, and there is also quite a lot of wildlife on offer to, from Skylarks to the Brimstone butterfly as well as bees which are the pollinators. Take a look at their website this will keep you up to date with what is currently going on and they also have a photographers guide on the best way to take photos of the Fritillaries without damaging the other meadow plants.

Another good location for Fritillaries is the wild meadow behind the church in the village of Ducklington in Oxfordshire. They hold an annual Fritillary Sunday Festival, and this year it is on the 15th April, when they open up a 10 acre meadow for members of the public to see and to also raise money for their local church

There is so much going on in nature this month take a look at Wildlife photography in April to see what else you should be looking out for.

Summary of Articles Added and Included In This Issue

Creating Vintage Images - Old Look Photos 

Monochrome Photography




Soft Images 

Monochrome Effect Filters 


Lightfield Camera or Plenoptic Camera  

Guide to Common Wild Flowers



Where to Photograph UK Wild Plants

Welsh Castles

Red Kites

Wildlife Photography in April

Creative Commons Licence


White Balance Settings

PRE setting

White Balance Target

Lastolite EzyBalance

Depth of Field


Close Up Methods

Macro Photography


Pinhole Cameras

Pringle Tube Pinhole Camera (Project) 

A Pinhole for your DSLR

Pinhole Adapters from the Pinhole Factory

Pinhole Adaptors

Tube sets and Bellows

Pinhole Kit

Getting a zoom/wide angle effect for Pinhole

Simulating the Rising Front on a Camera

Lists Added and Updated This Issue

Early Photo Sizes 

List of Film Sizes

Cross Reference of Films  

Where to Photograph Bluebells in England

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Scotland

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Wales

Where to Photograph Bluebells in Northern Ireland

Places to Photograph Plants (County)

Places to Photograph Plants (Alpha)


Locations Guides Added and Updated This Issue

Arundel WWT, West Sussex  

Becky Falls, Devon

Coton Manor Gardens, Northamptonshire  

The Daffodil Way, Gloucestershire 

Dingle Nature Reserve (The), Llangefni, Anglesey

The Hardman House and Photographers Studio, Liverpool 

Micheldever Woods, Hampshire

Westonbirt Arboretum nr Tetbury, Gloucestershire

Galleries Included in This Issue

Stanton Drew Stone Circle - Pinhole Gallery


Home Newsletter Locations Diary