Saturday, 25 April 2015


Late March sees the first transformation of the year in the appearence of Milton Country Park.  The blackthorn comes into flower, producing large patches of brilliant white flowers throughout the park.

Blackthorn Blossom 23 March 2015

Elusive Blooms

On the edge of the Wetlands 23 March 2015

Despite its prominence, blackthorn is surprisingly elusive to photograph. The delicate white flowers, which appear before the leaves, create a light snowlike smattering across the surrounding vegetation.  To the eye, the blossom is obvious; in a photograph, the flowers are easily lost in the complexity of the surrounding bushes, or against the light grey of a typical spring sky.  In this image, the central spiral-like structure is evident, but outlying blossom is somewhat lost.

Flowering Bushes

Exit to Fen Road 23 March 2015

A lot of the blackthorn bushes in the country park are growing alongside the paths.  Intermingled with these are trees whose trunks are encased in dark green ivy. This tends to produce images with a very harsh and unpleasant contrast. An effect amplified by the narrow paths which often have one side in bright sunlight and the other side in deep shadow.  This view of the exit path to Fen Road does not have these very strong contrasts.  The building visible at the end of the path adds to a rustic feel.

Towards Fen Road Exit 23 March 2015

It is quite unusual to make an image of a natural environment that has any strong graphic qualities - trees do not grow in straight lines, bushes do not grow as perfect spheres, and plants and bushes freely intermingle.  However, here the white dome of the blackthorn, echoed in the background trees, provides a strong graphic contrast to the single white line of the birch trunk to the right.

Lonely Daffodils
North End of Todd's Pit 5 April 2015

Besides blackthorn, there are odd isolated clumps of daffodils like this scattered throughout the park.  Daffodils inevitably invoke thoughts of Wordsworth.  But a single isolated clump like this seems to epitomise the very opposite of the poet's sentiment: it is the daffodils that are as lonely as a cloud, and the onlookers (park visitors) who are the host.

In Summary

Todd's Pit 5 April 2015
This image is in someways a coda for this post: delicate blossom lost against the surrounding bushes and the grey sky.  Yet, the appearance of blackthorn leaves and the bright green of young shoots on other vegetation point to the greening of the park to come.

A Note on the Schedule

From now on, I shall be publishing a new post on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.  When I started this blog, I expected that each new post would reflect the changes in Milton Country Park in the previous fortnight or so.  It has come very forcibly to my attention that nature does not work like this: sometimes a lot alters in a very short time (like now in spring time); at other times, nothing much happens for weeks.  The contents of each post are therefore going to be dictated by nature.  When change is rife, I will playback the changes in slow motion and use more posts for a given time period.  When nature is dormant, I will fast forward and use a single post for a more extended time period.


Thursday, 9 April 2015


Welcome to the first instalment of a year long photographic record of Milton Country Park. 

Hall's Pond 25 February 2015

Milton Country Park
Milton Country Park is situated three miles north of Cambridge.  It is a 95 acre site of old gravel workings.  Besides the disused gravel pits, the park offers wetlands, woods and more open meadows.  For more details on the park visit

Origins of my Project
I have lived just 15 minutes walk from the park since its creation in 1993.  Having acquired a labrador puppy last summer, I looked for a project in which I could mix exercising the dog with photography.  The country park seemed to offer the perfect opportunity.

However, the immediate trigger for the project was a discussion at Milton Photographic Club  on the subject of finding colour in the local landscape in a drab February.  In the following days, I went searching for colour in the country park, and found that on a sunny day there was plenty of colour around in the form of the near complimentary blue and yellow as shown in the image of Hall's Pond at the top of this post.  In fact, the more I looked the more I found.

From this, I realised there was a great deal more to see in the park than I had previously appreciated.  Hence, the project was born to photograph the park for a year to capture the changing seasons.

First Images

Todd's Pit February 24 2015
The park in late February, early March  still retains an autumnal feel.   The trees are bare, and the reed beds and other vegetation are overwhelmingly yellow/brown with little or no sign of new growth.  However, the reeds glow golden on a sunny day, constrasting with the deep blue of the sky reflected in the water. This image of one of the inlets off Todd's Pit is very much an autumnal scene and could have been taken any time in a three month period. 

The blue / orange pairing is found in abundance around the pits, even extending to some of the fishing platforms.   

Jetty 24 February 2015

However, as the picture below shows that not everything is blue and yellow! Away from the water, the moss on the fallen logs is a
particularly bright green, which in this image is contrasted strongly with last year's ivy leaves.

Ivy and Moss 23 March 2015
Lessons Learnt
In the first fortnight of this project, I have learnt two lessons.

Firstly, I like taking photographs on a sunny day.  I know this is an deeply unfashionable view for a photographer, but the sun makes me feel good.  And, if I feel good, I take better photographs.

Secondly, a whole lot of advantages accrue from photographing just 15 minutes from home in a place with which you are thoroughly familiar.  If you miss a shot one day, then the chances are you will be able to go back the next day and do a lot better.  The difficulty is learning to appreciate, and hence want to photograph, the very familiar.  So far in the country park, I am finding plenty of new subjects.  Perhaps, I never really looked before.