A Week Review #10

Apologies for being a tad late this week!

Lots more photography this week as promised, Monday I spent gathering images for the birds article I’m writing.  Looking at how birds fly, including a bit of evolution but mostly morphology.  So lots of skeleton and feather shots there!

Tuesday and Wednesday I was playing around with the rolls of film I shot for the man’s influence on the landscape article (slightly worried when developing but came out well so all good there!)

Thursday I went to Twycross Zoo (thanks to Em, @EmsView, for the lift) to get some shots for the animals in captivity article.  Spent a while editing these shots as I’m looking for two contrasting looks to the image; one side is the trapped, slightly sad look, the other is the happy side, interesting to change the style of editing to suit the look!

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Friday was the earliest start yet as we set off to Hunstanton at 5.30am.  An amazing tidal range was the home to oystercatchers and sandpiper galore.  Great to see even if it was a day full of yawns!


Heading home at the end of next week to get some shots at a different place, will share the results soon!

Take it easy,



A Week Review #9

Hello from the end of a busy week!

Our microscopy labs have finished, leaving us to start our microscopy research project, I have decided to look at the honey crystals and see whether size corresponds to quality of honey (results to come).

As part of the magazine we have to do an article on portraiture; it involves photographing one of the Life Sciences technicians and writing a profile on the technician.  Unfortunately the technician I was assigned has been off work, so the head technician kindly stepped in for me to photograph.  Wednesday and Thursday lunch times were spent talking to and photographing her.  Currently in the editing stage, but progress below.

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Friday was a truly fantastic day spent at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre.  I’m going to do a blog on it in the week because it was a great photographic and inspirational experience so watch out!

Until then, I did some design work on my magazine over the weekend so check that out below. Take it easy!


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A Week Review #8

The past few weeks I’ve been concentrating on getting the writing done for the articles, as I find writing difficult and I find it acts as a bit of a creative block, so the three days I had off this week were spent finishing off the articles.  I should be getting out to do more photography in the weeks to come!

Microscopy this week was spent searching for mitosis.   The end of plant roots undergo mitosis and by putting them in acid, you can ‘freeze’ the process.  By dyeing and squashing the root under a coverslip you can see the chromosomes!  Mitosis and meiosis has regularly come up in my eduction from GCSE so it was really cool to actually see and image.  The images did need a bit of post editing but that’s the same as all the microscope images really!


The Friday trip out was to the Cotswold Farm Park, I’m a big advocate for days away from work, where you can relax and do something completely different.  This was one of those days.  I didn’t need to get any images from this day so it was a chance to just enjoy being somewhere different!

Not too much else done this week because (as I mentioned) I was trying to get as much of the writing done as possible.

Take it easy,



A Week Review #7

My birthday week!  I headed to the peaks, and played with capturing upside down reflections.

Monday is usually microscopy day, but this and next week we’ve been split into two groups as we’re looking at mitosis and meiosis.  This week was the turn of the other group, but I will share the results of my efforts next week.

On Tuesday I had a meeting with the course directors regarding my summer projects (post coming) and had a group meeting regarding our exhibition, which is progressing nicely.

Wednesday was a business class; we have to create a business proposal for, and create adverts to include within, the magazine project.  Being from a science background, business isn’t really something I’ve considered before but I actually found it quite interesting and have a new perspective on the area.

The light was beautiful on a couple of the evenings, and although the sunset eluded me the golden hour didn’t disappoint.  I used the opportunities to play with reflections on the lake.  I decided to invert them in post processing to mess with the viewer’s perspective a bit; I saw an image by Marina Cano in the wildlife photographer of the year 2015 (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/wpy/gallery/2015/images/mammals/5004/heaven-on-earth.html) where she did the same thing and I’ve always wanted to try it out!


My family and I went and took the dog for a walk in the Peak District on Friday, and I used it as an opportunity to take some images for the man’s influence on the landscape article which is to be shot on 35mm film.  Loving using the film camera, although I’ll admit I still look at the back of the camera expectantly waiting for the image to appear!

End to a great week, hope yours was equal to mine;

Take it easy,


A Week Review #6

*Click* and just like that, we’re in March.  Scary to think the Easter break is not far away…

The highlight of this week was by far seeing the tardigrades in the laboratory session on Monday (to read more see ‘Grin and Bear it’).  The whole microscopy session was an interesting one, my skills with a microscope are improving, and I’m enjoying each session more and more.  Next week we’re looking at the macrofauna of the freshwater environments (my background is in marine biology and coastal ecology so really looking forward to this session!).

As part of the course we are putting on an exhibition in May, on Tuesday we visited the university’s manuscripts and special collections department, and had an interesting talk on how they image, organise, and exhibit their collection.  Worth visiting one of their exhibitions if you are in the Nottingham area!

So far we’ve had relatively good weather for our days out, on Friday the weather caught up with us.  The Chestnut Centre is a well-run otter, owl, and wildlife park.  Unfortunately the weather was truly terrible, so images were limited.

Next week is my birthday week!  So hopefully I will be getting back out the peaks to explore and take more images of this amazing landscape.

Take it easy,


Grin and Bear it

How can something so small capture a classroom’s hearts so easily?  Monday saw us looking at microscopic marine and freshwater organisms.  Although Dinoflagellates and Volvox were amazing to look at, my favourite by far were the tardigrades; even with their amazing survival adaptations, they are just wonderful to watch (video on my Twitter @mgb_visuals).


These amazing microscopic animals (otherwise known as Water Bears) are just awesome.  Being able to survive without food or water for 30 days, pressure 30 times greater than the deepest ocean trenches, temperature ranges from -272 °C (nearly absolute zero) to about 150 °C, and radiation doses 100s of times greater than would kill humans, makes them one of the most resilient animals on earth (however, despite all of this, not even tardigrades can survive the crushing power of the slide coverslip… RIP my microscopic friends).

Heading to the Chestnut Centre in the Peaks tomorrow, so expect another blog soon(ish)!

Take it easy,



A Week Review #5

If I was doing a word of the week section, this week’s word would definitely be ‘Inspiration’, not because we’ve had a particularly inspiring week, but because of the amount the word’s been said in the edit room!

This week’s mostly been taken up by editing the two videos we’re making for our session with the undergrads I mentioned in previous posts.  But I’ll start off on Monday when we did something a little different… We had a talk from the OPAL citizen science project (https://www.opalexplorenature.org/), and took part in their soil and earthworm survey.  It essentially involved digging a hole in the ground and counting worms, but it was a welcome break from staring at screens! (Citizen science is a great way of getting people outdoors and involved with research, so if you can get involved, please do)


Tuesday saw us heading over to Bramcote Woods (If you’re in the Nottingham area it’s worth a visit), it’s part of a wildlife corridor that links up an area from the middle of Nottingham right the way out into the countryside so it was really interesting to have a look around.

Wednesday and Thursday were taken up editing the videos I mentioned.  We’ve done the films in two very different styles, the inspiration video is unscripted, and has us on screen for most of it.  The other video, which I haven’t mentioned much, has us describing a topic in photography.  Our topic is Light and Exposure, we’re not speaking on screen for any of it, and the voice overs are all scripted.  I find it very easy to talk about my inspiration, as it’s something I think about quite a lot, but very rarely have to describe or teach a topic in photography so found the second video a bit harder, even though it was all scripted.  They’ll be up on Vimeo at some point, so keep an eye on my twitter.

Our Friday day out this week was a cityscape day, so at 7am we set off to London.  I’ll leave this as a bit of a cliffhanger, because I haven’t developed the film yet.  I’ll do a post on it sometime next week.

But in the mean time! Take it easy,


The Peaks

I heard a wonderful phrase recently; “I’m not an early bird or a night owl, I’m some form of permanently exhausted pigeon” I wouldn’t go as far to say I was an early bird/lark, as it takes me a bit of time to get going in the morning!  But no matter how early you’ve got up, or how far you’ve travelled, The Peak District is always stunning.

5.30am was leaving time to catch the sunrise at Mam Tor.  I’ve said in previous posts I’m not a landscape enthusiast, but this trip really gave me the chance to play around with my photography.  I decided to shoot at between 10-50mm focal length for the whole day, to push my photography in that direction.  I wanted to set myself a few photographic challenges for the day, so for the first, I looked for lines to use in the image below as a composition challenge on the hills next to Mam Tor.


Next was down to Padley Gorge where I played around with ND filters and long exposure shots on the water.  But my main challenge here was to look for reflections in standing water, or something to have as interesting foreground.  I’ve always struggled with reflecting the views I see through the camera, the landscape images never have that sense of scale or grandeur.  On way of doing this is to compose your shots with something to create that sense of scale in the front of the image, a point of interest (fences, gates, rocks are always good).  I had troubles with this image, as the tree was very busy and I’m not a huge fan of cloning big things out (like trees), and the sky didn’t have a huge amount of texture in it, but I was happy with just experimenting on the day!


Take it easy,



A Week Review #4

4.15 starts are never easy.  But luckily that wasn’t the start to this week!

We started this week with a great microscopy practical, it took me a while but I’m starting to get the hang of it.  I was never really into the microbial side of biology, if I couldn’t see it with the naked eye, I wasn’t interested, but taking a drop of pond water and seeing the teeming mass of life it supports really is fascinating!

We started by having a look at our own cheek cells (picture below) before moving onto looking at honey and various slides Tom has in his collection.  Had no idea honey looked so cool under a microscope, unfortunately I didn’t get any images from the polarising microscope which made the honey crystals look amazing, but take a look at the images from Emily (@emsviews) and Leanne’s (@hunterimaging) instagram accounts.

Spent the middle of the week working on the project proposal for the summer project, I won’t say too much now as I’m giving the project its own post in a few weeks!

The 4.15 start came on Friday, but the yawns were worth it, as we went to the Peak District.  It’s truly a photographer’s dream!  Rolling hills and atmospheric streams fill the landscape.  I’ve put a little taster below and I’ll go through the day in more detail next week!

Take it easy, M