I Won a Photography Challenge

Most months I enter some informal photography challenges, mainly to force me out of my comfort zone and encourage me to do some photography. And last month I won one! The theme was “Backlit”, and as we were able to use old images, I knew the backlit jogger I took on the War Memorial Park Sunrise Photo Walk last year.

It is only a bit of fun, with the prize being to set the theme of the next challenge, and judge it, but it is nice to see one of my favourite photos getting some recognition from a third party.

Top Five from 2023

The PistonHeads.com Photography Forum had a thread to share your favourite photos from the previous year, in this case, 2023. As it is usually your “top five” photos, I chose five and also decided to share them on my blog, as I have done in previous years.

This was my favourite photo of Henry, taken when we were in Peebles on our Summer Road Trip. Owen had not been feeling very well and did not want to go out, so I took Henry for a walk to the park. The colours on this rocket worked well with Henry’s t-shirt.

I could not have a favourite photo of Henry without one of Owen too. I took this one at a friend’s barbeque in the summer, whilstt is not technically perfect, I liked how the colours of the bubbles work with Owen’s shirt and draw your eye through the image.

I do not do much “street” photography, but enjoyed the Coventry Photography Meetup group photo walk at the War Memorial Park. This was the only photo I was happy with from the morning, but I am still really happy with it and it made it worth it. Even the 5:30 alarm!

Another photo from our summer road trip, this time from our final stop in Saltburn-by-the-Sea. As we were finishing up our dinner, I could tell that it was going to be a good sunset, so I rushed back to the flat we were staying in, grabbed my camera kit and headed back down to the beach. This was my favourite photo from that evening – and I took a lot! It was almost totally dark by this point, but that meant I could use a long shutter speed to blur the sea.

I managed to shoot more mountain biking last year, including three downhill races at Stile Cop, this was my pick of the images that I shot at the most recent race, in December. It was the first outing for my Fujinon XF 50-140mm f2.8 lens, and it was a good job I had it, as my old lens would have really struggled in the woods on a rainy December afternoon. Of all the shots I got during the race, this was my favourite, you can tell that the rider is fast, and their red kt stands out from the dull background.

War Memorial Park Sunrise Photo Walk

I am not a morning person, or should I say, I am not a getting-out-of-bed person. On the rare occasion, I do get up early, I love it. And today was one of those days. The Coventry Photography Meetup group had arranged a sunrise photo walk in the War Memorial Park – starting at 6:00, and as the forecast was due to be nice first thing, I set my alarm clock and joined them. Unfortunately, the weather forecast lied – it was a grey morning, but not quite misty enough to be atmospheric.

The first frame I took was of these daffodils in front of the war memorial, the flowers added a well-needed splash of colour. Moving down towards the skatepark, I switched to my 55-200mm lens, as there are usually plenty of squirrels there. I got a few photos of them, but 200mm is not really long enough for wildlife photography – I feel like it is a good jack-of-all-trades lens, but not really great at anything.

However, when the sun eventually popped out from behind the clouds, my eyes were drawn to the backlit tree at the edge of the park, and the 55-200 was definitely the right lens for the job. To make the image I knew I would just have to wait for someone to walk (or ideally ride their bike!) along the path into the frame. Even better was a jogger, his visible breath showing how cold it was, adding to the story. I knew straight away that this would be my favourite shot of the day (and is the shot at the top of this post). A few minutes later a cyclist rode past but the light had already gone.

Henry has Learned to Pedal

Henry has learned to ride a pedal bike! It has been a long time coming – last summer I felt like I needed to refurbish Owen’s old Frog 43 ready for Henry, as he was making such good progress on his balance bike. But when he was tall enough for the Frog 43 he seemed to hit a plateau – he was confident on his balance bike but too nervous to try pedalling.

Over the past few months, he had a couple of goes on the pedal bike but was reluctant to turn the pedals. He had since got the hang of pedalling trikes and his toy tractor, so I was confident he knew what to do. The day after Owen and I returned from the Malverns Classic MTB festival, Henry declared at breakfast that he wanted to try and ride his pedal bike. Although he had talked himself out of it by the time he had finished his toast. I was not going to let him get away that easily though! We all went to the War Memorial Park in Coventry, for Owen to take part in Junior Parkrun and for Henry to try pedalling…

At the park, Henry was happy scooting along on his bike, but reluctant to put his feet on the pedals – he scooted all the way to the skatepark. At least on Owen’s first attempt to pedal, at the same park and on the same bike, he tried to pedal, there were tantrums, but out of frustration of not being able to do it.

After Owen had finished his run, in a very respectable 25th place, Jen tried to help Henry pedal on the smooth concrete of the skatepark, but with not even an attempt to pedal from Henry. So I took the boys to play in the sandpit, whilst Jen ran a lap of the park. Then we got breakfast at the new Park Bistro. On the way back to the car park, we tried again to support Henry on the bike and encouraging him to pedal, first Jen, then me.

All of a sudden, Henry’s legs started going, and I could loosen my grip on him, when I was sure he was balanced I completely let go and ran alongside him, snapping the photo at the top of this post. His smile said it all, he was so happy to have conquered his fear and be riding! He rode all the way back to the van, still with a smile on his face. Definitely one of my proudest dad moments. It was not lost on me that on Owen’s first trip to the park on his bike, it was only after a stop at the playground that he got his first few pedals in unaided.

Henry has clearly got the bug, as he asked to go out again the next day. We went to Spencer Park, which has a flat asphalt area, with a roadway painted – perfect for those first rides. I felt confident enough in his abilities to let him ride laps on his own, without me running alongside him. Henry does still have some work to do though – he does not want to touch the brakes, which is less than ideal when it comes to stopping, at the moment I need to catch him. Obviously, this really restricts where he can ride.

Hopefully, he will be able to overcome these issues, as it would be good for him to be able to ride to school with Owen, and it would be really good if he can get on to some easier mountain bike trails e.g. Hicks Lodge by the end of the year!