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February 2012  Photographers Resource - Monthly  Edition 98

White Horses, Training and Updates

Alton Barnes White Horse  Alton Barnes, Wiltshire

Image taken with Nikon D2x, with 80-400VR lens @ 400mm, ISO 400, 1/350th, F9.5, EV -0.7

In This Issue:-
  • Editorial

  • Feature - White Horses and Hillside Features

  • Photographic Feature - Photography Training

  • Photographers Diary

  • February Wildlife Diary

We have taken the opportunity over the past month to do some spring cleaning of the website. This has included updating the pages of those items some of you had notified us of, as well as updating a couple of sections completely, rechecking and updating links both internally and externally.

A Big Thank You

Many of you over the past few of months have sent us images, suggestions, updated information and details of broken links, many of which we tried to do as we got to them each month, but we had also managed to create a backlog of changes that hadn't been done. So I have taken the opportunity during a winter clean up, to get all the changes in place, and to contact and thank personally those of you who did get in touch. If I missed anyone then I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have taken the time to contact us over the past year with updated or new information. It is appreciated and welcome. At the same time I would also like to encourage any of you who read this newsletter or use the many resources we have here if you do spot something wrong, or have any suggestions please do let us know via our contact us email. Of course we are also delighted when you tell others about the helpful features you find on this website.

It is not possible to list all the changes we have made as they are all over the website, but one example of a suggestion that I did act upon has been implemented and I hope this makes it much easier for you. Someone suggested that it might be nice to have the waterfalls listed in county order, that way when visiting an area you could make sure that all the waterfalls we know about got covered. So we have taken the opportunity to create a county list of the Waterfalls of England. I hope to be able to do the same for our other country lists in the coming months. I

Let's explain how this newsletter and resource works

Each month we have a newsletter or magazine and this comes out on or about the 1st of the month. The newsletter links to a number of new articles, tables of information and detailed location guides, amongst other things.

One of the most popular features is a monthly diary covering interesting and unusual things on, around the UK, in the two months ahead.

Everything that appears, or ever has, is indexed in a number of ways, alphabetically, by topic, by county, and often linked into sections. Many of the sections have their own front doorways so people with specific interests have direct access through these doors to their area of interest.

You can also get back to see every newsletter, from the beginning, via our recent editions link.

All of our links are coded showing you 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 tells you what it means.

If this is your first visit, click here to find out how you might best use this site to help you find what you are looking for.

hope this helps and this is just one example of how we can work together and put a better system in place.

Links Not Working

Over the past year it has come to our attention, both through your feedback and also from when we have been creating more information for this site, that some of the external links have stopped working. We have spent the last couple of months trying to decide what is the best way to overcome this. This website now has many thousands of pages and links and to update all of them every time they changed would be a mammoth task, and need an army of people that we don't have. In fact we did put together a list of sections that we thought we might be able to update this coming year, but in doing so found that we wouldn't have time to add anything new, and after a lot of thought we have now decided that a complete re-linking of the website is not practical and probably unproductive as in a few weeks/months they would be out of date again as others changed their websites.

Broken links of external websites come about because organisations and companies decide that they would like to re-design their website and make it sparkle and use all the latest technology, and gizmos available, even if some with older computers, using older versions of browsers or those using mobile devices won't be able to access them. In changing their websites they don't keep the same page reference or put in place an error page that can correct and forward links. This is not difficult to do, but for many large organisations just something that they have never thought to do and therefore every link to their website no longer works. They also break because some people change their website names and don't forward link from their old website, or decide not to continue with the website at all because of time or financial limits. Currently there is a government programme to phase out many of their websites to a smaller number of wider interest ones, this will cause link breakages although few will have any impact on our site. Because of this a site like ours, and search engines, are going to suffer from broken links.

Some very large organisations that have done this over the last year and we know that our links may no longer work include:

The National Trust (England and Wales) they have just completely re-launched their website and every link I checked this month didn't work, so those I checked have been changed.

English Heritage some of their links do seem to forward link to the new pages, but not all.

CADW have completely redesigned their website, and you access the information in a different way to the old one. All pages have moved.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust have redesigned their website and changed their website name, although they do seem to have a forward link working at the moment.

Trinity House who look after all the operational lighthouses around the UK, have completely redesigned their website using large images and interactive maps, which have really slowed the site down, and have moved their pages. However checking out some of the links we have on our pages the links do not seem to be broken, in most cases it just doesn't take you to the individual page on the lighthouse as it did previously, but now goes to the interactive map page, where the lighthouses are listed in alpha order and you can link on from there.

We have now taken the decision that the best course of action for us to cope with this going on into the future, when adding new pages to this site, is for us to link to the home page of these larger organisations, and from there you can use their search facilities to find what you are looking for. I know this is not ideal, but we can see it as being the only way currently that we can maintain good links and not broken ones.

Over the past year when this newsletter has linked to an article, list or location guide we had previously written, I have taken the opportunity to update that page and checked out all links and changed them where necessary, that is why you have the lists at the end of this newsletter that show both new pages added and those updated, and we will continue to do this into the future. However updating via this method means that there will be some pages that will not get updated and I do apologise but I hope you understand. I will also take the time to update a page if you should take the trouble to let us know via our contact us email that something is wrong and needs updating.

Mapping System Broken Links

We also have the same problems with map links, over time changes occur and as you know Multimap no longer exists, having been taken over by Bing. We used Multimap as our major mapping source for Ordnance Survey maps within our location guides and lists and all our Multimap links now only go to the Bing Map home page. Over the last year when updating or adding new location guides we have been using StreetMap instead. StreetMap allows you to put in grid references, something we use a lot, like Multimap did, and Google Maps doesn't,  however it is quite slow to load because of all the moving adverts over it's pages. We still continue to use Google Maps for all our Ariel map links and as far as we know there is no problem with this. Because we use Grid References quite a lot, and many of our locations are out in the middle of the countryside, we need a mapping system that will allow us to put in grid references rather than postcodes. We are currently in the process of researching all mapping systems again to see if we can get something that works for us and you. If you know of a good mapping source that we should investigate then please let us know.

Two pages that have been extensively changed in the reference section are Map Links and the page on the National Grid References. These have a range of mapping services and working links.

What do we have for you this month

We have decided to make our Feature this month White Horses and Hillside Features. Although we have now decided not to update every section and page on this website, as the task is too enormous, we had already started to update the White Horses and Hillside Features section. This was one of our earliest sections and had not been looked at in detail since back in 2008, so I felt it was time for a new airing. Take a look at our main feature below, this is something you can do during the shorter, colder winter days as they are in open countryside. If you do not live too far from any of them they are also cost effective to visit as there are no entry fees.

We have also updated the Waterfalls section completely checking out and updating all links in the articles, lists, location guides and more. Waterfalls are good to photograph this time of year, as long as you don't mind the cold and the weather isn't so bad you can't get to them. With the snow in Scotland, and rain in the north of England and Wales many of them are probably in full flow, and some within our lists labelled as seasonal should have water flowing over them this time of year. If there has been a lot of rain or heavy showers then there should be the opportunity to experiment with different photographing water techniques such as freezing water in time or giving the illusion of moving water. All linked articles have been linked to others that are relevant within our photography section, all links within the locations guides have been checked and updated where necessary, including the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, in Yorkshire, which has a number of linking locations guides covering their two rivers and 8 major waterfalls as well as two galleries, Waterfall Trail - River Twiss and Waterfall Trail - River Doe. They have changed their website name! All the external links within our lists of waterfalls have also been checked and updated, and we have added one additional list, a county list for England's Waterfalls, and hope this helps you identify which counties have good waterfalls to photograph.

Our Photo feature this month Teach Yourself Photography, can be reached from our Training button in the left panel you can get to our training section. Our teach yourself photography training can be

Beezley Waterfall

 Waterfall Trail - River Doe

started through the winter months, can be done in any order and uses all materials within this website, from articles to places to visit to try out and experiment with new skills, as well as projects. So you can make a start and carry on through the year if you want, carrying out practical tasks beyond the computer screen inside and out. Take a look at our feature below.

Don't forget you also get an extra day this month, the 29th, so why not use this time to get some extra photos. Look at doing something different, or as it is a day that only occurs once every 4 years come up with something that will make it extra special or may be something you could or would only want to do every 4 years!


White Horses and Hillside Features

Once upon a time, before red tape, planning consent and protected weeds, people could do far more of what they liked, they could build Follies and Monuments, like Broadway Tower in Worcestershire to make their view interesting, exercise their whims, or mark events and situations. Amongst these activities some chose to cut white horses into the sides of hillsides, removing grass and soil so that the chalk was visible. Some chose to carve other shapes such as military badges, giants, or other animals. As time passed, some were appreciated, and maintained, others were not and grew over, in some cases to be rediscovered or re-cut at the same site or nearby later.

Today things are never as simple, and although there are some new white horses, like at Devizes  in Wiltshire and the most recent one at Folkestone   in Kent, creating them has involved not only the physical construction, but also an enormous achievement in wading through red tape and objections to achieve this. With the Folkestone white horse for example this involved getting planning permission, then a public inquiry and when part built, Europe issued a directive to stop it and took legal action against the UK Government for allowing it to happen. When you consider this horse is only an outline, with narrow lines, like a narrow garden path, and all the weeds that were disturbed were taken up and replanted on another part of the hillside, its difficult to understand the objections. In Devizes they wanted to re-cut one that had gown over, but ran into difficulties, so solved this problem by moving to another hillside a mile away with less sensitive weeds.

Devizes White Horse, Wiltshire

These carvings and artistic monuments are amongst a few basic symbols that are regularly featured to show a view of Britain. Other symbols include Stones Circles, Windmills, Tower Bridge or Big Ben, or perhaps a Castle,   river or Canal. So they are a significant part of what some consider to be who we are and are a part of our history. There are not that many white horses within the UK, we have identified 17 so far, and have produced a listing and location guides on each of them. We have also identified where all the other hillside features are, and produced a listing of these, see List of Hillside Figures. Should you know of any we have missed then please let us know.

With many we have found a number of stories behind them, and rather than pick one we felt was the answer, we have chosen to list all the variations, even where some are clearly wrong, as information existed in printed form before the suggested date. In some cases we have undertaken further research and included some of this, as in the case of the Marlborough White Horse  in Wiltshire.  Being near Wiltshire where there are more white horses than in any other county, we have visited and photographed 8 of them, and we achieved this all in one day.

You will discover that there is a story behind each, and in some cases we know what this is, in others we have a range of ideas and in others perhaps we are guessing. The oldest surviving White Horse is 3,000 years old or thereabouts, and is the largest. It was produced by a more complex method that makes it 3D and means its shape cannot change like most others. We don't know why it was created, or how, or why they chose this symbolic design as opposed to carving a solid shape. We can of course look at the history and possibilities based on beliefs of the time. You might also consider if it is linked to the nearby hill fort, Uffington Castle, or even The Ridgeway Path that runs nearby, and if it may also be connected with stone circles. This white horse we are talking about here of course is the Uffington White Horse  on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border.

White Horses are able to be photographed from a distance, and are usually best done this way, so you don't need to climb up the hill to get to the actual site, unless you want to.  In fact many of those that we took pictures of and covered in our location guides were taken from lower paths or roads within about half a field. You can see from this, if you just want to use your car, its still possible to photograph most white horses, and if you do go right up to them then you are too close to photograph them anyway. The article How to Photograph Hillside Figures gives you some hints and tips on how you might go about getting some great images and most without a lot of effort.

The head of the Uffington White Horse  on the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border

For more information on white horses and hillside features and their history take a look at an Introduction to Hillside Figures.

Photographic Feature

Teach Yourself Photography

Some of our regular readers probably already know that Photographers Resource started off as the weekly newsletter of Camera Images, a training company that specifically taught individuals and businesses how to use Nikon Cameras. Later we split away to become a separate operation, and have become the vast online, and still expanding resource, you see before you today. Some may ask why do we need a training section as this resource has enough articles and practical projects and other resources for you to train yourself, and yes we agree but that is why we have a Training section to allow you to be able to access this valuable information quickly and to be able to 'Teach Yourself Photography'. Even the most experienced photographer will find that looking over this will both reinforce their knowledge or suggest areas for further study or experimentation.

Being separate from a specific training company we have been able to create our articles in such a way that whether you use a phone, compact camera, DSLR or medium format camera, or even an iPad the information provided here will be relevant whichever method of capture you use. However finding the relevant article amongst our detailed index systems can be a bit daunting, especially for newcomers. So our training section allows us to map out those articles which are of most use to you to learn new techniques, skills and to access the projects we have available more easily.

The training section is in two parts, the first 'DIY training' giving you links to information within this website and in many cases forward links from there to find out more. Many articles are grouped around a subject, such as Exposure,   and some of these use a system of Article Routes to lead you through the topic a step at a time. A number of sections have projects to help you to get practical experience of the task in hand. The second part of the section lists other training resources. This year we have a number of other planned pages and exercises in development, but as always we are delighted to hear suggestions from you as to information or techniques that you would like us to explore and explain further.

Photography is a very practical skill, part technical, part art, and part being in the right place at the right time.  This is not about luck or how much cash you have, mostly its about persistence, practice and actually getting out to take photos.  Getting a basic understanding of the terminology and technical aspects of digital photography, like that you can get from this website, plus experimenting and practical experience, through using some of our projects will help. You need to understand the technical part in order to understand what works and more importantly when things don't work to be able to work out what went wrong.

One thing you will know or learn is that there are too many things to think about at the same time, and that in order to make progress you need to simplify, have a routine, and concentrate on those things that are going to make a real difference. Take a look at teaching yourself photography for more on how to go about starting to teach yourself, it's far easier than you might think. With the use of the structure of the training section you should be able to get a good grounding in the basics of photography and even if you don't use a DSLR the information in Introduction to DSLR photography covers much of the basics and is a good starting point, linking you to the many other articles we have here that allow you to fill in the gaps and expand your knowledge.

Remember this section will go on building as more photography articles are added to this resource. If you find a particular photographic skill a challenge, and it is not already covered within this resource, then why not let us know and we can look at adding it to our list of articles to add over the coming issues.

Good luck and enjoy your photography.

The Photographers Diary

The March diary is now in the 'next month' slot with February moved to in the 'this month'. Both months have a lot of opportunities for everyone.  Some highlights that are of particular interest are:-

February 2nd is Candlemas, traditionally the last day of Christmas and marking the midpoint of winter (halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox), and this is celebrated in many Celtic communities as the Feast of Lights.

The first weekend of month starts off the new season of classic shows with the Vintage Tractor Show held at the Bath and West Showground in Somerset with 100's of vintage tractors and implements on display. It also sees the start of the Scottish Snowdrop Festival, see the wildlife section below for more on this. Sunday the 5th is the annual Clown Service, celebrating the life of British Clown legend Joseph Grimaldi, in Holy Trinity Church, Dalston, London.

Keeping with the showbiz theme Blackpool holds it Showzam Festival from the 10th to 19th, where over nine days they have circus, magic, street artists, dancing and live music events around the streets and famous landmarks of the city.

Historical events start off with the Jorvik Viking Festival in York which includes battle re-enactments and a Viking market on the 11th. On the 18th is Living History in Worcester where three venues in the town showcase 17th century history with camps, soldiers doing firing displays and crafts.


Viking Festival by Sarah Grice

February is the month of love and this is celebrated with Valentines Day on the 14th for the homosapien but it is also start of National Nest Box week for the birds of the flying variety, were we are encouraged to put up nest boxes in our gardens, or help local groups in our woodlands put up boxes for our breeding birds and wildlife, to help them with preparing for their new offspring.

For food lovers the 21st is Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, and many communities will be celebrating with pancake races. The oldest of these races takes place in the High Street of Olney in Buckinghamshire each year with the ladies of the parish, wearing traditional costume, race 415 yards with a frying pan containing a pancake. In Brick Lane, London teams do their bit for charity by taking part in The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race. While in Lichfield in Staffordshire their pancake race is run alongside a Shrovetide Fair and traditional ceremony. See the February diary page for links to find out more about these and other Pancake Day celebrations.


Olney Pancake Race 2011 by Phil Shirley

Its not all about pancakes though, in Scarborough, Yorkshire, they have a Skipping Festival and pancake races on the sea front, and in Ashbourne, Derbyshire they have a Shrovetide Football Match over 2 days. It starts at 2pm each day and can last up until 10pm. If a goal is scored before 6pm then a new ball is allocated until the end of game. If a goal is scored after 6pm then it ends for that day. The majority of the able bodied men, women and children take to the streets to play the largest, most insane football game in the world. Even the local shops are boarded up. The goals are 3 miles apart on the sites of old mills, one at Clifton and one at Sturston. A goal is scored by a player striking the mill wheel three times with the Ball. The ball may be kicked, carried or thrown, but generally proceeds in a series of 'hugs' invisible to the spectator.

If you're not a fan of pancakes then what about Rhubarb, from the 24th to 26th Wakefield in Yorkshire, the home of Rhubarb, holds their Rhubarb Festival with cookery demonstrations, themed meals and tours of the forcing sheds where they are grown. This month there are things going on for all tastes! Take a look at our diary page for something of interest to you.


Wildlife Photography In February

With the milder winter in many parts of southern England the winter bulbs have been bursting through the ground early and in many parks and woodlands you will probably already see many them in full bloom. I know over the past weeks in some online newspapers they have been showing pictures of daffodils and snowdrops.

Snowdrops traditionally start to sprout towards the end of January and tend to be in full bloom from February through to the middle of March. Every year Scotland runs a Snowdrop Festival and this year it is from the 4th February until the 18th March. Over 50 gardens are taking part all over the Scottish mainland and it is a good opportunity to get out in the fresh air and take a walk in the gardens, parks and woodlands to enjoy the little white flowers that cover the ground. They are quite a versatile plant and will be found sprinkled on footpaths, near waterfalls such as at Aberfeldy in Perthshire, or carpets of them can be seen in places such as at those found at Culzean Castle in south Ayrshire, or Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland. For something a bit different you could visit the Snowdrops by Starlight Evening illuminated walk at Cambo Woodland Gardens in Fife. There are many places throughout the UK, in woodlands, parks and open countryside that will have displays but if you want to see them in the grounds of a castle or big house, or take part in an organised event, then take a look at our list of where to see and photograph Snowdrops, list for some of the best places to see them in throughout the UK. Some of these places only open for the Snowdrop season, so it's a good chance to get to see somewhere you haven't seen before at the same time. Because they are low to the ground and they have tiny flower heads, it might also be a good opportunity to have a go at some macro photography and see what close-ups you can get.

Staying within the plant world, in your local town park or in gardens, as well as maybe seeing the little white heads of the snowdrop, there may also be other colours

Where to Photograph Snowdrops

starting to appear above ground such as the yellows, purples, reds and other colours of crocuses and other winter plants. When out on a woodland stroll you may come across the yellow winter aconite, or even see the first green shoots of this seasons bluebell stalks as they start to push their way through the woodland floor.

Many of our trees will also be starting to shoot the buds of their new fruit before their leaves form and block out the light. Hazel Catkins or as they are also known as 'Lamb's tails' will also be hanging from leafless tree branches with their little red tentacle buds ready to trap the pollen as it goes by.

Over the past couple of weeks I have started to see more bird activity in my garden with the reappearance of the magical red breast of the Robin, perching itself on my black fencing and keeping an eye out for predators from above and below (cats, not mine). I have also seen Great Tits checking out our large conifer hedges, which go all the way round our back garden and each year make a good refuge and hiding place for many of the smaller bird species. And on the garden, scurrying around within the leaf matter, I have seen Dunnocks checking out the food sources. Of course living in a town doesn't mean we have no wildlife to the contrary there are also Wood Pigeons making the tree branches bend as they land quite ungainly. I haven't seen any yet, but little Blue Tit's will be searching out nesting sites as well.

If I were out in the country then I might catch sight of a Redwing  or Fieldfare  foraging for any remaining berries in the hedgerows or on the ground in orchards picking on the last remains of  last seasons fallen apples. They are trying to take on enough food and build up their energy supplies before they start their winter migration back to their breeding grounds. On a woodland walk you may hear, and even see if you look out for them, the strumming of the Great Spotted Woodpecker as they search out food from underneath the bark and start to pair up ready for this year's mating season. In some wooded areas such as at Swell Wood in the West Sedgemoor Nature Reserve, near Langport in Somerset, Grey Heron's will be found in the treetops carrying out their mating rituals and nest building in the Heronry.

Driving around the Gloucestershire countryside and in particular past the Cotswold Water Park lakes there are many birds on the lakes and over recent weeks I have seen large numbers of Swans. On one particular drive by one lake had 8 pairs of swans, but even a small lake down a country lane, on one passing, had two pairs gliding across the water. I was not able to get close up views to see which type they were, but they are likely to be our native Mute Swans, as those breeds such as Whooper's and Bewick's tend to flock together in larger groups. These types can still be seen in large numbers at the Wildfowl & Wetland Spaces around the country this month, as they don't generally start to go back to their breeding grounds until the end of the month and through March.

If you're near inland open water, such as lowland lakes, gravel pits, reservoirs and rivers also look out for Great Crested Grebes. They are an elegant bird and colourful, with their ornate head plumes and their ear tufts which only grow in spring for their courtship display. February is not only the month of love for us, with Valentines Day on the 14th, but it is also the month of love for the Grebes. This month they will be pairing up on the water and carrying out their rather lengthy courtship with the male offering twigs and other matter for nesting material, together they will be out their courtship dance, of rising out of the water and shaking their heads resulting in their heads meeting to provide a heart shape. To see some short videos of this display take a look at the Great Crested Grebe page on the BBC Nature website.

Great Crested Grebe

  Steve Garvie

Take a look at Wildlife photography in February for more wildlife that you can see this month.

Summary of Articles Included In This Issue

Introduction to Hillside Figures.

How to Photograph Hillside Figures

National Grid References

Teach Yourself Photography

Introduction to DSLR photography


Article Routes

Photographing water

Freezing water in time

Macro photography

Wildlife photography in February



Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Grey Heron's


Mute Swans

Whooper Swan

Bewick's Swan

Lists Included or Added This Issue

County list for England's Waterfalls

Waterfalls of Cornwall

Waterfalls of Cumbria

Waterfalls of Derbyshire

Waterfalls of Devon

Waterfalls of Durham

Waterfalls of Shropshire

Waterfalls of Somerset

Waterfalls of Sussex

Waterfalls of Wiltshire

Waterfalls of Yorkshire

Where to see and photograph Snowdrops

Map Links

Locations Guides Included This Issue

Marlborough White Horse  in Wiltshire

Devizes White Horse, Wiltshire   

Folkestone White Horse, Kent  

Ingleton Waterfalls Trail, Yorkshire

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire

Galleries Included This Issue

Ingleton Waterfall Trail - River Twiss, Yorkshire

Ingleton Waterfall Trail - River Doe, Yorkshire


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