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ePHOTOzine South East Meet.

ePHOTOzine South East Meet. - A group of ePHOTOzine members meet in Wildwood, Kent

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Members' Meetings

From the outset it was going to be tough to get organised - as many people as possible from the south east of England to one location at one time to take some pictures…….hang on, hold it, rewind……..it was never going to be difficult for God's sake! This is the South East, as Mr Carabosse described it, the most populous part of our country and so it began. A date was set, the first Sunday of March, the location was decided upon - a day at Wildwood, www.wildwoodtrust.org, between Herne Bay and Canterbury in Kent for the ePhotozine South East Meet. Watches were synchronised and the time was fixed - 10am (on a SUNDAY morning, are we mad? No, we're photographers….)

A thread was started, people claimed they would turn up…….and didn't, others claimed they couldn't…..and did…..and so the fellowship was born. Despite a poor weather forecast for the day, half a dozen people converged on Wildwoods at the appointed time, they had never seen anything like it…….3 field hardened photographers (and two wives, with cameras!) wearing an assortment of camo gear, bright hats woolly jumpers, long coats, boots and trainers and between them enough camera equipment to keep Jessops in business for a while. In we went, greeted by a cold breeze, grey skies and the hint of rain (someone had suggested that Sunday would be best as the weather would be fine……..but I can't remember who that was now……..!)

Planned congregation was at 10 am and in order of appearance in the car park were Mike Taylor (Greyheron53), Ian Andrews (Characterboats) and his wife Shirley, Dave Newton (Onewildworld), Terry Boyd-Longley (Boyd-Longley) and his wife Sharon (Aunt Sally). Apologies were received from Katie (Kyd).

The group pictured here from top to bottom Dave, Terry, Ian and Mike

ePHOTOzine South East Meet.

Once everybody had figured out who was who and introductions finished, the comments about waving monopods at total strangers across a car park started!! And that set the tone for the day. The tribe entered the park at 10am and were kicked out at 4 pm! By that time, the somewhat bewildered staff at wildwood knew who we were! So did another lone photographer that wandered around for a while wondering how a Camera Club could be based "all over the world!" ePHOTOzine South East Meet.

From the outset the fellowship was in good spirits, despite the lack of early morning caffeine! We set off around the park. First up were the egrets and spoonbills, soon followed by the deer (who thought head the cabbage was a good game) and then the Arctic foxes…..there was one (there always is) who fancied himself as a bit of a model, patiently he sat there while a variety of long lenses were trained on him - he even managed a yawn at one stage! It was this enclosure that set the scene for the day - Mike was standing on the railings, Dave didn't need to and Ian was wondering around looking for his own shots! Sharon and Shirley provided some useful comments, and Shirley did keep reminding Ian that he'd been X hrs without coffee (apparently some kind of record!) as we left the artic foxes our numbers swelled - the arrival of Terry (Boyd-longley) and his other half, Sharon - we knew it was them as a wave through some undergrowth to a photographer looking person elicited the same response!

At this point (and before anyone got injured, had laughing pains or gave up the ghost) we decided to take the group photo! So the cameras were set up, the four of us posed and the moment was captured - four lovely deer in the woods! A little further round the fungi saga started - Dave had noticed some nice bracket fungi and thought they'd make a nice picture so Mike obliged by re-arranging some of the wildwood fencing to get the little clump in just the right place. Dave set up his camera, borrowed a macro lens, added some extension tubes and started messing around with a flash and a soft-box - much to the amusement of the others…..pictures were being taken left right and centre, of the assembled group and all the while Mike and Dave fettered around this piece of fungi. Terry added his input - some gratuitous laughter and some light hearted banter and Sharon offered her services as a photographer's assistant to hold the soft box. With half a roll of velvia gone, Dave borrowed Mikes 10D to take a digital snap to see how it was going to look…..the result was ok, and we decided to move on.

By now, Ian had found the otters and was happily snapping away as they frolicked in the water (the otters, not Ian!) and Mike decided he wanted some of the action so once more he found himself standing on the fence straining on his little legs to get higher so he could see over the railings…..all seemed well…..but then a choice comment about the otters and valium brought him crashing to the ground in fits of laughter - just as he was about to take the otter "shot of the century!"

We moved on a little further to the wolves, well, wolf. And he looked like an Alsatian! Sitting there on his bench doing nothing, until Terry mentioned wild boar - that pricked his ears up!

Then it was back to hands and knees as Dave decided on trying to photograph some drops on a little honeysuckle sapling and Mike thought the moss looked particularly attractive! With reflectors set up, the breeze abating and the shots taken, we moved on.

Having taken a good circuit of the establishment, stopping from time to time to take the odd photograph, the group decided that this was an ideal opportunity to sample the cooking at the Wildwood café - and very nice it was too! With chips all round, some with Lasagne, some without and Ian consuming coffee like it was going out of fashion, lunch passed in a blur of discussion - mainly about ePz and how great it is and how it could be improved in places We also discussed Kyd's absence…..and how she would have been better coming (Kyd, if you're listening……!) At that point it started to rain, and then rained some more. After an hour in the café we ventured back out to begin a second and slightly longer circuit, leaving the women, who'd quite wisely opted out, to sit and chat inside! ePHOTOzine South East Meet.

This time the forest area to the back of the park was also taken in, where were found a couple of unexpected extras such as a group of wild boar piglets being guarded by Daddy!

The foxes were our first port of call - it was feeding time! And there was one fox who was intent on the attention that four camera lenses give! He ran around, came and had a look, moved away to a long shot, moved back in for his close-up, got really close (we discussed the need of a macro!) and then disappeared to be fed!


ePHOTOzine South East Meet.

ePHOTOzine South East Meet.Back past the egrets we went, watched them all scamper away from the keeper, only to return when the food had been put out, then onto the Pine Marten, who was busily burying his food for later! The artic foxes had all but disappeared, the deer were still playing with the cabbage…..and then we found the wild boar…..Terry resisted cooking them, but Ian was intent on smoked pork! The even had suckling piglets! The boar unfortunately we in a dark forest area, not great for photography on a grey overcast day with a light rain falling but we did try!

Further round we found a red deer herd feeding, lovely open enclosure with great opportunities to get a natural backdrop but no real light to speak of! Mike kept finding clumps of fungi - and then not taking pictures of them - and we all talked about how great it would be with shafts of light here, shafts of light there……

We moved onto the polecats and ferrets - both inquisitive animals, Dave showed his inquisitive nature by putting his hand into the enclosure and picking up the ferrets (see his new profile pic!) and the other three took photos of the soppy sod with a ferret….and a big hat!

As the four men re approached the canteen,we were informed that the staff were about to let the wolves out in order to round us up! All in all, a brilliant day out, and the six hours was just not long enough.

As we packed to leave the law of sod was again in evidence……the sun came out, the sky cleared and the drives home were blessed with a fabulous sunset (well, mine was!) But we'd all had a fantastic day, some friends made, experiences shared and some great shots taken.

The next meet has been arranged - we don't have a date yet, but at least we have a location! If anyone else fancies joining the self titled "South East Nature Group" (SENG) for our next wildwood meet, then please let us know!

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