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This is the source of the River Test at Ashe. In the distance is the small pond where it all starts with this wet area being the true start of the "river". Not very impressive - no visible springs, but this is the same for the source of the Itchen which is also in the book. Within a couple of miles the springs along the channel produce enough water to produce a recognisable stream.
In the book I describe the sources of the chalk streams. The two images above are of a winterbourne which feeds water to the Wylye. As the name suggests, the first image was taken early in the year when rain water has topped up the aquifer over winter resulting in springs releasing water along the channel. By the summer has dried up, shown in the image on the right.
It is raining as I write this, but when the sun appears in early November it brings out the rich colours of Autumn. The bankside vegetation can look a bit haggard but by careful positioning, the mix of greens and browns can enhance the overall image and frame the main subject of the trees. The swans added a bit of extra interest. The photo needed the contrast of the blue sky to make it stand out and be worth including in the book.
Having now seen an advance copy of the book, I am delighted /relieved to say it is exactly as I wanted. And heavy at 164 pages! The colour reproduction is really pleasing.
The image above was taken at a lake in the upper Test valley, fed by the River Test which runs next to it. The last rays of the sun poking through the clouds made a wonderful picture captured on my iPhone. No trickery, that's how it looked.
The majority of the landscape images in the book were taken in the lush green times of Spring and Summer but now in late October and into November the rich Autumnal colours are very photogenic. The image above was taken in early November on the upper Test. To get this kind of effect was a matter of waiting for the early afternoon sun to make an appearance between the clouds. Without the clouds it would not have been possible to get the mottled effect of light on the trees and the interesting sky.
In the final editing for the book it was necessary to reduce the number of images slightly. This photograph of a juvenile Song thrush didn't make the cut. I had arrived at Langford Lakes in Wiltshire early in the morning hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive otters. After a couple of fruitless hours of searching for the otters, I came across the Song thrush on the path. The colouring and the fluffy feathers are the indications this is a juvenile.
I have frequently found unexpected and interesting subjects to photograph when on planned trips for other species. It helped balance the times when the planned trips did not work out - otter trips being a good example.
My book is due back from the printers in early November, so will be available for Christmas presents! It has a sequence from the "drowning" of the water meadows in the south of Salisbury. The Harnham Water Meadows Trust floods the meadows in the traditional way a couple of times a year. A "Drowner" opens the hatches and after a brief gush, the water flows gently along the network of channels and then over the surface of the field to a controlled level before returning to the river via drains. Quite a spectacle and open to the public. The meadows were a favourite of Constable and he painted the view across to the cathedral a number of times. The image above was taken from the same viewpoint as Constable used in one of his paintings. The scene has not changed much.
Shot in early October it captures the changing colour of the leaves at the start of Autumn.
I decided to use the classic view of the Eel Traps at Leckford on the River Test as the back cover to the book. I really liked the flowing weed which, for the image I wanted, I brought out with a polarising filter and a little extra exposure to that part of the photograph. There are many images available of this view taken by scores of photographers - moody shots, shots through dawn mist and, the camera club favourite, with a long exposure to make the river look milky and smooth. Personally, I think it looks best when shot straight like this in good natural summer light. Believe it or not, when I did a Google search, this seems to be very unusual.
It might be thought that such a location would be out if sight to all but a privileged few who can afford to pay for a days fly fishing on the John Lewis owned fishery at Leckford, but no, this shot was taken from a public road!
Just gathering up the funds for the pre-orders of the book and I have now sent the finished book off to the printers. There were lots of revisions to the layout and to the image captions / text, but I am now very happy with the end result. Hardback book with glossy jacket. 164 pages in total. Phew!
The image above is the cover for the book.
Coincidentally, Salmon & Trout Conservation UK used this image of the upper Test in their newsletter on Friday.
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In due course there will be a link to the catalogue of the publishing partner - Riverside Publishing Solutions.