Sweet Chestnuts

This post is long overdue as the last one pictured rain and in reality we are having a very dry Autumn. Dry weather makes for great foraging. I’ve attached a few pictures to this post, mainly because I really enjoyed the time we spent foraging for sweet chestnuts!

This first picture is actually after about half an hour of collecting the sweet chestnuts. My youngest daughter couldn’t really help collect them as they’re so very very sharp! She would not let anyone else carry the tub though!

Small girl holding pot of chestnuts
My daughter clutching the tub of sweet chestnuts we foraged

The spikes on these things are incredible. The shell is completely covered and they’re really spiney, they don’t bend at all. I started off trying to prise them open by hand, but my resourceful son (typical boy) discovered actually smashing them with the heal of your boot was the most effective, and surprisingly didn’t damage the actual nut inside at all!

Spikey Chestnut Shell
Spikey Chestnut Shell

The photo below was of an open one still on the tree – these were few and far between though and mostly they were covering the floor like an incredibly spikey carpet.

Scary Open Sweet Chestnut Shell
Scary Open Sweet Chestnut Shell

I love the colours and gloss of the newly extracted chestnut. They’re a little like highly polished walnut, like you would find in some stately home.

Lone Sweet Chestnut
Lone Sweet Chestnut

We collected loads, the tub you see my daughter holding was literally overflowing.

Collection of sweet chestnuts out of their shells
Inside the tub of chestnuts!

We’ve not tasted them yet. Some have been blanched and frozen to make into a stuffing for Christmas and the rest we have hung in nets with the aim to roast them in the oven.

What really amazed us is that we found walnuts in the same park! That’s not something you see everyday in the UK, but they were in the local park and we didn’t even know it. Foraging is great family fun. We definitely want to do it more – unfortunately we discovered the fun a little late in the season, but we’re going to gear up to collect a lot more in future.

As a matter of technical interest I graded these in the Adobe Lightroom 3 Beta it’s free to use until early next year. I really like it. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles (Layers!) of Photoshop, but in a way that’s good as you concentrate on the photo – more like darkroom development. The only problem is it’s not cheap, once the beta runs out it’ll be back to Photoshop only for me then.

Unusually Dry Autumn

Dripping wet washing lines
Dripping wet washing lines
Colourful Autumn Sumac Leaves
Colourful Autumn Sumac Leaves

Strangely this Autumn has been very very dry. It’s not very English at all. Much more normal is the kind damp and drizzle that I went out to capture this photo in. I got quite wet without realising it – what our family call ‘Cornish rain’. The kind of rain that just seems to hang there, almost like a heavy mist – but you get absolutely soaked.

The Sumac leaves amaze me. In the Summer it is a deep green, but come Autumn they gradually change to a deep red, with hints of yellows, oranges and greens in between. I love the drops of rain hanging like crystals beautifully finishing off the leaf apex. However, this is the first time I have noticed that the leaves on the branches form a shape somewhat like a dinosaurs rib cage!

I love Autumn – this is turning out to be a gorgeous one. An update with the results of our chestnut foraging soon!

(Btw Loving Spotify, in particular listening to Hans Zimmer, inspiring music)

Brighten an Autumn day

Closeup of young sunflower
Bright & beautiful sunflower

I love Autumn, the fresh weather, the beautiful colours – but I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this sunflower as it really brightened a bit of a dreary day. I bought a bunch for my wife who’s been feeling tired due to carrying our 5th child! She loves sunflowers and I think they reflect her character well.

I do have some more autumnal photos to follow – I was determined to get back up-to-date so stood in the drizzle and took some dripping wet photos!

So I hope this brightened your day like it did mine 😉

Autumn has arrived

Autumn Plastic Frog
Autumn Plastic Frog

Well Autumn has most definitely arrived. There were a few days where we had glorious sunshine and on occasion temperatures you might even consider balmy. However, the temperature has dropped as have the leaves, the nights are darkening and Autumn is in full flow.

I like Autumn, it’s fresh and you get beautiful colours as leaves turn from green, to red, to brown.

The image above at full resolution is not what I would consider technically perfect – but here’s the thing, does it capture what I was after? And the answer is yes! Reduced and softened with a bit of colour correction and it looks really Autumnal – which is what I wanted!

In Photoshop try using different layers with different blending modes. Blur the upper layer, reduce the transparency and see what you get. Trying things out in Photoshop is important as you never know when you might want to use the effect another time, even if not now. It would be interesting to see the most used techniques or the ones everyone wishes they knew!

So don’t throw out a photo without thinking – maybe you can stylise it somehow and still get an eye catching image.