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.


Conifer in a tube

Seagull Looking Down On Us
Small conifer tree growing inside a protective plastic tube

On a recent trip to my parents house in Cornwall I took a new look at something I’d seen lots of times. These conifer trees they are trying to grow have seemed to take an age to get going. They are growing in a protective plastic tube, which lets in light, but not animals. The surrounding ground also has to be cleared to give them a chance to grow.

This time though my youngest, 20 month old, daughter was fascinated by the little trees growing in the tubes, she would peer down inside and poke her hand in to try and pull at the struggling tree. ‘Pikey’ she would say – she misses off all initial letters, so this translates as ‘Spikey’.

Looking down the tube myself I thought the green glow and the young plant almost ‘reaching’ for the top was worth a photo – so here it is.

Yes, it’s a square crop, it seemed to lend itself to square because of the round tube – I’ve been challenged by other shapes again recently, more on that another time.


To Photoshop or to not

Dramatic tree and sky combination
Dramatic tree & Sky Photo?

Some people struggle with the idea of altering images with Photoshop (and yes I’m using ‘Photoshop’ as a verb too, seems the thing to do nowadays). For me it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you end up with a beauftiful or striking or thought provoking etc, etc, image. I’ve seen some amazing images that are completely computer generated – does that make it any less ‘art’. I’ve seen some ‘art’ that is simply just four squares painted in different shades of red – is that art?

The film ‘Wall-E’ was beautiful in my opinion and deserves a nomination for its cinematography – note, not in the CGI category but proper cinematography. In fact they had one of my favourite real world cinematographer’s, Roger Deakins, as a consultant.

So on this blog you’ll see examples of photos with subtle changes to enhance them and you’ll see stuff completely computer generated too – the same goes for videos and animations. I just love art in its many forms.

So yes, this image was changed fairly heavily – but how?