Pictures by Walter

A View With Every Picture

Leave a comment

A Winter’s Month – January 2010

Nikon D300s

A New Year, with two new photographic toys Santa had very kind left at Christmas. A New Nikon D300s with a Sigma 150-500 Zoom.  It had become apparent that I needed a larger zoom than the 28/300 for some of my animal shots at zoos.  Unfortunately (if I recall correctly) there were not many third party lens for Pentax fittings.  I was contemplating buying a Sigma 150-500 for Canon but a hint was dropped to forget that.  Christmas revealed why.

January 2010 (at least in West Lothian) started off with a lot, and I mean a lot of snow, along with a big freeze.  Yet the sun did shine – it shone but not a lot of warmth.  To test my new outfit I took my normal walk to my place of work getting to know the camera and lens.  This took me from Craigshill to Almondvale and the (then) new Civic Centre where |I was employed in Legal Services, West Lothian Council. Susan, Sid and I headed off to Linlithgow – which shuts down over the festive season, and had a walk around Linlithgow Loch to feed the birds.  It is a nice walk round the loch (see WalkHighlands) and popular, even on the 1st of January.  Being a loch there are lots of waders as well as gulls.  Most popular are the Mute Swans and Ducks (Mallard, Tufted Ducks etc.)  Regretfully we had to wait until we got home to have a warm soup – as I said Linlithgow closes down at Festive Season.

Where else would one test out the combination of large Zoom lens  and new camera – Edinburgh Zoo sprung to mind.  In a previous blog I mentioned that we were once members of the Society but no longer.  However the Zoo was the ideal place to test the outfit and I captured (to my mind) some great shots of Tigers, Lions etc.  I forgot to mention that Sid had purchased a Nikon D300s and Sigma 150-500 from Jessops in Edinburgh.  I thought he would have twigged and brought it with him to the zoo.  Silly man forgot them, mind you that was the last time he did so. Nowadays he carries the D90 and D300s with a small zoom and the 150-500.

I did not realise it at the time, but the year that started off so well would soon become the year from hell as far as my personal life went.  My mother lost her battle with cancer and soon after my partner was fighting for her life against pneumonia.   In all 2010 was a year of change and led to a bigger change in 2011.

Video/Slide show “A Winter’s Month”


20170724 – Stroll Around The Loch

Livingston, formerly Livingston New Town, is situated between Glasgow and Edinburgh and easy to get from west and east.  Being sited next to the M8 and the A71 gives Livingston good road connections to North, South East and west.  Linlithgow (Historic Town) is the other side of the Bathgate Hills and is approx 30 minute drive from my home.

St Michael’s Parish Church

(1) St Katherine’s Aisle Window

Churches dedicated to St Michael have traditionally been placed on high ground and St Michael’s Parish Church, Linlithgow, is no exception. Built on the rise between the town of Linlithgow and Linlithgow Loch, anywhere else this large church would command instant attention over a wide area. But here it shares the stage with its larger neighbour, Linlithgow Palace, which lies immediately to its north.

(1)  St Katherine’s Aisle Window – Technical details: Canon 500D,  f4.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 28 mm,  Shutter 1/40th sec ISO 100

(2) The Choir Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200


Stroll Around Linlithgow Loch

A circular walk 2.25 miles around Linlithgow Loch is a nice way to while away some time.  Dependant on how you treat the walk it can take 30 minutes for joggers to an hour for the stroller, even more if you stop to enjoy the wildlife and views etc.  Feeling somewhat housebound Susan and I decided to go feed the swans and ducks – taking seed not bread, and my camera.

(3) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f85, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/200th sec ISO 100


Swans, Ducks etc.

The loch is well known for the water fowl, ducks and swans.  Whilst used to humans around them they are still untamed wild birds, and if you get too close you get one warning, especially from a mute swan.

(4) Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

(4) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f3.5, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 18 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 200

As we walk around the loch the terrain changes to a wilder less maintained landscape.  This of course allows the wild flowers to bloom and prosper much to the delight of the bugs, butterflies, moths and of course THE flower of Scotland – The Thistle.

(5) Bee and Thistle

(5) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Sigma 150-500mm Zoom @ 500mm,  Shutter 1/840th sec ISO 200

Royal Ruins – Linlithgow Palace

As we walk around the loch the ruins of the once Royal Place of the Stuarts attract the eye.  Birthplace of the last Queen of Scots, Mary Stuart the ill fated Queen.  James V before he died is reported to have said “it came wi a lass, it’ll gang wi a lass” (meaning “It began with a girl and it will end with a girl”).

(6) Cross of St Michael’s and Linlithgow Palace Ruins

(6) Technical details: Canon 500D,  f8, Canon EFS 18-200 mm Zoom @ 100 mm,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 125


Click on image for Gallery


Leave a comment

20170708 – British 1-Act Open Festival Final

Belfast Hosts 84th British Festival Final 8th-9th July 2017

The time had come for the four champions to meet for the title of  British 1-Act Champions. Four clubs would fight it out to be crowned the British Champions.  These teams had survived from District > Divisional>Country and now going head to head at the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) Theatre, Belfast.  The festival would be over two days and Walker Ewart, a well respected Adjudicator would be landed with the task of picking the overall Festival Champion . Teams from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England were ready to give the best performance to win the coveted Howard de Walden Trophy. I was asked to be official photographer for the event.  The festival would be over two days with the presentation of the trophy at the end of the festival.

Northern Ireland – Bangor Drama Club: The Galway Girl by Geraldine Aron

Bangor Drama Club opened the 84th 1 Act British Final on 7th July 2017 with Geraldine Aron’s “Galway Girl”. Two actors portray marriage between two different classes through the years using  a small set.

(1) Galway Girl – Bangor Drama Club

(1) Galway Girl  – Technical details: Pentax K-1, Sigma f2.8, 70-200 mm Zoom @ 180 mm,  Shutter 1/30th sec ISO 3200

 Scotland – Aberfeldy Drama Club: Ring Road by Anita Vettese

Set in a run- down hotel.  Lisa whose marriage to Paul was breaking down over their inability to have children had arranged to meet Mark, her brother in law with a view to getting her pregnant.

(2) Ring Road – Aberfeldy Drama Club

(2) Technical details: Pentax K-1, Sigma f2.8, 70-200 mm Zoom @ 200 mm,  Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 3200

The completion of the Aberfeldy play signalled the end of the competition for that night.

Civic Reception: Belfast City Hall.

Saturday saw the clubs and representatives of the 4 nations at a Civic Reception hosted by Belfast City Council.  The guest of Honour was Dame Mary Peters CH, DBE and a former Lord Lieutenant of the City of Belfast.

(3) Walker Ewart (Adjudicator), Mary Peters, President of AUDF and the High Sheriff of Belfast

(3) Technical details: Technical details: Pentax K-1, Sigma 150-200 mm Zoom @ 35 mm, f2.8,  Shutter 1/80th sec ISO 400

England – Total Arts Community Theatre: Lear’s Daughters by Elaine Feinstein & the Women’s Theatre Workshop

Total Arts Community Theatre presented Lear’s Daughters by Elaine Feinstein & the Women’s Theatre Workshop opened the second night of the festival.

(4) Total Arts Community Theatre: Lear’s Daughters

(4) Technical details: Technical details:Pentax K-1, Sigma 150-200 mm Zoom f3.2, Shutter 1/160th sec ISO 3200

Wales – The Unknown Outcasts: Future Shock by Richard Stockwell

The Unknown Outcasts: Future Shock by Richard Stockwell

(5) Technical details:Technical details: Pentax K-1, Sigma 150-200 mm Zoom @ 180 mm, f2.8,  Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 3200

Presentation of Howard de Walden Trophy

Walker Ewart (Adjudicator) had the daunting task of  marking these four plays, not an easy task.  The final decision made and the All British Champion of the 2017 Open 1-Act Festival was:



Total Arts Community Theatre

Leave a comment

20170313 – Zoo Visit

Zoo Visit

We hoped to catch a glimpse of the Bears, Fishing Cat and of course Lions

On our visit to Five Sisters Zoo in January  we enjoyed looking at the 4 lions enjoying the sun (Sun Cats) as well as the Lemurs and meerkats.  On this visit we hoped to see the bears as they came out of their winter hibernation and we were in luck.  The challenge of zoo photography is to attempt to get natural shots without including any signs of cages/fence etc.  Not easy by any means.  However, I do enjoy the challenge and am very pleased when I get the shot right.

African Grey Parrot


African Grey Parrot: taken through glass.


Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), f6.3, , Sigma 18-270 mm Zoom @ 58mm, Shutter 1/125th sec ISO 200



Brown Bear – one of three rescued bears






Brown Bear… Taken though Double Link Fences.

Technical details:  Pentax K-1 (full Frame), f6.3, , Sigma 150-500 mm Zoom @ 500mm, Shutter 1/500th sec ISO 800


Ex Circus Lion






Let Sleeping Cats Lie….

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 400mm, f6.3 ISO 400 shutter 1/500th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom



Artic Wolf


Artic Wolf – Howling Time

As we walked around the zoo we heard the wolf howl – one of the wolves was in fine vocal voice that day.

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 190mm, f6.3 ISO 200 shutter 1/200th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom




Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian Lynx

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom


Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom


Fishing Cat

Technical details – Pentax K-1 fitted with Sigma 150-500mm Zoom Lens set at 500mm  f6.3 ISO 1600 shutter 1/400th second. Image processed from raw in Lightroom




Leave a comment

Image Manipulation!

Image manipulation causes quite a “stushie”, “stooshie” as we say in Scotland. (Stushie/stooshie = tizzy, fuss, much ado about…).  Images on FB have been labelled (incorrectly) as being “photoshopped” as if that was a heinous offence.  Adobe Photoshop is the undisputed champion for image manipulation, in fact skilled users can create a photographic image with a photograph being taken.  Without doubt Photoshop is powerful, complex and the bees knees for image manipulation.  I do have Photoshop CC s part of the Adobe package, but I do not use it.  Why you ask? (Okay so you may not ask 🙂 ).  I use Adobe Lightroom with Google Nik collection add-in. Lightroom is the digital equivalent of the old chemical “Dark Room”.  I shoot in RAW format ,despite the fact that the modern DSLR creates a very acceptable JPG image, and use Lightroom to adjust the RAW (digtal negative) to produce the finished JPG export via Tif (used for printing).  I have installed the excellent Nik software plug-in into Lighroom so I am able to do the extra tweaks to the image to bring out the details, colours and contrast from the original image.  The original image of “Bath Time for Junior”, taken with a Nikon D5300 fitted with a Sigma 150-500 (1:5-6.3) zoom lens and taken through the double glazed window in my living-room.  ISO: 640, f/6.3, 1/200 sec at 500 mm.  Camera was set up for RAW and for neutral image colour.  Image below is a straight non processed of the RAW file from Lightroom.

I started in Development mode in Lightroom I selected: enable profile correction; remove chromatic aberration; constrain crop.  In basic mode (development) I reduced highlights to -74. At this stage I opted to edit in Colour Effex 4 (Nik plug in).  I used three presets and tweaked as required, Extract detail ( minimum), Pro Contrast (Dynamic Contrast – corrects colour cast and contrast), finally Darken lighten centre.  This resulted in the finished image below:


No cloning, no removing or adding details simple tweaks to bring out what was in the original image.  Yes I do image manipulation, no I do not photoshop I have no need to  – I use Lightroom.


Bath Time for Junior

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) can be entertaining, noisy and at time a pest. I am either blessed or cursed as they visit my feeding stations regularly – especially at this particular time of year.  It is the time of the fledglings – and this year’s crop are as noisy as last year’s and the year before.  Great entertainment watching the parent scarper about fetching food and the fledgling being insistent that it is fed.  However it is also the time of parting as it is the time when the fledgling is abandoned to its’ fate.  One second it is being fed, the next – it is no longer.  Time for it to feed itself and become a feisty bird.  Sadly this year I have not had the usual colourful garden birds however, the Starlings have made up for them.  Yesterday I captured on camera a fledgling experiencing a bath in my water feature.  Sometime working on a computer near the window has its’ compensations.


Leave a comment

Return of the Dunnock

Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) in the rain

Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) in the rain

Nine days ago his lordship “Blackbird (turdus mecula) cast his eyes over the refurbished “Chez Walter” feeding stations and declared them open for business.  Whilst two Magpies (Pica pica) and a couple of Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus) have dined at “Chez Walter” no small birds had made an appearance or booking.   This changed today with the visit of not one but two  little Dunnoocks (Prunella modularis), a small drab brown bird with a lot of hop and swagger.   The Dunnock may have a drab colour scheme to some to me it is perfectly attired for its environment.  A ground feeder it likes to hide in vegetation.  A perky little bird and may be confused with wren or sparrow at first glance.


Leave a comment

Inspection Day….

Today my partner (Susan) and I finished off the restoration of our garden after the ravishes set on it by the storms of Winter 2015/16.  The almost constant storms brought down 8 Garden Panel fences, destroyed a fair few feeders and damaged two water features.  Remedial work had to wait for dry days which we got this week.  During the hiatus the famed “Chez Walter” bird feeding station was abandoned by its once colourful clientèle.  Over the past 4 days we have been visited by a Magpie (Pica pica), Robin (Erithacus rebecla) and Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus).  Yesterday some Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) paid a raid visit to grab meal worms.  However they were seen off by the Magpie.  Today, whilst we were doing the clean up (washing the slabs) we were made aware in no uncertain terms of the displeasure of a male Balckbird.  I think he was upset that his bathing area was not yet in operation, nor had we left out his usual fare. He paid a revisit about 5 pm and carried out a full inspection of the refurbished garden.  I think we passed his rather thorough check up, we will soon find out tomorrow if he uses the water feature as his shower/bath.

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris).  Canon 50D, Sigma 150-500 zoom


Leave a comment

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) – Argaty Red Kites

Excerpt from   Scottish Raptor Study Group web site “Between 1989 and 2009 a joint RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage project was undertaken to reintroduce red kites to Scotland, with the ambition of restoring the bird eventually to all of its former range in the country.”  The nearest Red Kite re-introduction site to my home (Livingston) is at Argaty Red Kites, Lerrocks Farm, Doune.  Excerpt from web site “The farm lies on the Braes of Doune in the area of Central Scotland where the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage have reintroduced the red kite. It is with their help that we are providing a facility for enjoying the birds in comfort but without the risk of disturbing what is still a fragile population.”  It is approximately 1 hour drive.  It was here in 2007 I first saw these magnificent scavenging birds.  Since then I have made regular visits to Argaty.  This image was taken on 25th March 2012 with Canon 60D and Sigman 150-500 zoom.


Leave a comment

Coal Tit (Parus ater) First Visit -2012

Prior to the winter of 2015/2016 our garden looked nice and attractive to small garden birds as well as larger ones.  It was in 2012 the our wee garden began to attract the tits, finches etc.  In fact it was in that year we got our very first visit from a Coal Tit (Parus ater).  This little bird flits around and is hard to get a good shot, it was as a result of this picture I decided to keep a camera next to my computer in the living room.  Picture taken with Canon 500D, Sigma 150-500 Zoom on 18th October 2012