On our trip to Berwick-upon-Tweed I decided to walk down the river to get underneath the famous railway viaduct. ( More of that later, perhaps.)

On the way I came across this cormorant that had caught itself some lunch! A huge flat-fish of some type, that seemed far too large to swallow. And, indeed, the bird did seem to spend some time trying to decide how it was going to eat its meal. Note also how much of the cormorant in the first two shots appears to be under water!!

Eventually, as shown in the final image, it swallowed the thing whole! Amazing!

CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-1CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-2CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-3CORMORANT & CATCH by John Allen-4

It sat for a while on the water, made a couple of attempts to take off, and on the third go it flew along the river and under the arches of the viaduct. What a catch.



During our Northumberland trip we spent an evening on the beach at Bamburgh in the hour – and a little after – sunset.

The changing colour of the light was fantastic, and the colour when the sun had finally set was stunning. We could have stayed longer – but in the end the call for food, and a glass of wine, was too strong.

BAMBURGH by John Allen-1BAMBURGH by John Allen-2BAMBURGH by John Allen-3BAMBURGH by John Allen-4

Bamburgh and the Northumberland coast is one of England’s best kept secrets. Don’t tell too many people about it!

Moorhen Family – and an Apple – 36

Walking along the New River near Stansted Abbots last week, we spotted this clutch of Moorhen chicks.

Moorhens by John Allen - 1

Mum was close by with a more mature – but, we think, still young – sibling. Mum had found an apple floating in the stream and she had managed to move it from the middle of the river to the bank, close to the chicks.Moorhens by John Allen-2

By grabbing hold of the stalk on the apple – with her beak – after several attempts Mother Moorhenpulled the apple out of the water and on to the bank.Moorhens by John Allen-3

The older Moorhens then enjoyed an apple treat. The younger ones were unable to take part in the feast. But great to witness this piece of animal/bird behaviour.


I’ve just purchased a new phone – an iPhone 7 plus – my old iPhone 5s died as a result of premature battery failure – and lack of working memory ( but that’s another story ).

Following the advice that the best camera you own is the one you have with you, we ventured out along part of the River Stort where it runs through Harlow. And I grabbed a couple of shots along the way with the new phone.

I have always – because of the limitations of most phones –  captured phone shots as jpegs and then imported them from the Camera Roll into Lightroom Sync ( part of the Adobe CC package ).  But I have discovered, quite by chance, that Lightroom Sync ( on the iPhone 7 plus ) now has the ability to record images in RAW format and then sync them directly back to your main Lightroom Classic CC catalog!

The three images below were all taken on the phone as RAW images using the Lightroom Sync App.


As you may, know RAW images shot in Black and White still retain all of the colour data, and I also shot some B&W’s in the Lightroom app  ( later in a coffee shop and not included here ) and sure enough – I’d never tried it before – back at home I could convert those images back to colour!

Suffice it to say, that I’m quite pleased with the combination of the iPhone’s camera and the Lightroom CC Sync’s new ability to record in RAW. Isn’t technology great!!


A still-life set up using many of my father’s old tools, including the wooden tool chest.


Lit with a single continuous video lamp, through a cardboard snoot and a couple of layers of tracing paper to soften the light. The lamp glow was from a small torch behind the lamp – but the resulting very blue light needed significant ‘warming’ in Photoshop.

I hope it was worth it!


A couple of mornings ago a friend and I got up early ( 4:00 am ) and drove up to Hatfield Forest near Stansted Airport to catch the dawn. And what a morning it was! A mist hung across the whole lake when we arrived, and then the sun rose and the mist struggled to survive – but was eventually dissipated by the increasing temperature.

Here is just a sample of the images we captured.

SwanSWAN by John Allen

FloraFLORA by John Allen


Boats In The MistBOATS IN THE MIST by John Allen

Light In The ForestLIGHT IN THE FOREST by John Allen

We must go back!!!


I took the first images of this potato back in January ( Resting Seed Potato – 03 ), just after it sprouted ‘eyes’ and began to look a touch more interesting than just a plain spud. ( My apologies to the vegetable-lovers amongst you. )

SEED POTATO by John Allen

Since then its sprouts, or shoots, have grown incredibly long! All this time the potato has been sitting in my garage with little TLC given to it – in fact, very little attention paid to it at all.

Recently however I noticed that it was collapsing in on itself, and it looked as though it was very much on its way out. So I took this final image before it was consigned to the food-waste recycling-box.

Taken on the Olympus EM-1 MkII with a single flash head and reflector. Post-production in Lightroom with a touch of Photoshop.


BLOOD MOON by John Allen

Not taken at the absolute full moon – or at the eclipse, unfortunately, when East Anglia appeared to be blanketed in cloud, preventing any view at all of the moon.

This was taken two nights earlier, using the Olympus E-M1 Mk II with a 300 mm lens ( 600mm the 35mm equivalent ) ISO 2000 to give me a shutter speed of 1/500 at f/8, all on a secure tripod and triggered with a wireless remote. I wanted that high shutter speed because it’s surprising how quickly the moon appears to move when you are looking at it through the viewfinder of a camera!!

I also had to play with the White Balance to get the colour in the image. At Auto White Balance it kept recording at almost black and white monochrome.