The best job in the world

Yesterday was a dull cloudy day and there were occasional sporadic bursts of rain. The heatwave has temporarily gone away until Thursday, when the hot humid weather comes back again. However looking at the BBC weather website indicated that there might be sun at the end of the day. I decided that I'd give it a try and take care of a couple of things at the same time. Firstly I wanted to give the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens I used on my Fuji X-E1 some further testing on the Nikon D7100, to see how it performed at the apertures it liked. And secondly I wanted to be in sunlight again, just to check that my eye problems of the previous day were cured by my using the polarised prescription sunglasses I have. 

I drove a few miles to one of my favourite locations, which regular readers will know I use a lot. Its a road down between a long avenue of trees, that passes through farmland with a railway line on the left. It passes underneath a bridge where the railway crosses the road and eventually ends up at what has now become a childrens farm. The place is about halfway between where I was born and where I live now and I know it well. It used to be the long wooded entrance to a stately home, which has long since been vacated by its original owners and is now converted into flats. Its a private road but a public footpath runs alongside and the gate was closed so I parked close to the entrance and went through the stile to the path.

As is often the way, I had driven there in bright sunlight, but as soon as I arrived a large grey cloud turned up overhead. I was about to give up and go home but noticed that there was brightness in the distance and since the clouds were moving relatively fast I thought that the sun may arrive at some point. I decided that I'd carry on and took advantage of the overcast conditions to try the lens out at wide apertures. There was the occasional spot of rain, but the avenue has lots of places to shelter so I carried on.

I passed a field with a pair of old shire horses in it, who on seeing me arrive walked to the gate and indulged themselves in a spot of.... you guessed it..... horseplay! I've been photographing them for years. They used to pull a huge carriage full of enthusiastic children who visited the farm up and down the country lane I was walking, but now they have been replaced by a tractor and are spending their retirement doing... well not a lot. Sometimes when I pass them they just look at me, but on this evening they decided to move around and present me with a series of poses, which I duly photographed. I'd like to think they recognised me and decided to put on this show for the camera. I'm sure that wasn't true but it was nice to think it. If you look carefully at the pictures you can see long streaks down them which was more rain falling. 

It stopped again and I continued. I heard a train coming and I walked into a field and took a couple of photographs of it passing. However I realised afterwards that I probably had a too slow shutter speed for them to be any good. I then walked on down to the railway bridge and as the rain got a little heavier I took shelter underneath it. I then realised just how much I was enjoying myself. The excessive heat of the previous weeks had gone. It was still warm but not oppressively so. There was a slight breeze blowing and that was the sound I heard together with the birdsong. I felt like I had the whole place to myself as there were no other people about. There is normally lots of dog walking going on here in the evening but I guessed the weather had put them off. Looking out from under the bridge after a few minutes I saw that the clouds were clearing and the sun was on its way. I ventured out and watched how the sky behind the trees was getting brighter and slowly shadows began to form. There was then a period of about 10-15 minutes when this wonderful evening light appeared and I started to take more pictures.

I heard another train in the distance and returned to my previous spot and took some much better pictures. This time with the right shutter speed. I wandered about for a while longer, not really wanting to leave and shot some pictures of the sunlight on the woodland. I then saw that my sunny period was about to end as another grey cloud was rolling in. I walked back up the hill to my car through the lush green English countryside that I know so well, but usually has a surprise in store for me. This time it was when I passed the shire horse field and saw the gate was open and they were nowhere to be seen. Had they finally decided to make a run for it, after years of planning? Thinking about it I realised it was probably someone from the farm come to feed them. I was passed earlier by someone from there in a van with two dogs running alongside so I guessed that some fresh hay was being delivered. I preferred to think it was another of those countryside mysteries but guessed it probably wasn't.

And so that was it. A wonderful peaceful and productive evening. Nothing special in terms of light or location, but part of my ongoing exploration of my local environment. Oh yes... the lens worked great and there was no problem with my eyes. I did however make a really important discovery, and it is one that seems to happen to me almost every day. I really do have the best job in the world.