The winter with its cold and bleak weather was hard amid the lockdown. But now, finally, the weather is becoming brighter, and spring is in the air. Giles Penman discusses his positive experiences of enjoying walking and photography in the sunshine.
After a long and cold winter, the sun is beginning to shine, the weather is warmer, and the colourful spring flowers are in bloom. This was the perfect excuse for me to leave the house and enjoy the springtime talking my camera phone along with me. I developed a love of photographing nature on a trip to New Zealand a few years ago and now take pictures of flora and fauna wherever I go. When I engage with the process of snapping photographs, whether that is thinking about the subject of a photograph, clarity, angles, lighting or taking the picture, I forget my stress and worries and live in the moment. As well as taking photographs, walking in nature allows me to leave the concerns of everyday work and research behind me at home and embrace the calm serenity of the world outside. And it keeps me physically well also.
Recently I took a walk to Edgbaston Reservoir in Birmingham, my local park. I felt the warmth of the sunshine on my face and marvelled at the bright and vibrant flowers in the gardens on the way. After months of drab weather and overcast skies, it was so refreshing to experience the almost iridescent hues of the flower petals in bloom. I was uplifted emotionally, and the troubles of work and research seemed to fade away at the sight of such beauty. I was compelled to capture the memory of these flowers and their radiancy. Carefully aligning my camera and zooming in on the vivid subject, I took photographs with my camera phone to remember them by.
And, when I arrived at the Reservoir, it was even better. Sailing boats and windsurfers were out on the water taking advantage of the clement weather. As I walked along, I breathed in the fresh air and wondered at the blue of the shimmering water. The boats and surfers moved gracefully through the water, and further along the path, ducks and geese quacked contentedly. These sights brought me a sense of such peace. To be able to capture these moments in the sun with photos was special.
The walk also allowed me to exercise gently and stretch out my muscles. I knew that exercise releases the feel-good hormone endorphins. But I didn’t realise that my walk would boost my mood quite as much as it did. After my walk, I felt so happy and relaxed. And I now have the photographs to remind myself of my cheerfulness and delight. Being inside more often over the winter lockdown was mentally challenging and I was glad to finally have relief from that.
Taking a simple walk in the sunshine helped my mental and physical health immensely. And documenting my walk on camera was great fun. Consequently, I thoroughly recommend both walking and photography as a way to boost wellbeing.
If you have enjoyed activities the spring sunshine, do tell us what you’ve been up to. Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Giles Penman is a PhD researcher supervised by the Classics and History Departments at the University of Warwick. His research concerns the roles and audiences of ancient imagery on British civic cultural artefacts of the Great War. He has a background in Classics, Archaeology and Numismatics