Each year I look forward to the Pied Flycatchers and Redstart’s arriving from North Africa. Those that follow my blog will know each summer I try to photograph both of these species in the Peak District National Park.
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Each year I look forward to the Pied Flycatchers and Redstart’s arriving from North Africa. Those that follow my blog will know each summer I try to photograph both of these species in the Peak District National Park.
The name of this workshop could not have been better named ‘Winter Waders’, as our three days there were christened with freezing temperatures, treacherous conditions and in parts gridlock on the roads but all and all we made the very best of our time there. My group had travelled from all over the UK in the coldest snap for December since records began, with one guest having come from Ireland I was really happy that the 7am start time on the first day that all guests had made the slow and dangerous journey safely.
The biting temperatures cut through us all on the first day forcing us to move more rapidly between the various sites and beeches that I know, as the wind and penetrating temperatures worked against us, but the guys were great and we still were able to capture images on this cold introduction to Norfolk.
We had some good sightings on the first day using a mixture of fieldcraft and a touch of luck. Thousands of Pink, Greylag, Brent geese filled the sky. They were all over the place due to the strong, prevailing winds driving in from the coastline. A lot of them were flying above the clouds which made it hard to see but their calls could be heard no matter what. When the clouds did break briefly the sun came through and we were lucky, and had a few lovely encounters.
I can never predict or promise that the wildlife will turn up and my attuide has always been that there is always an image to be had or captured no matter what, so with the weather being so bad we still were able to capture some lovely images of waders and other wildlife that spend their time in Norfolk. During our time there the weather was a mixed bag, with the snow not hitting this part of the UK on the first day or so. However, the following morning we were scrapping the snow off our windowscreens and thats when we knew the snow had caught up with us. The Geese were on the move really early in the mornings and it became hard to capture clean shots of them flying over, but most of the guys had wide angles so we were all able to capture the Geese overhead.
I showed different technique’s to the group, panning, waiting until they were straight over head to add drama, low in the frame, minimal ground, slower shutter speed for the wing blur, capturing impending movement within the image, something I have always loved to do.
Daytime temperatures rarely broke past freezing point but as we moved around different sites it became less of a problem until you remained still, which happened mainly when we were photographing different waders and gulls low on the ground for some time, to obtain a more personal point of view. I love to capture behaviour within my style of wildlife photography and this image of an adult Herring Gull trying to stay upright in the strong winds was very funny to see. Using the light available I composed him so that the image coveys an air of menace to the gull, which I really liked, with one side of him lit and the other in dark.
The wind was causing all sorts of problems and we saw many different waders in ones and twos, blown off course, struggling to land and stay on the ground as they were trying to feed on what ever they could find.
The pattern of events over the next few days were similar, anticipating what the weather had in store and if the wind would drop, watching and photographing the winter waders and migrants and also spending sometime with the Barn Owls. We were also lucky that it never rained over the three days as this increased our chances of seeing Barn Owls, even though the ground was frozen. The days are shorter and the light is less during the winter months and if the ground is permanently frozen the Barn Owls primary prey of fieldvoles and other rodents tend to stay huddled together during the coldest spells at night, only really venturing out during the day which makes for the best times to see Barn Owls hunting during really cold spells.
On most of the days we saw the Owls, hunting with real purpose, diving with such force as to break the covering of snow on the ground, at the same time capturing their prey. The majority of the time they seemed to fail but on the odd occasion they stayed on the ground where they could have been eating their prize as quickly as possible, replenishing much needed supplies of energy to survive. They were hunting in fog, snow and windy weather, such was the need to feed. I always feel uncomfortable seeing nature work at a pace which is dictated by the conditions, right on the line on survival but such is nature where they say only the strong survive, but for me still very uncomfortable to see.
On the final evening the clouds broke and we had a lovely sunset, the colours lit up the horizon, the sky full of geese, the sounds of which sounded almost like surroundsound as the geese were having their final feed, then heading off to their overnight roost sites.
Thank you to all my guests who came on my workshop, great company. I hope you got a lot out of the three days and even with the the weather against us we were still able to capture lovely images and at the same time see this beautiful coastline. I look forward to seeing a few of your images, many thanks.
This Roe Deer workshop is being run by Jeroen Stel, alongside myself and it will be held in a heather moorland area in the center of the Netherlands from 23rd July until late evening of the 25rd July. Within this reserve there are around 60-80 Roe Deer which can be approached on foot up to around 10-20 meters where Jeroen has spent many,many years photographing these beautiful animals. There is also a corn field where we will be spending some time in and with good fieldcraft,which we will teach and show you, we will be able to get as close as 8-10 meters for some stunning cose up portraits of these creatures..
The workshop will coincide with the annual Roe deer rut so that’s perfect timing!
There is a lovely buffet restaurant nearby where we will be having our diners and lunch .We will be leaving the UK early on the 23 July Traveling by Euro-Star then driving to meet up with Jeroen .The cost includes all travel costs.It promises to be a brilliant trip,with amazing encounters with this shy and elusive deer
The cost per Person is;
£650.00 on a shared basis/Twin Bed, Single Supplement is available at an extra cost.
Cost Includes: Accommodation, Breakfast, Evening Meal, All Transport, Use Of Hides.
Cost Excludes: Alcohol/soft drinks and Sundry Items.
So if you would like to photograph these animals and learn from two Wildlife photographers with a great passion and knowledge of nature then send me an email or contact Jeroen Stel for more details on this amazing trip we have planned,Thank you.
The trip so far had surpassed my wildest dreams in regard to seeing a wild Royal Bengal Tiger during my trip toRanthambore,India,so with the final few days approaching I was filled with mixed emotions as I wanted to stay longer as I’d grown very attacted to these beautiful animals and was sad the end was almost in sight.Some of the close encounters I had were indeed a mixture of things,one being my brilliant guides,Salim and Raj but also I felt lady luck had some how played her hand in this, as the whole trip took me 3 months to plan,my original flight and booking was lost due to the Volcanic plumes of air over British air space,yet through all the ups and downs,never giving in I got here.The biggest support I had through all this was my wonderful wife Vanessa,who had helped me so much with the trip,it wouldn’t have been possible without your help,so thank you to my lovely wife,Vanessa.
I hope I have done the Royal Bengal Tiger real justice with my photographs, below are a few of the images I got on the final days at Ranthambore,India,they are taken with a mixture of lens,from a wide-angled lens to a long lens all trying to capture these beautiful animals mother-nature made so beautiful in their natural environment.
All images of the Royal Bengal Tiger and various other wildlife from my India trip on my website are available to buy throughPayPal,alongside the other various photographs.I have been asked by people living outside of the UK if they can buy my images and the answer is yes as I use UPS .So if you would like to purchase signed,framed prints or Canvases @ A2,A3,A4 size, Printed on Fuji-film,High Quality Pro Lustre paper using Fuji Frontier 570 printers or the digital image(s) supplied on CD and you live abroad then buy them through PayPal on my Portfolio page as normal and the postage cost will be sent to you upon receiving your address/country.
Where each order is seen by myself before it goes out to the customer to ensure the highest quality. There will be a few Limited Edition Tiger images too with profits going to helping Tigers in the wild and a few going to ‘Help the Heroes’ charity,alongside my ‘Lone Poppy’ image so look out out for these in the future .
I had a wonderful time,thank you to Ganesh,Dicky,Salim,Raj and all the wonderful people I met in India,who have become good friends now.I am returning very soon to capture more Royal bengal Tigers,and I also have planned a small Tour/Workshop there next May,details very soon.
I have just returned from a great workshop to the island of Texel that I ran alongside Dutch wildlife photographer Jeroen Stel.The weather wasn’t on the groups side for the first few days,but there was still some much birdife around the weather conditions added to the images the group got,with my belief of ‘There’s always an Image’ to be had,ringing out throughout the workshop we all stayed extremely positive,with the clients being rewarded with some beautiful behaviour,courting Avocets,Common Terns,Black-Necked Grebes all going through their courting routines,love was certainly in the air.
The first few days with the weather being so unpredictably we drove around the island to the key spots,chancing our luck with what ever we could work with at the same time trying to dodge the rain clouds that seemed to be here to stay.I have always believed that weather can add some much to an image,capturing unseen and uncommon behaviour prior,during,or after the rain.I covered this very subject some time ago now in a previous topic called After The Rain .When possible try to sit out the rain or take cover with your personnel safety first and foremost,then you will be rewarded with some images that are a little different with the weather conditions adding to the image(s),as below with this simple Avocet feeding in overcast conditions and also while the rain came down,taken with my wide-angled lens to give you a sense and scale of the place, placing the subject within its natural habitat which I feel adds great impact to the image through the art of Photography.
As a group we spent quite a lot of time photographing the Common,Arctic,Little,Sandwich Tern colonies that Texel supports in good numbers,most if not all are inland,dotted around this small islands pools,with the ever present noise and smell’s these busy little communities give off.For me the Tern family is a beautiful bird,on one hand really hardy,tough, on the other so gentle and elegant with such a graceful appearance.I watched as one parent sat on the nest as the other flew in and passed over the sandeels they had just caught,all while hovering for a split second,so beautiful to watch,I was able to capture the sequence with the three images below.
Our daily routine was an early morning start come rain or shine,back to our beautiful hotel on Texel,where the food was brilliant,lovely breakfast,3 course evening meal, it really made the trip for the guests.We covered the whole island during our 3 days on there,seeing so,so much bird life,the island is teaming with,where there is opportunity after opportunity to capture the wildlife Texel has to offer.At around 25 miles long and seven miles wide the island of Texel is the largest of the Wadden Islands. It’s a haven and paradise for thousands of waders and waterfowl during the spring/summer months where they choose this picturesque island to play out their courtship routines and breed.
One of the many species of birds I wanted to see was the beautiful Black-Tailed Godwit,where the Dutch call this bird ‘The King Of The Birds’ with its stunning colours and trade mark proud stance it certainly carries its self like a king.On this day we saw this male on an old fence post,with all the group getting great images from this bird it was a real treat indeed,where the over cast weather played in our favour again with little or no bright,contrasty sunlight the birds shone in the soft lighting.
At almost every turning,each place give up there secrets to us all,where we were able to capture in good numbers the stunning wildlife that lives on this small island.Spoonbills were also a first for me,I’d seen them in my many trips and workshops to Norfolk but never at this close range as on Texel,their bills and marking amazed me,such a handsome bird.With a careful approach,using proven fieldcraft skills that allowed us to get quite close as we watched and observed them feeding,using their massive ‘Spoon‘ shaped bill to great effect.
The group we had was a mixture of UK and Dutch people with one Belgium man who I nicked named ‘Dotty Man’ his real name is Benoit,as we saw a few Dotterel feeding in a large field,another first for me,but sadly it came to nothing as Benoit’s fieldcraft put pay to the groups chances as the birds flew off after they saw his advances,all in good fun though and there is always next years trip Benoit!!, which already I cannot wait for.I hope the group of people that joined Jeroen and myself enjoyed the trip,it was good to show and help them all with the simply techniques and principles I use as a wildlife photographer,and I enjoyed all your company,with a lovely, relaxed atmosphere throughout the trip.
On our last day on Texel before we headed for the mainland to photography Black-Necked Grebes and Purple Herons,the clouds broke,and the island was bathed in beautiful sunshine,where our continued run of good luck carried on,with lovely views of Marsh Harriers flying over their hunting grounds of farmland and reedbeds
With the sunshine came so many beautiful colours as the island grows Tulips and many other flowers,with vast fields of pure colour.Our cars stopped for a bref moment,with the presence of movement to our left in a field of yellow flowers,this for me was the moment of the trip.As we watched the flowers move,we couldn’t see what was making this movement,it went on for some time as I followed the line of flowers moving in my viewfinder.Then almost comical like this male Pleasant popped his head up for a few seconds,then carried on,with the moving flowers forming a trail upon where he had gone and was heading,I couldn’t stop laughing,as nature does afford you such funny times from time to time ,this being one of them.
On the last day I thought the bird I most wanted to see during the trip would elude me,as the weather was not very favorably,with strong winds it seemed the beautiful Bluethroat would not be seen.During the days on Texel we heard their distinctive call several times among the habitat,but sightings never materialised until later on in the day,I managed a few images but they never came to close,so I composed them within their environment.Such an unusual bird,with the prominent blue patch on their throats where their name is derived from they are so beautiful looking.
The evening finished with a late evening walk after our evening meal in search of one of my favourite Owls;the Short-Eared Owl at a site Jeroen knew of on the island.As with nature you can never count on the subject to turn up when you want,in this case the Shorty never did but we were treated to a beautiful sunset,were I saw a small dark speck on the horizon,on a hill,as I walked forward and composed the bird in line with the setting sun I could just make out it was a Buzzard,beautiful colours and patterns to the sky,for me it was a dream end to our time on Texel,with our departure first thing in the morning to photograph Black-Necked Grebes on the main land.
An early start to catch our ferry,where we got to the main land in good time,we traveled for about two hours until we reached a popular sight where you can get some beautiful close up’s of this striking bird.We found a small spot,where we lay down and watched the Grebes feed at some distance away,over time they came closer into land,all the time feeding and on some occasions displaying to each other.The weather had gone cloudy again,with the sun making the odd appearance,this made exposure a nightmare,so I chose to turn some of my images of this beautiful bird into Hi-Key images,which highlights the brightness and makes for a ‘Arty’ image,going along with my belief of there’s always an image to be had!
It was a brilliant trip,great clients,loved Holland,very flat and picturesque,with lots of windmills about.I hope that the clients got alot from the workshop/trip and I hope to have helped you in some regard with wildlife photography,what it means to me,how you can capture a subject within its environment etc.We will be running another Texel trip next April/May 2011,until then thanks again,big thanks to Jeroen for your time and effort in making the trip a complete success,and sorry for my snoring!!
Over the last week British airports have been plunged into chaos due to Iceland’s ‘Eyjafjallajokull’ Volcano having erupted,with the further eruptions daily its causing havoc around the world with British and European airspace at a stand still.I’ve been glued to the TV watching for a small window of opportunity that may arise and get everyone moving again included myself as I wait to see if I can fly to India to photography the Tigers Of RANTHAMBHORE under the guidance of the brilliant Tiger man; Aditya Singh.Three months in the planning,visa,injections,saving, everything right down the the socks I’ll be wearing each day balances now on the decisions of officials whether or not British airspace will open.Proposed plans of opening are being banded about all the time and I just hope I can re-book as my flight was this morning so the clock is ticking,I must add British Airways have been fantisic and I will never travel with anyone else again even if I have to pay more,their customer service,help has been second to none,fingers crossed for another flight.
While this was going on I enjoyed a brilliant 3 days on my Spring Waders workshop,the weather was really kind to us all,the group was a mixture of different people,from all walks of life and varying degrees of wildlife photographic knowledge.Most,if not all of the species of birds showed up which was brilliant as I take great pride in my work and knowledge of the various areas I know and try when and where possible to deliver exactly what it says on the tin eg ‘Spring Waders At Norfolk’ and that’s what they all got and more so I was over the moon.
The Avocets were at Norfolk in good numbers,each year the population seems to increase which is great news for this most elegant of birds.Bar-Tailed Godwits and here to in very good numbers,competing for the same rich habitat and feeding grounds as the Avocets.Each morning started with a dawn trek to a number of different places some for Barn Owls,others for Avocets,and other Waders feeding as the new day broke,after a couple of hours it was back for a good hearty breakfast in our beautiful Norfolk Hotel situated in one of the many tranquil little villages on the North Norfolk Coastline.Then collect our packed lunches and out for the whole day traveling to the many different and devise habitats Norfolk has to offer.
In the evenings after the sunset which we where really lucky happened on most evenings it was back for our evening meal,followed by a sideshow of images from the guests ,where all my help and advice on how,why they took the images was on offer,for me it was great to show simply ideas I implement in my own work,by showing examples of the photographs I take to the group and the reasoning behind each image, people learned alot I feel in a relaxed environment,a perfect place in which to learn from others in my eyes.A gentlemen called Steve Harford wrote a lovely few words below I thought I’d post them,not to show off or to gain from it but just to show people small changes+help can turn someones photography around, by passing on your knowledge to others and seeing their own improvements is the reason I run workshops, as one of my strongest assets is to show,help others in taking better images, at the same time taking in nature around you,where you can take home what I teach and show,applying the tips,advice into your everyday photography once back home,its that simply.
“I spent a wonderful time with Craig in Norfolk. Craig was really inspirational and made me think much more, particularly about my photographic composition. His love of wildlife and the countryside around us was infectious. In the past, like so many others, I had concentrated on what I would call “bird portraits”. They can be beautiful and I will continue with them to some extent but Craig made me realise that there is so much more. Photographs where birds and their behaviour are an important part of the overall image but are captured in their natural environment. The day was so important in making me reassess the fundamentals of the photographic image and I feel he has helped to equip me to becoming a better photographer as a result of it”..Steve Harford,Oakham,April 2010
The Barn Owls at several locations where out in force,hunting,quartering looking for small rodents,we all watched this female above,when she became tired she went to ground to to gain a small rest,I captured her doing just this above at the same time keeping an eye on us all even through we where will camouflaged and hidden.We had some beautiful views and I was chuffed to bits the group got some great images not only from this day but all through the workshop.I’d like to thank everyone that came for your company,I hope I have helped you see nature in a different light at the same time helping with your own composition,fieldcraft and connection with nature.A great trip and looking forward to next year where I will have to increase the numbers such was the interest in this trip.
Between now and my Winter Waders workshop in December I will be running’ One Day’ trips to Norfolk where the day starts at Dawn at a Barn Owl site,then onto the Waders and the many other birds and wildlife that choose to live in Norfolk,rounding the day off in the evening light again at one of the many Barn Owl sites.From August onwards the famous High Tides at Norfolk will be really good and these One day trips have been planned to coincide with these dates to make it a spectacular day for your wildlife photography,for more information and dates please send me a message on my Contact form or alternatively fill in the booking form on my One To One workshop.
I continue to hope and prey I can fly to India to photograph the Tigers,if not it will be a cruel end to a much planned trip,and at the same time I canceled my trip to Sweden for this trip, where I was going to photograph Capercaillie,at this rate I won’t have neither.Things happen for a reason I believe and I hope everyone who is away from home/loved ones can get back asap.
Having just returned from the beautiful Isle of Mull where I’ve been working on a few of my favorite subjects ie.Otters,White-Tailed Sea Eagles, there and finalising the ‘Magical Mull’ trip/workshop planned to this beautiful island in early June,co-hosted by my friend and award winning dutch photographer Jeroen Stel.
The Isle of Mull lies on the west coast of Scotland and it has a breathtaking coastline of 300 miles, the climate is a mixture of rain and sunshine.From the moment you step onto this beautiful island the wildlife is everywhere and the scenery is stunning. Our accommodation during this workshop is overlooking the harbour of Tobermory,where each room we have booked has a sea view,with fine cuisine in the restaurant,prepared from the best locally sourced ingredients to make your stay even more memorable.
Mull has a breathtaking landscape and offers you some brilliant chances for landscape photography,with beautiful morning light.My main targets when I come to this island and that of the trip are Otter’s, White-Tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles,with the weather feeling like winter again while I was there,with pouring rain/snow it can be a bleak place to be.
Due to a lovely couple who had booked but now are unable to get the time off work a couple of places have come up,so if you are interested in coming then please drop me a line here or see my website page under Workshops and I’ll answer any questions,queries you may have.
The meeting place is the Scottish port of Oban,where while we are waiting for our ferry there will be very good opportunities to photograph the healthy population of Black Guillemots that live in and around the port.You will meet myself and Jeroen here and board the Ferry,we have a mini-bus booked,so this with be our mode of transport around the island,driven around to the key sites on the island with the only thing you’ll have to worry about is composing your subject(s)A great trip is planned,where I/we look forward to passing on our passion as wildlife photographers, in helping you to take better images while learning more about nature and reconnecting with the natural world.
I was able to capture a few interesting photos that are going towards forming my collection of photographs called ‘The Beauty Of Nature’,which are beautiful,powerful images from the natural world chosen to connect with the general public,young and old to engage them with the beautiful wildlife we have all around us,creating an interest which will hopefully not only help their own lives but also have a positive response in helping the natural world in these troubled times of threatened extinction of both domestic and worldwide plants,animals.
I have teamed up with local Staffordshire wildlife artist Paul Horton who paints images of nature,landscapes and after a chance meeting recently we plan on bringing beautiful,emotive visions of wildlife,environment created by the lens and brush to people through our joint exhibition in Libraries,Schools,Town Halls,General places where the public frequent hopefully having their lives brightened by the ‘Beauty Of Nature’.I also plan on putting some sort of display(s) on for troubled youngster’s,those in care,Barnardos etc, that rarely see the countryside and what it has to offer in terms of beauty,where the power of nature may just help heal wounds,and show by getting back to nature there is always hope.
The future David Attenborough’s,Bill Oddie’s and alike need to be found,where the love of nature can develop amongst the urban jungles in which they live,where the future is in keeping alive the charities,projects that help keep alive many species of wildlife. So in bringing images from the natural world to people who’d never get the chance of witnessing the beauty nature has to offer is more important than we give it credit for.My aim is to tap into this forgotten generation with simple exhibitions of nature seen through a wildlife photographer’s eye and wildlife artist’s brush,at the same time bringing much joy to their lives
Not a day goes by where we don’t read or see some politician on TV telling us that we must help nature before it’s to late,laying out their plans to save the world,drawn up for them by their adviser’s,using words many people don’t know or understand or are to frightened to ask, fragmenting the different classes,while failing to engage with ‘Broken Britain’ as we are told its called.The future is in educating all irrespective of your postcode or start in life,I have found those with the most passion are sometimes the ones with very little in terms of materialistic possession’s but an unmeasurable passion and knowledge for nature that needs to be put to good use in showing the importance of conservation and the need to preserve our national heritage.
Dates and venues are being planned as we speak and I’ll update my blog as to when and where these will be,our plan is to start local in the heart of Staffordshire,and maybe further afield.Any suitable venues within the Staffordshire area that my like to display Paul’s and my work that we haven’t already contacted then please drop me a line here or Paul Horton
The Isle of Mull lies on the west coast of Scotland and it has a breathtaking coastline of 300 miles, the climate is a mixture of rain and sunshine. From the moment you step onto this beautiful island the wildlife is everywhere and the scenery is stunning. The island is a wonderful place to see Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Otters, porpoises and a whole host of Hebridean Wildlife. Come and join myself and award-winning Dutch photographer Jeroen Stel as we take you around this beautiful island on our 6 day/5 night trip called ‘The Magic Of Mull’.
Our base will be the picturesque village of Tobermory, with its brightly painted buildings. Overlooking the harbour of Tobermory and facing out to Calve Island and the sound of Mull is our Hotel, you’ll be treated to picturesque views over the harbour and as well as comfortable accommodation, you’ll enjoy fine cuisine in the restaurant, prepared from the best locally sourced ingredients to make your stay even more memorable, all of the rooms have a sea/harbour view. It will be a wonderful chance to show you the best places that I have found on my last trip there and to pass my knowledge of these onto you so you can really enjoy ‘The Magic of Mull’.
Mull has a breathtaking landscape and will offer you some brilliant chances for landscape photography too, with the mountain of Ben More with its imposing peak at just over 3000 feet being the highest point on the island where it forms the southern part of the island and holds several pairs of Golden Eagles, which I witnessed on my last visit here. There is some much to do on Mull, but our main targets are Otter’s, White-Tailed Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles, with some much wildlife around you opportunities will present themselves at anytime.
We have a day trip planned to on the Wednesday to the Treshnish Isles, a designated site of special scientific interest. One of the best places in the UK to see Puffin’s, and teeming with other birds too e.g., Razorbill’s, Guillemots and Seals and possible sightings of passing Basking Sharks that enter the sound of Mull to feed on the plankton, offering you some great photographic opportunities, you will have two and a half hours on Staffa, and almost the same on Lunga.
The pattern of events for each day will be very similar, which will ensure that we get the best out of our time on Mull. An Early start to get into place at one of the Otter sites and hopefully catch them as they wake and start to fish, head back to the hotel for our breakfast at around 8am,then collect our packed lunches and head out for the day, catch the evening light later on at one of our Otter or Eagle sites, then back to the hotel for our evening meal and a chance to review the days images.It plans to be a brillant trip,getting the very best from Mull and in turn a stunning experience for each one of you.
The cost of this event includes all meals,packed lunch,all transport around Mull, ferry crossing.The meeting place is the Scottish port town of Oban where you will be met by Jeroen and myself from which point you will have know other worries as the trip has been planned with every detail,subject with you in mind.Led by to very passionate wildlife photographers,all the ingredients for a magical trip on the beautiful island of Mull.If you have any questions or information you’d like answering or to book they please go to my ‘Contact’ page,where you can either call me or email me and I’d be more than pleased to help you.