Pride of Place. The Photograph, the Memory and the Art

I don’t ALWAYS take pictures of nature. Sometimes I try to capture human nature. Especially the exotic variety. So, at the end of 2010, here are some thoughts, some photos and some memories I don’t think I’ve shared until now. Back in August, I went along to Nottingham Pride where my friend Randy Wornhole always goes to promote his charity work for gay men. It’s a very colourful, friendly affair and I love it. It’s a place to find the exotic of our species. They display their colours, their feathers and their gentle nature for all to see and photograph. I thought they’d make you smile.

The real Police behind bars at Pride

Randy Wornhole, Comedian and Philanthropist


Despite all that was going on around me and all the wonderful characters, I ended up at the borders of the park attracted by the dahlia walk, which provided exotica of another kind, and resulted in a wonderful Christmas present. One of my photos on a large canvas on my lounge wall. I’m hoping to start putting these up for sale next year on my website. Here’s the photo I’m so proud of now being displayed, and it was taken at Pride!

Dahlia copyright

So, if that tells you anything, it has to be don’t just go out with a closed mind to photograph one thing. If I’d done that, I’d have some great shots of Pride and some great memories but would not have several great photos of flowers I love but don’t have room to grow myself. What art would be on my wall then?

Next year, I intend to keep my mind open to any and all new possibilities for pictures that are exciting, different, beautiful, interesting…the list goes on. I’ll be happy to put 2010 behind me – it’s been a tough year. I’m now clear of responsibilities that stole my time and can now spend that time on working towards my goals. I hope you can do the same. Do more of what you’re good at and makes you happy, fellow bloggers! That’s what will work for you. And HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

These are for the party…


Future Plans and Dreams for Photography


allium flower

It’s been a quiet Christmas. I got a nasty cold and was grateful we didn’t have a house full. Ah, well, it’s only a day. I’m going to visit my parents this coming week so will be away for a couple of days, but I am taking my trusty laptop and camera.

I got a book that was on my wish list and an off-camera cable for my Nikon D90 for Christmas. So, I’ve spent time thinking about what I can do once the holiday season is over, my cold is long gone and what I’d like to achieve in the coming months.

Not that I’ve come to many conclusions yet, but I will be digging out a mini fish tank bought second hand and some coloured water with the flash set to the side, some objects to fling into the water and an experimental head screwed on. I’ll show you some of the results when they’re done. The Nikon book is superb. You see I’m mostly self taught in the camera department (my degree is in visual studies and art history). I’m not that technically savvy, but I’ve decided to get to grips with more of the features on my Nikon to get the most out of it and improve my creative input.


I’d also like a macro 1:1 lens. (Santa didn’t manage it, not surprisingly). Currently I have a zoom macro Tamron 70-300mm but it’s not strong enough for the macro I’d like to be able to do. I can’t get out to do landscape as I’d wish to, but my love of macro could be the saviour if I can work at home. All I need then is my large dining table and some lights and I can set up a mini studio (we’ve got trays to eat off  🙂 ).

Small goals, but a start.

There will be more travel, despite last years’ problems. My kit is all organised (I’m not that good at organising) but I can now throw into the camper one rucksack and one secure, sealed plastic box with all my kit, chargers and other little bits that tend to get left behind in one place and they won’t be forgotten next time I’m out with the camera! Now I just need to keep my head screwed on the right way round, make sure I have the sat nav and a map……the list goes on. We’ve also now got a dongle, so I’ll be able to put new stuff on my website and post on here wherever I am!

I’ve posted some of my favourite close-ups for today. The macro I’m after would do far more than this, but I’ve a feeling it will be a while coming.

I’m off, again, into the sunset (which looks MUCH warmer than it now is) and reminds me what it is like to have warm feet!beacon hill 067

Tamron tutorial video and a Merry Christmas!

Hi folks. Are you all ready for Christmas? I’ve found a video to watch for those of you into macro, so I thought I’d pass it on. It’s done by a Tamron user and I found some useful tips in it. Enjoy!

I hope everyone has a fantabulous Christmas and a startlingly brilliant New Year. It’s been great talking to you all and I hope we all are in contact again very soon. Chris xxx

I really like the contrast between the ivy and the snow-covered tree. Do you?

Christmas Hamper and Sparkly Lights

I haven’t much to say today. It’s only a few days before Christmas and, like thousands of other people, I can’t travel to where I was planning to. My parents and older sons homes 130 miles away. Plus I don’t feel too well, but we did get a nice surprise through the post. da da! A Hamper from Fortnum and Mason, no less. So here it is.

I also played with an ornament my younger son bought me a couple of years ago. This is a shot of the ornament….

And these close-ups taken when the little lights inside are running their sequence for some sparkly Christmassy light to cheer me up. I hope they do the same for you.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! I’ll hopefully be feeling more inspired very soon. xxxxx

Baby Rats Photos. Progress report



Well, we’ve now had Dusk and Tilldawn a week. They had been kept by the pet shop for over a month and hadn’t been handled enough. So it’s taken a few days for them to come around. Dusk is a brave little soul and was soon standing by the door of their cage waiting to be picked up. Tilldawn was more nervous, though and hid in his nest every time he heard the cage being touched. He’d come for a treat but NO WAY was he going to be picked up. But patience has won out and last night he laid on my shoulder chattering if I dared stop stroking him. When I finally gave up because my arm was aching, he walked round to the back of my neck, laid down and fell asleep. I think he now understands he’s safe with me.



Dusk, as I’ve said, is a bold little thing. He’s also a bit strange! I have an old stainless steel butter dish I never use, so decided it would make a good food dish to put their nuggets in. Dusk thinks it’s a great place to sleep. So, if I can, I’ll get a photo of a rat in a butter dish! I personally would find stainless steel a bit cold, especially in winter, but he seems to like it.


My partner made me laugh. He’s been laughing at me because I talk to the rats and explain what I’m doing (you know, ‘come on, I’m not going to hurt you, you’re safe.’ That sort of thing). Then I heard him talking in the kitchen. What was he doing? He’d found a stray woodlouse climbing up the blind. It must have come in through the window. What did I hear him say? ‘I’m afraid you’re going to have to be evicted. I know it’s cold out there but it’s too dry in here. Go and huddle against the house wall.’ And he thinks I’m mental!!! I didn’t ask him what the woodlouse’s reply was.



Still working on my website. I was going to order up the prints I wanted to check for quality but given the postal delays and warnings from my pro-printer service, it might be wise to let this snow disappear and get Christmas out of the way before I put more work up for sale.


Uses of Backlighting in Photography


Backlighting can be a useful tool in photography. Its use can change the whole effect of an image. For example, in the image above, I used the backlight of the sunset to silhouette the tree alone in the landscape. It required patient and careful positioning of the camera to ensure the sun didn’t cause too much glare or flares in the picture. In the next shot, the sun was very low, but placing the camera low (so shooting high) allowed me to silhouette the bird as well as the fence. I did colour this image in Photoshop, and this was easier to do without flare or clipping getting in the way because the backlight was fairly soft. If you want to try these kinds of shots, you may find a filter useful when contrasts are high. My lens for these shots just had a UV filter screwed on. I almost always have this on each lens as it protects the lens itself and helps when photographing water or shiny surfaces.

beacon hill 001

The next couple of shots involve indoor backlight. I only have a couple of small, tabletop daylight photographic  lamps, but you could use a bright halogen reading lamp, as long as your camera is stable, either on a tripod or beanbag, so you can adjust your shutter speed to get enough light into the image. Experiment with the angle of the light coming through your subject. Experiment with your shutter speed. Don’t be afraid to play with white balance either. This will affect the colour cast on your final picture. I wanted natural colours in these shots, but you may be aiming for something more arty, and may find changing white balance gives you the colour cast you’re aiming for. If not, you can always play with the tones and colours once it’s back in your editing programme.

light 039

light 012

gardenflowers 283

The image below was a seed pod simply placed in front of a bright light. I used my 300mm zoom macro lens to get in really close and reveal the seeds inside. I used a similar technique with the fern leaf, which has given us a great view of the spores underneath it. I like the patterns revealed doing this. Of course it doesn’t work as well with thick, leathery leaves, but can be very effective on thinner ones and petals. This flower was backlit for a series of photos as the almost translucent petals caught my eye one day when the sun shone through them. I need to get them out of the wind, so cut one or two, brought them indoors and used my tabletop lamps to achieve this effect. Talk about seeing things in a different light!

gardenflowers 164


Backlighting can also make a human silhouette. If you take the picture of your subject against a plain or white background you’ll make life easier for yourself. I had my volunteer stand in front of an upstairs window on a fairly dull day as I didn’t want sky detail. This of course backlit him, ensuring an easy and quick silhouette.


And finally, this one isn’t really backlighting, but an experiment shining a light INSIDE a flower. Time for you to play now, I guess.

lit inside lily

My apologies for the delay in getting this post out and replying to some comments. Our internet connection went down a couple of days ago and we got it back at 3am last night. It’s put me behind with the website, too as I needed to work online, but I’m sure I’ll catch up soon. I spent the day doing all the stuff I’ve been neglecting to get photography work done, so the house is cleaner and tidier, which will make life easier when preparing for Christmas. I hope all your preparations are going well. It can be a hectic and stressful time, but hopefully you’re all on top of it and are going to have a great holiday. I’ll put up our tree and decorations on Friday, after my birthday, which is almost always overshadowed by Christmas, so I make the tree wait. There’s no rush now the children have left home!

Have you tried backlighting? Is it something you might have new ideas for? Please, let me know. It would be great to hear of your experiments and see the results.

Appologies internet down

Sorry everyone. We’ve had no internet connection for two days. They’re promising reconnect tonight, but as we’re relying on BT to sort out their bit I’m not holding my breath. I’ll post my next blog with photos ASAP but for now I’m having my birthday without a proper connection 😦  Never mind, be back soon. This will go out via a dongle. Always thought that’s a weird name for a bit of computer kit!

All the best



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