I’m Diversifying. New blog announcement

Hi Everyone and welcome. I just thought I’d announce proudly my new blog. I’ve developed it separately because I want to keep this one for photography, but I’m not JUST a photographer. I want to document our impending move to a new home. It’s the one I’ve dreamed of for a long time. A bay-fronted 1940’s semi with a long garden (120ft) that backs onto fields. It’s a world away from where we live now. My current view from my bedroom window is a car park.

A Fresh Start in a Fresh Place

The new blog is intended to take you on my journey towards a more ecological, sustainable lifestyle that will ultimately be more satisfying. I hope to share what I know and what I will surely learn on this journey. There’s a link to it in the sidebar or you can click here to take a peek at my first post.

There will be photographs of my progress, but the aim is to document the changes and pass on what works and what doesn’t. See you there!

Travel, Photography, Life and Death

I took a lot of photos this summer. We travelled, saw friends, saw some beautiful places. One of them was Whitby, famous for Jet and of course Vampires! It’s not hard to see why Bram Stoker was inspired when you go up to the Abbey and take a look around. Life and death appear side by side – opposite sides in fact, of the same town. A strange, thought-provoking juxtaposition to see. A cemetery right above a thriving town full of living people. Quite a picture.  But what a place to end your days!

Whitby life and death

The Abbey itself is an imposing structure.  It’s a very impressive image and very provocative for any writer. My partner writes Vampire and horror fiction, and he loved the atmosphere. He has visited Whitby several times in the past and doesn’t tire of it. You can see why. Perched high above the town, Stoker had the perfect breeding ground for a fertile imagination.

Whitby Abbey

It’s a wonderful old town, crammed with little shops and craftspeople. But the approach to the Abbey is a daunting one. We took our time climbing the steps, stopped and admired the view, getting our breath back at the same time.

Approach to the Abbey

Whitby Bay. A view from the climb

Here’s another view from the steps.

Abbey Steps View

Where have you been? What have you seen? Did you gain any new insights or inspiration from your travels?

 

Inspiration for Photography – Where does yours come from?

Where do you find inspiration when you take your camera out? Do you shoot friends? Do you concentrate on wildlife? Architecture? Do you experiment and see what happens? Are you willing to think outside the box? Personally I can’t help but keep trying new ideas. I can’t help shooting anything that takes my eye. When you look back on this blog at previous posts, you may be forgiven for thinking that all I’m interested in is flowers and animals. But here are a few of my experimental shots. I’ve never done night photography before, but on holiday this year, high on a hill overlooking the Brecon Beacons I was wending my way back to my camper when I stopped, looked and felt compelled to return with my camera. I’d been at a wedding all day. Then our camper had got stuck on the way back up to the site and I’d trekked, still in wedding gear, up the track to the site and across the field to our new found friends. They’d wrapped a blanket around me and the farmer helped get our van back on site. By now it was one in the morning so I was very tired But I had to try to capture what I saw for my own memories of the place. The wonderful, scenic place we’d found ourselves in after booking over the internet. Memories of my partner’s son’s wedding, memories of the friends we’d made on that hill around a camp fire in the dark. We’re still in touch, months later with those new friends. And the memories of the place are preserved.

Brecon Beacons at Night

This was the place during the day. Still beautiful, in not the best of weather conditions for a brilliant shots, but these aren’t intended for sale or for competitions. They’re for me and my partner to fondly look back on and share with friends and family.

Brecon Beacons

We left Wales and crossed the Severn Bridge. I’ve never been over it before and was interested in getting pictures of it but slightly worried because of my heights phobia. So I focussed (pardon the pun) and got busy with my camera. Of course you’re not allowed to stop on the bridge and my partner was driving. I could only point my camera out of the window and hope I was getting a good shot. I didn’t want our slightly grubby windscreen to interfere with the images, so used auto focus and kept my fingers crossed. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Severn Bridge

Then I went for some more obscure angles, to see the structure of this wonderful bridge.

Bridge detail

Severn Bridge detail

No, they’re not perfectly composed. No, they wouldn’t be judged as great pictures. Does that matter? Quite frankly, no. What matters is that I have my memories and I have experimented and got interesting detail of that bridge I couldn’t have otherwise captured.

Wellies

When we reached our next destination on our trip, we were greeted by these in the entrance to our campsite. This is an image that was inspired by someone else’s inspiration to brighten up their site. If only more people helped to make the world a brighter, more recycled place. Delightful!

So where does YOUR inspiration come from?

Abstract perspectives in photography

It’s difficult to choose a subject with over 1,000 to process currently, so I’ll concentrate on one tiny aspect of what I’ve been up to. As I’ve been running around on my travels I’ve been inspired to do some abstract photographs. There are always lots, of course, but some things just strike you as worthwhile the time and effort to shoot. When looking at objects, move around them, or of they’re small, move them around. Look at them from different angles. try to obscure or leave out any distracting elements. Play with that camera! Play with colour and light. Experiment. It costs nothing to press delete of you don’t like the results, and you might get something special.

abstract spades

abstract fishing

fishnet abstract

old rope

Look for a good composition, balance, colour and interest. The technique you use should be creativity. Forget which lens, which filter or which camera even. Just LOOK until you find that composition. Then you can play with equipment.  Try different shots from different perspectives of your abstract until you find something you’re happy with. Think outside the box! Above all, have fun with that camera and find your own image of the world.

Photos Make Memories

Roundhouse

I’ve been away for a while, photographing everything I could on my travels. Photos make memories! Now it’s time to share some of them with you. This is the best use of anyones photos! Memories to shore you up through the less enjoyable times are worth their weight in gold. In July I attended a pagan camp that only happens once a year. It’s the only chance I get to catch up with old friends who, ten years ago were like me involved in building a modern-day stone circle. The owner of the land I also now consider an old friend. He turned his farm over to conservation and has done a wonderful job of making wildlife welcome.

He also makes people welcome. Since the stone circle was built, volunteers have also built a roundhouse on site. It’s a wonderful space, perfect for gathering together on a wet day or cold night. In the photo above, you can see the weather was awful and the fire lit! Laughter and music was in abundance, though, so our gathering didn’t let rain and cold in July spoil our re-union.

The roof structure is a work of art in itself. I couldn’t help myself. The camera came out even when we were sitting listening to music. I looked up and realised these were views I wouldn’t see again for another year…unless… I shot away.

Roundhouse Roof

Inside, we were all cosy. This picture is dark, but I respect people’s privacy, so the photo I’ve used gives you the flavour of the space without compromising that privacy as the people in it aren’t recognisable. Isn’t it cosy, though? Certainly much better than sitting in a wet tent! The site is a farm, not a camp site, so there are composting toilets and fresh water. Other than that, the roundhouse is the best shelter from the elements.

Roundhouse Interior

Outside, the carvings make wonderful shapes in the dusky light, as I noticed when I emerged, camera in hand, just as the light was fading, here’s what I saw.

Roundhouse Gateway

The weather was of course a key feature, as it always is when you’re living outdoors, even for a few days. Storms make for stunning skies, and I had to capture them.

Stormy Sky

We also had gorgeous sunsets. How many times do we have a wonderful sunset and it’s missed because we’re indoors? When you’re living outside, the wonders of our natural world are much more obvious and more easily appreciated. My memories of these fabulous days are now captured forever! These shots may not be the best technical examples of award-winning shots, but they’ll preserve Summer camp 2011 for me and I can revisit whenever I want. Make the most of your camera and preserve your travels, events and good times to see you through the darker days we all have.

Sunset on Camp 2011

Have You Had Your Daily Dose Of Beauty?

beauty abounds

It’s about time. There is so much horrible stuff going on in the world I thought a timely reminder that there is free beauty out there we can all share just might be welcome. It’s easy to get caught up in all the war and nastiness, the economic doom and gloom and walk around with clouds around our heads. But if we blow the cobwebs away, perhaps with a short walk or drive into the countryside, perhaps just a stroll round the garden and open our eyes, beauty is all around us. My garden has been adopted by a baby blackbird who obviously left the nest a few days early. He sits listening to me when I go out to throw him some mealworms and apple to feed him up, then dives straight onto the food. He is gorgeous! I can’t show you, because the danger of me taking the camera out there is that he’ll panic and end up food for a local cat.

Calendula beauty. Pure sunshine in a flower

But flowers don’t get frightened! So today’s pictures are here as testimonial to the wonderful world we live in, even if us humans do make a mess of it, the beauty still abounds, and we should hang onto it with all our might. Some of these shots were taken before I bought my trusty Nikon, but nonetheless remind me of lovely times of gorgeousness that helped me switch my brain into a more positive mode. I hope they do the same for you.

Mint. Beautiful flavour, beautiful flowers

Spring has brought me inspiration. I’ve been taking photos, seeing friends (it was a long, lonely winter) and working on new projects. I discovered a couple of weeks ago a site called Squidoo. What fun! And it’s somewhere I can showcase my work with photography and with Zazzle. Having started with WordPress last year as a reluctant technophobe, I appear to be well and truly hooked on computer wizardry. I’ve been so wrapped up in all of this I hadn’t realised I’d been neglecting my blog. oops! Finding the time to do everything is getting more difficult, but I can’t complain. At least all of this keeps me busy and making lots of new cyberfriends. In case you’re interested, Squidoo is a great site for doing very tightly focussed ‘lenses’ that deal with one subject and really go into detail about it, usually with accompanying links to relevant sites and helpful hints and tips, plus where to buy relevant stuff. It’s quite easy to get lost in it for hours – much like on WordPress. I’ve so far made eight of these lenses, some of which are photography and flower ones. It gives me the opportunity to write about subjects that wouldn’t really fit under a general photography blog like this one, so I feel the two compliment each other. You might want to take a peek at my Grow Hellebores in Your Garden  lens or Spirals or even wild flower garden one.

Happy Spring!

Magic Macro Moments-What’s in a Raindrop?

I’ve been playing again. I’m finding macro both fascintating and frustrating. Here’s what happens. I spot gorgeous raindrops on a plant. Then I rush outside, camera in hand. Set up the tripod, switch off image stabilisation, focus with all my concentration, camera on delay shutter release. The raindrop is in perfect focus. Then…whooosh. One tiny bit of breeze makes the leaf shudder and my shot useless. Try again! And again, and again. Then there’s the light, changing by the second, changing the reflections, the brightness of the shot, the sparkle appearing and disappearing. I think you need almost as much patience to take macro shots as you do to shoot wildlife. But the results are both as rewarding and fascinating as wildlife. A whole world in a raindrop! I’ve had a lot of people asking me about macro, and how to go about it. Here’s what I do.

The biggest problem, you’ll quickly realise with macro, is that you have a long lens, possibly with extension tubes, as I do. The minutest movement will be magnified, cause camera shake and blur the shot.

Use a good tripod making your camera as still and stable as possible.

If you have delayed shutter release on your camera, use it. It locks the mirror up before the shutter is released, thereby reducing any camera shake from the mirror movement.

If not, use a remote or wired cable to press the shutter, as this will also reduce any camera shake.

Spend time getting the focus as you want it. Increasing depth of field will enable more in the shot to be in focus, but increase shutter speed. Only you can decide how much time you can allow the shutter, given your lighting and weather conditions. If it is the slightest bit breezy you’ll need the highest shutter speed you can obtain, therefore the smallest depth of field. Be creative and position your main focus of interest well in the frame, allowing the blur of out of focus items to frame the shot. I sometimes underexposed slightly to allow a faster shutter speed. I can correct this under exposure in Photoshop, as I shoot in RAW.

After shot processing usually means a simple exposure adjustment, a little colour and contrast boosting and cropping to improve the framing if necessary.

Macro can be taken to different levels. In the first two shots I’ve used all my extension tubes on my Nikon D90 with a 70-300mm Tamron lens, but didn’t switch it to macro, just zoomed in as much as I could.

Macro water 1

Macro water 2

The next few are full-on maximum, with my current equipment, macro. All extension tubes, lens on full zoom and maximum macro, focussed as carefully as humanly possible. It’s another world in those raindrops! Oh, of course you can cheat. No rain? Get the watering can out and give that plant a sprinkle. This works really well on alchemilla mollis (ladies mantle), which naturally hold rainrops like jewels, due to the tiny hairs on its surface.

Marco water3

Macro water 4

Macro water 5

Macro water 6

Macro water 7

This last shot is full on macro, but I put the tripod a little further away as I liked the jewel like quality of the smaller water droplets.

Have fun with macro and investigate another world!

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